Gordon Nutt: arrived in 1955 with Arsenal facing relegation

By Tony Attwood

Gordon Nutt was born in Birmingham 8 November 1932 and died in Tasmania on 25 February 2014.  Aside from Arsenal he played for, Sheldon (???), Coventry City, Royal Artillery National Service British Army XI (obviously during his National Service, where he played alongside Tommy Taylor), Cardiff City, Southend Utd, and PSV Eindhoven, and was on the FA England Tour of the West Indies in 1955.

After that he moved to Australia and played for and coached Sydney United and Manly-Warringah.

I’ve put Sheldon with a question mark as Gordon on his own web site didn’t mention them, and Coventry refer to him as “a home-grown player…  Sadly he was one of the many good young players sold by the club to balance the finances in that era.”

Gordon Nutt was a classic winger of the era, playing on the right, and always wanting to by-pass the defender with his speed.  Among others at Coventry he played alongside Jimmy Hill after making his breakthrough with Coventry in 1951.

In December 1954 Gordon transferred to Cardiff City (then of the first division) for £18,000 and it was after that that he went on the FA tour, along with Jimmy Hill and Bobby Robson.

Then in September 1955, after a game between Cardiff reserves and Arsenal reserves, Tom Whittaker decided to sign him and Mike Tiddy for a combined fee of £20,000.

Gordon made his début within a couple of hours of signing on 24 September 1955 in a 3-1 away defeat at Sunderland.  But despite  the loss he kept his place and played the following weekend in a 1-0 home victory over Aston villa on 1 October 1955, with Gordon scoring the goal.    The attendance was 43,824.

I have incidentally seen it written that this was Arsenal’s first home victory of the season, but that’s not so, as we beat Cardiff on 23 August.  However it was a fairly awful time.  Arsenal played 9 games before the Villa game and won just one!  There were five defeats and three draws.

Indeed the league table at the moment Gordon came in (30 September 1955) for his first match looked catastrophic and the only fraction of light relief was the position of Tottenham

Pld W D L F A Pts
1 Blackpool 8 5 3 0 21 11 13
2 Charlton Athletic 9 4 3 2 16 16 11
3 Sunderland 7 5 0 2 24 16 10
4 Luton Town 8 4 2 2 13 11 10
5 West Bromwich Albion 8 4 2 2 9 8 10
6 Manchester United 9 4 2 3 16 15 10
7 Everton 9 5 0 4 12 12 10
8 Wolverhampton W 7 4 1 2 26 9 9
9 Preston North End 9 4 1 4 19 14 9
10 Birmingham City 9 2 5 2 14 13 9
11 Portsmouth 7 3 2 2 17 13 8
12 Newcastle United 8 3 2 3 20 18 8
13 Manchester City 7 2 4 1 13 15 8
14 Aston Villa 9 1 6 2 10 15 8
15 Bolton Wanderers 7 3 1 3 14 11 7
16 Burnley 8 3 1 4 9 11 7
17 Cardiff City 8 3 0 5 10 24 6
18 Sheffield United 8 2 1 5 10 15 5
19 Chelsea 8 1 3 4 9 15 5
20 Arsenal 8 1 3 4 10 17 5
21 Huddersfield Town 7 1 3 3 7 15 5
22 Tottenham Hotspur 8 1 1 6 10 15 3

Arsenal at the time were in a state of flux.  Tom Whittaker had won the league on the last day of the 1952/3 season but then, with players very disgruntled by the fan base, and openly saying that Arsenal supporters were the worst in the league, the team fell apart and the club ended 12th in 1954, 9th in 1955, but with an improvement of 5th in 1956 – going out of the FA Cup in the quarter finals.  The demise was one of the “boo-boys” achievements.

This 1955/6 result of 5th is staggering when one looks again at the league table after nine games.

But still, the number 11 position was problematic in 1955/6.  Bloomfield started there, but moved to inside forward.  Roper got a couple of games, but eventually it was Mike Tiddy who claimed the shirt playing 21 games that season.  Gordon got 8 league starts, and played in the quarter final FA Cup game, but only got the one goal in his home début.

1956/7 was the season Tom Whittaker who tragically died while in office, and his role was taken over by Jack Crayston.   This was the season that Joe Haverty took over the shirt – relieving Mike Tiddy of the position, and leaving Gordon as third choice for number 11.

But surprisingly Gordon made a come back in 1957/8.  Joe Haverty was injured in September and Mike Tiddy replaced him.  Joe came back for five matches, and was injured again, Mike got one, and then back came Gordon for a run over 21 games and 3 goals, with Joe Haverty coming back for just a couple of games at the end.

Jack Crayston resigned at the end of that season and George Swindin brought Gordon into the side – but the chopping and changing of the new manager continued all season with Henderson now getting a run of games at number 11.

However Arsenal finished 3rd and there was hope – but it was a false dawn, as Arsenal from this point on sank into the Darkness (as we’ve called it here).  Gordon’s last season saw him get only three games as Arsenal collapsed to 13th in the table, and said goodbye to any hope of success, until the arrival of a certain Bertie Mee.  Arsenal did not win a single domestic trophy between 1953 and 1970.

So Gordon was not to get any medals at Arsenal, but he played alongside  Jack Kelsey, David Herd, Cliff Holton, Tommy Docherty and Dave Bowen in teams that really should have done much better than they were.  Here’s the chart of Gordon’s appearances.

Season League Games Goals
1955/6 8 1
1956/7 1 0
1957/8 21 3
1958/9 16 6
1959/60 3 0
Total 49 10

Gordon moved on in 1960 to Southend and then had his year with PSV Eindhoven (I’d love to know how that came about!) before finishing hs career with Hereford United, Rugby Town and Bexley United.

In 1965 he moved to Australia and played for Sydney and Manly before setting up a film lighting company in Sydney.

In 1991 Gordon moved to Tasmania where he was head coach of the Tasmanian Soccer Schools for ten years.  It is said that he also sent talented Australians, to English clubs for trials, but I don’t have details of any names.

During his latter years sadly Gordon was taken ill, and finally passed away aged 81.

He also had a season at Dutch giant PSV Eindhoven before retiring professionally and immigrating to Sydney to pursue a career in television production.

He is described everywhere by everyone who met him as a true gentleman, and he was survived by his wife Jenny and children Richard, Wendi and Asher.

Here’s his footballing career.

Season Team League Games Goals
1951/4 Coventry City 76 11
1954/5 Cardiff City 17 4
1955/60 Arsenal 49 10
1960/1 Southend United 16 2
1961/2 PSV
1965 Sydney
1968/9 Manly
Total 158 27

Gordon was also a coach at Sydney (the club was originally called Sydney Croatia after its founders), and assistant coach at Manly, which is across the harbour from Sydney.


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One Reply to “Gordon Nutt: arrived in 1955 with Arsenal facing relegation”

  1. The ABC ‘backroads’ program featured Cygnet in Tasmania where Gordon Nutt lived out his final years. It was very interesting – Gordon walked around the town every day and was much loved. The program would be on the ABC website

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