Family remembers gun forward 30 years on
Family and friends of the late Darren Turner came together this week to mourn the 30th anniversary of the Shepparton-based footballer’s sudden death.
Turner, who was 23 at the time, died of a heart attack on September 1, 1991 — the night after kicking five goals in Tallygaroopna’s qualifying final loss to Lancaster in Kyabram District League.
Complaining of chest pains at half-time to his uncle and Redlegs trainer Denis Turner, he chose to stay out on the field and proceeded to dominate, kicking three of his five majors in the last term.
However, with the situation worsening shortly after the match, Turner would make his way to Goulburn Valley Base Hospital — only to then return to his Shepparton home when he saw how many other people were waiting for care.
Later that night, alongside his brother and housemate Gavin, affectionally known as “Popeye”, Turner began choking and then collapsed, with paramedics unable to revive the talented footballer upon arriving at the scene.
The son of Daryl and Maxine, Turner left behind four children, Darren, now 34, Shannon, 33, and Mikayla and Nigel, both 31 — he also had two brothers, Gavin, 52, and Scott, 46, and two sisters, Deanne, 50, and Nikita, 31.
“I’m struggling today, 30 years is a big milestone,” Darren’s sister Deanne said.
“I’m not coping at all, I’m usually pretty good when this day comes around, but I am finding it very hard to cope today. I still miss him so much.”
Being 16 at the time, Scott still vividly remembers the day he lost his beloved brother.
“He was out playing footy out at Girgarre that day and complained of chest pains to my uncle and he got told not to go back out there and play, but he wanted to win a final for his team, so he went back out and played the rest of the game,” Scott said.
“They lost the final that day and after we went and drove him to the hospital, but he saw the amount of people waiting and decided he would come back later — but unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to come back.”
As talented as they came on the football field, Turner’s brief career was filled with highlights, kicking 95 and 80 goals in respective seasons for the Fitzroy All Stars as a teenager, before bagging a Picola District Football League record 130 majors for Wunghnu a season later.
He would then proceed to crack the ton in his final two seasons, as he began to blossom into one of the region’s most powerful fullforwards.
“He was a sharpshooter and as a full-forward he wouldn’t miss many goals, I’m not sure exactly how many goals he kicked in that last year, but it certainly was a lot,” Scott said.
“He was also a very gifted cricketer, with a bat or ball in hand he would make runs and take wickets — as a sportsman he really was just phenomenal in my eyes.”
However, for Scott his brother is best remembered for the way he treated people and the respect he garnered from friends and family.
“He was a big boy, just a gentle giant really — on the footy field he was a sporting hero and did all he could for his team to win, but off the field he was just a lovely guy that would give you the shirt off his back,” he said.
“Even though he was just 23 at the time he died, he was just a guy everybody could not help but love him.
“We just hope he is remembered as a good bloke and true gentleman that really cared for everybody.”