HUNDREDS of mourners stood with tears in their eyes inside Wroughton Parish Church this afternoon as the life of non-league football legend Dave Turner was celebrated.
Shortly after 1pm the cortege crawled up Church Hill to the pathway which leads into the church. Here, the wicker coffin was drawn out of a hearse and shouldered by six pallbearers, who lead the way into the packed venue.
Canon Michael Johnson opened the ceremony with a few short sentences on the former Shrivenham manager’s life and the heartache his family had experienced in the weeks since his passing.
There then followed a prayer and reading before Dave’s son James and brother Rich took to the microphone at the front of the hall and read a poem and eulogy respectively.
Fighting back tears and breathing deeply, James delivered a touching piece which perhaps drew the most tears from the ranks of mourners.
He referred to the nicknames people had for his father, including Chocolate Dave, Pot Noodle Dave and Davo. There were also references to the away matches Dave and his team would travel back from, and use the journey as an excuse for staying out for an extra pint with his players.
Brother Rich paid tribute to Dave’s family, the lengths one family member had gone to, to travel to the service from Ireland.
There was also light-hearted references to the way Dave would handled transfers at the clubs he managed, Pewsey Vale, Royal Wootton Bassett as well as Shrivenham.
Using his connections with a cash and carry, he would lure players to his clubs with the offer of free teabags and Marmite.
Lifelong friend Clive Maguire then took to the stand with memories of their school time together, including football with a tennis ball in the playground and lunchtime strikes about the poor quality food being served.
He too described the adoration Dave held for his wife Trish, who sat in the front row with her two sons, Alex, 24, and James, 22. The three of them were never far from tears for much of the service.
A series of blessings, prayers and songs proceeded before Tom Hark by The Piranhas, a popular song with football fans, began to play and lead to the coffin being carried back out to the hearse.
The never ending trail of mourners filtered out behind the family and filled the pathway which leads back out onto the road, waiting in silence as the family and hearse pulled away and onto a private cremation service.
The entire squad Dave left behind at Shrivenham turned out at the service, fully kitted in their tracksuits, a mark of respect for the work he did at the club.
After the ceremony, Sam Collier, 27, who played under Dave as a junior for Wroughton and as a senior with both Shrivenham and Royal Wootton Bassett, spoke highly of those who attended the service.
“It was an incredible turn out, to see the church absolutely rammed with people queuing to enter, was astonishing,” he said.
“It’s the least he deserves, for what a man he was. For his son to stand there and do that, was incredible and a great achievement, he spoke brilliantly.
“His dad would’ve been in that coffin making sure he got through it.
“To be asked to carry the coffin in was a huge honour. It’s not a nice thing to be doing for a man of his age, but we all made sure we remembered him as we carried it.”
Luke Sharps, 34, who worked with Dave in football for 15 years, said: “He was a top, top bloke. I liked his honesty and his professionalism, they were what made him.
“I wasn’t able to look up in the service too much because I was trying to sort myself out, but from what I did see, it shows how many people he affected in football.”