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AFL top 100: Frank Murphy

(AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Roar Rookie
23rd January, 2019
7

There is no doubt a lot of readers will scratch their heads and wonder who the heck Frank Murphy – and what does he have to do with the AFL top 100?

In my previous articles I covered the likely departures from the AFL top 100 in 2019 and now it is time to drill down to individual club level.

The player most likely to lose top 100 status at this level is Collingwood’s Frank Murphy.

Although unknown to many modern-day Magpie supporters, Murphy was an integral part of Collingwood’s famous fourpeat: the four premierships in a row that was achieved between 1927 and 1930.

One of the original ‘Collingwood six-footers’, Murphy stood 5’11” tall and played at centre half forward in the four premierships and two other grand finals as well.

Born in Bairnsdale, he went to school in Bruthen and Cowwarr but the family had moved to Melbourne by the time his football ability had become known, and he was recruited from Thornbury CYMS in 1925.

He was one of ten Collingwood recruits to make his debut in that year and by the time he made the seniors in Round 7, seven of the other debutantes had already appeared in the famous black and white colours.

This has lead to some confusion, as the Collingwood historians have him down as the 299th player for Collingwood whereas the AFL Tables list him as number 300. (I consider Les Stainsby to be 299th).

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Murphy was an excellent high mark and good on the ground and could kick accurately with either foot. For every one of his ten seasons at the Magpies he was coached by Jock McHale and the mercurial Gordon Coventry was the leading goalkicker at the club, but Murphy did his share kicking 20, 19, 18 and 20 goals in the four consecutive premiership years.

In total, he finished with 121 goals which still sees him sitting just inside the top 60 goal scorers of all time at the Magpies, level with more recent players Craig Stewart, Dale Thomas and Jarryd Blair. He also represented Victoria on three occasions.

An unusual feature of Frank Murphy’s career was his penchant for wearing different jumper numbers. He wore every number from 15 to 21 and only once (in 1930-31) did he keep the same number for two consecutive years.

After playing only one Game 1 in 1934, Murphy headed over to Western Australia where he Captian-Coached and then coached Subiaco before moving on to Kalgoorlie.

There is no certainty that the heir apparent (Bruce Reid) will have the form and fitness to force his way into Collingwood’s best 22.

However, on the four occasions that he needs to do so to eliminate Frank Murphy from the all-time top 100 game players, it does seem highly likely to happen sometime during the 2019 season and Frank Murphy – 114 years after he was born and 85 years after he played his last game – no longer be part of the top 100 at the club with the highest entry ‘bar’ in the competition.

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