Colin Murphy – A Tribute

Colin Murphy meant a lot of different things to many different people. For a generation of Lincoln City fans, his name represented success, a dalliance with promotion to the second tier, and arguably the best Lincoln City team of a generation.

Peake, Hobson, Shipley, Cockerill, Thompson, Harford, Cunningham, Felgate – the list of players that came through the club at the time is unreal. Many went on to play in the top flight, some in the Premier League and a couple for England. Colin Murphy took the Imps to within a whisker of the Second Division, thrilling the fans of the day.

Sadly, I missed all of that, but it does mean I am in a unique demographic. If you started watching the Imps after 1985 but not after May 1988, your only experience of Colin Murphy will be as the architect of Murphy’s Mission, the challenge of getting the Imps back into the Football League after our relegation in 1987. Very few supporters will remember 87/88 and have no experience of the early eighties, but I am one of them.

For me, Colin Murphy was a saviour, a man who swooped in at a time of crisis and pulled a dying football club from the rubbish heap, restoring pride and passion. May 1987 was the first time I ever saw my grandad cry, perhaps the only time, but that was what relegation did to him. It gave me an understanding of football’s pain, but 12 months later, Colin Murphy showed me the flipside. His team revealed the allure football holds over me to this day, the elusive taste of success. That final day, against Wycombe Wanderers, all of my family were in the Railway End, grandad, dad, nanna, cousins, brother, everyone. It was massive, and Colin Murphy’s name is synonymous with the success,

His achievements at Lincoln City were outstanding, taking a squad of 14 players to the heights he did in the early eighties and then saving a club that could easily have slipped down the pan after relegation a few seasons later. If it were not for Colin Murphy, I wouldn’t have seen what football can do to you. If my first few seasons had been mid-table finishes, I might not have been hooked. I love the James lyric, ‘If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor‘, and in my first full season as a football fan, Colin Murphy showed me the riches. Five or six years earlier, he’d done the same to another generation.

This isn’t all about Lincoln City. Colin Murphy was a man respected throughout the footballing world, and tributes from the likes of Kevin Ellison and Stan Collymore prove that today. Across the football world, players are paying tribute to a unique man who had no equal in the game. He could captivate and confuse in interviews, but very rarely did he disappoint. He was a man full of character and quirks, a man who was utterly dedicated to football.

In his later life, I’d often see him around the club, and I always felt in awe of him and his achievements. The respect he commanded, but never demanded, from people at the club was unique. Many managers live in the shadow of past masters, but no incumbent of the Imps’ hot seat could have felt that with Colin. He was prominent during the Cowley era and remained a familiar face at the club after they departed. As the tributes pour in from far and wide, I hope Colin’s family feel a profound sense of pride at how respected, revered and adored he was by such a huge cross-section of players, managers and supporters.

Lincoln City Football Club lost a truly wonderful man this weekend, but in a sense, he’ll also never truly be lost. He is a huge part of the club’s history, and whilst he is no longer with us, the spirit of Colin Murphy will always be in the walls at Sincil Bank. Few men leave a lasting legacy as he has; even fewer did it not once but twice.

Rest in peace, Colin Murphy. A Lincoln City legend.