Fordingbridge football club set to star in television documentary watched by millions of Turkish viewers

Romsey Advertiser: The Turkish tv crew with some of the Fordingbridge U9 team The Turkish tv crew with some of the Fordingbridge U9 team

The oldest football club in Hampshire will soon have their story broadcast to millions of Turkish people worldwide.

Fordingbridge Turks FC, who play in the Bournemouth Saturday League, date back to 1868 – making them one of the oldest 50 football clubs on the planet.

The ‘Turks’ part of their name was believed to have been added almost a decade later.

The months from July to December 1877 are memorable for extraordinary Turkish bravery during a five month seige of Plevna during the Russian-Turkish War.

The name ‘Turks’ as part of the Fordingbridge club title is said to derive from Turkish courage in battle, as typiced by the heroic resistance against overwhelming odds at Plevna.

As a result, a three-strong documentary crew flew over from Turkey to the edge of the New Forest to spotlight the current Fordingbridge club and learn something of its history.

TIF Productions, based in the Turkish capital of Ankara, shoot travel, history and documentary programmes all over the world.

The programme ‘Türklerin Ýzinde’ – which Fordingbridge will be aired on – has previously featured documentaries filmed in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria and France.

The programme will be shown on Turkish Public TV (TRT Türk), the only channel that broadcasts in Turkish in lots of countries.

TRT Türk has 30 offices worldwide and nine satellites, broadcasting through cablecast to more than 250 million Turkish people.

TIF producer Cansin Eren got the ball rolling by emailing his company’s interest in Fordingbridge to the Southern Daily Echo.

From there, presenter Minay Oktem, director Koray Polat and cameraman Abdurrahim Ayaz Bilgic arrived at the Recreation Ground in Fordingbridge to meet current Fordingbridge Turks Youth chairman Mike Penton and his fellow under-9 team manager Chris Garvey.

The under-9s’ training session was filmed by the crew before they moved onto Fordingbridge museum, who have a current exhibition on the Turks’ background.

Included in the exhibits is a replica of the Basingstoke Cup, believed to be the oldest football trophy in Britain and won outright by Fordingbridge in the 19th century.

There is also a plate presented to the Turks by the Turkish Football Federation.

Penton said: “The expression ‘Brave as a Turk’ was quite a well-used one in Victorian times. “The club chose the name Turk because it summed up their fighting spirit.

“They were three times the winner of the Basingstoke Cup in the late 1800s.

“This was a great achievement because the cup was the equivalent of the FA Cup in those days.”

Fordingbridge’s most famous player was Frank Jefferis, who was born in 1884.

At the age of 21, he signed for Saints for the princely sum of £5.Jefferis went on to make 170 league appearances for Saintsm scoring 48 goals.

He later played for Everton, Preston and Southport and was a trainer at Millwall.

He also made two appearances for England in Home Internationals against Wales and Scotland in 1912.

Since the turn of this year, Fordingbridge Turks have officially merged with the Fordingbridge Town Youth FC that began back in the 1990s.

The hope is that the club’s most promising players will go on to play adult football for the Turks, rather than leave and play for neighbouring clubs such as Rockbourne, Damerham or Alderholt.

Penton added: “I am amazed at the interest shown in the club by the Turkish community. “Eighty per cent of the people following our Twitter feed are Turkish.

“Now we have joined up with Fordingbridge Town we have a pool of 240 youngsters to train up and so build a really strong team.

“The interest from Turkey is fantastic at a time when the club is really set to step up a gear and go places.”

Back in 1993, the Turks celebrated their 125th anniversary with a home friendly against Saints.

The club’s first team took the Turks and won 13-1 in front of a couple of thousand spectators at the Recreation Ground, Matt Le Tissier having a spell in goal and regular keeper Tim Flowers playing outfield and scoring a spectacular diving header.

The Turks are planning to invite Saints back to the town in four years time to celebrate their 150th anniversay.

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