NBL Hall of Famer Bob Turner has played a pivotal role in a range of sporting organisations over the span of his 40-plus year career.
His illustrious resume includes prominent coaching stints at famous teams such as the Sydney Kings and the Canberra Cannons, where he won back-to-back NBL titles in 1983 and 1984.
Despite these achievements, Turner explained to Soccerscene it was his work with organisations in the sports marketing space that was equally as rewarding.
“I’ve earnt this reputation as a basketball guy, but coaching was only one part of it, it was also the marketing of sport for me which was just as exciting,” he said.
In this capacity, Turner has worked with organisations such as ABL’s Sydney Blue Sox, Speedway, four NBL teams, Jack High Lawn Bowls and more.
His latest project however is with the round-ball game and may be his biggest challenge yet, working with a historic club based in Australian football’s heartland.
Turner was appointed Executive Chairman at NPL side Blacktown City FC earlier this year and he hopes to turn the club into an off-field giant.
“The club has been around 68 years, it’s very credible as far as producing talent and what it’s done in the past,” he said.
“I think on the field they’ve been fantastic, but off the field there wasn’t a lot of emphasis put on getting people to the game or having people aware of who they were, which is something I’ve always enjoyed building on.
Turner knows the area well and believes that the stigma surrounding Blacktown as a city is unfair and not a true depiction of reality.
“The city of Blacktown itself is probably the most misunderstood city in the country,” he said.
“When I was involved at the Sydney Blue Sox I’d say to people ‘come out to a game and they’d say where do you play?’
“I’d tell them the games were at Blacktown and they’d say ‘oh no, I don’t go to Blacktown because of the crime or whatever’.
“It kind of intrigued me why the city is so misunderstood.
“So, I looked at what Blacktown City needed and the city of Blacktown needed and I thought they can both help each other to get this thing going. For me Blacktown City is ripe and ready to own Blacktown and I believe the club can act as a catalyst to assist in igniting pride in this city.”
The former NBL coach understands that promotion through the media is vital when it comes to ultimately helping him achieve his goal of regularly filling the 5,000 capacity Lily Homes Stadium in Sydney’s West.
“In the local media there’s 3 newspapers and 3 radio stations; we are working to secure all six of them as media partners. 3-4 of them are already in,” he said.
Alongside this, Turner himself has a monthly column in ‘Blacktown News’ and has enlisted the help of an agency which provides marketing material for the club, that includes print and radio ads.
While all these factors help considerably, Turner explains that most of all the product that you are selling must be of a good value itself.
“The ingredients to any sporting organisation are you have to play in a good competition, you have to have teams people want to go watch and you have to be good,” he said.
Blacktown City, are currently doing more than good. After eight games the senior men’s side sit on top of the table in NPL NSW in a competition that features other former NSL clubs such as Sydney United, Sydney Olympic, Marconi Stallions and Wollongong Wolves.
Turner credits the strong start to coach Mark Crittenden’s coaching methods and he hopes the club stays in the championship hunt throughout the season.
“It comes down to the coach and the recruitment of the right players,” he said.
“What I’m fascinated by is we play a lot of these teams in the competition who will spend more money than we do. They recruit some of our players, but it doesn’t affect our culture or standards.
“The first time I met Mark Crittenden, he was my kind of coach. He’s what I like as a coach, it’s what I tried to be as a coach. Someone who develops a culture and makes it clear that the club is far more important than any one player, coach or anybody.
“I see what he does with players and how they react to him and that’s why we are winning.”
Turner emphasises that the club wants to replicate this success with Blacktown’s female program and claims they must capitalise on the upcoming Women’s World Cup in 2023.
“If we have a women’s team with the same culture as the men’s team, the same ability to develop talent, we’ll be right up there,” he said.
“Next year we want the women to be in NPL2 and 2023 we want them to be in NPL1.
“We need to start to show that our commitment is both ways and it will also help us with potential funding for improvements to our changerooms and our ground.”