John started his career with Blackburn Rovers in 1998 at the tender age of 16 – initially on the YTS programme and then as a 1st year pro. John has had a fair amount of success at all clubs within his career so far and Rovers was no exception. “I won the under 17’s Academy Cup beating Shaun Wright Phillips and Manchester City in the final.”
John left Rovers in 2000 and was signed by Lawrie Sanchez, the then Wycombe Wanderers manager, in 2001. John made his league debut on 24th February 2001 against Peterborough United and was also in the Chairboys squad that travelled to Villa Park for the 2000/2001 FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool – a game the Buckinghamshire side lost 2-1.
John’s time with Wycombe was not a particularly fruitful one. “Injury to my ankle meant that I had limited opportunities after my debut, so I needed to move on.”
In May 2001, John joined Aldershot Town making his debut in August of that year against Enfield Town in an Isthmian League Premier Division match. John was to go on and make 79 appearances for Aldershot, 33 of which were from the bench, scoring 6 goals in the process.
John eventually left the Shots in May 2004. John views his time there as being successful. “I spent 3 years there winning the Conference South and getting to the Conference playoff final, losing on penalties to Shrewsbury.”
Grays Athletic was John’s next club and it was start of an association with Mark Stimson that would eventually lead John into the Football League. John spent 2 very successful years at the Essex club “enjoying 2 FA Trophy wins, a Conference South final and reaching a Conference play off semi-final, eventually suffering defeat to Halifax”.
“The FA Trophy wins for Grays Athletic were great, a fantastic achievement for the club, we had some terrific players at the time – McLean, Kightly, Hooper, Oli…but more was to come for me personally at the newly re-opened Wembley the next season.”
The next move for John was to North Hertfordshire. “I wasn’t looking to move away from Grays particularly, my contract was up and I’d had a good season, as had many of the boys there, finishing third and winning the trophy. Mark Stimson left and moved to Stevenage Borough and he offered me the chance to go with him.”
“I was offered a good deal by Grays Athletic to stay and also by Peterborough United, but after speaking to Mark and visiting the club; I thought it was the right move for me at that time.”
“Having worked with Mark and Scott for 2 years at Grays Athletic and having really enjoyable times winning trophies and playing attacking passing football, I knew they understood me as a player better than anyone and I was also sure they would bring success to Stevenage.”
John made his debut for Boro against Altrincham (away) on 12th August 2006, a game Boro lost 2-1. George Boyd was on the score sheet for Boro that day. John had to wait until October of that year to score his first goal in Boro colours. “My first goal for boro was a penalty against Woking (at home) to make it 2-2 before Dobbo scored in the last minute to win it 3-2, that was a really good night.” For the record the other Boro scorer that day was Dwane Lee.
“I always enjoyed taking penalties and I think I only missed one against Ebbsfleet away so 1 miss in 12 I think it was. I had to argue with Millsy that I was taking them though! My favourite goal though is the free kick against Weymouth, curled into the top corner, we won that 3-0 and it set us on a great run.” The game John is referring took place in the 2007/2008 season with Adam Miller and Steve Morison being the other Boro scorers that day.
The team spirit at Boro in this period was really strong. “I am very close to lots of the lads from Boro – Baz Fuller, Jules, Ronny, Nursy, Beardy, Daz Mac, Johnny Martin, Stewy Lewis the whole squad really. That set of lads was so close.”
“My best mate in football is Adam Miller. We are quite different on the surface but underneath we are very similar.” “I roomed with Adam. We were a bit sad really; we used to push our double beds together. We used to get hammered for it, but we roomed together for years, he’s one of my best mates and we just always slept next to each other. That sounds so weird now! Maybe there was something wrong with us!
Stewy Lewis once got caught climbing through our window in the middle of the night and got ripped apart by the gaffer the next day. That was Stewy though, always mucking about!”
Unsurprisingly, the first Wembley Trophy win is highlighted by John. “The Wembley final has to be my most memorable match for me in a Boro shirt for obvious reasons. Wembley, 56,000 fans, comeback from 2 down, me setting up the equaliser. It was so special, the team spirit was incredible and the atmosphere at Wembley too. It was a fantastic day shared with family, friends and supporters.”
“Winning 3 FA Trophies in a row is something I am so proud of. I am not sure how many other players have managed it; it’s certainly up there in terms of my personal accomplishments.”
John picks out Oxford United as the best side Boro played against in his era at the club and remembers them as being “big, strong and organised.” After the Wembley final, John cites a game against Oxford as being most memorable from his time in Hertfordshire. “The other game in my head is the 2-2 draw with Oxford when we played with 9 men for a good portion of the game and still should have won. Brad Johnson and Boydie were incredible that day. They were flying at the top of the league and we peppered them even with 10 and then 9 men.” For the record, the game John is referring to was played at home in the 2006/2007 season with Steve Morison grabbing a brace that day.
