Brad Johnson (Australian footballer)

Brad Johnson (born 18 July 1976 in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria) is a former Australian rules footballer who was the captain of Australian Football League team Western Bulldogs. Despite his small size for his position, he was considered to be one of the best forwards in the game because of his overhead marking ability, and he also had the ability to play across half forward or in the midfield.

Brad Johnson
Johnson working for Fox Footy at a pre-season match in March 2017
Personal information
Full name Brad Johnson
Nickname(s) Smiling Assassin, springboard
Date of birth (1976-07-18) 18 July 1976
Place of birth Hoppers Crossing, Victoria
Original team(s) Williamstown / Western Jets
Draft 11th overall, 1993
Western Bulldogs
Height 182 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 87 kg (192 lb)
Position(s) Full-forward
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1994–2010 Western Bulldogs 364 (558)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2010.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

AFL career

Footscray/Western Bulldogs career

Recruited from Williamstown, Johnson made his debut in the 1994 season, and has been known as either a damaging forward or midfielder. Known as the "Smiling Assassin" due to the constant smile on his face, he is a popular figure around the club and has won three best and fairest awards – in 1999, 2002 and 2006.

In 1996, Johnson along with the entire Footscray football club was filmed for the documentary Year of the Dogs, which was released in 1997. The documentary followed the turbulent 1996 season where the Dogs finished second last on the ladder.

In 1997, Johnson and the Dogs had a good season. They finished third on the ladder and made it all the way to the preliminary final. In the preliminary final the Dogs faced the Adelaide Crows and led at the final break by five goals. In the fourth quarter the Crows made a stirring come back to win the game by 2 points. Johnson played in several other preliminary finals in his career, but never competed in a Grand Final.

In 2000, Johnson was a part of the Bulldogs side that ended Essendon's winning streak of 20 games in the classic round 21 clash. The Dogs defeated the Bombers in a fierce contest by just 2 goals. Right on half-time Essendon player John Barnes turfed Johnson and left him concussed. This led to a vicious brawl between the teams. At the end of the game Johnson ran on the field and confronted Barnes, giving him the last word. The Dogs were the only team to beat Essendon that year, who would later go on to win the premiership.

Johnson was the step ladder of one of the greatest marks in the history of The AFL when Gary Moorcroft took mark of the year in 2001

Johnson has represented Australia in International Rules Football in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003.

In 2005, he kicked a Goal of the Year contender – an amazing soccer-style half volley from an extremely tight angle on the boundary line.

Johnson has been selected in the All-Australian Team in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2006 he was chosen as captain of the Bulldogs following the injury of Luke Darcy and also as captain of the All Australian Team. Under Johnson's leadership the Bulldogs made the finals for the first time since 2000. In their Elimination Final the Dogs defeated Collingwood by 41 points. They were knocked out in the Semi Finals by West Coast. Johnson capped off his 2006 season finishing second in the Coleman Medal with 70 goals, an amazing feat considering that he had played the final 11 games of the season with a shoulder injury that later required surgery.[1]

In round one of the 2007 season Johnson kicked a career high 8 goals against the Geelong Cats. Despite several impressive wins, the Dogs didn't make finals this year.

He started the 2008 season against the Adelaide Crows in his 300th game and kicked five second-half goals, including three in the last seven minutes as the Bulldogs came out on top by three points.[2] The Dogs continued this season with many impressive performances and even finished third on the ladder. Their remarkable season came to an end when they lost to a strong Geelong side in the Preliminary Final by just under five goals. That same year Johnson was selected to represent the Victorian football team in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match. Although Johnson pulled out just weeks before the match.

In recent seasons, Johnson has had the misfortune of missing shots on goal after the final siren to win the game. In Round 9, 2008, against North Melbourne, Johnson missed a shot at goal from 35 metres out on a 45-degree angle. A year later in the same round, Johnson had the same opportunity but this time against the Geelong Cats from 10 metres in front of goal on a tight angle in which he also missed.

