10 years ago | Ashton-in-Makerfield Golf Club, Wigan | 20th April 2013
Ten years ago, I was at a charity fundraiser run by our local rugby club and arrived to find that I was to be seated next to a man you’d describe as rugby league royalty – although my grandma might have called him something else…
I had no idea there was going to be anyone noteworthy there but when we arrived, we learned that the organisers had pulled some strings and secured the after-dinner speaking services of St. Helens, Leigh and Great Britain legend, Alex Murphy.
And so I spent much of the evening chatting to a man who’d captained three different teams to win the Challenge Cup, a man who’d had a brief, controversial time as coach of Wigan and the man I’m pretty sure was only ever referred to by my grandma as “that dirty bugger”.
When he rose to speak, I got the sense that he was ‘phoning it in’, probably from delivering the same classic material several times a week over many years to an invariably uncritical audience. But that didn’t matter to me because when I spoke to him, one to one, it was the Alex Murphy I remembered: the gravelly voice, “the Mouth”, the glint in the eye, the fire still burning in his belly.
You’re advised never to meet your heroes but that didn’t bother me because, like anyone in Wigan, ‘Murph’ was always more of a pantomime villain – and even in his seventies, he knew how to play his part. He might have been a swine on the field to opposing fans but the charisma that gave him his competitive edge as a player was still there that night – and it made him great company.
You must be logged in to post a comment.