Quite often we are alerted to the passing of former NSW footballers but they don’t always receive a particular special mention in our blog.
However, recently we were informed of the death of Ralph Turner at the age of 83.
Ralph won two Phelan Medals, the first with South Sydney in 1959 when he polled an amazing 37 votes and the second in 1961 when he was captain and coach of the Sydney Naval side.
Born in 1936, Ralph joined the Navy from his West Preston home in Victoria in 1954; at the time he potentially had a promising career with Coburg in the VFA.
After his initial training with the Navy at HMAS Cerebus he was posted to HMAS Albatross at Nowra where he served most of his six years in that force.
Along with a number of other Albatross based players he joined the South Sydney club in 1955 and travelled to and from Sydney with his mates to play during those years until 1960 when he transferred over to Sydney Naval. This was the same year he left the Navy and although he had made an application to re-enter the service, it did not come to fruition.
Sydney Naval won the Sydney premiership that year and the following season Ralph took over as coach. He coached them to the grand final in 1961 and in the next season took ‘Naval to another flag, winning over Newtown. He remained with the club until the end of 1964.
Ralph represented NSW on several occasions, in several he was named in the best.
After labouring for a few years Ralph had joined the Air Force and in 1968, at 32, was captain coach of the Werribee Club in the VFA. Following this and with a subsequent posting to Richmond in NSW, he re-entered the Sydney’s football arena coaching Sydney Naval’s third grade. The following year was elected president of the new Combined Services club which played in the Sydney Second Division. That year he was also captain-coach and in 1973, just coach, although he did play a few games at the age of 37 and in one game, booted nine goals!
Ralph retired to the Newcastle area and in his later years suffered from Parkinsons disease. He died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, 13 May.