East Ender JOHN MONCUR arrived at the County Ground from Tottenham at the end of March 1992, but it was by a somewhat circuitous route, having been on loan at six clubs from Portsmouth to Doncaster.
John had been with Spurs since the age of eleven, but realised that he needed to gain some League experience to improve his chances of getting a midfield berth at White Hart Lane.
“With people like Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne in the side, I was always going to struggle to get a look-in”, said John. “But me going to places like Doncaster and Cambridge and having to clean my own boots was a bit of a culture shock !”
After playing in front of crowds of around two thousand, John’s big day came when he made his Tottenham debut at Everton a week before the Cup Final in 1987.
But after 20 appearances for Spurs spread over five seasons, Glenn - who by now had been at Swindon for a year - signed John for £80,000. “I didn’t really have to think twice about coming, it was an honour to play for someone like Glenn”, he said.
A bad injury forced John to miss the second half of the 1992/93, but he was back just in time for the play-offs. “I tore my knee which kept me out for four months”, he explained. “But Glenn showed what faith he had in me by leaving out Micky Hazard and putting me back in”. John’s inclusion in the Town’s ‘engine room’ paid dividends as they went on to gain promotion to the Premiership.
And the honour of scoring the club’s first ever goal in the top flight went to John. His quickly taken free-kick at Bramall Lane caught everyone by surprise.
Sadly, an eventual 1-3 reverse was a prelude to what was in store for Swindon Town - and few were surprised when relegation came in mid-April.
“We played some good football but didn’t have that cutting edge”, said John, “and we weren’t scoring enough goals. Jan Fjortoft didn’t score until January”.
John played more games that season (45 out of 47) than he did at any time during a career which spanned 17 seasons and there was no shortage of offers for his signature that summer.
West Ham won the race and John stayed there for nine years, until deciding to retire in 2003, when the Hammers too lost their place in the Premier League.
John lives in Essex with his wife Kerry and three sons. When he is not on the golf course he keeps a watchful eye on two of the boys, who have now signed on at Upton Park.
In June 2009 John was appointed chairman of his local club Grays Athletic.
(First published by Wiltshire Newspapers/Swindon Advertiser October 2005)