'Jimmy Murphy: Sculpting A Hero' is unmissable!

Thursday 01 June 2023 12:00

“Let’s face it: Manchester United wouldn't exist without Jimmy Murphy.”

Those are the very first words of a brand-new documentary, released today (1 June), that commemorates the making and the unveiling of a magnificent new statue of one of our club's greatest heroes.
Newer fans, or younger fans, might not be so familiar with the name Jimmy Murphy. After all, a quick scour of the record books might note only that he managed the first team for a mere 22 matches. But they were some of the most challenging in United's long and storied history.
They came, of course, in the wake of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster – the day that will forever define us as a club. In the painful, panicked months after that dark day, Jimmy was the man who kept our club going, while manager Matt Busby lay shattered, motionless on a bed in Bavaria.
Now, after years of fan campaigning, Jimmy's heroic efforts – and his wider career as arguably this country's finest developer of young footballers and a superb assistant to Busby – have been honoured in Old Trafford's new statue. And Jimmy Murphy: Sculpting A Hero is the story of that long journey to honour this Herculean Welshman.
How Murphy kept the red flag flying high Video

How Murphy kept the red flag flying high

After the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, Jimmy Murphy kept the red flag flying high and somehow led us back to Wembley…

How fitting that this film is released as we prepare for an FA Cup final at Wembley. Jimmy led us into an FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers on 3 May 1958 – 65 years, to the day, before his statue was unveiled.
That was possibly the proudest moment of his career; a rare moment in the spotlight for this modest, humble man. But what Jimmy won as a manager and assistant manager, and the scores of famous players he produced, are only part of the reason for this marvellous new tribute.
In the documentary, it's explained how his spirit and resolve are ultimately what make him one of Manchester United's greatest legends.
You only have to watch him speak, in a series of moving interview clips prior to his death in 1989, to sense his dignity, his pride, his innate humanity. And those are the qualities that enabled him to keep our club afloat in the wake of 6 February 1958.
We hear from Alan Herriot, the sculptor who has brought Jimmy to life so incredibly. We see the moments when the Murphy family were first welcomed into Herriot's studio to see Jimmy's likeness for the first time. As you can imagine, it's emotional.
It's explained why the statue was based upon a particular photo of Jimmy – an image that is baked with his effervescent enthusiasm, capturing something of his essence as both a coach and a man.
There are touching interviews with Murphy's grandsons, and we see his son Jimmy Jr talking to rapt Academy players about his dad's role in the club's history, showing how United's heritage still infuses much of what goes on at Old Trafford and Carrington in the 21st century.
When Murphy’s family first saw his statue Video

When Murphy’s family first saw his statue

Watch the special moment Jimmy Murphy's grandsons, Paul & Nick, shed tears when previewing their grandad's statue...

Much of Jimmy's story is inevitably flecked with sadness, as his most heroic work came amid the darkest time in United's history, after Munich.
But what's really noticeable from the documentary is just how happy the whole of this process has been, too. You can see how the bond between fans, club and the Murphy family have all been strengthened by the journey to this sculpture's completion. And it must be said that that the supporter-led coalition, brought together by former Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation chairman Pat Burns, deserve huge credit for lighting the fire under this entire project.
Perhaps the most moving passage of the entire film is its finale, as we hear a sensational, epic poem from Tony Walsh – perhaps best known for 'This Is the Place', which he conceived in the wake of the 2017 Manchester Arena bomb atrocity.
'As a sculptor, it doesn't get better!’ Video

'As a sculptor, it doesn't get better!’

The man behind Jimmy Murphy's statue, United fan Alan Herriot, says he can 'die a happy sculptor' after this project...

As Tony – a lifelong Red – reads Jimmy Murphy, Without Whom... you can hear silence descend on the crowd gathered behind the Stretford End. I was one of them, and as the poem progressed, it seemed to conjure up every last gram of the magical sweep of Manchester United history and, of course, Jimmy's place within it.
I'll not say any more: I just urge you to watch. I'm almost certain that it sums up the romance of United as well as anything else you'll see, read or think this week. If you want to get inspired ahead of the FA Cup final, if you want or need reminding of what makes this club unique, whack this documentary on right now and wait for the end.
But really, you shouldn't need any encouragement. This is all about the incomparable Jimmy Murphy and his monumental contribution to our beloved club.
Watch, listen and learn. And be reminded of why there is little else on God's green earth that compares to Man United.

'Jimmy Murphy: Sculpting A Hero' will be available to watch from 19:00 BST on Thursday.