During each week of the 2019/20 Premier League season, England Netball will shine a light on one of the 30 clubs involved in the competition.
This week, we spoke to Turnford of Premier League 1 after they secured their first win of the season 12 days ago…
Position: 8th – Premier League 1
Coach: Dannii Titmuss
Captain: Kat Whittall
Venue: Wodson Park Sports Centre
Ones to Watch: Sienna Rushton, Ellie Rattu and Zara Everitt
Key Players: George Fisher, Hannah Joseph, Zara Everitt
Last Six Games: WLLLWL
Last Game: New Cambell 68-41 Turnford
Next Game: Leeds Athletic (A) – Sunday 27 October
The 2019/20 Premier League season is now well underway and there have already been plenty of thrills in the opening four weeks.
Turnford Netball Club are no strangers to the elation that comes with Premier League netball and are now enjoying their second successive campaign in the top flight after promotion in 2018.
The Hertfordshire outfit achieved a respectable seventh-place finish last term and successfully navigated away from an immediate return to Premier League 2.
The newcomers made a significant impact on the division and were able to inflict the only defeat champions Oldham Netball Club suffered all season – beating them 79-48 at Wodson Park Sports Centre in January.
This victory was the highlight of a successful season for Turnford but it was the wins against fellow mid-table sides such as Leeds Athletic and Tameside that steered them well away from the bottom two.
The club will be aiming for an improvement on last term’s placing and securing their first win of the season against Tameside 12 days ago will put them in good stead to improve on their previous points tally of 48.
“We’re now four games in so it was nice to get a win against Tameside,” explained senior head coach Dannii Titmuss.
“We’ve currently been working around having players available and unavailable. Against Tameside, we had most of our team there and a few of our youngsters really stepped up.”
The 59-44 win meant that they have got off the mark quicker than last season when they picked up their first victory against Premier Romans five weeks in. While two successive defeats to Academy and Weston Park Blades signalled a rocky start to the campaign, Titmuss was realistic regarding their opening few fixtures.
“Knowing the few players we had available due to athletes being away with England, I’m not particularly surprised that we didn’t win our first two games although it would have been lovely to,” she said.
“We had confidence that our performances would get better and that a win would come. We always thought we were going to have a bumpy start but we knew it was always going to get better.”
Titmuss certainly has a talented side at her disposal when the crux of her 16-strong squad is available. Built on the strong foundations of a successful junior programme, Turnford have produced players such as George Fisher and Zara Everitt in recent years.
Fans attending games for free in Ware have become accustomed to witnessing budding England stars and Vitality Netball Superleague regulars take to court since their arrival in Premier League 1.
Their Most Outstanding Player as per their annual awards evening, Emily Gulvin, plays for Surrey Storm while 19-year-old Zara Everitt represents Loughborough Lightning and recently won Netball Europe Open with England.
“We’ve got some amazing players. We’ve got some experienced players like Hannah Joseph and some exciting people coming through like Emily Gulvin and Peace Akinyemi – who got Player of the Match against Tameside.
“We’re really supportive of people who do get selected into National programmes. Our youngest are Peace [Akinyemi] and Bella [Baylis] at the moment, who are part of the leadership group for RNA. If there are clashes, we support them performing their England duties. We’re so proud of all our athletes and recognise we can provide a great foundation for athletes aspiring to play for England or the Vitality Netball Superleague.
“When they’re all on court together, though, the standard is extremely high. Against Academy, you had Kadeen Corbin coming up against Zara Everitt. It’s just great netball to watch and a great advert for the league.”
Exciting netball has become a strong characteristic of this Turnford team. They scored the fourth-highest number of goals last season and are currently one of five teams to break the 200-goal barrier thus far. This brand of attacking netball is regularly worked on in training by players and staff.
In fact, the club’s ethos goes beyond just winning Premier League games. Their ethos – Work Hard with Intensity and Never Give Up – has been instilled by the Titmuss family.
Dannii is joined by mother Carole and sister Kat at Turnford, where they have been involved for decades. The former started with the club as a young player 29 years ago and has since risen to the role of senior head coach.
Meanwhile, Kat is the long-serving captain of the Premier League squad and Carole currently operates as head coach.
“I was taken into Turnford after being picked up at a tournament by the Titmuss family. They coached me up and helped me with everything. They really inspired me.” – George Fisher, Vitality Rose.
“It’s very much a family affair. I don’t know if I would have been involved for as long as I have been without my mum and my sister being there. It’s something we’ve all got in common and I love being with my family every Sunday,” said Dannii.
“We love working at Turnford, it’s all good fun. We can get irate with each other sometimes because everyone is passionate but ultimately we all love the sport, love what it can do for young athletes and love the opportunities it has given us.”
This family feel has expanded to the hundreds of young Turnford Netball Club members. Dannii started with the club at the age of eight and therefore understands the importance of a strong youth system.
“Developing young players is definitely a sustainable model for having a Premier League team. If you look at our squad of 16, eight have come through our pathway. When you look at the successes of other teams, they are underpinned by a good foundation of juniors and so we want to have a Premier League squad that is predominantly made of players from our junior section.
“It’s insane to look at the calibre of coaches in our junior programme. My mum, sister and I are all Level Three coaches. We have people like Sam Bird, the Futures Coach, who leads with our U12s, Natalie Richardson, Abi Naugher and Cathy Williams to name a few. We just want to keep growing as a club – that’s our aim.”
Turnford will face Leeds Athletic away in their next Premier League outing on Sunday 27 October. They did the double over Leeds last season but, no matter the result on this occasion, will be backed by a strong contingent of volunteers who work tirelessly to make the club a success.
“It’s a lot of hard work. People work very hard. It’s all of the backroom staff and all of our volunteers that put in the effort. It’s not just one two-hour session once a week.
“The committee work really hard. There so many people behind the scenes continually striving to make the club the best it can be. You can see the difference it makes to all the players involved and that, with the love of Turnford and love of netball, is why people do all they do.”
Fixtures and Current Standings: