Luton Heroes #2
Gordon Turner was born in Doncaster, in 1930, the son of a Hull City professional footballer and began his own footballing career as a right half, (right sided midfielder). During National service, his Chief Petty Officers saw his raw talent and tipped off Dally Duncan, the Town manager. Duncan may never have acted on the information but for the fact that he knew the teenage Turner`s father, having played in the same Hull City team, and gave him his chance, signing as an apprentice in 1949.
It was not until December 1950 that he made his debut, in a 4-1 defeat at Coventry. Scotty made his debut in the world in this same season!
However, the following season, he was given the opportunity to play up front and soon began banging the goals in including a hat trick in his fourth game.
Over the next few seasons Turner developed into the greatest goal machine that the Hatters have ever seen. His 32 goals in 1955 secured top flight football at Kenilworth Road and repeated that feat several times as Luton held their own in the top flight.
He must have been one of the greatest footballers never to play for England, as there cannot have been too many 30+ goals a season players around. How much would we like to see such a prolific scorer in the team now?
He did play for the Football League once and was selected for an International 'B` team but did not get to play.
Cup Final Madness
Apart from his knack of bulging opponent`s goal nets, and also set up others for his colleagues, bad luck such as this seemed to dog him.
Manager Dally Duncan resigned in October 1958 and a consortium of the captain, the trainer and the board members handled the team affairs for the rest of the season!
This bunch inexplicably dropped Turner from the FA cup side in 1959, and, as the Town continued their run to the final, they kept an unchanged side, leaving him out in the cold including the final.
How his expertise may have reshaped history will never be known, but he was heartbroken not to get the chance to play for the Town at Wembley, and, of course, there were no substitutes in those days.
Gordon was one of those gifted players who could bring a ball down and lay it off or hammer it into the net from anywhere in the last third of the field. Just as a defender would force him wide and think he`d done his job, Turner would just turn and hit it goalwards and as his record tells, often into the bottom corner!
He went out of league football as any Luton Town hero would want to, on April 25th, beating Watford 2-1 at Kenilworth Road, having scored 243 league goals for the club, and 276 in all competitions, both of which have stood as the club record since that day, and look unlikely to be beaten.
As a youngster I can remember his sports shop, Shanks & Turner, in Dunstable Road just round the corner from the bottom of Hazelbury Crescent, which he jointly owned with another great Hatters player, Wally Shanks. I met them both on a number of occasions and they were both very approachable and modest.
After he had retired from the League, Turner played for his ex teammate Jesse Pye, who was player-manager at Wisbech Town, and then had a swansong cameo at Kettering Town where he bagged 37 in the season.
Sadly, he contracted motor neurone disease at the age of 41 years, and after a brave fight with the illness, he passed away at 46 years.
He was an absolute gentleman, a deadly goal scorer, and Luton Town through and through.
Another Luton Town Hero.