Why Murphy was so influential

Wednesday 17 August 2022 13:59

Jimmy Murphy's importance to Manchester United is never underestimated.

The Welshman fully deserves having a statue erected in his honour, close to the Stretford End, with plans well under way for completion of the project towards the end of the current season.

With the Jimmy Murphy Centre already set up in his honour at Carrington, and the Young Player of the Year award also carrying his name, Sir Matt Busby's former right-hand man will certainly always be remembered within the club. 

Jimmy Murphy statue update


A sculptor is confirmed, in addition to the location and timeframe of the tribute, as plans gather pace.

Busby referred to Murphy as his "most important signing" as the pair developed the Babes and produced an attacking young team that was destined for even more greatness but for the terrible Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

With Busby convalescing in hospital, it was left to his assistant to somehow ensure the Reds carried on after the tragedy.

He said at the time: "The Red Devils will rise again. It will be a long, tiring job to rebuild the Red Devils. This time, we'll have to start practically from scratch. But we'll do it. This I do know – United was and, will again, be a great club. We have the greatest club spirit in the world."

With Murphy taking over the reins, the show had to go on – with very little respite. Under a fortnight after the tragedy, United had to fulfil an FA Cup fixture with Sheffield Wednesday, somehow winning 3-0 against the Owls, on a wave of emotion at Old Trafford, despite a patched-up team.

Even more remarkably, the Reds shook off a four-match losing streak in Division One to continue progressing in the famous cup competition, and reached the final when beating Fulham 5-3 in a replay, with Alex Dawson hitting a hat-trick.

Murphy had played in the 1935 final with West Brom and would now lead United out on the big day, with Bolton Wanderers providing the opposition at Wembley. Busby was well enough to sit on the bench for the showpiece occasion.

Alex Dawson's hat-trick against Fulham takes United into the 1958 FA Cup final.

To the dismay of United fans and surely most neutrals, Bolton triumphed 2-0 with two Nat Lofthouse goals, the second of which appeared to be a clear foul on keeper Harry Gregg and remains one of the tournament's most controversial moments.

There was no time for Murphy to reflect as, the following month, he was managing Wales at the World Cup finals. The dual job meant he missed the fateful trip to Munich in order to oversee victory over Israel in Cardiff and he did a fine job in steering the nation to the quarter-finals and a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual victors Brazil, with Pele scoring the winner in the second half. 

Jimmy Murphy and Sir Matt Busby pictured at an ex-United players' dinner.

When Busby resumed control, the duo ultimately led United to European Cup glory in 1968, ending an emotional decade-long journey that ensured the Reds would forever be the first English club to conquer the continent.

A few years later, he stepped down as assistant manager yet remained a scout and helped identify some top talent for the post-Busby Reds.

In 1989, he passed away at the age of 79 but is never forgotten at the club. 

The statue will be another fitting tribute to a great man.