IAN Johnson has been reunited with Simon Haworth becoming part of Stalybridge Celtic’s coaching team.
The pair go back two decades when they were team-mates at Wigan Athletic.Johnson, the grandson of Liverpool legend Ronnie Moran, said: “I was a young lad in the reserves and Simon, who is five years older, was in the first team.
“We just clicked from day one and have stayed in touch ever since then. When he asked me to join his staff again it was an offer I couldn’t turn down.”
Johnson, 37, was earlier reunited with Haworth at Clitheroe where he spent two seasons, the second as his assistant. For the last two seasons, he has been first-team coach at Marine.
He said: “Simon is manager and I am here to assist him. We share the same ideas about football and bounce things off one another.
“We want players who are young and hungry and for our teams to attack.
“We have had conversations about next season and would like to go towards having a younger squad.”It was hardly surprising Crosby-based Johnson, who works in a factory for Mersey Flooring making skirting boards, picture frames and beading, should become a footballer as his granddad was Moran, a member of Liverpool’s legendary boot room which was established when Bill Shankly was manager.
Moran, a left back who made 343 league appearances for Liverpool, was a member of their 1963-64 title winning team under Shankly.
He later joined the coaching staff and had two spells as caretaker manager in the early 1990s when Kenny Dalglish was sensationally sacked and later when Graeme Souness underwent heart surgery.
Johnson, still a season-ticket holder at Anfield, spent every school holiday between the ages of eight and 14 at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground.
“I went in every day when I was not at school with granddad. I would help pump up the footballs and put out the cones before training and then act as a ball boy,” he said.
“I was lucky, the envy of my friends as I got to know the players, including my heroes Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.”
Johnson was on Liverpool’s books spending two years in the academy in the same group as Neil Danns and Carl Baker, who went on to have good careers in the game.
After being released he had three years at Wigan, two as a trainee and one as a professional, playing two first-team games in the Football League Trophy. He was in the same intake as Leighton Baines.
Johnson described Moran, who died in 2017 at the age of 83, as biggest influence on his career.
“Granddad retired from Liverpool in 1996 and I signed for Wigan two years later and he came to all my games,” he said.
Johnson later played non-league for Southport. Burscough, Marine, Bootle, AFC Liverpool and Clitheroe. And it was with in semi-pro he was switched from being a right back to a central midfielder.
He admitted he was never the same player after sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury aged 23, one which kept him out of football for 16 months.
Johnson describes himself, like Haworth, as being “ambitious” saying both want to be involved in management/coaching at the highest level possible.
Haworth is delighted to have Johnson on board.
He said: “I felt for some time we needed more support on the coaching team.
“I like to have people around me that I know and trust. I have known Ian for 20 years and Gaz (assistant manager Gareth Roberts) for 25 years.
“Gaz and myself spent all our careers in professional football whereas Ian has considerable non-league experience so provides a different outlook.
“He is louder than Gaz and myself on the touchline but full of enthusiasm and energy and has had a good football education.”