HUNDREDS of mourners packed into Wroughton Parish Church yesterday as the life of non-league football legend Dave Turner was celebrated.
The former Shrivenham, Royal Wootton Bassett and Pewsey Vale manager was remembered by family and friends at his funeral, following his untimely death from a heart attack at the age of 52 on February 4.
Shortly after 1pm the cortege made its way up Church Hill to the pathway which leads into the church. There, the wicker coffin was drawn out of a hearse and shouldered by six pallbearers, who led the way into the church.
Canon Michael Johnson opened the service with a few words about Dave’s life and the grief his family had experienced in the weeks since his passing.
There 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.
James delivered an emotional and touching piece which drew tears from the 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, with the journey used as an excuse for staying out for an extra pint with his players.
Rich paid tribute to the extended family and mentioned 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, above, would handle transfers at the clubs he managed.
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.
A series of blessings, prayers and songs proceeded before Tom Hark by The Piranhas, a popular song with football fans, began to play as the coffin was 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 turnout – 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 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.”
A success story on the pitch for years
THE first signs of Dave Turner’s managerial prowess on the adult football scene came at Pewsey Vale, where he took over in July 2005.
The Wessex League side were taken on their joint-longest ever FA Vase run by Dave, who led them to the first round during his three-year spell.
His longest and, which proved, most-successful period was at Royal Wootton Bassett, which he joined in April 2008.
In the course of his five years at Bassett, he secured two promotions and masterminded the club’s longest runs in the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions.
In the 2008/09 season, he took Bassett to the second round of the Vase and at the end of 2009/10 season he got the club promoted to the Hellenic League Premier Division.
Demoted for failing to meet ground grading criteria, Dave led the club back up again last season, a campaign which also included a run to the FA Cup second qualifying round.
Dave finally made a change last May, when he took up the reins at Shrivenham, who competed in the same division as Bassett.