By Ken Gaunt
Glenn Turnbull has become ‘a local celebrity’ after his United Services Portsmouth side advanced against the odds to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Vase.
The Wessex League Division One club entertain Flackwell Heath on Saturday at the Victoria Stadium, with the Wembley arch on the horizon.
The opposition from Buckinghamshire, like five of the six teams they have beaten in this remarkable run, play higher up the pyramid.
So Turnbull is quietly confident they can march on and that he can continue to be pestered by his neighbours the following day!
The US boss, who works in the naval base at BAE systems, explained: “My wife and I go for a walk on the seafront every Sunday morning. Now everywhere I go people are stopping to talk to me.
“They say stuff like ‘here he is, the local celebrity,’ and wishing me and the team well. It has really picked up the last couple of weeks, which is really encouraging.
“I have also had a letter from the naval base commander wishing us luck and congratulating us on our performances so far.
“BAE systems also sent a nice note around and the local community in general have been brilliant. Our new sponsors are delighted with the coverage we are getting.”
Turnbull is immensely proud of his Step 6 squad, which he says is 100% amateur. “My boys play for absolutely nothing. It is £100 for each player to sign on. They get a little bit of sponsorship but that’s about it.
“This is where you find a bit more camaraderie, a bit more team spirit. It is not a pub side with 18 lads playing with their mates, it is a bit more than that. We do not pay any money for our facilities, as they are gifted.”
Turnbull is moving on once the campaign is over, having gained promotion himself after being recruited by Portsmouth neighbours Moneyfields, who play at Step 4.
He spurned the chance to bring in a goalkeeper from his new club, whose season was declared null and void, as his number one Tom Price has a chronic back problem.
Turnbull added: “Tom got clattered in the win at Tavistock last week and our hearts were in our mouth, but he has come through and should be okay for Saturday.
“If Tom gets injured then we will go with our 18-year-old youth goalkeeper; it is an easy option. The boys who got us this far will be the boys we will stick with, as I think we are good enough.”