JOHN Fisher may have shared a friendly and at times fiery relationship with Dave Turner but the Highworth manager says it remained impossible for him not to have respected a man who held similar footballing beliefs to his own.
Former Shrivenham, Wootton Bassett and Pewsey Vale boss Turner passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a heart attack. His untimely and tragic death, at the age of 52, has left the local non-league community in a state of shock.
In paying tribute to his rival, Fisher stressed how – for all the words he and Turner exchanged on the touchline and in the press – he always had time for the late Shrivvy manager’s 24/7 dedication to his job.
He said: “We had our friendly rivalries but I always had respect for what he was trying to do and what he’s done. He’s had some great years at Wootton Bassett, he’s gone to Shrivvy and he was always upbeat and confident he could turn things round which you’ve got to admire in any manager.
“I had a lot of respect for him. It is a shock and brings life back into perspective. Sometimes we all get carried away with everything.
“I know it’s only amateur football but sometimes people don’t understand that Dave was on the same page as me - you either do it properly and that means it’s a 24/7 job or you do it as an off-the-cuff job - Dave was always dedicated to his job.
“With all the stress that went with it I hope nothing was caused because of that, because it is a stressful job. People laugh but it’s 24-7. You’re always trying to get a team out for the weekend and players are dropping out, and Dave was always upbeat about everything he did.”
Turner enjoyed great success at Bassett, where he twice won promotion to the Hellenic League Premier Division before moving on to Barrington Park, and his impact had been felt at Shrivvy, who Fisher feels have been left with a squad capable of making significant improvements after a couple of miserable campaigns.
“It’s a terrible shock,” said the Highworth boss. “I had a lot of time for what he was attempted to do and he was doing a good job at Shrivenham, even though they were where they were in the league.
“I’ve watched them a few times in the last few weeks and they were going to turn the corner. His legacy at Shrivenham is he’s left them with a side that’s going places.”
Fisher offered his heartfelt support to Turner’s wife, Trisha, and sons Alex, 24, and James, 22.
“I just wish his wife and his two boys all the best,” continued Fisher.
“That’s the worst part. It’s so quick, so sudden and it’s so hard for them to get their heads around it.
“It’s like it’s a dream, it’s happened to me. All I can say is I wish his family all the best and I always remember one thing - that he was dedicated to his family and dedicated to his football. You can’t ask any more of the man.
“He will be a big miss because he was a larger than life character. He was never down, he was always upbeat. We had a rivalry but it was a respectable rivalry - it wasn’t because I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me.
“It was just the banter with what goes on in football. I know how hard he worked at Shrivenham to get his boys there. It is a very sad loss, for family, friends, local football and the Hellenic League.”
Fisher’s Highworth side are away at Highmoor in the Hellenic League Premier Division tomorrow.