Sir Matt Busby once said that Jimmy Murphy was his first and best signing for Manchester United. The playing career of both Murphy and Busby ended prematurely because of the war. According to Stephen Morrin’s book The Munich Air Disaster, the 25-year long partnership between Murphy and Sir Matt Busby came about in 1945. Sergeant Jimmy Murphy and Company Sergeant Major Matt Busby shook hands in Bari, Italy after Murphy’s passionate and enthralling oratory skills impressed Busby and he asked him to join him at Manchester United.
“He had us all transfixed. He was wonderful. It was as if he had put everybody in a footballing trance. It wasn’t a speech; it was more like a rousing sermon. I visualized how good he could do for Manchester United”
– Sir Matt Busby recalls the first time he heard Jimmy Murphy giving footballing lessons to a group of soldiers on the finer points of football tactics.
What a great signing it was from Sir Matt Busby! Jimmy Murphy was a great servant for the club and following the Munich Air Disaster, he carried the club back from the ashes against all odds. He uplifted everyone around him with his exceptional oratory skills and the ‘Never say die’ attitude that we all know exists at Manchester United. Here are a few other quotes about Jimmy Murphy from other big names in the footballing world.
“One day he was discovered in a back corridor of the hospital. Sobbing his heart out in pain at the loss of so many young players he adored for their talent and who he loved like sons.”
“I learnt a lot from Matt Busby and Alf Ramsey but everything I achieved in football I owe to one man and one man only; Jimmy Murphy. Matt and Alf were good to me, but Jimmy got to my guts. Jimmy was simply sensational.”
“If it wasn’t for the young lads who came into the team under Jimmy, the club would have folded. He was very important, he deserved more praise. He was such a lovely fella and could get something extra out of players.”
– Alex Dawson
“If it hadn’t been for Jimmy, there wouldn’t have been a Manchester United. It was a pleasure knowing him because he had a passion for the game – he liked me because I got stuck in! He was a lovely man.”
– Nobby Stiles
“I was scared to death when he signed me… if you didn’t listen he would crucify you! He knew everything about everybody at the club – it was all in his head. Jimmy and Matt complemented each other; you couldn’t have one without the other.”
– Albert Scanlon
“He was a brilliant teacher of players, but he didn’t want to command”
– Sir Bobby Charlton
“When I arrived down here I went to see Jimmy Murphy. Both Matt and Jimmy were at stages in their careers where they had time to offer me advice. Jimmy was still scouting for the club and I went and had lunch with him and he expressed this great desire to see youth coming back into the club. He was a very emotional man, a great servant to the club, and I would have liked to have listened to him more over the years”
“Jimmy Murphy has never been given the accolade he deserved for enabling Manchester United’s revival. He was destined to live in Busby’s shadow but there is no denying the debt Sir Matt and the club owed him even though today he is sometimes forgotten by revisionist historians.
– Michael Parkinson