Jon, a Barbadian national moved to the UK in 1984 and took up residence in Fulham living with his grand-parents and mum.
Football was always important to Jon from a very young age. He started his assent into the Football League playing for Nuwood FC on Saturdays and Sutton Athletic on Sundays before getting his chance to join Sutton United; here he was spotted by a certain North Hertfordshire club who gave him a chance to play in the non-league top flight.
“I started off as a school boy in the Malden Vale U13 team in Raynes Park, Southwest London. I then moved to Wallington Wanderers until I was about 17 years old. During this period, I had attended and played at the Wimbledon and Crystal Palace schools of excellence but nothing had come of it.
I decided that I should go to university, as I wanted to have a career in computing and started playing men’s football in the Morden and District League for Sutton Athletic. I went on to score lots of goals and was lucky enough to appear in a number of finals and promotion winning teams. This is where I really learnt how to play football.
I then joined Nuwood FC on a Saturday in the Surrey Combination League for the 2002/2003 season and we pretty much won everything we were involved with that season.”
Jon signed for Sutton United, the Ryman Premier outfit for the 2003/2004 season “I moved to Sutton United reserves getting my chance as the manager was my friend’s dad. I was scoring freely in the reserves which earnt me my first team call up by the end of October 2003. I think my first start was against Basingstoke at home. I scored my first goal away at Kettering as Sutton United won the game 1-0. After that, I went on to score in 7 or 8 consecutive games and ended the season with 26 goals in 23 games”.
In the 2004/05 pre-season Jon was signed by Stevenage.
It was not a foregone conclusion that Jon would join Boro as his scoring exploits with Sutton United had not gone unnoticed. “That season (2003/2004) I had been on trial with Colchester United and they were keen for me to go back for a further trial. I had also spoken to Wimbledon about a potential trial. There were rumours of other clubs but after the last game of that season I spoke to Graham (Westley) and that was that!”
Jon wanted to further his career so the move from Sutton United had to be the right one. “Graham sold himself firstly and then told me how I would fit in. He then invited me to the stadium and that was all I needed. I had gone from the parks to Sutton United and then seeing Broadhall Way I didn’t need any more convincing. I had the perfect platform to further my career. The ground and training ground were that impressive I wanted to sign straight away!”
In a matter of years Jon had gone from park football to the top flight of non-league. “It was definitely a step up and was surrounded with a lot of players that had played League football and their standards and ability were the best I’d worked with. The training facilities and the stadium speak for themselves and the fans were brilliant and made playing at home a buzz.
The step up wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be but the quality definitely was higher than I expected. Also the change from part time to full time training was probably the hardest part. I spent most afternoons sleeping trying to recover!”
Jon had to wait for his chance to break into the first team but scored 22 times in a Boro shirt. “The first goals I remember were in a pre-season friendly against Cambridge United or Boston? I think we won 3-2 and I got the winning goal. It was like a welcome to the Boro. One of my favourite goals was against Rushden at Nene Park, because it was my first after being on loan at Woking It was a nice welcome home.”
In his time at Boro Jon went on loan a couple of times, firstly at Lewes in 2004 and secondly to arch rivals Woking in 2006. “The first loan was to Lewes. I wasn’t playing and then pulled my hamstring and needed to play games. I knew their manager Steve King (currently Macclesfield manager) and he gave me the chance to play some games for him. I went for two months which I think was 8 games. I scored 6 times but also managed to get knocked out suffering concussion whilst on loan!
I then went on loan to Woking – again coming back from injury. I had a double hernia op and Stimmo thought it best to get me out on loan to get games to get fit, so I went to Woking for a month. I played 6 games scoring twice and helping them into playoff positions. They then wanted to sign me permanently but Stimmo wanted me back to go into the team.
Both of my loans were good, both served their purpose and I always came back to Boro fitter than when I left. I was fairly prolific whilst on my loans as well; Lewes scored 6 in 8 games; Woking scored 2 in 6 games.”
Jon has some fond memories from his time with Boro not least his memories from his travelling companions “I used to travel with Barry Laker and Mickey Warner. They schooled me and taught me how to be a good pro. I owe a lot to them. After they left, I travelled with Alan Julian, John Nutter and Ronny Henry. Now that car school had it all and trust me it was some crazy days travelling because we were all mad characters but Nutsy was the sensible one and kept us all in check.”
Turning to his time on the pitch For Boro , Jon picks an interesting team as the best he played against in a Boro shirt “This won’t make me a popular guy and may upset a few (closing my eyes and saying it as quietly as possible), the Barnet team that won promotion to the League. They were a special group that season.”
In terms of the best player he played with whilst with Boro an unsurprising answer “It has to be Boydy. I saw him grow from a skinny shy kid to the most talented footballer I’ve played with.”
When asked about the most memorable game for Boro, Jon gives a bitter sweet response “Obviously I’ve got the Trophy Final but I never got to play that day, so for me Hereford in the Semi Final of the Conference Play-off always stands out in my mind, both games home and away. I believe that’s when I matured as a footballer and realised just what it is like to win something. Even though we lost the Final against Carlisle, for me it was a massive moment in my career.”
