Alex Murphy – Great Britain Legend
Alex Murphy is one of the real legends of our game. Now, 76, he played 505 top class matches in the English Rugby League during his 20 seasons. In this period, he finished with 1,007 points from 217 tries, 150 goals and 28 field goals.
Born in St. Helens on 22 April 1939, he signed with the local club on his 16th birthday. In 10 seasons with the Saints, he played 320 matches and scored 175 tries. He then joined Leigh and finished up his playing career with Warrington, when he was 37 or so.
Alex played 27 Tests with Great Britain, captaining them in three, and two for England. The brilliant halfback made two tours Down Under, in 1958 and 1962, while he finished with 10 Tests against Australia.
Alex is the only player to have captained three different clubs to Challenge Cup victories. He did this with St. Helens, Leigh and Warrington. During his long playing career, he won 22 medals on the English club scene for victories in every major competition. As a coach, he guided Leigh, Warrington, St. Helens and Wigan to Wembley for the Cup Final. He also coached at Salford and Huddersfield. A member of the winning 1960 Great Britain World Cup winning side, Alex also coached England in the 1975 World Series.
After finishing his coaching career, Alex worked for BBC television and also worked with two newspapers, the Daily Mirror and Manchester Evening News. An inaugural member of the English Rugby League Hall of Fame, Alex was awarded an OBE in 1998.
It was a fitting tribute when Wembley Stadium decided to construct a statue of him. Alex is one of five legends of the British game whose statues will be officially unveiled tomorrow, 29 August. The other four are Billy Boston MBE, Martin Offiah MBE, Eric Ashton MBE and Gus Risman. The statues will be unveiled before the 2015 Cup Final between Hull Kingston Rovers and the Leeds Rhinos.
The statues were commissioned in association with the game’s charity, Rugby League Cares. The men to be honoured were voted in by a large panel of journalists, coaches, players, MPs, national newspapers editors and supporters and fans of Rugby League. Some information about the other four men involved indicates that they are worthy of this tribute.
Eric Ashton, centre, born 24 January 1935, passed away 20 March 2008, aged 73, 26 Tests , 15 as captain, 497 first class games and 1,589 points.
Billy Boston, winger, born 6 August 1934, now 81, 31 Tests, 478 tries in 488 games for Wigan.
Martin Offiah, winger, born 29 December 66, now 48, 33 Tests, 501 career tries including 20 in the NRL with the Roosters and the Dragons.
Gus Risman, centre, born 1 January 1911, passed away 17 October 1994, aged 83, Tests 17, 9 as captain, 843 games and 4,051 points in his club career of 25 years.
By Barry Ross.