This week we look forward to celebrating the career of John Sutton, with this year’s Return to Redfern Trial doubling up as a Testimonial Match for the most-capped Rabbitoh of all time.
Here are five of the most defining moments of his career (so far).
First Grade Debut - Round 17, 2004
Having come through the South Sydney Juniors with the Kensington Saints and then progressing in the Harold Matthews, SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and Premier League competitions, Sutton made his first-grade debut against the Brisbane Broncos up in Suncorp Stadium in Round 17 of the 2004 season.
Despite playing in the unfamiliar position in the centres, ‘Sutto’ managed to bag a try in the 48-28 defeat, but enjoyed his first win in Souths colours a week later against Penrith, with the Red and Green victorious in a commanding 30-6 triumph.
The then-19-year-old went on to make ten appearances that season, finishing off the year at five-eighth where he would eventually play for the majority of his career.
Oh captain, my captain - Season 2012
After a number of years establishing himself in the Cardinal and Myrtle – whilst also earning himself representative honours for NSW City and the Prime Minister’s XIII – Sutton was given the honour of being a member of the team’s leadership group in 2012 from coach Michael Maguire.
While it was a surprise to some, Sutton came at a crossroads that season, playing consistent football and becoming a leader of the Club, which was evident as the Rabbitohs made the top four for the first time since 1989, and were one match from the Grand Final.
As the Club’s fortunes changed that season, Sutton’s higher involvement and leadership became a catalyst for what was to come the next few seasons.
One for the record books - Round 5, 2014
For nearly four decades it was Club legend Bob McCarthy who held the record for the most first-grade games played in Red and Green, with 211 matches to his name.
But on the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground pitch in Round 5, 2014, Sutton broke Macca’s record and led his side to an emphatic 26-6 victory against St. George Illawarra in front of the Red and Green faithful.
His next career-defining moment would come just a few months later…
Premiership-winning captain - Grand Final 2014
Forty-three years. That’s how long it had been since the South Sydney Rabbitohs had made a Grand Final.
Sutton was the man with the ‘c’ next to his name, and after an unforgettable 80 minutes, he held the trophy aloft with pure elation on his face.
No doubt it was a moment that defined Sutton as one of the most legendary Rabbitohs of all time.
The first to 300 - Round 19, 2018
It’s hard to believe that over 1000 players have played in the Cardinal and Myrtle, and yet none could reach the 300 -game mark.
Of course, there are a number of reasons for this; 300 games is a monumental amount of first-grade Rugby League matches to play, and let’s not forget about players moving to other clubs.
But in Round 19, 2018, John Sutton became the first South Sydney Rabbitoh to play 300 first-grade games for the Club. Although the night wasn’t with a victory, it’s not only one of the most defining moments of his career – it’s one of the most defining moments of the Club’s history.
A local junior, Premiership-winning captain who had every opportunity to leave the Club early in his career stayed loyal to the Cardinal and Myrtle, which is what makes this defining moment the most special.
A Souths man through and through, Sutton has experienced the highs and lows of Rugby League, and is certainly a player that deserves to be the first in Club history to be celebrated with a Testimonial Match.