Q&A Interview with Club Legend Rob ‘8 Bucks’ Turner
Rob Turner has been a fixture of the University Football Club for over four decades, a living storybook of our club’s history.
He’s the club’s games record holder, with some 350-plus appearances under his belt. He’s seen the highs and lows of the club, and has been a loyal servant as a player, coach and runner. Having recently overcome a battle with cancer, 8 Bucks is well placed to give some wise words as we go through challenging times.
Let’s start off with a bit of a recap – how did you get the legendary ‘8 Bucks’ nickname?
It was about 1978 and I was playing A Colts. I was a back pocket, and in those days you had fixed positions. I didn’t venture up to the half back flank or anything, so my position was back pocket and I just played against my man.
So I played an absolute blinder from the back pocket one day, and I wasn’t shy about letting people know about it. Our drinking hole in those days was the Subiaco Hotel, the AJ hadn’t been built yet. So I’m at the Subi pub and I go up to the coach, Steve Woodward, and say – “I played a blinder, I’m going to be the first picked next week!” He looked at me and said “no you won’t.” “Yes I will, I’ll be first picked!” “No you won’t, you won’t even be playing.” “Yes I will, I’ll bet you 2 bucks I’ll be playing A Colts next week!” “Done, colt.”
Later on, I upped the bet from 2 bucks to 4 bucks, and then up to 8 bucks. I wanted to up the bet to 16, but luckily a team mate grabbed me and chucked me under a table. He was a bit more sensible then I was. So the bet stayed at 8 bucks.
In those days, they put the team up at Hackett Hall on a noticeboard. On the Friday morning I went down to check the side. I was shit scared, you know, I thought “oh fuck, he’s going to drop me”. So I checked, and there I was in the B Colts team. “Ah fuck.”
On the blackboard the next day, instead of Rob Turner in the back pocket, Rob Mitchell hate written ‘8 Bucks’.
What was your best on field memory as a player?
This was very late in my career, I think I must’ve been about 42. There was another bloke in the team who was around 40. We were down playing Rockingham or Mandurah or someone like that. Me and him were happening have a blinder. At one stage in around the third quarter, the other teams coach screamed out from the sidelines – “can someone fucking stop those two old bastards!”
And your best memory off the field as a coach or runner?
I used to love Snicko’s (Nick Lantzke) runs from the backline all the way down the ground without the ball. He used to start at full back and sprint all the way, creating an option, taking players with him and creating space. 90% of the time he wouldn’t touch the footy, but it would always benefit the time. I was always a big Snicko fan.
The other thing I can’t forget was Fitzy’s (Ben Fitzgerald) big punch in the 2017 A Colts final.
What’s your best moment at the club with nothing to do with footy?
In around ’79, we were going to Geraldton on a country trip. We were on an old Trasnperth bus, and when I say old it was old for 1979. It couldn’t go more than 60 k’s an hour. They had taken out all the seats, and the floor was just filled with mattresses and boxes of piss. The driver was drinking one for one with us pretty much. We ran into a thunderstorm and worked out that the windscreen wipers wouldn’t work. The driver, Greeny I think his name was, got another bloke to take the wheel. Greeny opens up the door, climbs up onto the engine and starts wiping the windscreen with his hands so the new driver can see and drive the bus. Probably frowned upon these days.
What is the most memorable premiership side you were involved with?
I think it would be the first year I became runner for the A Colts (2014). It was Jim Malone and Weapons’ (Simon Macdonald) second year as coaches, and we won the flag. I had been an A Colts player, we never won the flag. I coached the A Colts for a year and we didn’t win the flag. I thought I owed the club an A Colts flag, so I was so rapt to pay the club for never winning one.
Who were the most talented players you played with at Uni?
When I was playing in what is now the Dingoes. The best players I played with were former A Grade players who went down the grades. Mike Salmon was an A grade winning captain coach and a life member, and played a few games for Claremont I think. He was just a gun. He was maybe your side but a bit thicker and used to run through people for fun and just to spectacular things with the ball.
The other one is David Steinepreis, older brother of Roger. This is probably the best player I’ve ever seen. In the ’78 grand final against Wembley, Uni were getting absolutely thrashed. The game was over by half time. By the third quarter, everyone was pretty much playing for time. Late in the third quarter, a Wembley played had the ball in the goal square. Steiners came from 20 metres away and took him down, stopping the goal. For someone to put that much effort into a lost game, I just fell in love.
We’re all going through a strange and challenging time at the moment. Do you have any advice for us?
I don’t know how many people know, but I’ve just gone through cancer and radiotherapy. I didn’t really feel like I was going through adversity then, because there was nothing I could do about it. When I knew I was going to go through radiotherapy, I got myself as fit as I could, because I knew it would help me in the long run. So when you’re dealing with adversity, I think there’s two ways to look at it. If there’s nothing you can do about it, then you have to go with the flow. There’s nothing we can really do about the Coronavirus except sit at home and play Lego. And so, you just go with the flow and do what you can.
If there’s something you can do to make a difference, then you go and do it. I’m going to work with charities where I can do something, because their numbers are diminished. If you can step and help, then do it.