'He was a lovely chap' - Former teammate leads tributes to Mike Sutton

Norwich City player Chris Sutton and his father Mike Sutton. Photo: Archant Library

Norwich City player Chris Sutton and his father Mike Sutton. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

A former Norwich City teammate of Mike Sutton has paid a heart-warming tribute to him, as he shared an anecdote of a good-natured prank on tour.

Mr Sutton, father of ex-Canaries striker Chris Sutton, died on Boxing Day at the age of 76, following a battle with dementia.

Tributes have been flooding in for the former footballer, who was also a keen cricketer and PE teacher at Hellesdon High School after his playing days ended.

Norwich City youth development officer Colin Watts (front row right) in the C1959 Norwich City B tea

Norwich City youth development officer Colin Watts (front row right) in the C1959 Norwich City B team with (back row 2nd left) Mike Sutton. Picture: Simon Finlay - Credit: EDP / Archant 2003

Bill Punton, who played alongside Mr Sutton for the Canaries and later managed him at Great Yarmouth Town, described him as "a lovely chap and a terrific footballer".

He said: "We played together at Carrow Road and later I was lucky enough to manage him for a number of years at Great Yarmouth too and he was just a terrific footballer. He generally played in midfield but I would also sometimes use him as a sweeper and he just read the game so well.

"Off the field he was just such a lovely chap and we used to take it in turns having our families over for dinner - he would come to me one month and I would go to him the next.

Former city midfielder Mike Sutton.
Photo Simon Finlay
copy Chris Wise
for EDP sport
.

Former city midfielder Mike Sutton. Photo Simon Finlay copy Chris Wise for EDP sport . - Credit: EDP / Archant 2003


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"I remember one time we went on tour with Norwich City to Italy and Malta in the 1960s and he was my room-mate for that.

"We went on a day trip to the Isle of Capri, near Naples, and the whole time Terry Allcock was bragging about this expensive, designer pair of swimming trunks.

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"After a while, Mick said he was just fed up with hearing about them so grabbed them off him and dangled them off the side. I don't think he ever planned to let go, but this big gust of wind came and the next thing we knew they were in the sea!" 

Mr Sutton died after a longstanding battle with Alzheimer's, which prompted son Chris to passionately campaign for more research to be done into the link between heading footballs and forms of dementia.

NCFC legend Bill Punton. Photo: Bill Smith

NCFC legend Bill Punton. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Mr Punton added: "Mick was the last person you would expect to get Alzheimer's. He was so fit and healthy, he didn't drink and he didn't smoke - he was a fitness fanatic really. 

"But in training, we used to have to sprint and head medicine balls, which to this day sounds ridiculous. It's just so sad.

"The last time I saw Chris he spoke of how his dad just wouldn't recognise him and it was heartbreaking."

Following on from his football career, Mr Sutton went on to teach PE - while also becoming a record-setting member of Drayton Cricket Club, for whom he played between 1986 and 2009.

To this day, no Drayton player has surpassed his 10 centuries or 60 half-centuries, making him the club's all-time best batsman.

Philip Wright, club secretary, said: "Mike always made time for people. He had a cricket net in his garden which he would let anybody practise in and was just so dedicated to the club.

"He was our best ever batsman, nobody has really come close to him since, but he was also a terrific teacher and mentor for lots of players at the club.

"He was a man with such high standards and being a professional sportsman did not like to lose - but he was also the perfect gentleman.

"We've had so many people get in touch with us since he died to say how much of an influence he had and how much they enjoyed playing with him and against him."

Arthur Fisk, president of Great Yarmouth Football Club, said: "He was always associated with the club and we are proud to have him as a player.

"I remember him being bigger then life. He used to come away on coach trips and was always lively. He actually had quite a singing voice and would often lead the sing songs we'd have on the coach."

Mr Sutton represented Norwich City between 1963 and 1966, scoring three times in 54 appearances. He then went on to play for Chester, Carlisle United and Great Yarmouth Town, before retiring in 1984.

He is survived by wife Josephine, with whom he had two sons, Chris and John, who both followed in his footsteps as professional footballers.

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