REMINISCING ROYALS | Serg Turkovic

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As we look forward to our 60th Anniversary Gala Dinner at Hyatt Place Essendon Fields on August 17, we took the opportunity to have a chat with some of the Essendon Royals greats.

Many of our club’s legends meet on a weekly basis at the Trieste Social Club in Essendon and we rounded up a whole bunch of them to talk all about their time at the Royals for a series of videos and features on EssendonRoyals.com.au to demonstrate what this club means to so many different people in our community.

From the club’s birth in 1959, right through to the renaissance of our senior team we talk to the people who helped shape the club to what it is today.

Next up, the one and only Serg Turkovic.

A former player, coach, committee member, president and now life member of the Essendon Royals, big Serg has seen it all in Ormond Park.

Since arriving at the club in 1969, just 10 years after the club was founded, Serg has been an ever-present figure at Essendon, whether the club has been known as Triestina, City or Royals.

In typical Serg fashion, Turkovic tells EssendonRoyals.com.au his story and reveals that his son and fellow former player, David Turkovic, will be the emcee at the club’s 60th Anniversary Gala night.

Serg Tukovic’s arrival at Essendon Triestina mirrors that of some of his closest friends and greatest team-mates.

Frustrated by the lack of senior opportunities at Juventus, Serg arrived at Triestina alongside his good mate Gerry Tribuzio in 1969. 

“Well, we came across basically to play football. At Juventus it was very, very hard. It was a difficult time, either you were an Englishman or you didn’t play.

“We were looking for a game we were only 18 or 19-years-old, so we came to Triestina as it was called then and we were the big imports, all the English players left and we got relegated big time.

“Gerry and myself, we were playing reserves and seniors to not have the club get fined and it was not pretty, but we stuck it out.

“We went back to Juve at the end of the year because it was just a loan agreement, but there was another problem because there was always the importation of players.

I went back to Juve and I stayed there for three years and then I had enough because of this issue so I went back to Triestina, and there I played until 1976.”

Some 50 years later after his initial arrival, Serg can still be found on the sidelines of Essendon Royals senior games with his mates, supporting the Royals.

The Royals life member has packed a lot of different roles and work into those five decades.

He might have arrived at the club as a senior player, but he would go on to become a senior coach, a long-standing member of the committee and club president.

“Between breaking legs and going to Bulleen and coming back, I didn’t play that many games, I don’t know how many game I played, but it’s always been like home to me.

“I’m not Triestine, my wife is, but I’m 50 km the other way. Where I come from and where they are, we don’t really get along! 

“But this club isn’t like that. The environment has always been you’ve gotta do the wrong thing before you’re not treated properly. 

“If you do the right thing, you’re family. From the first day I came here until today, I feel like it's my family.

“They're my guys, [the players and committee today] fight for the same badge that I fought for 30 years, I wish, 40 years ago!

“They’re fighting for the same thing and it’s fantastic.”

During his time at the club, Serg has ridden the highs and lows of countless promotions and relegations, including the rise of the Royals to the Victorian Premier League in the early 2000s, in which his son, David, played a crucial role.

Serg said he was hard on David as a coach and as a father but thinks he’s a better man - and player - for it.

David will emcee the 60th Anniversary Gala and Serg said it was considered an honour by his son to be asked to perform the role.

“He loves the club, he’s one of those and as we all know he’s living in Shepparton and married a Sheppartonian and he’s very, very happy up there wouldn’t come back for anything,” he said.

“The only way we get him back - and it won’t happen - would be if he was involved with the club, not sure if everyone knows but he’s gonna be the emcee and he’s so proud of that. 

“You ask him and it virtually leads to tears, he came up through the juniors, reserves and seniors, he’s a loyal type of a guy. He loves the club too.”

Serg’s daughter, Nadja, also played senior football for the club and retains a special place in the club’s heart.

The Royals have hosted a number of fundraising events for Nadja’s son, Luca, which Serge said was deeply appreciated by his family.

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Serg said he was proud of the work the current committee is doing and - as a former committee member himself - said he hopes to see more appreciation for their work and more people willing to chip in and help out.

“I just love the club. I’ve got so much admiration for the committee that’s in there at the moment and not just them but the ones who came before them as well,” he said.

“I can’t be at home on a Saturday knowing the Royals are playing at home. I can’t do it, I gotta be there.”

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