Paying tribute to 'unsung hero' Ollie Turton as Blackpool's Mr Reliable makes the move to Huddersfield Town
It will feel strange not seeing Ollie Turton line up in tangerine next season. He almost felt part of the furniture.
A June 2017 signing under Gary Bowyer, the club’s longest-serving player departs Bloomfield Road having made 165 appearances for the Seasiders.
An unsung hero if there ever was one, Turton - or Mr Reliable as he became to be known - never let the Seasiders down.
But that description almost does him a disservice, because it suggests the 28-year-old is nothing more than a hard-worker, someone that can “do a job”, so to speak, without offering much else. But there’s a lot more to him than that.
Turton is used to being written off though, so it’ll be water off a duck’s back.
Even when it was revealed the defender had turned down the offer of a new deal to remain at Blackpool to sign a pre-contract elsewhere, speculation mounted that perhaps he was going to link up with Bowyer again at Salford City or even move up the road to play under Simon Grayson at Fleetwood Town.
With all due respect to those two clubs, Huddersfield Town is a bit of a step-up. I just hope he’s got a big pay rise, because he’s earned it.
When he first arrived at Blackpool, fans of his former club Crewe Alexandra cast doubts over whether he could cut it in League One. But he soon silenced those doubters.
There will be inevitably be doubts over whether the Manchester-born man can make the step-up to the Championship, but you'd be a brave man to back against him.
A 7 or 8 out of 10 every week, Turton remained remarkably consistent throughout his time on the Fylde coast.
He scored just one goal in each of his four seasons, but his consistency of performance was matched by his consistency of professionalism to remain fit - making 43 appearances in his debut campaign, then 38, 39 and 45 appearances in the following three seasons.
A rock-solid defender that improved his attacking play during his time at Pool, especially during his last season working under Neil Critchley, a major strength of Turton’s was his versatility.
While predominantly a right-back, he excelled wherever he was picked - whether that was at left-back, the right of a back three or even in central midfield. He even played in central defence this season when an injury crisis hit. But not once did he let the team down.
If it was anyone else playing out of position, they’d probably look like a square peg in a round hole. But irrespective of where Turton lined up on the pitch, he never looked out of place.
Indeed, it was a running joke among the press pack that ‘Turts’ just needed to play in goal and up front to complete the set.
Off the pitch, Ollie was equally as impressive. Always unassuming, he isn’t one that chases the spotlight or attention. He’s quite happy to go under the radar.
In many respects, his final appearance in tangerine summed him up perfectly. Conceding a freak own goal after 48 seconds in the play-off final, Turton didn’t let it affect him. Instead, he carried on with his normal game, playing a leading role in Blackpool’s glorious victory like the ultimate pro he is. There was no better way for him to go out.
While it’s a shame Turton has left, you can’t begrudge him his move. He goes with everyone’s best wishes, let’s just hope he has an uncharacteristic stinker against Pool in the Championship next season!
Elsewhere, Pool fans were also left surprised by the club’s decision not to keep Sullay Kaikai at Bloomfield Road.
Like Turton, Kaikai is also a shy, unassuming lad who has always been a pleasure to deal with for the media.
Given his affection for the club, he’s bound to be feeling gutted about his exit. But I’ve no doubt he will get picked up by a good club and go on to enjoy an excellent career.
There’s no doubting Kaikai’s talent or natural ability, but he’s sometimes a little guilty of drifting in and out of games and the forward has work to do on ball retention and the defensive side of his game. Perhaps those reasons, along with his troublesome injury record, is why Critchley opted to let him go.
Nevertheless, Kaikai scored some memorable goals in tangerine, most notably the free-kick against Fleetwood and the scorcher against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. He was a firm fans’ favourite and he’ll be missed, but football is a ruthless game and the search will already be on for an upgrade ahead of Pool’s return to the second tier.
Liam Feeney, the assist king of 2019/20, Alex Fojticek, Jack Sims and Adi Yussuf have also departed. We wish them the best of luck.
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