The Colin Murphy Moral of The Story.

Colin Murphy has managed Derby County, Lincoln City, Stockport County, Southend United, Notts County, Cork City  Shelbourne, and the Vietnam National side.   Hull City would also agree that he played a big part in their football development when the club achieved Premiership status first time around. The Tigers were his last club, prior to going into retirement with a stroke, but if you are Colin Murphy, you never leave football because nothing is too big an ask.   Perhaps that as much as the Brian Clough baptism shaped the Murphy moral…………..

Badge of Derby County F.C.Lincoln City F.C. badge.pnglogoSouthend United.svgNotts County Logo.pngHull City badge

After a non-league playing career based around London, Colin ‘Merlin` Murphy took up coaching with Derby County, who gave him the impossible task of following Brian Cloughas manager in November 1976. Fill your boots son, a bit of a poisoned Challis, but why not follow Cloughie`s act and lead us to greater things? Surprisingly 10 months on he hadn’t quite got the Grail and got the push after 13 wins, 20 draws and 14 defeats.

Notts Co 05-Jun-95 23-Dec-96 83 33 24 26 39.75
Southend 08-May-92 01-Apr-93 42 11 12 19 26.19
Lincoln 26-May-87 20-May-90 103 39 26 38 37.86
Stockport 01-Nov-86 26-May-87 34 12 9 13 35.29
Stockport 08-Aug-85 24-Oct-85 15 3 5 7 20
Lincoln 06-Nov-78 01-May-85 342 133 98 111 38.88
Derby 25-Nov-76 17-Sep-77 47 13 20 14 27.65

By November 1978 with Taylor now loving it at Elton John’s Watford, bargain basement Lincoln came calling and, without any overstatement the purposeful passionate manager was to transform the club from top to bottom as only he could. We needed his uniqueness, a man who put new meaning to the phrase thinking around the box. Indeed his program notes broke new boundaries and did more to flout the English languish than a decade of text-speek thanks to the mobile phone. These were his weekly morals, surreal, but making the dreams seem plausible.

After enticer Taylor’s departure, George Kerr and Willie Bell had lasted a season apiece and got us relegated and worse. The playing staff was full of overpaid under talented journeyman or others going through the motions and using up the clubs money on bench warming contracts. So Murphy and his scouts went to Pennywise shopping for non league and reserves. Trevor Peake, John Fashanu, Gordon Hobson and Steve Thompson went on to become Imp legends before moving up the ladder in exchange for many coins of the realm.  Our current manager Gary Simpson is a great talent spotter,  suggesting the club may inadvertantly be starting to follow the Murphy model or moral already.

In 1981 Murphy took Lincoln up as Runners-up  to Southend thanks to 21 goals from Hobson. The citty’s love affair with her team was revitalised as back to back promotions loomed. That season went right to the wire as the City emptied with over 7000 travelling down to Fulham on the final day. Alas a 1-1 draw saw the Lilywhites go up, pipping us by a point and Merlin Murphy and the Imp hordes trudged back to fight another day. The 82-83 season saw us storm the league for four months as England striker Gary Lineker`s Leicester fell to the Imps in the league Cup, This was fact not folklore,  but in true Lincoln style we shot ourselves in the foot, as with games in hand the players went on strike. They had a point as strife in the boardroom and financial problems meant the wages had not been paid.

Chairman Bob Dorian feels he has had a rocky ride, but Gilbert Blades really felt the full force of the fans frustrations. Despite average crowds of 12,000 and the selling of fans favourite Trevor Peak, he even hawked the Ground to the Council for £225,000! Is nothing sacred? Manager Murphy asked for some of the cash to replace him but was told no.  The Chairman’s house was given a paint job, followed by some very serious threats  and by March we had the coup d’état or Directors resignation (DR) day when the entire board resigned.  Lincoln still managed 6th but the damage was done as the fans voted with their feet in droves.

With Merlin Murphy we had stood on the threshold of a return to the second tier enjoyed during the 50’s but lack of ambition and a mean board had popped the bubble.  Loyally Murphy stayed on until 1985 and helped us through the fateful Bradford Fire, which gave rise to the Stacey West Stand.  That’s the one we are giving to the cods and co from now on.  But the fire broke Murph more than anything else – only the Imps and Bantams there that day could truly relate such an experience. The TV gives an idea but those players that left can be excused for wanting a clean break.  No one should go to a football match never to return. We Imps lost two in Bill Stacey and Jim West, lifelong Lincoln fans from cradle to grave, but if you ever go to the Bradford memorial the ages and generations of families that suffered comes across in those 56 names.  Truly, truly, tragic.

It would take something for Murphy to return from Stockport and two years later George Kerr lost our league place for us even if  Peter Daniel officially took us down. Perhaps it  was guilt on Murphy’s part, for guess who was manager of the team who pipped us, Yes, Murphy’s magic wand had spared Stockport.  QAnd suddenly he was back, our Murphy, a Magician to take us back. And he did.  But after two tenth place finishes  and 412 Games 160 Wins 114 Draws, 138 Losses and  594 points he was gone by mutual consent.

Colin then went on to Manage Shelbourne in Ireland, Southend and Notts County for a season apiece before giving up on full time management in 1996. Mind you he had a spell as Vietnam`s manager.  He then joined Hull in 2002 becoming director of football, responsible for all scouting and youth development as well as day to day coaching.  A stroke forced his retirement in 2009 although he still came back to Sincil Bank to do the odd bit of scouting up until a couple of years ago. But then the likes of Murphy, Taylor and Anderson only come along every so often at Lincoln. Let us hope Gary Simpson can joina very rare Imp breed.


Posted on August 6, 2013, in Ex Imps, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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