‘My biggest learning curve – not to react, not to bite back’ – US Portsmouth boss Turnbull on roller coaster of emotions during memorable FA Vase run

US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull was exposed to the extremes of human behaviour on his side’s memorable run to the semi-finals of the FA Vase.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 4:59 pm
Journey's end - US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull (crouching) watches on as Binfield start to celebrate their FA Vase semi-final shoot-out success. Picture: Keith Woodland

On the one hand, the lifelong Pompey fan was overwhelmed by the number of ‘good luck’ messages he and the club received - including from some of his Fratton Park heroes.

On the other, he confesses at times he had to reign in his emotions when confronted by ‘bad losers.’

The latest came late last week when Marcus Richardson - boss of Flackwell Heath, beaten by US in the quarter-finals a few days earlier - bizarrely accused the club of having the wrong-sized goals at the Victory Stadium.

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He also said he thought Binfield ‘would win big’ against US in Saturday’s semi-final, and claimed Flackwell could have won their tie 6-2 - even though they didn’t even have six shots on target.

‘To even have that accusation (about the posts) thrown at us was unbelievable,’ said Turnbull.

‘This is a Royal Navy ground, step 3 level. The referee even measured the posts before Saturday’s game - it was amazing.

‘I was massively disappointed with Marcus, I expected a bit more grace and decorum from an ex pro.

‘There have been some absolute stars - Westfields have always been helpful, so has Graeme Gee at Chichester.

‘But some doughnuts have shown their true colours.

‘The Tavistock press said we didn’t deserve it (winning 3-1 in the fifth round in west Devon), that we had 29 players warming up - we only had 29 people on the bus!

‘We even had an email today saying ‘clearly Covid doesn’t mean anything to you’ and saying there were children in the stand (against Binfield). That was because one player couldn’t get a babysitter.

‘That’s probably been my biggest learning curve, learning not to react, not to bite back.

‘The Millbrook affair, they were bad losers.’

That was a reference to US’ third round home win in mid-December, which was followed by Millbrook players and management sending written letters of complaint to the FA about the home side’s behaviour.

‘Equally, though, we have received lots of nice messages,’ Turnbull added. ‘Torpoint have been messaging every week, Laverstock sent a nice message saying we’ve done step 5 and step 6 proud.

‘I had an email from the director of football at Weymouth, who I’ve never met, congratulating us.

‘We’ve had emails from people saying they will come and watch us next season. One person said they didn’t know we existed before.

‘That’s a massive take away for me from all of this.

‘One guy I work with said our achievement is right up there with Havant & Waterlooville going to Liverpool and Bognor beating Swansea a few years back (in the FA Cup in the mid-80s). It may or may not be, but United Services Portsmouth will always be able to look back on this with pride.’

Turnbull was also taken aback to receive a ‘good luck’ message from ex-Pompey striker Alan Biley, one of his childhood heroes.

‘I was more giddy about receiving that (message) on Saturday morning than the prospect of the game,’ he quipped.

‘He messaged me again in the evening, and Alan Knight messaged me saying he knows all about penalties!

‘To have heroes of mine messaging me was nice.’

Turnbull admits the last few weeks - with huge coverage in The News, including his players being asked for press interviews for the first time in their lives - has been ‘surreal.’

‘I will miss all of this, it’s not normal,’ he declared.

‘Kelly (his wife) has a scrapbook and she’s been saying ‘it’s going to be a big one!’ with all our coverage.

‘Kelly overheard someone asking ‘who’s the US manager?’ and the reply was ‘just some dockie’. But I am just a dockie, we’re home renovators, salesmen - none of us are professionals, so it’s all been surreal.’