Binfield signing higher division players ‘devalues the competition – it sticks in the throat’ – US Portsmouth boss Turnbull

US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull believes the FA Vase has been ‘devalued’ after his club’s Wembley dream was shattered by a player brought in from a higher level.

By Simon Carter
Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:58 pm
Binfield goalscorer Liam Ferdinand, right. Picture: Keith Woodland
Binfield goalscorer Liam Ferdinand, right. Picture: Keith Woodland

US were within 10 minutes of beating higher division Binfield at the Victory Stadium when Liam Ferdinand levelled for the visitors.

Ferdinand, who had hit a hat-trick in the previous week’s 5-0 quarter final romp at Long Eaton, was playing for Harrow Borough in the Southern League Premier Division prior to the December lockdown.

Previously, he was at Hawks’ National League South rivals Hungerford in 2019/20 after scoring over 30 goals at step 4 level for Bracknell the previous season.

Liam Ferdinand rounds Tom Price prior to levelling in the 80th minute for Binfield. Picture: Keith Woodland

Ferdinand was dual signed from Gosport Borough’s league rivals Harrow - who play three steps higher up the non-league ladder than step 6 US - on a dual registration after lockdown restrictions were eased in late March.

Midfielder Kensley Maloney, who also started against US, was another who had been at Harrow in the first half of the season.

Asked if signing players on from a higher level left a sour taste, Turnbull said:

‘Massively, it does. It devalues the competition.

From left - Callum Glen, Tom Price, Sonny Harnett-Balkwill and Jordan Pile look disconsolate after Liam Ferdinand's leveller. Picture: Keith Woodland.

‘We have played teams who have players who shouldn’t be in this competition.’

Neither Ferdinand or Maloney were complete ‘ringers’ - both had previously played for Binfield - but Turnbull, while eager to avoid being cast as a sore loser, added: ‘I know it’s within the rules, but I’ve always been adamant I wouldn’t do it.

‘I don’t think it’s right and it does stick in the throat.

‘We have been beaten by some players who shouldn’t be playing in the Vase, but that’s the way it is.’

Prior to Binfield, Christchurch, Tavistock and Flackwell Heath had all fielded players registered with step 4 clubs. In contrast, only one US player - keeper Tom Price - has ever played in the Southern League.

Turnbull said he had the chance to bring in higher division quality, but wanted to stay loyal to the squad who had taken US through their first four rounds.

‘(Moneyfields striker Steve) Hutchings said he would come and play if I wanted him to,’ Turnbull remarked. ‘Any side would want Hutch, but who drops out? I’d have to drop Sweeney or Dec, or Sibbers or Jay Ripiner would have to drop out on the bench.

‘I actually felt that could be their (Binfield’s) undoing, that the players brought in wouldn’t have the affinity for the club.

‘We were the only ones who didn’t bring in higher division players. I know Christchurch did it, they were all doing it. Maybe it’s us who are at fault …’