Dean Johnson’s love of round ball endures

MOMENTUM: Dean Johnson says with word getting around, things are looking up for Corangamite Lions Soccer Club. Picture: Rob Gunstone
MOMENTUM: Dean Johnson says with word getting around, things are looking up for Corangamite Lions Soccer Club. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Dean, what was it like growing up in Broken Hill?

I had a good childhood in Broken Hill.

It gets very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. The area is surrounded by red dirt and salt bush.

My parents still live in Broken Hill and so does my brother. Dad was a mines inspector, while my brother is a chemist.

The main sports when I was growing up in Broken Hill were rugby league, AFL and baseball.

I played a lot of junior baseball in my younger years over the summer months.

I also played tennis, and in the winter I played soccer.

So when you were growing up in Broken Hill, you never played Australian Rules?

I never played Aussie Rules. It was just not my thing. My brother played Aussie Rules.

My grandparents were Italian and English and they were always interested in soccer, so that’s where my love for the game stemmed from. I also did a lot of powerlifting.

Can you tell me about powerlifting. Where did you compete?

I competed in various competitions before I was selected to take part in the Australian titles in Adelaide when I was in year 10.

I was the junior South Australian champion for powerlifting.

The powerlifting competitions comprised of bench press, squatting and dead lifting.

I was only 16 when I competed in the Australian titles. I was bench pressing 90 to 100kg and was doing 160kg squats and dead lifting 160kg.

The funny thing is, I was only 70kg wringing wet.

I was lucky I had a good coach and was educated properly on how to lift the weights.

I had a good technique, which has saved me from having back troubles.

Why and when did you move to the Western District?

I had various jobs all over the place.

It would have been about 10 years ago that we went on a holiday down the Great Ocean Road.

We got down around Port Campbell and thought it looked a nice spot to live.

I got the chance eight years ago to work for Minerva at the gas plant, just outside of Port Campbell, as a chemical engineer and I jumped at the opportunity.

We moved to Timboon to live. I basically ran the plant which had 25 workers.

It was a great experience, but then I got  the chance  to work at the Iona Gas Plant which is not far away from Minerva.

I took up the job at Iona a year ago as the operating manager. I’m really loving the job.

We’ve got about 50 workers at the plant.

We’re always busy as we feed gas out to all parts of Victoria and South Australia.

Let’s get back to your soccer career, which started at Broken Hill. You mentioned that the St Joseph’s Soccer Club won 13 junior premierships back in that era. Did you play in many of those premierships?

I played in a few junior premierships. St Joseph’s Soccer Club is a great club.

I’m a life member of the club even though we live in Timboon.

I still take a keen interest in soccer at Broken Hill, and at other places like Adelaide and Port Hedland where I had played during my career.

How long have you been involved with the Corangamite Lions Soccer Club?

I found out about the club four years ago.

The club is part of the South West Victoria Football Association.

The players at the Corangamite Lions Soccer Club are predominantly from Camperdown and Timboon.

The soccer season starts in May and ends in September.

The junior competition comprises of eight sides, while the senior competition has four sides.

Corangamite Lions train at Scotts Creek, which is about 10 minutes out the road from Timboon.

We’ve got a great group of volunteers who work hard – things like mowing the lawns and marking the lines – to ensure that our facilities are up to scratch for games.

We had more than 50 members at the club this season. 

But we are always on the look out for new members, whether they be in the seniors or juniors.

Would it be a fair statement to say the area around Timboon has strong ties to Aussie Rules footy?

That’s correct. That’s one of the issues that soccer has in the area.

Aussie Rules is the number one sport in this area, but we’re slowly making more people aware of soccer.

The area is predominantly made up of people playing footy, cricket or netball, but the message is getting out that soccer is there if they wish to play another sport.

We’ve found more women are getting interested in soccer.

I would say that comes on the back of the success of the Matildas, who are Australia’s women’s national soccer team.

Have you suffered many injuries during your soccer career?

Not that many. The injury rate is not as much as Aussie rules footy because soccer is not a contact sport.

I’ve had a few issues with knee and ankle problems, but that is all about the twisting and turning that happens in soccer.

Corangamite Lions Soccer Club had a two-day tournament over the weekend as part of the annual South West Games down at Scotts Creek. Was the weekend a success for soccer in the region?

We’re really pleased with the response from people.

We had juniors taking part on Saturday and seniors playing on Sunday.

Sides came from Melbourne, Horsham, Ballarat and Warrnambool.

The event was great for local soccer, as there were plenty of spectators who were there to watch the games.