Published: 2011-05-11 10:30:31
Author: Mike Pyle
Royals' legends will pull on their boots again to play a match in honour of a former Reading FC physio who extended many of their careers but is now facing a battle against a debilitating illness.
Paul Turner, 48, was the Royals’ head physio between 1994 and 2001 and was involved in the Wembley Division 1 playoff final at Wembley in 1995 and the playoff final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2001.
Mr Turner, a former Royal Marine, then left the club to concentrate on teaching and his podiatry clinic. He set up his own training school – The Oxford School of Sports Massage.
But in 2010 the dad-of-two was struck down by encephalitis after a viral infection spread to his brain. The resulting inflammation left him close to death and unable to walk or talk.
Mr Turner now lives with his family in Buckingham and his condition has improved since he was diagnosed but he still cannot talk or walk properly, has memory problems, is frequently confused and cannot do his job anymore.
Now, to raise money for Mr Turner, his wife Lisa Johnson and children Stan, eight, and Beth, 10, legends including Jimmy Quinn, Mick Gooding, John Salako, Graeme Murty and Glenn Little will face a team of former Tottenham Hotspur players at Madejski Stadium on Sunday, June 5.
Ms Johnson said: “It’s really nice that the players have all thought about Paul like this.
“A lot of them came to visit him in hospital and said how much he’d done for them when they’d been injured over the years and they wanted to do something for him.”
Sonning Common man Richard Wickson, former Reading FC vice president and former chairman of Reading Football Supporters’ Club is organising the event.
Mr Wickson, 48, contracted encephalitis in 1997 and was forced to give up his job as a health and safety consultant but, although not fully recovered, his condition has since improved.
He said: “He was a very, very fit man. When we were at Elm Park he was acknowledged as the fittest man at the club by the players.
“The fans even used to cheer him when he came on. If players on both sides got injured at the same time both teams’ physios would run on and it would be like a race – but Paul would always win.
The then-Evening Post reported on how former Royals’ skipper Phil ‘Parky’ Parkinson pledged to play for an extra season as Mr Turner left the club in 2001 because of the work he had done improving his fitness.
Proceeds from the match will be donated to Mr Turner and his family. Players on the Tottenham side will include Paul Allen, Mark Falco and former Reading FC player Stuart Beavon.
Reading-based company Gravity Personnel has agreed to sponsor the event and help with some of the logistics of hosting the event.
Kiren Sharma, Gravity’s managing director, said: “I met Paul when he joined Reading FC. I’ve always been friends with him and was devastated when I heard what happened. I really wanted to be able to do something to help and I think this match is a really good thing.”
Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 3pm on Sunday, June 5, cost just £7 for adults and £3 for under 16s and are available from The Hexagon box office in Queens Walk, online atwww.readingarts.com or by calling 0118 960 6060. Tickets on the day will cost £10 for adults and £6 for under 16s.