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Alan Turvey tribute – A pioneer for us all to follow

(THANKS FOR EVERYTHING ALAN: Nick Robinson, the Isthmian League chairman, left, honours Alan Turvey at the end of his chairmanship in 2015)

By Matt Badcock

The Isthmian League have led the tributes to president and former long-serving chairman Alan Turvey, who has died aged 85.

Hugely respected across the game, Turvey dedicated much of his life to football having started out as a referee in 1959.

He went on to become a top-flight official in the old First Division, while his connection to the Isthmian League began in the early 60s.

Turvey was appointed fixtures secretary for the Isthmian’s Division Two in 1978 before taking up the league secretary role the following year and then graduating to chairman in 1982. He held the post for 33 years before stepping down in 2015 and continuing the role of President he held from 2000 until today. As well as his Isthmian League commitments, he served on the FA Council, the FA Board, was President of Basingstoke Town and was still involved at the Hampshire FA as well as representing England at bowls.

Turvey had been in the Brompton Hospital where he’d undergone two heart operations before being transferred to Basingstoke Hospital last Sunday to continue his recovery. But he fell ill again and sadly died on his birthday last Monday morning.

Tributes have flooded in from across Non-League football and current chairman Nick Robinson says they have been overwhelmed by the messages.

“It’s been fantastic,” Robinson said. “I had a phone call from a chap who was secretary at Saffron Walden Town, who haven’t been in the league for 20-odd years. He said, ‘Alan came up for a ground inspection, I had my ten-year-old son with me and Alan let him push the wheel around the pitch to measure it.’ That’s what people are remembering, the kindness.

“He was known to be strict but fair and consistent. I was 24 years secretary and during that time if I ever rang him to ask his opinion he’d say, ‘What’s the rule? Let’s apply the rule’. And that’s what we did.

“He also applied that in his refereeing; he once booked the whole wall at Chelsea versus Aston Villa – the wall wouldn’t go back ten yards so he booked them all!”

His passion for the Isthmian League always shone through – he would insist on Simply the Best being played at their annual end-of-season dinner – and Robinson hailed the impact he had as the competition moved into the professional era and became a Limited company.

Special

“He wanted us to be at the forefront, he always wanted us to be first,” Robinson said. “It’s been very humbling all the people coming out with lovely stories.”

Turvey, who was recognised as one of the FA’s 150 grassroots heroes, was proud of the league’s long-serving relationship with stationers Ryman.

Owner Theo Paphitis said: “I am very sad to hear of the passing of a very special person who I was proud to call a friend. My thoughts are very much with Alan’s family.”

Basingstoke chief executive David Knight said: “I served on the Isthmian League board under him for nearly ten years.

“He was a former FA Councillor. He was also heavily involved in our local community, a former chairman of the Isthmian league, our club president and not only a great supporter of the team but he worked so hard behind the scenes of our club.

“Alan lived locally in Old Basing with his wife Margaret and was a dear friend to many, especially here at Basingstoke Town. He was a huge support to us. He will be sorely missed.”

Turvey is survived by wife Margaret and daughters Janet and Susan. His funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Old Basing on November, 29, at 1pm.

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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