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Blair Turgott: Former West Ham winger thriving at Maidstone

 • by Matt Gault
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Football Whispers has teamed up with Vanarama and Motorama in their efforts to raise £150,000 for Prostate Cancer UK across September and October, providing the best coverage of the Vanarama National League online.

Blair Turgott was once touted as a future star at West Ham United. Having joined the Hammers’ highly regarded academy at the age of eight, Turgott’s pace and eye for goal attracted attention from scouts up and down the country.

His talent even catapulted him to a brief stint on the silver screen, playing himself in the 2006 film Green Street.

Then, as a fleet-footed 18-year-old in 2013, he prompted talk of a potential call-up to the West Ham first team after scoring a magnificent hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers.

Despite several first-team Hammers on display, Turgott stole the show with a treble which consisted of a long-range right-footed rocket, a precise finish with the same foot from the edge of the area and a brilliant individual effort in which he cut back from the by-line before unleashing an unstoppable strike high into the net.

However, breaking into the senior side in East London proved difficult. In November 2012, he moved down to League Two with Bradford City to gain first-team experience but returned to West Ham four months later having managed only 11 appearances.

Although he featured during The Bantams’ memorable run to the League Cup final, he was an unused substitute at Wembley as they lost 5-0 to Swansea City.

Further loan spells followed, at Colchester United, Rotherham United and Dagenham & Redbridge, but it wasn’t until he left West Ham in 2015 that his career began to finally take shape.

He was released by the Premier League side in January 2015, having made just one senior appearance, and swiftly joined Coventry City on a short-term deal. Having scored ten times for England at various youth levels, including three in six under-19s caps, there was a real buzz about the quality he could add to the Sky Blues.

Ultimately, it didn’t quite happen for him at Ricoh Arena but a return to London with Leyton Orient proved to be a springboard towards brighter things.

Turgott made 36 appearances during his year at Brisbane Road and, while he found the back of the net once, it was a stunning strike which showed what he is capable of.

In a 3-0 win over Stevenage, Turgott scored a wonderfully controlled right-footed volley. His time back in east London proved frustrating, starting only 14 games with 22 appearances from the bench. The O’s decided not to retain the winger’s services but it proved a blessing in disguise as he joined hometown club Bromley.

The speedy wide man proved an instant hit at Hayes Lane, scoring a glorious first for the Ravens in a 4-1 win over Guiseley, beating three defenders before launching an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net.

That beautiful finish set the tone for his most productive season as he finished on 15 goals to earn a move back into the football league with Stevenage having impressed scouts while appearing in Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy last summer.

A spell with Boreham Wood soon followed but Turgott looks to have settled at Maidstone United.

Turgott initially joined the Stones on loan and helped steer them away from relegation out of the National League.

Upon joining on a permanent basis, he vowed to make a major impact and, following a pre-season in which he knuckled down and worked hard on his fitness, has reaped the benefits.

After scoring a penalty during the opening day 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United, Turgott scored both goals in a 2-1 away win at Dagenham.

He followed that with a second brace of the season against Maidenhead United, only it wasn’t enough to seal three points in a 3-2 defeat.

Turgott’s fast start to the season attracted praise from his manager, too.

“He nearly had a hat-trick [against Dagenham],” Jay Saunders told the National League site. “Last season we didn’t have him fully fit but now you can see he is really firing.

“He’s now chasing back 60 yards to help the team and he can finish at the other end as well.”

Maidstone’s season was rocked on August 29 when Saunders, a lifetime fan, former player and manager of seven years, parted company with the Kent club by mutual consent.

Turgott was then sent off just three days later in the 1-0 defeat at Gateshead following an off-the-ball incident. That flash of indiscipline has been the blot on an otherwise encouraging start to the season, with Turgott boasting an (expected goals) xG of 0.46, an impressive average for a forward in a struggling team.

Hovering ominously over the relegation zone face a tough test when table-topping Harrogate come to Gallagher Stadium on Saturday. Having served his suspension, Turgott will be key if the Stones are to arrest their slide and move up the National League ladder.

Vanarama, and its newly launched personal leasing brand, Motorama, has set itself a 45-day challenge across September and October to raise £150,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Lease a van, save a man. Find out more here.

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