Gordon Nutt (1932-2014)
It is sad to report the death this week of former Coventry City player Gordon Nutt. Gordon, a home-grown player, played 82 games for the club between 1951-54, scoring 11 goals. Sadly he was one of the many good young players sold by the club to balance the finances in that era.
Born in Birmingham on 8 November 1932 Gordon was the eldest of five children & grew up in South Yardley. He starred as a schoolboy footballer & represented Birmingham Schools.
After leaving school he joined Coventry City as a 16-year old apprentice and quickly became a regular in the Modern Machines team, which was actually the club's 'A' team. Gordon was a skilful right-winger who loved to take on his full-back and have a crack at goal. He was one of a number of outstanding youngsters being groomed by the club for the future. His team-mates like Reg Matthews, Frank Austin, Lol Harvey, Peter and Jimmy Hill and Ray Sambrook could have formed the nucleus of the club for ten years but sadly the majority were later sold to bigger clubs.
The club's regular right-winger was the veteran Leslie 'Plum' Warner and Gordon's first-team chances looked slim. However at Christmas 1951 with Warner injured Gordon was given his first team debut and scored in a 1-2 home defeat to Blackburn. In the Pink match report Nemo described Nutt as ‘the pick of the home forwards’ and ‘gave the English international full-back (Bill) Eckersley quite a busy afternoon’.
He obviously impressed the manager too because he retained his place & played a key role in City's 4-1 FA Cup third round win over Leicester in mid-January. City lost at First Division Burnley in round four & Gordon was back to the reserves after six first team games. With Gordon called up for his National Service with the Army. There he befriended the future Manchester United & England centre-forward Tommy Taylor and represented the Army at football. Army duties however restricted his appearances for City and his opportunities were few and far between. City were relegated to Division Three in 1952 and the veteran Warner retained his place on the wing until early 1953 when Gordon was promoted again & quickly made the number 7 shirt his own. In 1953-54 Gordon scored one of the fastest goals in the club’s history when in a 2-0 home win over Walsall he netted after just 30 seconds.
He was a virtual ever-present for the next eighteen months & became a very popular player with the fans. City however failed to bounce back into Division Two & with gates falling economies were forced on successive of managers. The bright young players seen as the club's future had to be sold to prop up the club. Gordon was one of the first to leave in December 1954, signing for First Division Cardiff for £18,000.
In the summer of 1955 he was selected in the FA touring party to the West Indies and played alongside future City manager Jimmy Hill & future England manager Bobby Robson.
He failed to fulfil his potential at Ninian Park however and after 17 games (and three goals) he was on the move again. In September 1955, after impressing for Cardiff reserves against Arsenal the Gunners boss Tom Whittaker decided to sign him and Mike Tiddy for a combined fee of £20,000.
Within hours of signing Gordon made his Arsenal debut in a 1-3 defeat at Sunderland but a week later scored the winning goal in a 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa. Over the next five years he made 51 appearances including the famous 4-5 defeat by Manchester United just a few days before the 1958 Munich disaster when he faced his old army friend Tommy Taylor. Gordon played alongside many Arsenal greats including Jack Kelsey, David Herd, Cliff Holton, Tommy Docherty & Dave Bowen.
After leaving Arsenal in 1960 he had a season at Southend (18 games – 2 goals) followed by a year in Holland with PSV Eindhoven before returning to England to play non-league football with Hereford United, Rugby Town & Bexley United. In 1965 he emigrated to Australia and after briefly playing for Sydney Croatia & Manly FC he set up a successful film lighting company in Sydney. Nutt & his family moved to Tasmania in 1991 and he was president & head coach of the Tasmanian Soccer Schools for a decade, passing on his wealth of experience and skill to players and coaches across the state. He also used his contacts with English football to send talented Tasmanians for trials with Arsenal and other clubs.
He returned to Coventry in 2008 for the first time for many years and attended the Legends Day where despite suffering from dementia he enjoyed the company of many old colleagues. I have fond memories of his joy at being reunited with former City colleagues Charlie Timmins, Barry Hawkings & Lol Harvey.
Described by everyone who met him as a true gentleman, Gordon is survived by his wife Jennifer and son Asher. He also has two surviving sisters, one of whom Shirley Shakespeare still lives in Birmingham and helped me with information about Gordon. His funeral took place in Cygnet, Tasmania yesterday.