Published: 08:00, 08 June 2020
| Updated: 08:25, 08 June 2020
Blair Turgott’s Swedish adventure is entering a second year and the former Maidstone United captain is loving it.
The 26-year-old Bromley-born forward, who signed a three year deal with Östersunds FK last July after leaving the Stones, is readying for a return to action this Sunday, when the Swedish top-flight gets underway.
Sweden took a different approach to other countries, with no lockdown measures placed on their citizens during the coronavirus crisis.
It’s no surprise that Sweden’s allsvenskan - the country’s professional league - is cracking on with a return to action.
Turgott said: “I know about the lockdown and the strict rules they have had over in England but here, I look out the window and everyone is just going about their business as normal. There has been no lockdown.
“There were a few rules about eating in restaurants and keeping two metres away in stores, they stopped large gatherings, but there has still been the freedom for people to go to and fro whenever you want.”
The Swedish season has been delayed. It should be entering it’s summer break now but there will be a condensed campaign ahead. It’s one Turgott is looking forward to.
He went straight from a tough year at Maidstone, finishing top scorer in a team that got relegated in 2018/19, to then joining the Ostersunds team mid-season, another who were fighting for their lives.
Ostersunds stayed up and they’re preparing for an away match against Hammarby on Sunday - the team who finished third last year, just one point off the top in a thrilling three-horse race for the title.
It’s going to be a big year for Turgott.
He said: “Last year I went straight in and I had to get familiar with everything. It was the first time I had played in another country.
“The club have been brilliant, the manager (Englishman Ian Burchnall) was understanding and he knows it is not going to be easy to go straight from one league to another, but from a personal perspective, I think I did well considering I had a few niggles when I came.
“I was getting up to speed. The team wasn’t in the best state, it was in a bit of a losing streak. The most important thing was to make sure we stayed in the league, that was the objective. It was a new group from the heights of having been in Europe.
“The main objective was achieved, we stayed in the league, and I got a feel of everything. I got to know some of the bigger clubs we played against, got the experience and it was almost like a settling in period. I think this season now is all about showing who I really am and what I am about.
“I always like to let my football do the talking and the platform is here, to showcase myself and help the team as much as I can.”
The city of Östersund is half the size of Maidstone and it’s quiet. Turgott doesn’t have to worry about the commute like he did when he was travelling from Bromley to the Gallagher. He’s less than five minutes away from the training ground now.
What he’s not enjoyed, however, is the winter weather. Temperatures there may be up into the 20s this week but come the winter, it’s a different story. The football season takes a break and he came home to avoid the worst of it last year.
“It’s a really cool place,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of people but my family came over as well, my little girl and my missus. It helped 100% to have my loved ones around me.
“It is so picturesque here. It is unbelievable. A couple of months ago we were watching the skiing on the slopes from our house.
“But the winter was the worst I have ever experienced! I would happily take English weather any day of the week. I thought I knew cold but this cold is like a different one.
“Where we live is next to the lake (Storsjön) and the cold is really bitter, it goes through to your bones, not just your toes and feet. It is your bones, through the blood! I used to wear gloves on Tuesday night games in England and now I am thinking, what was I doing?! This is wow.
“But you have to be thankful. There are negative things but there are positives too. You get to see part of the world you would never have seen before under normal circumstances. It has been good, I have my family here and that helps a lot.”
Ostersunds not only have an English manager, but several of the coaching staff are from here too, along with many of the players. It was a key factor in tempting Turgott to try something new.
One of the concerns he did have was what would happen to his fledgling business.
With his best friend and PE teacher Ike Robertson their Shooting Talent Sports coaching business had been booming. Based out of the Archbishop Courtenay Primary School in Tovil, they had seen many youngsters enjoy what they had to offer.
He needn’t have worried - not that he’s one to stress much anyway. Robertson and the other coaches have been keeping the company ticking over nicely, with Turgott helping out from afar. During the pandemic they’ve also been setting the kids challenges over social media.
He said: “We had a few messages from parents asking what they could do in lockdown, so we set up challenges to do every week. We have had so much positive feedback.
“They kids looked forward to it. We just tried to make something good out of a bad situation because we know how hard it has been, especially for the parents.
“You get a smile out of seeing these kids put their energy into one thing.
“Seeing them enjoying it and the feedback we get, it really does make it worth it and the reason we started in the first place.”
Right now, he’ll be looking forward to finally getting back to action. Covid-19 led to a delay in the season but the team have been training since the start of the year.
“I am enjoying it and the most important thing now for me personally, now that I have settled, is about showing people the player that I am.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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