Jon sees Boro as the team that set up his career in football “I loved my time at Boro, I never wanted to leave. From the fans, to the staff, to the Chairman – it’s a great club and a great place to play football. I achieved lots there and won the trophy. The club was always set up to go on and do well. Stevenage educated me and gave me a chance to progress in football.”
“All the teams at Boro were like families but under Stimmo we were a very close bunch. I still speak to Barry Laker and we are pretty much still good friends with all the boys from that time.”
Jon has ventured a number of times to The Lamex since his departure for one simple reason “My friends were all still there once I left. Stevenage will always hold a special place in my heart because it gave me my start. The club was always set up to go on, we just had to get it right on the pitch and they have been doing that since I left the club, so now they are reaping the benefits.”
Jon has one major frustration whilst playing for Boro “Just not winning more things and not getting promoted to league 2 because I always believed we were good enough.”
Summing up his time at Stevenage Jon comments “Well I hope the fans noticed me as someone who was quick, energetic and entertaining and they enjoyed watching me play and help bring the glory times to Boro. Also I hope they recognised that I always gave 100% when I was on the pitch in that Boro shirt.”
|Name||Jonathan David Nurse|
|Place of Birth||Bridgetown, Barbados|
|Boro Career||2004/2005, 2005/2006 and 2006/2007|
|Boro Shirt Number||“It was a while ago but I think I was the number 20. I wanted 11 because that had always been my number but it just wasn’t available. At that point I was happy with any number! I then went on to be the number 9”.|
|Superstitions||“I never had superstitions really. I just had routines that I would follow religiously”|
|Influence on career||“Well there has been a few. Phil Dunne and John Raines (Sutton), Graham Westley, Jimmy Dack and Mark Stimson (Boro), John Still and Rob Garvey (Daggers) and Darren Curry – All these people have been equally important in my career.|
Jon left to join Dagenham and Redbridge in the 2007/2008 pre-season, a team that had just achieved promotion to League 2. “It was a sad farewell because I was losing my friends and my home but I had the chance to play League football and progress my career, so I couldn’t turn that opportunity down.”
Jon made over 200 appearances for the Daggers and in the process found the net 28 times. He was at the East London club for 5 years. He had some notable successes whilst with the club including scoring the winner at Wembley in the 2009/2010 League 2 Play-off final. Jon experienced League 1 football for a year before suffering relegation back to League 2.
“I struggled again in my first year with injury but after that settled at the Daggers and established myself as a League footballer. I had some amazing times there and the Daggers played a massive part in my career.”
Jon reflecting on the step up from Conference to League 2 level and the difference between Boro and the Daggers commented “To be honest the Conference and League 2 are very similar, It is a bit more physical in the Conference and the players are a little more clever in League 2. If you make mistakes in League 2 you more often than not will get punished. The standard of the strikers were the biggest difference.”
“The playing styles of Boro and the Daggers were very different but the team spirit and work ethic were identical. They were very similar in a lot of senses but of course at that time the Daggers were in the higher league.”
In terms of memories from his time in East London there is of course one overriding one “Scoring the winning goal at Wembley is something that will live with me forever. I was so happy to get the chance to play at Wembley after not playing in the FA Trophy Final with Stevenage.”
In May 2012, Jon’s contract with the Daggers came to an end and was not renewed. Jon found himself in Hertfordshire again but not in the red and white of Boro but in the amber and black of Barnet.
“I sat down with Jon Still at the end of the 2011/12 season and was told that the club had to cut the budget and that unless they could get players off the wage bill I wouldn’t be offered a new contract. I held on as long as I could but when Marc Robson at Barnet came knocking, I thought it was time for a change.”
At the time of writing, Barnet are in 20th position in League 2, just 3 points off the drop zone. Jon has found the net 3 times during the season “It’s been a tough season so far but its picking up now and we are heading in the right direction.”
Jon sees his long term future in the game but is certainly not ready to hang his boots up yet “I intend to play as long as I can. I would love to get another promotion and maybe another trip to Wembley! I want to stay in football once my playing days are over. I have my level 3 coaching badge and I am currently completing my UEFA B badge.”
In terms of managers that have had the biggest influence on his career John has no doubt “John Still but I have to say that Stimmo is a very close second.”
Jon has also had the honour of playing International football with Barbados “It is an experience that I am incredibly proud of. To represent your country at any sport, at any level is a massive achievement. It is not obviously like playing for England because Barbados is a tiny country but nevertheless it is still a great honour. I played in 2 world cup qualifying tournaments. The most notable one when we played the USA. The result wasn’t best pleasing (we lost 8-0) but it was definitely an experience worth having.”
In closing the interview Jon left us with this final thought “It was an absolute pleasure to have played for Boro. It is somewhere that is always close to my heart. I still check for their results every weekend.”
The Stevenage FC History Website would like to thank Jon for his time in completing this interview and wishes him all the very best with his future in football.