Keith Friend’s 1976 Interview with Phil Nutt for the ‘Superhoop’

Issue No.3 of the Supporters Club magazine: ‘The Superhoop’, included an in-depth interview with 17-year-old Phil Nutt at the ‘Rangers Stadium’ on Friday 16th January 1976:

KF: Phil, you live in Pimlico, which is not really Rangers territory, so which team did you support as a boy?

PN: Spurs. I never used to go and watch them though because I was always playing, but I had a soft spot for them more than any other team.

KF: What made you choose Rangers then? Were you ever connected with Tottenham?

PN: No. I was at Arsenal at the time, and Derek Healy and Arnie Warren asked me to come down to Rangers and look at the set-up. I thought the atmosphere was much better at Rangers than Arsenal, so I decided to stay.

KF: So you were invited to attend coaching sessions. Where were they held?

PN: During the summer, at the Ruislip training ground. Then, when the light was not too good, at the Scrubs on the cinders.

KF: What did you think of the sessions?

PN: Good. Geoff Taylor took us. He’s a good coach and so is Frank Sibley, who took us on other occasions.

KF: There were not too many kids?

PN: No, it was just right, because we trained in two age groups.

KF: And what did it consist of?

PN: Mainly ball work, a bit of running, ending with a game of 11-a-side or something like that.

KF: What school did you go to?

PN: St. George’s, Maida Vale.

KF: That’s quite a long way.

PN: Yeah, it’s about five miles from where I live.

KF: You must be their hero now. Have you ever been back since?

PN: No, I’ve been meaning to, but I never seem to get the time.

KF: Ron Howard describes you as a utility player, and I, personally, have seen you play in three different positions. But where do you like to play and where do you think you play best?

PN: Forward. I don’t mind playing centre-half because it is a change. But I’d like to work on one position and that’s forward. That’s where I prefer to play.

KF: So you signed schoolboy forms at 15 years of age in 1973 and was then offered an apprenticeship on leaving school.

PN: Yeah, in July 1974.

KF: Did you enjoy your apprenticeship here?

PN: Yes. The other kids were great. I did not mind the work either, because there were nine of us so the work spread itself out.

KF: What did you have to do?

PN: Unpack the kit in the morning, collect it after training. Then certain weeks, we worked in threes, we had to come back to the ground to clean the boots. That’s all really. No painting or anything like that.

phil nutt

KF: Then you signed pro-forms in July this year. Now, despite the fact that everyone thinks you made your debut against Stoke, that was not the first time you played for the first team was it?

PN: No it was on tour in Norway against Vard of Haugesund. I came on for 10 secs then injured my back and had to go off.

KF: Have you travelled or toured abroad much?

PN: Not really – only Norway, although I’ve been to Spain on holiday.

KF: The Youth Side has been very successful this season

PN: In the Cups, very successful, we’ve got to the semi-final of the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup and the quarter-final of the Youth Cup.

KF: Where would you say the strengths lay?

PN: I would not say there were any weaknesses really – good in every department.

KF: Lawrie Churchill is the manager, does he coach them as well?

PN: Yeah, he’s a good coach.

KF: Who’s the captain?

PN: Tony Martin usually, although sometimes its Stevie Adams.

KF: Actually, you have spent most of the season in the reserves until the Stoke and Derby games. Could you describe the build-up to those games?

PN: Well, the Stoke game, I came here to the ground, to go to Bristol with the reserves and Gerry Francis and Frank McLintock were having fitness tests. Gerry Francis failed and Don Givens was ill, so I was thrown in at sub. Then the Derby game, I was told on the Friday. We met up at White’s about half past eleven, we had a meal, watched the television then came on to the ground about 1.30.

KF: What did you have for lunch that day?

PN: Steak, toast and tea.

KF: You got on just before half-time didn’t you?

PN: Yeah, for five minutes, but I did not touch the ball because they had about six corners in a row.

KF: What did Dave Sexton say to you at half-time?

PN: He said, just play your normal game like you play in the reserves, it’s not much different.

KF: And what do you think is the difference?

PN: The main difference is that it is much faster, you don’t get the time. You have to do things that much better.

KF: And what about the crowd?

PN: You notice it at first but after a while you get too involved with the game to worry about the crowd.

KF: How about talking us through that goal of yours?

PN: Well the first I saw of it, I was on the edge of the box. Then I went on to the far post. Dave Clement took a short free kick to John Hollins and I did not really know where I was, I must have floated into about the penalty spot and the next thing I knew, Johnny Hollins hit a great ball hard but floating as well and it came just right for me and I just headed it. I did not know where I was at first, so I thought I would head it down because that’s the best thing to do and the next thing I knew it was in the net. But I did not know where I was, how far out I was, until I saw it on TV the next day.

KF: How did you feel as it went in?

PN: Great, I was more surprised than anything. I did not think it had really happened. I didn’t think it was going in at first. I thought he was going to get his hand to it. But it bounced and just went over his hand. I turned round and everyone jumped on me.

KF: It was a great goal, and since then you’ve had quite a lot of publicity.

PN: Quite a bit. I’ve just had an interview with Judith Mills from ‘Woman’ magazine.

KF: So you’ll probably be offered a film part soon. How about social life – do you get much social life?

PN: Oh yeah, we go out every Saturday. It’s a great area so we can easily get to anywhere we want, Croydon, Kings Road and Oxford Street. It’s a great social life.

KF: What is your favourite hideout?

PN: Croydon – Scamps I think. I go there a lot.

KF: What about your musical tastes?

PN: I like Elton John, Diana Ross, Tamla Motown. Some Soul, like James Brown. But Elton John mainly.

KF: Food?

PN: Mostly steak, beef and Yorkshire pud but I eat anything.

KF: Any girlfriends?

PN: Not permanently. I don’t like that, I’d rather get as many as I can. It’s much better fun.

KF: What would you say is the best film you’ve seen?

PN: ‘Jaws’, definitely. I saw it yesterday. It was great. ‘Street Fighter’ is another good one.

KF: Are there any particular footballers that you admire?

PN: Gordon Banks. I used to like him a lot. I followed his career and the teams he played for, just because of him.

KF: Have you any ambitions yet?

PN: No, not really. I think I’m too young for ambitions. Just, maybe, to play well and better myself.

KF: Well, I’d like to end by thanking you Phil and on behalf of all our Supporters Club members, wish you lots of luck for the future and hope that it will not be too long before you get your first full game in the first team.

PN: Thank you very much.

Despite all expectations, Phil Nutt made just four first team appearances for the R’s, all as substitute. He later moved on to Hounslow.

Steve Russell

One thought on “Keith Friend’s 1976 Interview with Phil Nutt for the ‘Superhoop’

  1. Played for Cardinal Manning school against Phil when he was at St Georges school ,we rated him, but there were lots of other talented players around then ,shame he didn’t go all the way thou , but we were all delighted when he turned professional for QPR.

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