Gateshead legend Phil Turnbull saddened by off-field chaos at his old club

Phil Turnbull suffered the pain of losing the play-off final at Wembley with Gateshead.
Phil Turnbull suffered the pain of losing the play-off final at Wembley with Gateshead.

Gateshead legend Phil Turnbull has expressed his sadness at the chaos that is engulfing his former club.

While the club is making progress on the pitch, with Saturday’s 2-0 win at Aldershot Twon continuing their push for a National League play-off place, off the field chaos continues to make headlines.

Gateshead manager Ben Clark.

Gateshead manager Ben Clark.

Captain Scott Barrow was offered to a number of clubs by an agent working for Gateshead’s ‘financial advisor’ Joseph Cala.

Key defender Fraser Kerr was sold to Hartlepool United – with Heed boss Ben Clark unaware of the deal until hours before it was completed – and on Friday, the club were unable to get a transfer embargo lifted after a meeting with the National League at the International Stadium, leaving them with just 14 senior outfield players.

Turnbull – who played for the club in the Conference play-off final in 2014 – believes that the likes of Cala and Gateshead owner Dr Ranjan Varghese don’t understand what impact their decisions are having on supporters.

He said: “If it was Graham Wood in charge of the club, it would still be remarkable where they are in the league. To do it with the owners now, it’s unbelievable because there is so much going on.

“The people in charge don’t realise how much they are impacting on people’s lives.

“One person is ripping away and destroying something they love, and that is the saddest part of it. It doesn’t sit well with anybody that has been at the club.”

South Shields midfielder Turnbull paid tribute to former team-mate Clark for his role in helping Gateshead put in a serious play-off challenge after taking over from Steve Watson.

The two men had spells early in their career at Hartlepool before linking up at Gateshead, and Turnbull says he wasn’t surprised to see Clark take to management.

He said: “When you go through your career you come across players and you see players that you think will go into management. I always though Clarky would be one of them.

“He always had a will to win, attention to detail, he was so full-on with everything. He’s always liked in a changing room because his attitude is infectious.

“In modern society, not just in football, his positivity is needed more than ever. Players will run through brick walls for them.

“It’s the same with Busted (assistant manager Ian Watson), they are two similar characters and they will be the reason why the squad are performing how they are.”

“They are absolutely flying, and they couldn’t be doing much more.

“The table doesn’t lie. They are where they deserve to be, and I hope they can finish the job.”

Next up for Gateshead is next Saturday’s home game against a Barnet side that are sat four places and five points above the National League’s relegation zone.