How Lee Johnson hopes to use 'mini football mafia' to take Hibs forward

Lee Johnson hopes he can make use of what he jokingly branded ‘a mini football mafia’ as he continues his rebuild at Hibs.
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Father Gary is well known in football management circles but the Easter Road boss revealed there are a number of extended family members dotted around the UK, as he reflected on Johnson senior visiting Hibs earlier this month.

“It was a busy week but it’s nice to see your family because you don’t see them that much. He loved it; he knew Hibs was a big club but to see how big it is when you are at a game, at the stadium, you see the history, the training ground and the numbers of people around the training ground.”

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Torquay, managed by the elder Johnson since 2018, were relegated from the National League but are sticking by their manager in the hope he can return them to the fifth tier, having already done so in 2019.

Hibs manager Lee Johnson, right, with father Gary at East MainsHibs manager Lee Johnson, right, with father Gary at East Mains
Hibs manager Lee Johnson, right, with father Gary at East Mains

"He has gone down this year, in really difficult circumstances, but I think it shows what they think of him because they have kept him on,” Johnson explained. “We have helped each other in the past. We have conversations about football and my daughter always moans at Sunday lunch that it is ten minutes talking about her and then three hours talking about football – but football is in our family.”

And it isn’t just his old man who Johnson will be leaning on as he continues trying to take Hibs forward.

"There are ten Johnsons in football and another set of Griffins, which is my Nan’s maiden name, who are also in football. It is, I suppose, a mini football mafia throughout the UK,” Johnson joked. “Some are scouts, some are at academies, some are in player care – they are everywhere and it is good because we have those conversations and connections and you get to find out things and share information.

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"We have helped each other in the past – at Bristol City we gave [Torquay] four good quality players who were on the fringe of our first team, so [my dad] had good players off Bristol City and that’s why contacts are really important. If you have those relationships with the bigger clubs it can make your budget go further.”