Career: 1932 - Circa 1953
Senior Games: 300
Senior Captain: 1937 - 1938, 1946 - 1947, 1953
Senior Best & Fairest: 1933, 1935, 1937, 1937, 1940
League Best & Fairest: 1936
Team of the Century (Vice Captain)
CFC Life Member
Coming from a family of nine children, ’Bonnie’ Johnstone shared a great love of football with his family. The boys were all physically well-built and suited to the game. Brother Norm became a legend with the Fitzroy Football Club whilst Reuben, Gordon and Jim were all outstanding players. Reuben and Bonnie both played for Chelsea.
Bonnie’s contribution to the club was immense. His playing days commenced in 1932 and extended beyond twenty years. A ‘one man army’ who thrived within the close confines of packs where he could use his solid frame and strength to bust the ball free and to Chelsea’s advantage, ‘Bonnie’ provided a strong on-ground presence at Chelsea for over 20 years.
300+ Games. As a player, Bonnie performed at his best at stoppages He seemed to thrive on the heavy work associated with winning the ball out of packs by using his solid build and strength to break free.
‘Bonnie’ won an amazing five Senior best and fairest awards with Chelsea. He was also the Under-age best and fairest in his first season with the club. Though records are scant, it is almost certain that Bonnie played over 300 senior games and is part of that elite group of two players who have achieved this remarkable feat.
He served the club as the senior coach for five years and Junior Coach between 1933-1937, 1955. He was renowned as an excellent junior coach directing Chelsea’s exciting 1955 Under 16 premiership team. He earned the respect and appreciation of all of the lads under his care who even to this day still speak in glowing terms of his influence on their lives.
Bonnie’s involvement extended well beyond the football ground as he was a delegate to the Federal Football League for many years, eventually being awarded the honour of Life Membership. He had already been awarded Life Membership of Chelsea in 1947. It was just recognition for a man who was absolutely dedicated to the League and deeply hurt by Chelsea’s move across to the Mornington Peninsula League in 1959.
Bonnie’s involvement in interleague matches was exemplary. He played in and coached combined Federal League teams in matches against South Australia and the Diamond Valley League and was victorious on both occasions.
Possessing an astute football brain and an ability to mix freely with players and officials alike, Bonnie was an invaluable asset to the competition. He could honestly be described as a genuine legend of local football, a wonderful role model for the young men of his era.