Nolan: Signing For Grimsby a Big Turning Point
Thursday, 9th Aug 2018 17:27
New recruit Jon Nolan is looking to enjoy a third successful spell with Town boss Paul Hurst after the pair shared good times together at both Grimsby and Shrewsbury.
Nolan, who failed to make the grade with first club Everton, first got together with Hurst in January 2016 and within a few months they were celebrating the Mariners’ return to the Football League with promotion from the National League via a play-off final victory over Forest Green Rovers.
Nolan recalled: “When I signed for Grimsby it was the big turning point in my career. We were successful and obviously went to Wembley to win and go up. That would have to be the turning point.
“I got back into the Football League with Chesterfield the following season before I joined Shrewsbury last year and teamed up with Paul again – and that was through the roof.”
The Shrews had a tremendous campaign, amassing 87 points, which would have guaranteed automatic promotion in several previous seasons.
“They only narrowly missed out on going up to the Championship when they were beaten by Rotherham, the club where Hurst spent the vast majority of his playing career, in the League One play-off final at Wembley, the Millers having finished eight points adrift of them in the regular season.
It was a painful way to end the campaign and within days Hurst’s appointment as Mick McCarthy’s successor at Portman Road was confirmed, with Nolan admitting he wondered if there might be a chance of once again following in Hurst’s footsteps at a third club.
The Liverpool-born midfielder said: “It was in the back of my mind. I’d had two good spells under the gaffer, not only at Shrewsbury but at Grimsby before that, and in the back of my mind I was hoping something might happen. When the call eventually came I was delighted.”
But Nolan and fellow recruit Toto Nsiala both decided to ask for transfers when Town made their move last week and he admitted: “It was a huge call – massive – but I wanted to push it through because I wanted to have the opportunity to play in the Championship and get back with my old gaffer again.
“It was great to get it all signed and sealed, especially after the drive down here wasn’t too good. With all the 50 zones we went through it took us about six hours. It was great to get over the line eventually and now I’m hoping we can have success with the gaffer all over again.
“I didn’t really speak to him too much during the summer. I spoke to both Doigy and Skitty, just texting as friends really and asking each other what we were up to and stuff, but nothing to do with football.”
Nolan was asked at today’s press conference what made players so keen to play for Paul Hurst, new signing Kayden Jackson completing a hat-trick of signings to have worked for him in the past. He responded: “I can’t really put my finger on it. It’s just that he is such a good manager, really.
“I’ve always enjoyed my time working with him. I know managers always say their door is always open but his actually is.
“I’ve played for other managers in the past where that’s not been the case. With Paul I can have a laugh and a joke with him, but I always remember that he’s the boss.
“Paul likes to work his players hard in training and expects them to give everything. I’ve spoken to a few of the Ipswich lads and I think the pre-season was tough for them. But at the same time they all seem to have enjoyed it.
“Can his methods bring success in the Championship? I hope so! From working with him in the past I sort of know all the ideas he has and hopefully that will enable me to settle in faster and we can get our first three points on the board quite quickly.
“At 26 this is a key period in my career. It’s my first opportunity to play in the Championship and it’s one I’m going to grab with both hands. I’ll be giving it my all.
“My experience at Everton has got to be my driving force, hasn’t it? I think it’s every player’s ambition to play at as high a level as they can and my first aim has to be to prove myself at this level. If I can do that, who knows where it will lead?”
Nolan is likely to make his Town debut at Rotherham on Saturday and was asked what supporters travelling to Rotherham can expect from him. He said: “I think I’ve got loads of energy.
“I’ll move things forward and I’m a good footballer. I’m not really a natural 10 but I can play in that position. I’m more of an 8, up and down, really.
“Stepping up to the Championship is going to be tough. The players are going to be better and they will be sharper. I’ve got a few friends who play in the Championship and I’ve been speaking to them, to see what I’m going to be dealing with.
“It sounds like it’s going to be tough. But I’ve had a full pre-season in terms of training and I’ve played a good few minutes as well, so hopefully if I’m selected on Saturday I’ll be fit and raring to go.
“I had a look at the fixture list the other day and I was looking at it, thinking, ‘Any chance of an easy fixture?’ I couldn’t see one – they all look hard and Rotherham will be one of them. For them it’s their first home game back in the Championship. Yes, it’s going to be tough.
“Playing Rotherham brings back memories of the play-off final defeat in May. It was painful at the time and it lasted quite a while to be honest, because we were so close.
“But you have to dust yourself down real quick and go again. Now it’s in the past and I’m fully concentrated on looking ahead to the rest of this season and beyond.”
Nolan’s main concern now is what song he will select to entertain his new team-mates as part of his initiation routine on the eve of Saturday’s game at Rotherham. Failure to do so, he has been reminded, will result in a heavy fine imposed by his new colleagues.
He laughed: “I’ve seen the fine list and it’s a high one for not singing, so I’ll be practising in the hotel. I’m only looking forward to getting it over and done with.”
Photos: Action Images/ITFC
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