- National Teams
It is with much sadness that Hoopsfix has learned of the death of former Great Britain and England international, Stu Turpie.
Turpie (pictured above, back row, bearded second from right with the 1979-80 Brighton Basketball Team) was a prominent player in the 1970’s and 80’s while winning 34 caps for his country as they attempted to qualify for the 1976 Olympics.
With the help of his friends and family, we have been provided the following obituary:
“Stu was one of the best and most well respected basketball players in the early days of the National Basketball League during the 1970s and 1980s. During his early basketball career he represented both England and Great Britain.
“Many players (and referees) got to know him as the “gruff, rather serious old player with sharp elbows”. But he also had a whimsical sense of humour that belied his often stern appearance.
“Despite a lacklustre vertical jump, Stu was a tremendous rebounder and his world famous rolling hook shot was a sight to behold. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and many referees tended to fall into that category!
“Stu remains high on the list of top scorers in UK basketball – for example, at the start of 1980/81 season he was 8th in the all-time scorer lists with 112 games played, 72.3% from the free throw line and a 15.1 points per game average.
“Not only did he play to a very high standard for that time, but he also carried on playing and coaching well in to his fifties with local leagues and Greenwich Basketball Club in particular. He played for London Latvian SK (LLSK) / Embassy All Stars / Embassy Milton Keynes until their sad demise in 1979.
“Stu won 34 International caps playing for England, and Great Britain under coach Miles Aiken, in their attempt to qualify for the 1976 Olympics. He played in Division 2 and Division 1 of the NBL for Brighton Basketball Club with his teaching colleague and fellow player, Brendan McCarthy.
“During the 1979/80 season he was joint winner of the Division Two All Star Award with Robin Farris of Panasonic Plymouth. Stu never did learn to drive, and Brendan spent many hours driving them both, from homes in South East London, up and down the M23 several times a week to Brighton for practice and games.
“Guildford, Worthing & Bracknell Basketball Clubs were also fortunate enough to have him on their team. He was a founding member of Greenwich Basketball Club, and as their first player/coach, led them to victory in the Founders Cup during the 1987/88 season. He was a tough opponent but always fair and appreciative if on the losing side. His players obviously adored him and would go through a wall on his behalf.
“Stu was born in December 1947 in Bexleyheath, Kent, growing up in Lancashire and later moving with his parents to Sevenoaks in Kent. His love of basketball and sport in general was obvious to all who knew him. This may well have originated from his time at Warwick University during the late 1960’s, where he read History, and spent a year in the USA at Wisconsin (Go Badgers). As a result he always had a keen interest in US college teams.
“After his degree he trained to be a teacher at Liverpool University in 1971. Most of his career was spent at Thomas Tallis school in South London, teaching Geography, with some History and Religious Studies, reaching the position of Senior Teacher – nowadays known as Assistant Head.
“Stu’s wife, Carole also taught, and after retiring from the profession, they moved from Eltham, South East London, to Florensac in the South of France. Stu really loved living in France and took on the job of sports writer for the local Herault Times, principally writing for the ex. pat’s living in the area.
“He also became an expert on Rugby league, never missing a game on TV and travelling around southern France to see any live games that he could. He played (quite seriously) in the local Petanque leagues; conversing and cursing, good style, in French with the locals!
“Stu died in his home on Jan 25th 2015, after a long battle with Prostate Cancer. He is survived by his wife, and their three children: Tom, Alex & Anna – all teachers!
“Stu’s contribution to the game lives on – in those of us who were fortunate enough to have been elbowed, cajoled and growled at by him and taught, coached and counselled by him. He was, above all, a character – dedicated, loyal, talented, opinionated, generous with his time, a man of few words, and in his own quiet, unassuming way, a bit of a legend!
“He will be sorely missed, and our condolences are very much with his family.”
Image Credit: Brendan McCarthy