Cards’ chairman steps down, but will do whatever she can ‘to support the club’

ROSEMARY Johnson says that her greatest achievement as Woking Football club chairman was keeping the club going.

The likeable, sensible Johnson took over at the Kingfield helm in 2016. Although the Cards were relegated in 2018, the Johnson era can be viewed as a success on the field, with an instant return to the non-League top flight secured, the scalp of Swindon Town taken in the FA Cup and some memorable results against much bigger clubs achieved in the National League.

Rosemary Johnson and her husband Ian with the National League South play-off winners’ trophy after the Cards secured promotion in 2019. Picture by David Holmes

Shortly after the sacking of manager Alan Dowson was announced by the club last Monday evening, Johnson posted on the Woking fans’ online forum Cardboard to say she was stepping down with immediate effect.

When she became chairman, Johnson intended to keep the job for only six weeks. She ended up having it for six years.

“To be honest, I feel that my greatest achievement is to have worked to keep the club going,” she told the News & Mail.

“Until this year it would be fair to say that we have struggled to find the finance to keep going, and I had always seen my role to make sure Woking functioned as a football club.

“Running a very close second has been the work that the club carried out as a community club, fundraising for good causes, supporting fans during the COVID-19 lockdowns and being a club that cares about the disadvantaged and disabled.”

A Woking resident for 50 years, Johnson reflected fondly on the Cards’ FA Cup third-round clash with Watford at The Laithwaite Community Stadium in January 2019.

The Premier League outfit were given a run for their money by the hosts, who were then in National League South, and prevailed 2-0 in front of a 5,717-strong crowd.

Johnson said: “My happiest memory has to be Watford at home and enjoying the delight of our fans having a great day and the club buzzing.

“Watching the Watford team walk into the club through a tunnel of supporters was great – and they were a lovely club, by the way.

“My family memory of that day was my eldest son, who was in the boardroom, surprising the chief executive of Watford by his presence as the last time they had met was when they were both at university.”

Despite no longer being involved with the club at board level, Johnson intends to remain a staunch supporter of the Cards, the club she has followed for many years.

She said: “I am a long-term fan of the club. I will always support the club and intend to go to as many away matches as I can, either by supporters’ coach – which I used to run for the supporters’ club – or train, or by driving.

“I do not intend to fade away from the club and will help The Cards Trust out, if they need my help, and will do whatever I can to support the club.”

Johnson has always regarded herself as a Woking fan first, and an official second. As a result, she has been able to relate to the club’s supporters in a way that some sides’ chairmen cannot.

The outpouring of emotion from Woking followers on Cardboard after Johnson’s resignation post showed just how much she was valued as chairman, and how much she will be missed.

She told the News & Mail: “Fans of Woking are passionate about their club and I have always viewed myself as a fan first, and I am humbled by the kind comments I have received since the news broke.

“With the new investors, the club and the way that it is run will change. It is up to them to work out what they want from the club, and how they decide how they wish to design the way the club operates.”

For the full interview, get the 3 March edition of the News & Mail

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