Tamworth mourns loss of the heart and soul of football

TAMWORTH and Northern Inland Football lost a faithful servant this week with the passing of Jeanette “Jan” Johnson, a lady nicknamed “Mrs Soccer” by one local club.

Vale Jan Johnson, Tamworth's Mrs Soccer.

Vale Jan Johnson, Tamworth's Mrs Soccer.

The former long-serving Tamworth and North West football (soccer) secretary passed away on the Gold Coast on Monday night after a long struggle with breast cancer.

Northern Inland Football executive officer Dino Perizzolo said she had been the “heart and soul of football in Tamworth, the North West and Northern Inland for more than 30 years”.

“Her dedication and commitment to junior football, both at local Tamworth level as well as at representative level will be sadly missed,” Perizzolo said.

“Jan was also a long serving secretary of Tamworth District Football Association and North West Soccer Association and a founding board member of Northern Inland Football. On behalf of the football community in Northern Inland, we pass our condolences onto her family.”

Tamworth District Football Association chairman Tim Coates said Jan Johnson was a woman “who was larger than life”.

“She, loved football and dedicated over 30 years’ service to football within our region,” he said.

“Jan was someone who always strived to improve the sport and was recognised at many levels for her contribution. It is our intention to have one minute’s silence before all this weekend’s first grade games in NIPL and I believe many other competitions across the region will support this also,” said Tim Coates Chair of Northern Inland Football. 

“I personally benefited from her guidance whilewe served together on the Tamworth Committee. She always had time to chat and help. I offer mine and the board’s condolences to her family and simply say she will be missed.”

Gunnedah United coach Richard Grant, a long-serving board member on NIF, first met Jan “sometime in 86-87”.

“When we first joined the Tamworth comp,” he recalled.

“Her great love was the game. She put her heart and soul into Tamworth and North West football.

“I remember those days picking her up at 13 Higgins Lane and taking her to Northern Inland meetings at Bendemeer.

“At different stages we had a few issues and sometimes she’d say she was right for a lift. That was always a good indicator of how were we were travelling. But you always admire someone who put so much time and effort into something as she did.

“Whether it was doing a registration forma at 8am or 8pm, she’d say I’ll do it for you but don’t tell anyone. And you knew she’d be doing it for everyone else too.”

Tamworth FC coach and founder Wayne May was hoping to visit her up on the Gold Coast in the next few weeks but, sadly, those plans are now ended.

“Football was her life,” May told The Leader.

“She was involved with the old RSL Club early on but then didn’t have an alliance to any club with her job as secretary of Tamworth and North West. She was also on the first Northern Inland board and helped us start FC. She was our first secretary for the first year. She was the backbone of soccer in Tamworth for many years. She was Mrs Soccer to everyone.”

Such was her input the TDFA named their main Gipps Street ground, Johnson Field, in honour of Jan and her late husband, Kevin Johnson.