Peter Thomas Johnson
Born: January 19, 1935 (London, England)
Died: February 22, 2013 (Burlington, Ontario)
Peter Johnson, a soccer referee, suffered a hairline fracture and needed 12 stitches to close a gash to his forehead when struck by a chair thrown by an irate fan. About 200 fans stormed the pitch at the Autostade in Montréal after the Rochester (N.Y.) Lancers scored to go ahead 4-0 in a North American Soccer League (NASL) match against the Olympics. The 1971 game was called with 25 minutes left on the clock.
“When those fans came after me I ran for the officials’ dressing room,” Johnson told the Montreal Gazette the next day. “I’d just got to the door and thought I had made it. Then the lights went out. I was unconscious for some time.”
He said the incident would not keep him from the pitch.
“It’s unfortunate a few barbarians can spoil it for so many.”
The school teacher, who lived at the time in Windsor, Ont., returned to Montreal five years later as an official for the soccer matches held during the Olympic Games.
Johnson’s career as a soccer referee was also notable for his having once booked Pelé, showing the Brazilian legend a yellow card in a 1976 NASL match in Tampa, Fla.
Johnson became a soccer referee in his native England, where he worked the rough English League. He immigrated to Canada in 1969, becoming one of the top officials in his adopted land. He refereed 11 international matches in his career. Johnson, a carpenter and joiner by training and, later, a teacher, became a referee instructor and took positions on the executive of soccer bodies. He opened an antique shop late in life and also served as president of the local lawn bowling club in Burlington, Ont.