Milestone for Turner but business as usual at Shrewsbury Town

It speaks volumes for Graham Turner that, on what is a landmark occasion in the lives of most people, today was very much business as usual for the Shrewsbury Town manager.

Graham Turner

By this evening, the 65th birthday of the Ellesmere Port-born defender-cum-timeless manager will have come and gone without so much as a nod of recognition in the direction of retirement.

Instead, the affable Town boss would have spent the day trying to ready his troops for their latest stop-off point on the League One rota, attempting to eke what could prove a crucial extra per cent or two’s advantage ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Doncaster.

Turner’s passion for a game he has devoted his life to remains as fierce now as the day he started out as a rookie 17-year-old defender with Wrexham.

Nigh on 50 years’ dedication have followed and Turner continues along the road of a managerial career which has already racked up 1,650 games.

His longevity has become legendary, but the man himself insists there are no trade secrets as to why he has continued to be one of the game’s enduring figures while so many of his colleagues have fallen by the wayside.

“There is a degree of luck about it,” said Turner, seemingly keen to downplay his achievements.

“I look at some managers getting appointed and think how lucky they have been considering their background.

“I look at others and think they have been given a raw deal. I’m not quite sure if there’s any secret to surviving in it as long as I have. There’s a degree of luck, a fair amount of hard work – that’s about it. You’ve got to have that enthusiasm to do it.

“I’ve got four very good people around me with John Trewick, Michael Jackson, Gavin Ward and Tony Ford (Shrewsbury’s coaching staff) and that helps.

“It’s been the biggest part of my life and that will continue. The family all accept it and I will just get on with it until I stop enjoying it.”

While many Shrewsbury devotees will be able to reel off Turner’s numerous achievements in the game, a milestone such as today is a fitting moment for a brief resume.

Wrexham, Chester and Shrewsbury were the three stop-off points of his playing days before his a venture into management produced the halcyon of Town’s history.

Turner’s team continually punched above their weight during his six-year reign at Gay Meadow, the 1978-79 Division Three championship-winning season propelling Shrewsbury into the uncharted territory of the second tier of English football while he also steered them to two FA Cup quarter-finals.

Attention was attracted from elsewhere and Turner found the overtures from one of the stellar names of English football too much to resist as he answered Aston Villa’s call in 1984.

The following two years represented a major learning curve and Turner was quickly back on the up at another Midlands club.

Back-to-back promotions helped Wolves fast-track through the bottom two divisions and into the Championship and that Molineux adventure was to be followed by the Hereford rollercoaster.

A 15-year journey saw the bitter blow of relegation out of the Football League act as motivation for Turner to guide the Bulls to two promotions while he furiously juggled management on the pitch with the role of chairman off it, desperately trying to guide Hereford through tricky financial waters.

His ties eventually cut from Edgar Street, the ‘Second Coming’ arrived in 2010 with a return to Shrewsbury and a sixth promotion – along with a prestigious Contribution to League Football Award – has already been banked.

Turner’s initial agreement as manager expires at the end of this season – and he is far too long in the tooth to offer an indication as to just how long he will go on.

“It’s early – we will see what the season brings for us,” is his response to such questioning.

But you sense ––when the time does come - he will know the moment to depart, just like a fellow management veteran he holds in such high esteem.

“I was talking to Sir Alex Ferguson the other day at the League Managers Association annual meeting at Burton,” said Turner.

“I was just having a chat to him about different things and I thought then it’s remarkable – to still be going at the top level at 70 is unbelievable.”

The same superlatives wouldn’t be out of place for the birthday boy.