Peter Johnstone is described in the monumental ‘Alphabet of the Celts’ book as an all-time Celtic great. The former miner from the west of Fife who came to the club in 1908 from Glencraig Celtic and established himself in the heart of one of the club’s greatest defences. One newspaper wrote of him in 1913: “Celtic fans idolise Peter Johnstone . . . a lion’s courage . . . has played in almost every position . . . never let the side down.”
Peter won League Championships with Celtic in 1910, 1914, 1915, 1916. In the latter two years he had returned to work in the mines when not playing as part of the war effort: the first World War started on 28th July 1914. Although the club won a fourth successive title in 1917 Peter made only two appearances that season after volunteering to join the war and being sent to the front in France.
He died in the Battle of Arras and lies in an unmarked grave. He was survived by his wife and two children.
At the height of his football fame in July 1913 Celtic fan John Conway from Bridgeton wrote this poem in praise of Peter:
From out the Kingdom, Peter hies,
From Glencraig Celtic, to be precise,
And thence unto the Paradise,
The summit of his fame.
With every trick that’s in the trade,
Full many a role has Peter played;
The brilliant deputy he made,
Adds lustre to his name.
A loyal servant you have been,
Long may you wear the hoops of green,
Your well-kent face of old be seen
On our own Paradise.
No warmer Celtic heart than thine,
Long may your star ascendant shine.
Full sure when Celtic made you sign
They booked a prize.
May his soul rest in peace and long may his star ascendant shine.