Paul Johnson remembered: Popular sportsman dies aged 51

Reuben Carder & Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Teressa Moore, Dion Delamotte, John Decastro and Paul Johnson.
Camera IconTeressa Moore, Dion Delamotte, John Decastro and Paul Johnson. Credit: Supplied

The Geraldton sporting community is in mourning after the sudden death of well-known all-rounder Paul Johnson at the age of 51.

His heartbroken family are searching for answers after the respected sporting figure, nicknamed “King”, died in his sleep on Saturday, November 27.

Mr Johnson’s mother, Shirley Johnson, said he had gone to work as a gyprocker early on Saturday morning before returning home and going back to bed.

The cause of death is not known and an autopsy will be carried out. However, Mrs Johnson said the family had been informed a heart attack was a possibility.

“I went and watched him in every game he was in — it didn’t matter what it was,” she said.

“We’re just broken-hearted.”

Mr Johnson has been remembered as a larrikin, known for his exploits in a variety of sporting fields.

A keen footballer, lawn bowler, golfer and basketballer, Mr Johnson left his mark on all corners of the community as a player and coach.

“He loved his sport and he liked to play well, whatever he went in he gave it his best shot,” his mother said.

Mr Johnson started his sporting journey as a gymnast, earning praise for his skill on the rings before transitioning to football.

A stalwart of Towns Football Club, he played his entire junior career there before moving through the ranks to play league as a midfielder. His cousin, and current club vice-president Jason Drage, described his playing style as “flairy”.

“He was very creative when he got the ball. He used to like to show blokes the ball, then run away with it,” he said.

Off the field, Mr Johnson was a popular figure, regaling his club mates with stories, always told in the third-person perspective.

Never satisfied with just one discipline, he was also a prominent basketballer for Chapman Valley, earning a try-out for the State team, as well as coaching several junior and women’s teams.

Later in life he became an impressive golfer — playing with a handicap below 10 — and lawn bowler, winning championships at Mullewa in singles, doubles, triples and fours along with brother-in-law Anthony McAuliffe.

“The week before he passed away, he and my two sons and I played together, that was the first time he played as skipper,” Mr McAuliffe said.

Mr Johnson is survived by close family, and the many friends he made during his prolific local sporting and building careers.

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