John started his career at Fulham FC in 1994 as a 16 year old member of their youth team setup. In the same team was young midfielder Michael Mison, who John went on to play with at Rushden and Diamonds and with whom he still stays in contact with. (Michael also played for Stevenage but left before John joined the club).
John found it difficult to break into the first team, but did make 3 substitute appearances for the Cottagers before being released by the west London club in the summer of 1997.
Looking back at his days with Fulham, John recalls playing against stars like “Ruud Gullit, Vialli, Wise and the like” and ruefully considers what might have been. “I often wonder how my path at Fulham would have gone if ‘Mr Harrods’ had not taken over the club.”
After being released, John found himself in Northamptonshire with Rushden and Diamonds. John made 87 appearances for the Diamonds, scoring 7 goals including a penalty against then league 2 side Scunthorpe United in the 1998/1999 FA Cup which helped the then Football Conference side beat their League counterparts.
John went on loan in mid December 2000 to Dagenham and Redbridge. The spell at Victoria Road proved to be a short one, with John appearing just 5 times before being recalled by his parent club due to interest from North Hertfordshire for his services.
Looking back at the recent demise of the Diamonds, John comments “As for Rushden it is a very sad outcome – It had everything. Max Griggs (the ex- chairman and Dr. Marten’s owner) must be really upset after all the money that was ploughed into the club.”
John joined Stevenage in January 2001, making his debut for his new club ironically against the Diamonds at Nene Park on 27th January 2001. For the record, Boro lost that game to their Northamptonshire rivals 2-0.
John at the time felt that he needed to be playing, hence his loan spell at The Daggers, and when the approach from Paul Fairclough came, he viewed his chance with Stevenage “as being a very good move for me. Paul told me that Boro was a very well run club and that I fitted into his plans.”
When looking back at his time with Boro, unsurprisingly John highlights the FA Trophy run in the 2001/2002 season which culminated in a trophy final appearance at Villa Park as being the stand out memory of his time with the club.
John scored a 90th minute penalty in the first leg of the semi-final away at Morecambe to give Boro a precious 2-1 lead going into the home tie. John views that goal “as being his favourite” due to its significance.
Boro made it to the final that year with a comfortable 2-0 victory in the home leg securing their appearance at Villa Park. The history books show that Boro lost the Final 2-0, but playing in the final is something John will never forget.
The East Terrace christened a new tribute to the number 2 following his performance up at Christie Park, which has been adapted for a family website to go along the lines of “Oh Johnny Hamsher, scored a ‘very’ good goal ……with one minute to go, Oh Johnny Hamsher” a ditty that the number 2 remembers to this day with affection.
Talking about his time at Stevenage, John remembers a particular pre- season friendly against Spurs which Boro lost 1-9, but not before John had put Stevenage 1-0 up. He considers that Spurs team as the best team he played against in Boro colours.
John also recalls the banter around the squad including a particular incident when he was involved with an impromptu cutting of Jean Michel Sigere’s hair whilst he was sleeping.
John would like to be remembered by Boro supporters as being “Honest, hardworking and never late. “
“The rise of Stevenage through to League 1 does not surprise me as they have had a number of decent managers who have bought wisely with their budget.”
|Place of Birth||Lambeth, London|
|Boro Career||2000/2001, 2001/2002|
|Boro Shirt Number||2|
|Roomed With||D J Campbell|
|Influence on Career||His Dad and Brian Talbot|
In the summer of 2002, John was released from Boro and joined Ryman’s Division one outfit, Carshalton Athletic. John was then to achieve an unenviable hat trick in his football career, a hat trick of broken legs. The first one occurred not long after he joined in September 2002, the second one in May 2003 and cruelly after just regaining his fitness, the 3rd one in January 2004.
“After breaking your leg three times you would think it was time to hang your boots up” but instead in 2005 he joined fellow Ryman League One outfit, Metropolitan Police. Cove followed in 2007 before starting the following season at Chertsey Town.
John then started moving into management, first with Guildford City as a player/assistant manager, but left in early 2009 to take up a player/coach role at Banstead Athletic.
At the beginning of the 2009/10 season, John became joint assistant manager at Ryman League Division 1 South side Mersham. He later joined Sussex County League Dorking Wanderers in November 2009, citing pressure of time restrictions with a new job as the reason for moving on.
In March 2011, John was appointed manager of Combined Counties League Premier side, Egham Town. John left the club in September 2012 with them sitting top of the league. He was not out of football long, joining Chipstead, a Ryman Division One South side, a few days later as their manager.
John describes being a manager as “being on the phone continuously dealing with players, the chairman, training, counselling and playing budgets.” He continues that the manager he would most like to emulate is Graham Roberts at Carshalton Athletic as “he was honest, knew what he wanted from a player and told it how it was. I will never forget that when I broke my leg, he really helped me along and kept my spirits up.”
This brings the story of John’s football career up to date. At the time of writing, Chipstead are 15th in the league table with 19 points posted so far this season.
The Stevenage FC History website would like to thank John for his time and patience in completing this interview and would like to wish him and Chipstead FC all the very best for the future.