Attitude was holding Spireite Jon Nolan back before ‘last chance’ at Grimsby

Chesterfield FC v Northampton, Jon Nolan
Chesterfield FC v Northampton, Jon Nolan

It might surprise Chesterfield fans that Jon Nolan didn’t arrive in the Football League until the age of 24, but he has an idea why.

The midfielder, who has previously plied his trade in non-league, has taken to life in League One like a duck to water.

His performances in the middle of the park have made him one of the signings of the summer.

So why did he have no Football League experience before arriving at the Proact?

Nolan has an answer – he believes his attitude held him back in the past – specifically his reaction to being dropped.

“I knew I’ve always had the ability but maybe my attitude wasn’t what it should have been,” he said.

“I probably wouldn’t have admitted that back in the day, but I think I can now.”

But the good news for current boss Danny Wilson is that the former Everton academy player sorted his mentality last season when he helped Grimsby win promotion to the Football League via the play-offs.

“I don’t think attitude is a problem with me now,” he said.

“I knew that I’m a good player but confidence is a big thing with me.

“I would normally sulk a lot if I wasn’t in the team, instead of working hard to get back in.

“When I signed for Grimsby that all changed and it showed in my performances.

“I was playing every single game and had clubs sniffing, league clubs and I ended up signing for Chesterfield.”

Nolan impressed in 35 appearances for Grimsby, perhaps because he knew he had to – he was convinced it was the last chance saloon for his hopes of making it as a professional.

See Jon Nolan’s career statistics and player profile here.

He told the Derbyshire Times: “I think I changed. I was on loan at Wrexham and got sent back and Lincoln didn’t want me.

“I got paid up by Lincoln and thought where do I go from here. It was my last chance.

“I signed for Grimsby and treated it as my last proper chance to do something in football and it worked out obviously.”

Since making a starting place his own in Wilson’s squad, Nolan has struck up a partnership with a man who has played over 400 times in the Football League.

Nolan thinks his and Gary Liddle’s differing styles complement each other.

“I think we’ve got the right balance,” he said.

“He does the dirty work more than I do, I like to start attacks and get on the ball.

“It’s a good balance and it’s good to play alongside Lids, he’s got so much experience in the league.”

Although he’s created several goals this season, Nolan is yet to put the ball in the net himself for Town.

It’s something he’d like to rectify, but not something he’ll prioritise over positional discipline.

“I scored a few last season but I think more important here is to keep our shape, because the quality is better in League One.

“If you’re out of shape you’re easily exposed and you can be punished so I think keeping shape is a big thing in this league.”