Moneyfields boss Turnbull had to interrupt Spanish holiday to ensure he didn’t miss out on signing Harry Sargeant for second summer running
The midfielder was part of Turnbull’s US Portsmouth squad that reached the FA Vase semi-final and Wessex League Cup final in 2020/21, as well as winning promotion to the top flight of the Wessex.
Yet Sargeant – unlike a large amount of his colleagues – turned down the chance to move to Moneys once Turnbull had taken over at Dover Road.
Instead, he joined Baffins Milton Rovers and became a regular thanks to his box-to-box style. Never a regular scorer at US, he also netted seven times for Rovers – including the winner against Moneyfields as Baffins came from 0-2 down in January to win 3-2.
Sergeant has now agreed to join Moneyfields, but only after Turnbull was forced to take time out of his Spanish holiday to stop the player from signing for Wessex League Premier rivals Horndean.
‘I’d had good conversations with Sarge before going on holiday,’ Turnbull remarked. ‘They weren’t based around money, it was really refreshing.
‘Then, as I was about to go into a restaurant (in Spain) I had a message from Sarge saying he thought Horndean were showing more ambition.
‘I stewed on that while I was having dinner, I was wondering if I’d under-sold the club.
‘I messaged him back after the meal, and later in the week I got a text saying ‘I’ve had a rethink, is the offer still available, I’d like to come.’
‘I’ve always had a lot of respect for Sarge, he’s got a mature and sensible head on his shoulders. The year’s break from the US (Portsmouth) culture has been really good for him.
‘It’s thanks to Shaun (Wilkinson, ex-Baffins boss) and Danny (Thompson, current Baffins boss) – and Sarge himself – that we’re now getting a better player than if we’d signed him a year ago.
‘He will never take the ball off Tom Cain and spray an 80-yard diagonal like Macca (Matt McGlinchey) used to, but Sarge will do the ugly stuff. He will time his runs into the box and he’s added goals to his game – we know that from bitter experience.
‘We needed a midfielder after losing Macca – that left a lot of presure on Callum (Glen) and Jordan (Pile).’
Turnbull has also brought back another member of his US Vase semi-final squad, keeper Tom Price, and signed Stoneham forward Callum Laycock.
Price was part of last summer’s exodus from the Victory Stadium to Dover Road, but he left in December after losing his place to Callum McGeorge, subsequently turning out for both US again and Fareham Town.
‘Tom’s a proven, experienced Wessex League keeper,’ said Turnbull. ‘Hopefully he’s still got the hunger in his belly. He understands that Callum will probably start as No 1 again, but competition is healthy if we achieve what we want to achieve.’
Turnbull’s close season squad rebuilding will be complete if he can bring in another centre half to complement the four senior faces he already has – Cain, Harry Birmingham, Corey Heath and Adam Cripps.
A seven-day approach for a central defender has been submitted this week.
‘I didn’t want to have a scattergun approach,’ he explained. ‘I didn’t want to just sign the best players because they are best players around. They have got to fit in well – that was something I majored on at US.’