From the Archives: Great Things Gary Johnson Has Done

Earlier this week we were admonished on twitter by fanzine reader and Yeovil fan Seb White who was none too impressed with a reference in Issue 60 to the “hot air boasts” of Glovers manager Gary Johnson. There is, we replied, much more where that comes from; most notably a whole double page feature penned by our now editor of popular STAND from back in February 2004. So here is that very article, which initially appeared in issue 25 of the fanzine, where Glen Wilson celebrates Great Things Gary Johnson Has Done.

Great Things Gary Johnson Has Done

Back in mid-January The Observer carried an article about the current lack of English managers in football. Accompanying this piece was a table of ‘the highest rated English managers outside the top flight’, and amongst the eighteen names listed was that of Gary Johnson. Here is a man who has attracted a lot of attention recently, firstly for Yeovil’s promotion and secondly, as anyone who watched the BBC’s coverage of Yeovil versus Liverpool in the FA Cup 3rd round would have noticed, for Latvia’s qualification for Euro 2004.

Apparently, the current Yeovil boss got the Latvians to stop playing their ‘traditional Soviet way’ and instead encouraged them to play ‘the Gary Johnson way’ thus completely changing the fortunes of the Baltic nation. But just how much of an impact did Johnson make on Latvia? Well, I thought I’d check.

When Johnson took over in the summer of 1999 Latvia were sitting in third place in their Euro 2000 qualifying group. Johnson’s arrival had an instant effect… they finished fourth. However, Johnson would show his true worth when he took control of Latvia’s 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign from the start. Before returning to England in April 2001 the Londoner had guided Latvia to a fantastic fourth place in group 6, with four points earned through an away win and a home draw against noted football superpower San Marino.

A fantastic and successful two years, but obviously its harsh to judge Johnson’s reign solely on Latvia’s qualification record. Instead the best measure of his success surely comes through FIFA’s World rankings. Johnson it seemed helped to propel Latvia a whopping 39 places in FIFA’s pecking order as he expertly steered them from 55th, to 94th. The facts speak for themselves. What a man. How anyone can fail to give Gary Johnson full credit for Latvia’s qualification for Euro 2004 two years after he had left is beyond me. Always in awe of true genius at popular STAND we felt we should pay tribute to Johnson’s other achievements.

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest

Johnson’s influence on the rise of all things Latvian had already come to prominence in 2002, when he single-handedly took the Baltic nation to Eurovision glory. “Well when I got involved they weren’t having much luck, they had some talented individuals like, but y’know they were still trying to sing songs the Soviet way,” Johnson told the press. “However I had a look at things and I’d seen this girl Marija Naumova singing in a Gershwin tribute thing so I brought her in on a free and then got them to approach Eurovision the Gary Johnson Way and obviously its paid off”. Johnson claims to have also implemented the name change that saw Naumova compete in the contest as Marija N. “It were just a bit more catchy y’know and that’s the Gary Johnson Way,” said the Londoner who is also believed to have written Marija N’s song ‘I Wanna’. “It’s a great result for this country,” commented Johnson at the time, “and I’m glad to have been involved.”

Finding Saddam Hussein

Having abandoned their search for seemingly mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (or ‘Colin Sutherland’s as we know them), the Allied forces in Iraq had instead resorted to playing a nine month long game of Hide and Seek with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. With time fast approaching Saddam’s turn to count and still no sign of the dictator things were looking bleak for the British and American governments, that is, until Gary Johnson took control. “They’d been looking around for months with no luck, but they were still trying to do things the Army way. So I went in there, got the lads together, shook things up a bit and we started doing things the Gary Johnson way, or Operation Red Dawn as we called it,” Johnson told reporters. “Anyway, they took my new approach on board like and within a couple of days he’d turned up in a hole in the ground beneath a farm-house ten miles south of Tikrit. I was getting messages throughout the search about how things were going like, so it’s obviously a great result for the boys to be fair.”

Inventing the Internet

In the mid 1990s civilization took one giant leap forward as the world-wide web finally took off; the result of many decades of research, the Internet took communication to a new level. Many prominent figures tried to take credit for its invention, notably American politician Al Gore, however the man at the forefront of a technological revolution was none other than Yeovil manager Gary Johnson. “They’d spent decades on research towards the internet, but they’d got bogged down doing things the scientific way and to be honest it was time they took a new approach,” says Johnson. “So I went in there and got them working the Gary Johnson way and y’know the results speak for themselves. Obviously the information super highway is a great result for those lads, so I’m made up for them.”

Writing ‘Imagine’

At the start of the 1970s, as the Beatles went their separate ways, John Lennon was looking to write a song with real meaning. Suffering from writer’s block he was struggling to put pen to paper; Gary Johnson takes up the story. “He’d been in the group so long he was still trying to do things the Beatles Way and obviously it weren’t getting him anywhere, so I’ve gone over there and I’ve taken John aside and said obviously y’know, things aren’t working out here lets take stock and try a different approach. So then I’ve got him doing things the Gary Johnson way. We’ve brought in The Plastic Ono Band and those lads have done a great job, and then I come up with this concept of there being no heaven, y’know, above us only sky and we’ve just gone from there.”

Front cover of Issue 25 of the fanzine

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