Last season, Melbourne City finished third. They did well defensively, with Bart Schenkeveld a rock in the back, but they could have improved in consistency, with occasional poor performances.
When the news broke of Les Murray’s passing on Monday, so many great memories started to come back to me when I was little and growing up through the years.
Along with Johnny Warren, Les was the face and voice of Australian football. It was his passion and energy that made the country fall in love with him regardless of what code people followed.
I don’t think people realise how much he was able to grow the game in this country. The work he put in, such as helping to push our 2022 World Cup bid and his endless work at SBS, gave football fans hope for the future. Who knows, without his work at SBS, Australians at home may not have been able to watch the world’s biggest sporting event on their television screens.
As a little kid, SBS’s Sunday afternoon show ‘The World Game’ and the Wednesday and Thursday UEFA Champions League coverage is how I started to love the game.
Back then, it was very difficult to watch highlights of football games overseas, so The World Game helped me to learn about the sport, as well as watching goals from the Serie A which I wasn’t able to view elsewhere.
Les’s hosting of the Champions League is something that I have always missed over the past few years.
If you think about it, every major event in Australian football has been covered by none other than Les Murray prior to his retirement.
The near miss attempts of Australia qualifying for a World Cup in 1994 and 2002 to Argentina and Uruguay. Les was there with us.
The heartbreaking draw to Iran in the 1997 World Cup qualifying play-off at the MCG which saw us miss out on taking part in a World Cup once again. Les was there with us.
The heroic journey towards the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup final. Les was there with us.
The most historic comeback ever witnessed in football when Liverpool came back from 3-0 down at half-time against AC Milan to win the 2005 Champions League in Istanbul. Les was there with us.
The 2005 World Cup qualifier play-off second leg in Sydney when John Aloisi scored the decisive penalty to send Australia to its first World Cup in 32 years. The most memorable night in Australian sporting history. Les was there with us.
Our 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany where so many special moments were created. From Tim Cahill scoring Australia’s first ever World Cup goal to Harry Kewell’s strike to send us through to the knockout stage for the first time in our history. That was the golden generation. Les was there with us.
His book, The World Game. The story of how football went global, is the best I’ve read. You could sense his enthusiasm for the game just through reading a few pages.
“The world lost a football colossus this morning, Les Murray AM. He fought well into extra time but the whistle has blown. His legacy is lasting.” By having the privilege to work with Les over many years, Craig Foster’s words give people an insight into how well respected this man was throughout the football community.
An icon. A legend. A hero to many. Football wouldn’t be where it is in Australia today if it wasn’t for the contribution and endless work of Les Murray.
Rest in peace Les, you’ve inspired many to follow in your footsteps.