Every club has a historian and archivist, but not too many like our Dennis Turner who died suddenly yesterday. Now that Mr Al Fayed has retired and Johnny Haynes passed on, Dennis has a credible claim to be Mr Fulham: he edited, and was a programme contributor, for 34 years; he wrote definitive and eloquent histories of the club; he became a club director. There was however so much more to Dennis : a life long socialist, he tutored Tony Blair in economics; he was the most brilliant speaker; he was authoritative on modern music, American politics and films. He was the head of business economics at HSBC.
The debonair wordsmith, as he was known, always had the right, pithy phrase. Of Bobby Keetch, he wrote an abundance of skill was something he would not be accused of, but many a stout rearguard action had his flowing blonde hair at its heart. He called Les Strong the best left footed right back the club ever had. To hear him talk or write on Fulham was for us fans pure delight. And what knowledge. I was privileged to be invited to the exclusive 1879 club where only the most diehard of Cottager convenes for one of his talks. One fan said Jim Langley was Fulham’s finest penalty taker as he never missed. Yes he did, said Dennis, in a Cup replay at Walsall in 1963.
Anyone who heard him speak, always without a note, full of wit and able to make economics interesting and comprehensible, knew he was quite brilliant. I asked him the secret of his engaging style, in which he would stride the stage rather than stick behind the lectern reading his address. I hope I’m not disrespecting him but he replied: “It’s simple really. I identify the woman with the best tits in the room and imagine I’m speaking to her directly.”
The new owner served the club and his own interest poorly by seeking Dennis’s immediate resignation as director, but the club was quick to put up a touching obituary on the website and no doubt the next game v Southampton will have the minute’s silence. Eight years ago Johnny Haynes died and such a memorial had to be hastily organised. Dennis did it superbly. Sadly he is not around to do the same as noone would do it better.
Dennis was half way through compiling a list of the 100 people who shaped Fulham for the periodical Fulltime. I asked him if number one would be Johnny Haynes or al Fayed.” No, both first equal.”
No, Dennis – for those who had the privilege of knowing you and appreciating all you did for our club without payment, you are right up there with those two. At least his Fulham books will ensure his legacy is perpetual.