Left-wing-back, George Nurse, sat down with Salop to discuss his career so far.
Aged just 23, George Nurse is one of the first names on Steve Cotterill’s team sheet and – except for the game away at Oxford United in October – he featured in every game this season. Since he graduated to men’s football in 2016, Nurse has spent the majority of his time developing himself through loan spells away from his youth club Bristol City. “I joined Bristol City when I was seven or eight, so obviously quite young,” he began. “I worked my way through the academy and got my scholarship and then, a year into my scholarship, I signed my professional contract and just went from there.”
Nurse’s initial experience with first-team football came in the National League South when he spent half a season out on loan at Weston-Super-Mare in 2018/19. It was a rude awakening for Nurse as the side won just one league game during his spell there: “it was a tough season,” he said, “Obviously we did get relegated that season, but I got a load of games and loads of experience playing men's football which was good for me. When you’re playing in a team that was struggling, you learn a lot at that age, it taught me about fighting for three points every week and understanding that it means a lot. It also progressed me on for my Football League loans so yeah, it taught me a lot.”
It was during his time with the non-league side that Nurse got his first taste of football in England’s coveted FA Cup competition. After beating Salisbury in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round replay, Weston-Super-Mare bagged back-to-back 1-0 victories over Coggeshall Town and Bath City in the Third and Fourth Qualifying Rounds respectively to reach the First-Round proper. “We played against Wrexham,” Nurse recalled. “It was definitely a good experience, good atmosphere and obviously playing a team at a higher level was a challenge in itself.” The plucky Seagulls’ FA Cup journey came to an end that day as the National League highflyers secured a 2-0 win and set up a tie with Newport County.
Speaking of the Exiles, Nurse’s next taste of FA Cup football came with the Welsh club the following season. That was the start of another great FA Cup run for Nurse as the County went all the way to the Third Round of the competition and set up a tie with Championship side Millwall. “That was the biggest game I’ve played in before this season,” said Nurse, “it was my first taste of that level of planning, you know, its Championship opposition and you’re playing in front of a lot of fans as well. Yeah, it was an enjoyable experience. Tough game, but it was good experience.” Newport lost out by three goals to nil at The Den, but their cup runs weren’t over yet as they were back in action just three days later against MK Dons in the Third Round of the EFL Trophy. They were victorious in that game – winning by the same scoreline they had been beaten by just days earlier – and they progressed all the way to the semi-final, where they lost out on penalties to Salford City.
By this time, Nurse was one of the first names on the team sheet, but that wasn’t always the case: “it was a step up. It took me a while to get used to the standard. Obviously, I didn't jump straight into the team, so I had to work my way in but yeah, the standard was good, it was a good test for me, and it also stood me in good stead.
Nurse returned to his parent club as the season was curtailed due to COVID and was sent back out on loan to Walsall for six months at the start of the 2021/22 campaign. Unfortunately for Nurse, this one didn’t work out quite as well as his time at Newport did: “I spent half a season at Walsall, and it was pretty much the same sort of thing where I had to fight my way into the team, which I eventually did. I stayed in the team for a while but obviously got recalled in January and I picked up an injury whilst I was there which took me out of the team. I ended up recovering from that, but I didn’t end up playing too many games, but we still did well, and it was also good experience.”
Now one season into life at only the second permanent club of his career, ‘Nursey’ says he’s thrilled with how things have gone with Salop: “I'm really enjoying it. I'm really enjoying my time, it's a great club and I'm really glad I joined. Obviously playing games is what you want at this age, and I'm getting plenty of that here so I can't complain. I think I’ve developed as a player; I think I’m becoming more mature and making better decisions on the pitch which is standing me in good stead. Obviously playing a game week in and week out gives you that confidence so yeah, it's been brilliant, and I just want to keep going.”