South Shields sign Phil Turnbull from Darlington

Phil Turnbull says signing for South Shields is a dream come true.
Phil Turnbull says signing for South Shields is a dream come true.

Midfield star Phil Turnbull says it is a dream come true to sign for hometown club South Shields.

The Mariners swooped for the highly-rated schemer to replace retired skipper Julio Arca as they build a squad capable of gaining promotion to National League North.

Shields are understood to have paid Darlington around £8,000 for Turnbull, who ends a three-year stay with the Quakers by moving to Mariners Park where he joins Gary Brown and Chris Hunter, who have also made the move from Darlington this summer.

The player has often been linked with a move to the club, and has spoken in the past about his desire to pull on the maroon shirt.

The 31-year-old said: “To sign for my hometown club is a dream, and I’m absolutely delighted to be here.

“Special things are happening at this club and I want to be involved and be a part of that.

“Being from Shields, I’ve always followed the club, and playing for them is something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’m absolutely delighted that it has happened.”

Turnbull won the Evo-Stik Premier Division title with Darlington and spent two seasons playing in the National League North. Before that, he played more than 300 games for Gateshead, helping them through the pyramid as they fell just short of a place in the Football League, losing at Wembley in the National League play-off final to Cambridge United in 2014.

He will now get the chance to represent his hometown club, realising a long-standing ambition and following in the footsteps of dad John, who also played for the Mariners.

Turnbull added: “I’m excited. I’ve got that passion again and a new goal.

“There will be lots of people in the crowd that I know, and I want them to walk away saying ‘he’s a good player and they’ve made the right decision to bring him in’.

“I’ll have lots of family and friends here every game.

“There will be that motivation there and personal pride, and I can’t wait.

“It’s a special place and my hometown club, which everyone dreams of playing for. It’s ideal for me.”

Turnbull still lives in the town, and has found it difficult to escape the buzz around the club over the last three years.

He said: “I’ve played for other clubs where if the football club is doing well, the town is thriving, and it seems like that here at the moment.

“Everything is positive about South Shields because the football team is doing so well. Long may that continue.

“Something special is happening here and I want to be on board. The opportunities are limitless.

“When I spoke to the managers, it was clear that the aspirations are massive.

“Everybody knows that the club wants to be in the Football League.

“The chairman has got that ambition, and hopefully I’ll be part of that journey.”

Turnbull was identified as a key target by joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton this summer, and they are pleased to have him on board.

Picton said: “We’re delighted to bring in a player of Phil’s calibre.

“I think what it shows is the ever-growing status of the club, that we’re able to attract a player of Phil’s quality and experience.

“We felt he would be a perfect fit for our style of play, because his main strengths are centred around his great quality and decision-making on the ball.

“He has been captain of Darlington, too, so we’re delighted to bring another leader and strong character into the group.

“This signing hopefully shows a little bit of our intent moving forwards.

“We’re attracting real high-quality players and the club wants to continue to move forwards and retain the ambition to constantly strive for the next level.”