Brighton’s ‘unsung hero’ Dave Turner hung up his boots at Blackburn

GORDON Greer isn’t the first former Brighton & Hove Albion captain to move to Blackburn Rovers at the end of their career.

Dave Turner, one of Brighton’s youngest ever captains in the 1960s, brought the curtain down on his career after moving to Ewood Park.

Turner had already been at the Albion just over five years by the time I got to see my first game, and, over the course of eight and a half years with the club, played 338 games, scoring 34 goals.

Turner was, in old-fashioned parlance, a wing half – what today would be known as a predominantly left-sided midfield player.

Born in September 1942, as a youngster he played for Notts Boys and had two trials for England Boys before joining Newcastle United straight from school.

He was part of the Newcastle side which beat Wolves 2-1 in the 1962 FA Youth Cup, playing alongside Toon’s future legendary captain Bobby Moncur and long-serving Northern Irish full back David Craig.

Newcastleunited-mad.co.uk says he was “highly thought of when he helped Newcastle win the Youth Cup in 1962, but never broke into the first team”.

Manager Joe Harvey sold him to Brighton for £6,000 in December 1963 and in only his second season at the Goldstone Ground, Albion marched to the Fourth Division championship.

“That was a great season,” Turner told Goal magazine in 1970. “Bobby Smith (former Tottenham and England international) was with us then. I was very surprised he joined Brighton, but what an asset he was.

“We scored plenty of goals, the crowds flocked back, the atmosphere was great.”

The following year, Dave was appointed captain – the youngest Albion ever had.

“I was surprised but very pleased,” Dave told the magazine. “There were several players older than I was, so it was a great honour to be made skipper.

“I was a bit frightened at first but after a game or two I realised that the rest of the team were backing me up, so everything was all right.”

It was only when the experienced former Preston North End skipper Nobby Lawton arrived in 1967 that Turner relinquished the job.

“He had a fine reputation and I asked to be relieved of the job, suggesting Nobby should take over,” he said.

Remarkably both Turner and Norman Gall, another player hailing from the North East, reached the milestone of their 285th Albion game at the same time.

Brighton were looking odds on for promotion under Freddie Goodwin in the 1969-70 season and it was rare for a Third Division team to get coverage in Goal, a popular national football magazine at the time.

The article began: “Dave Turner is one of the unsung heroes of Brighton. He has played nearly 300 games for the club, been involved in a Fourth Division Championship victory, and is now in the middle of another bid for glory.

“Brighton are fighting hard to get into the Second Division and the 26-year-old midfield star is a key man in their battle.

“Ever since he joined them from Newcastle in December 1963, Turner has played a vital role in the Brighton set-up.

“Stars like Rodney Marsh, Hugh Curran and Bruce Rioch, all of whom have gone on to better things, have played against (and been overshadowed by) Brighton’s non-stop wing half.

“It is Turner’s consistency which is helping Brighton in their promotion struggle. And he thinks they can do it.”

Turner told the magazine: “I’m pretty confident we can go up. But so can any of the top 10 at the moment. We’ve been playing well all season, but early on we just couldn’t get the right results. Everyone was getting a bit disappointed.

“Then everyone started getting stuck in a bit more – it began to pay off. We had a long undefeated run in the League after November and conceded only one goal in nine games. Even that was a penalty.

“The defence has been playing well and the whole team has been coming back and doing its share of the work. It would be nice to score a few more goals but if you don’t let any in it means you have at least one point before you start.”

Unfortunately although Brighton were top after a 2-0 win over Reading on 27 March 1970, they blew the chance of promotion with four defeats in the remaining five games and ended up fifth.

In the following two seasons under Pat Saward, Turner was hard hit by injuries and only made 19 appearances in the 1971-72 Third Division promotion campaign, appearing in his suit in the champagne-raising dressing room picture after promotion was achieved.

In its pen pictures of each of the members of the squad, the Argus said of him:

“Turner never knows when he is beaten and few players have achieved greater popularity with the Goldstone crowd.”

The arrival of the cultured Brian Bromley to occupy his midfield berth meant Turner was given a free transfer in the summer of 1972 and, together with Kit Napier, he joined Ken Furphy’s Blackburn.

1 turnerleadsout2 turner colour portrait3 Turner portrait4 Turner promotion dressing room

 

  • Pictures from my scrapbook show Turner leading out the Albion at the Goldstone, as featured in Goal, part of a team line-up in 1969-70, a portrait from the Argus in the 1971-72 season, joining in the 1972 promotion celebrations alongside Ian Goodwin with Brian Bromley (front left) and physio Mike Yaxley.

 

 

 

 

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