MARK Stevens believes Shrivenham’s home clash with Cheltenham Saracens has only a five percent chance of going ahead tomorrow but he and his players are desperate to take to the field to honour former manager Dave Turner.
Popular boss Dave died on February 4 aged only 52 after suffering heart complications at his home, leaving behind wife Trisha, sons Alex and James and a local football community packed with players young and old who had been touched by his passion and dedication to the sport he loved.
Shrivenham’s game against Abingdon United last weekend was called off due to a waterlogged pitch but players and officials were still able to descend on the club to celebrate their manager’s life with members of his family.
The persistent rain has not allowed the Barrington Park playing surface any time to recover following last week’s postponement but Dave’s former assistant Stevens, who is leading the team with senior player Sam Collier, insisted the squad just want to get out on the pitch to continue the work Dave started when he took the job in the summer.
“I would imagine the game is 95 per cent certain to be off but we all want to play and the sooner we are back out there again the better,” Stevens said.
“After speaking to all the players, that’s what they want and they all just want to get out there and continue Dave’s work and finish the job he started.
“I think we have a string of away games coming up so it would be nice to play at home before we have to start that, but the weather is probably going to put the mockers on it.
“We trained on Tuesday night and the reaction of the players was really good, which you would expect because Dave has put together a really good group of lads. A lot of them have played with him since they were kids and he’s coached them from that level all the way through to senior football.
“They all meant a lot to him and he meant a lot to them as well. This has brought everyone together now and we all want to finish off what Dave started between now and the end of the season.
“Dave was massive for standards, everything had to be done properly, so that’s the legacy which we will carry on and keep up the discipline through everything we do.
“The players are champing at the bit now and prove themselves for him.”
Collier, who also played under Dave at Wootton Bassett, remains duel-registered with Southern League side Thatcham but can’t imagine playing for any side other than Shrivenham following the tragic events of last week.
“I’ve spoken about football with Dave pretty much every weekend for the last three years, whether I was playing for him or not, so I just feel that right now playing for Dave or a part of Dave is the only thing I want to do at the moment,” he said.
“It’s a relatively young squad here without an awful lot of senior players and there’s probably four or five players here who have played with Dave at whatever club’s he’s been to.
“The lads want to get a game on so we can pay our respects. The club have done everything they can to pay their respects, with armbands, t-shirts and songs over the Tannoy which Dave would have liked, but we would love to pay our respects on the pitch.”