The Voice of St. Lawrence - Don Turpin
St. Lawrence native and long time resident Don Turpin
has accumulated an amazing 57 year broadcasting career. Don, born in 1929
, became a media personality in 1946 at the tender age of 16. He was initially
hired as a news correspondent for VOCM after they expanded their news coverage
from St. Johnís to the Burin Peninsula. Don Turpinís work ethic resembles
that of a work -alcoholic. His full time employment over the years shows
that he has had five years working in the fishery, seven years experience
in the mining field and twenty-five years as an employee with the Town
of St. Lawrence. Don has expressed that his true love, the media, is "my
record of enjoyment."
Don contributes his longevity in broadcasting to his
love of the subject and the support that his wife Suzanne has given him
over the years.
Oh yes! Don Turpin played soccer! He said, "I wasnít the
greatest. I could hold my own, but it was very hard to make the team. You
only carried 11 players back then". But due to a serious leg injury which
occurred when Don played in a game at Lamaline, his playing days became
In 1950, Don became involved with soccer at the executive
level. For the past 50 plus years, Don has served as a public relations
officer for the St. Lawrence and the Burin Peninsula Soccer Association.
During this time, he has also held various executive positions such as
president, secretary and treasurer for the St. Lawrence
In the 1960ís, Don started contributing Burin Peninsula sports
items to "The Daily News" and to the regional newspaper, "The Post", now
called "The Southern Gazette". Don still contributes various sports items
to both of these newspapers.
When "The Evening Telegram" chose a panel to select Newfoundlandís
top soccer players, Don Turpin was asked to assist with the selection committee
as it was felt his expert analysis was certainly of value. In 1977, he
was instrumental with the public relations during the hosting of the National
Challenge Cup Soccer in the town of St. Lawrence. It was a conversation
that Don Turpin had at this tournament with Eric King, executive secretary
of the Canadian Soccer Association that Eric singled out Donís outstanding
efforts and called St. Lawrence "The Soccer Capital of Canada".
Since beginning broadcasting soccer games over the VOCM
network, he has done colour commentary at every provincial soccer championship
game. On three occasions Don accompanied the Laurentians to their national
championship: Toronto, Ontario ( 1967 ), Calgary, Alberta( 1976 ), and
Kitchener, Ontario ( 1979) . He was instrumental in assisting the local
radio station with the broadcasting of these games.
For the past ten soccer seasons Don has been working
closely with Doug Redmond in the preparation of the provincial statistics
for the Provincial Challenge Cup Soccer League. His voice is still heard
regularly on the CHCMís morning sports-cast and every Sunday evening at
5 pm the Challenge Cup Weekend round-up is aired.
In 1985, Don was elected to the St. Lawrence Soccer Hall
of Fame. In 1986, he was elected to the Burin Peninsula Soccer Hall of
Fame. I am totally shocked to find out that Don Turpin has not been inducted
into the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Hall of Fame. If Don Turpin doesnít
deserve this honour , then who does? Don certainly has contributed to Newfoundland
soccer as much as any one individual in the builderís category. On this
matter I would like to conclude, "Itís long overdue".
Although Don is there to carry local, regional and provincial
news reports, sports scores and sports stories, it is no secret that Don
Turpin loves the town of St. Lawrence, the sport of soccer and the Laurentians.
He considers it a treat to have been able to have watched
so many great teams and all-star players perform. He refers to Wils Molloy
as the greatest, although he feels Bob Kelly, Herb Slaney, Bill Slaney,
Reg Farrell, Albert Kettle, Alfred Giovinnini, Gus Tarrant, Norm Kelly,
Alonzo Walsh, Cyril Quirke, and Frank Tobin were all great players too.
When questioned about the old time goalies, Turpin felt
that it was Louie Kelly who would edge out the Laurentians Charlie Banfield,
Tommy Turpin, Mike Handrigan, Mike Quirke and Bob Slaney.
It appeared to me that I was mesmerizing Don when I keep
asking him, "Who was the best?" Maybe in all honesty, it was to hard for
him to answer. Don feels that soccer, as it is played today, is completely
different than the old days. I was told that it was no big deal to have
a few drinks before a game back then. My reply was, "Yes, Iíve coached
a few teams like that myself!" He just laughed.
Transportation to out of town games was provided by an
old pick-up truck. The players would all jump in the box and on certain
occasions someone would throw in an bale of hay to comfort the players
on their ride. He referred to the old 5 - 3 - 2 system , where a team would
use five forwards, three halfbacks and two fullbacks, a more of a "slog
and run" game. The fields were much smaller with a lot of goals scored.
The players were very rough, with no such thing as a disciplinary card
handed out. Now, with the bigger soccer fields and a more defensive 4 -
4 - 2 system being played, players are better skilled and more physically
fit. Today there is more strategic planning done by the coaches with less
and less goals being scored. Currently the referees have more control.
Don concluded, "I still love the game."
Respected By All
Over the course of Donís career, he is referred to as "The
Voice of the Common Man." Here are some quotes given by some respected
individuals on "Mr. Soccer"
Clayton Welsh (NLSA President) "Mr. Turpin is a lifelong
sports enthusiast and broadcaster. His dedication to sports is to be commended."
Russ Murphy (CHCM Station Manager) "Don has had a close
association with VOCM for almost 45 years. Besides the soccer coverage,
Don has served his community as goodwill ambassador and has contributed
substantially to the pride and well being of his hometown. In the media
fraternity, he is affectionately known as "Mr. Soccer."
Len Slaney ( NLSA - Hall of Famer ) "Don Turpin has been
called Mr. Sportís Media in practically every community on the Burin Peninsula.
Through out our life long friendship, I have seen his enthusiasm for broadcasting
continuously grow. I guess thatís what keeps Don Newfoundlands number one
Newman Barrlett (PBSA President) "Don, for a long number
of years, has been instrumental in keeping sports alive on the Burin Peninsula
by his reporting and involvement."
George Macvicar (Editor-Southern Gazette) "Don has always
been a friend to the sporting community. He has gone out of his way to
make sure regular and spectacular accomplishments by local and provincial
athletes are reported."
Wade Rowsell (Mayor of St. Lawrence) "Don has always
been committed in promoting the cultural achievements of sports, teams
and individuals throughout the Burin Peninsula. His sports accomplishment
by action and deed has truly been inspiring - he is a living legend."