Sam Johnstone relishing fans returning to stadiums as West Brom goalkeeper admits he even misses having bottles of wee thrown at him along with ‘banter and abuse’ from rival supporters
- From this weekend, football supporters will return to Premier League matches
- This will be the first time that fans are back at top-flight games since mid-March
- West Brom won’t play in front of fans until December 27 with a trip to Liverpool
Sam Johnstone can’t wait to be playing in front of supporters again – partly because he misses the abuse, banter and even the foul missiles thrown at him from fans.
Crowds will return to Premier League matches this weekend for the first time since mid-March after clubs in London, Merseyside and on the south coast were given the green light to welcome back supporters again following the government’s latest coronavirus guidelines announcement last week.
Sam Johnstone can’t wait for the return of football supporters at Premier League grounds
Speaking to the Goalkeepers’ Union Podcast, West Brom’s No 1 Johnstone said: ‘It’s tough now with no fans because you want to go out and see 30,000 people at the Hawthorns.
‘We played at Wembley in the play-off final and there were 85/90,000 people. I love it. Unbelievable. It’s the best feeling you can get.
‘You get abuse and stuff thrown at you and you’re calm but in your mind you want to p**s them off. You want to save things and win the game. It’s me against them because you’re so close to the fans for most of the game.
‘If a ball goes out for a goal kick you’ve got to go and get it back off them, there’s banter and abuse and I just love being out on that pitch, playing, making saves and showing what you can do.’
The West Brom goalkeeper, like everyone else, has been playing in empty stadiums this term
Recalling a memorable Birmingham derby during his Aston Villa days, former Manchester United youngster Johnstone said: ‘That was a great atmosphere. I do love games like that. Hostile. You’re running over in the second half to your goal and the abuse you get … coins thrown at you, pies thrown at you, bottles of wee thrown at you. It’s crazy but I quite enjoy it weirdly.
‘I love it. You get to the stadium and I’m not one of these to sit around. As soon as I get in my bag’s down, I’m getting changed, I’m doing what I need to do and can’t wait to get out to warm up. I absolutely love it.
‘We do need fans back in ASAP. You want to walk out at the Hawthorns with fans in the Premier League. You want to walk out at the big stadiums – Liverpool, Old Trafford, Man City, Tottenham. All those full, big crowds, that’s what you dream about when you’re coming into the Premier League and unfortunately it’s not happened so what’s getting me up is you’re playing against Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial.
‘These players are top, top players and you’ve got to be at the top of your game and personally that gets me going, not just the fans.’
He is scheduled to play in front of fans again on December 27 when West Brom go to Liverpool
Sam Johnstone was speaking to the Goalkeepers’ Union Podcast. For more interviews and goalkeeping analysis, visit http://playpodca.st/goalkeepersunion