On the Grill: Chris Turner picks his Sunderland 11 & lauds Len Ashurst


In 1979 Sunderland, then managed by Ken Knighton, signed Chris Turner for £80,000 from Sheffield Wednesday after a loan speall with Lincoln City. Turner was the man brought in to replace goalkeeper Barry Siddall and would stay at Roker Park until 1985, after nearly 200 appearances for the Wearsiders. 
 
WAW: What was your inspiration to go professional?
 
CT: “My inspiration was going to the matches from the age of four years old; my mam and dad used to take me down to Hillsborough to watch Sheffield Wednesday play. My hero growing up was a goalkeeper called Ron Springett who was a fantastic goalkeeper and only Gordon Banks denied him more England caps.”

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WAW: When you played for Sunderland, who was the best manager you played under and why?
 
CT: “Alan Durban was an excellent manager, the team at that time was one or two players of making a good top league team.”
 
WAW: What was it like to play for a club legend – Len Ashurst?
 
CT: “Len for me was a top man and helped me shape my career; I’ll never forget that. Len demanded hard work both on the pitch and on the training ground and that really helped me and us as a team. The ’85 cup run year was special for me as it helped me shape my career; losing in the final was so disappointing as we’d beaten some top teams on the way. That side was a great set of lads and we had great spirit and I still see some of them now, when we do meet up we always discuss the cup run!” 

WAW: What are your opinions on the current situation at the club?
 
CT: “I’m very concerned about the current situation in all honesty. After Grayson left, Sunderland needed a lift, not just the players but the fans needed one too. The club is going into free fall and it’s happened before and it’s going to be a challenge to stop it from happening again. The squad isn’t pulling its weight and that needs sorting in the transfer window; we need to trust Chris in recruitment and he knows where needs improvement. That doesn’t necessarily mean lots of money being spent but Chris needs full control of in goings and outgoings.”
 
WAW: What are your opinions on the British academy football?
 
CT: “Academy football isn’t successful due to the clubs at the top end not giving their produced players an opportunity. There are plenty of good, English players out there and none of them seem to be getting a look in.”
 
WAW: If you had to pick a starting 11 of Sunderland players from your time at the club, who would be in it?
 
CT: “Myself in goal! The back line would be Clark, Elliott, Venison and Joe Bolton. Mick Buckley, Stan Cummins, Pop Robson and Kevin Arnott, then I’d say Nick Pickering and Gary Rowell. Although, Rob Hindmarch, Frank Worthington, Leighton James and Gordon Chisholme could’ve all easily have fit in.”
 
WAW: Since retiring, what have you done and what aspirations do you have?
 
CT: “I’ve done a bit of coaching here and there and I’ve been a CEO but I’m currently looking for a new position and I would take up coaching or a directors role.” 
 
Thank you to Chris for taking the time out to speak to me. 
 
You can share your thoughts on the article on Twitter @WeAreWearside or with me @ethan_thoburn.

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