The 2009 season was another marginally successful season for the Dogs under Johnson's captaincy. The Bulldogs for the second consecutive year finished third on the ladder. The Dogs played their final match in a Preliminary Final blockbuster against the Saints. Losing by just 7 points.

On 1 August 2009, Johnson became the games record holder for the Western Bulldogs. With 342 games he surpassed Chris Grant's old record of 341 games for the club. Johnson went on to play a total of 364 games for the Western Bulldogs and still remains the club's record holder for most games played.

Johnson played his 350th game in Round 1 against Collingwood, which the Bulldogs lost by 6 goals. Later that year whilst recovering from a previous injury Johnson was struck by the club's drinks cart in training. His then manager Ricky Nixon later said that the resulting injury was worse than Johnson and the club let on and that it hastened the end of Johnson's career. On 6 September 2010, Johnson announced his retirement from AFL at the end of the 2010 season. Johnson played his final game on 18 September 2010, after the Bulldogs' second consecutive loss to St Kilda in a preliminary final.

On 4 June 2014, Johnson was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Playing positions

Brad Johnson regularly played as a half forward flank but when he was heavily marked or out of play he was able to play as a forward pocket or midfielder.


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1994 Footscray 3397790241142380.80.810.02.712.72.60.9
1995 Footscray 6211091999129078330.
1996 Footscray 62214132648534990200.60.612.03.915.94.10.9
1997 Western Bulldogs 6241615375125500122250.70.615.
1998 Western Bulldogs 6242914330133463120261.20.613.85.519.35.01.1
1999 Western Bulldogs 6242621382162544133221.10.915.96.822.75.50.9
2000 Western Bulldogs 6213216346121467120351.50.816.55.822.25.71.7
2001 Western Bulldogs 6224832327109436124362.21.514.
2002 Western Bulldogs 6224428334154488137472.01.315.
2003 Western Bulldogs 6224223335167502146401.
2004 Western Bulldogs 6211924332120452133510.
2005 Western Bulldogs 6224223329139468149421.
2006 Western Bulldogs 6247442332135467174303.11.813.85.619.57.31.3
2007 Western Bulldogs 6215926292114406165372.
2008 Western Bulldogs 6255028331118449172372.
2009 Western Bulldogs 6253726353185538176661.
2010 Western Bulldogs 615981706923991140.60.511.34.615.96.10.9
Career 364 558 355 5121 2051 7172 2153 569 1.5 1.0 14.1 5.6 19.7 5.9 1.6

Honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1994 0
1995 0
1996 2
1997 4
1998 7
1999 3
2000 6
2001 6
2002 4
2003 2
2004 3
2005 6
2006 19
2007 14
2008 0
2009 1
2010 0
Total 77


Media and personal life

Brad Johnson is married to Donna Johnson and they have two children, Ella and Jack.

Johnson co-hosted children's AFL show Auskick'n Around on Fox Footy Channel with former Essendon Football Club captain Matthew Lloyd before the show was cancelled at the end of 2005.[4]

Brad Johnson is currently the Mix 101.1 Resident Footy Expert on Friday Morning with Brigitte Duclos and Anthony Lehmann.

He has also appeared as a panellist on the Seven Network's AFL Game Day as well as on their coverage of the 2010 AFL Grand Final.

After retirement Johnson made his debut for 3AW Football and Fox Sports in season 2012.

He also contributes to the website the Roar under the moniker of Johnno.

In 2016, Johnson took part in the EJ Whitten Legends Game. He wore The Big V and was one of the best on ground, kicking 3 goals.


  1. Stevens, Mark (19 September 2006). "Ausse (sic) skipper needs surgery". Fox Sports. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  2. AFL Fixture, 2008 AFL Fixture – Round 1,, 23 March 2008, Retrieved on 3 January 2009
  3. Brad Johnson's player profile at AFL Tables
  4. Connolly, Paul (1 April 2007). "The field commanders". Sun Herald. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
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