John talks warmly of the Boro team he was part of, highlighting the quality of players at Stevenage during that period. When pushed to pick the best, he picks George Boyd. “So many good players at Boro, but Boydie stands out. His balance and touch were fantastic, he really should be a Premier League player.”
The banter at the club was also special “I have so many stories about my time at Boro. Nights out, coach journeys, card school antics. One of my favourites is when we pushed Pete Heady’s (Physio) car out of the training ground and he thought it had been stolen – happy times.”
“I look back on my time at Stevenage with incredible fondness; it’s a really special club to me. Boro is fantastically run behind the scenes, has great fans and a good family atmosphere. The set of lads I played with I consider friends, so many laughs and fun shared everyday – it was great we got to win something together too.”
“I am not surprised the club has grown, as it’s so well run and I hope that continues. They deserve all the plaudits because I know how hard everyone works at the club.”
John has obvious affection for the club and would like his time at Boro to be remembered “as a good pro who tried to play football the right way, passing the ball, technically good to watch and an honest player.”
|Name||John Robert William Nutter|
|Place of Birth||Taplow|
|Boro Career||2006/2007, 2007/2008|
|Boro Shirt Number||3 “I more or less tried to keep it throughout my career. My idol is Paolo Maldini and that was his shirt so it’s always been my favourite number.|
|Roomed With||Adam Miller|
|Superstitions||None really, although If we won a game I will always try to do the same exact warm up or stretching routine for the next game.|
|Influence on career||Mark Stimson|
Looking back at his early career generally, John comments that “Playing for England C was a really nice honour to achieve for my performances in non-league football. The side I was in had some terrific players – Gary Roberts, McLean, Oli, Mackail-Smith, Boyd, Thurgood, Ronny H, Jalal, Crainey – all those lads went on to play plenty of league games.”
John has a lot of respect for Mark Stimson and the influence he had on John’s career. “Obviously Mark Stimson had the biggest affect on my career, he gave me the chance to be the player I was. He looked at my weaknesses and made me improve them, whilst allowing me to play without fear on the ball. We had our run-ins – when I got some serious home truths, but they were always aimed at getting the best from me.”
In 2007, Mark Stimson left Boro, being appointed as manager for struggling League 1 outfit Gillingham. A number of players followed Mark to Kent including John, initially on a loan deal.
“It was very hard to leave Stevenage, but at the time I was 25 and didn’t think the chance to play league football would come around again if I turned it down. Gillingham is a big club too and I felt it was a great opportunity which I couldn’t turn down.”
“Having Millsy sign on the same day made it pretty easy for me to settle in at Gillingham. We had some good results for the first couple of months and sat just 5 points off the play offs. Then we hit a run of injuries and bad form which saw us tumble down the table.”
John certainly felt the highs and lows of League football, experiencing first relegation to League 2 in the 2007/08 season, then promotion back to League 1 at the first time of asking, courtesy of a Play off victory at Wembley against Shrewsbury Town. The return to League 1 was a tough time for the club, seeing them again suffer relegation to League 2 in the 2009/10 season.
“I look back on my time with Gillingham with good memories, even though it was very up and down, but it tested me as a player and as a person. I played against some very good players, in great stadiums and enjoyed the challenge – especially in league 1 where the standard of play is quite superior to that of league 2.”
In 2011, John joined Lincoln City. “I have been at Lincoln for the last 18 months, which has been a challenging time for both me and the club. It has been the most testing time in the clubs history, struggling financially and with life in the Conference following relegation from the Football League.”
“Personally, I have found it very hard being away from home. My wife and two boys moved with me, but even though we found the people and place to be nice, we struggled being away from our family and friends. My wife also works in London, so she was commuting three days a week away from me and the kids which was also hard work.”
“I only really feel I played anywhere near my best in the first couple of months at Lincoln, although I was honoured to be captain for many games. I have recently been on loan at Woking which is very local for me, so we will see if anything can be agreed with them in the near future.”
Towards the end of compiling this interview, John did indeed sign a permanent contract with Woking which ties him to the Surrey club to the end of the 2012/2013 season.
Reflecting on his time with the Imps, John commented that “Lincoln is a really nice, friendly club with very patient and loyal supporters. But with my personal circumstances, it was time to move on – I wish them well.”
John is obviously not ready to hang up his boots just yet, but is preparing for life after his playing career. “I have completed my coaching badges up to my UEFA B, and begin my A license shortly. I am looking forward to the challenge of coaching and hope to have a career in management at some level in the future.”
The Stevenage FC History website would like to thank John for taking part in the interview and wish him all the very best at Woking and ultimately in his coaching or management career in the game.