I read on Twitter with great sadness that my all time Ayr United hero John "Spud" Murphy died today. I had the honour to be invited to write an appreciation of him for his induction into the Ayr United Hall of Fame. When I got to meet him he was incredibly modest about his own success and was keen to relate what a great manager Ally MacLeod had been. He was a true gentleman. While there are plenty of other heroes from days past Spud, for me, is the greatest. So, as my entries on the old Honest Page used to end:- John Murphy should have played for Scotland.
I read it too very sad news RIP Spud he was just before my time but I came to understand he was a legend
It's a pity we don't have any sculptor fans as he would make a wonderful tribute statue.
Another sad passing of an Ayr United legend, one of the greatest in this fan's opinion. Watching Ayr in the Seventies, I seem to recall Spud in almost every line-up, a pillar of the Ayr defence alongside, for many years, Davie Wells, and a force of stability and dependability during arguably Ayr's greatest ever period. Have particularly fond memories of his lobbed goal from the halfway line against Aberdeen at Somerset in the first season of the Premier League in what I think was a 1-0 win for Ayr. RIP Spud.
That piece of hair flapping about his Heid!.Legend.
100 per cent effort and dedication to the cause.Loved Ally.Great memories,will never be forgotten.
Thanks to Duncan for this :
QuoteJohn Murphy passed away on Thursday and this photo was taken on the day of his Ayr United debut on 10th August, 1963.
Rear l to r : Ramsay Burn, John Murphy, John Gallacher, Sam McMillan, Jim Lindsay and Jacky McGugan. Front l to r : Des Herron, Jim Cartner, Dicky Grant, Johnny Kilgannon and Johnny Hubbard.
Left-back, 1963 - 1978
John Murphy holds the club record for the greatest number of competitive appearances and also for the longest Ayr United career span. (Appearances: League 459 + 2 listings as a substitute, League Cup 91, Scottish Cup 33 and Texaco/Anglo Scottish Cup 14). In his time at Ayr he scored ten goals - 8 League, 2 League Cup. He began with Saxone Amateurs, Hurlford United then Darvel Juniors before signing for Ayr United in July 1963. Little time elapsed before he became known by the nickname Spud. His debut came on 10th August, 1963, when the new season got underway with a visit from Morton in a League Cup sectional tie. At the end of the previous season, fourteen players had been released and the team against Morton was : Gallacher, Burn, Murphy, McMillan, Lindsay, McGugan, Herron, Cartner, Grant, Kilgannon and Hubbard. The match was lost 1-0 and it was a reasonable result given that the visitors were on the brink of an all-conquering season. In reference to the match it was written that : "The performances of left-back Murphy and centre-half Lindsay gave United supporters their one consolation from this game".
The final match of his first season was won by a solitary goal.....a Spud Murphy goal! In a midweek win at home to Dumbarton, he scored from forty yards. He was never noted for scoring but his career would bring him a goals total which crept into double figures and none of them were penalty kicks.
The momentum of the club's struggle carried over into 1964-65 then, almost miraculously, there was a dramatic transformation.With full-back partner Dick Malone playing on the right there was a degree of stability and a rapid ascent to the First Division took place in 1966. Too rapid! From the start of 1967-68, John Murphy was club captain. This was at a time when a push was being made to regain a First Division place. It took until 1969 to accomplish this. The 1968-69 League campaign included a 4-0 victory over Montrose in which Murphy scored twice. This was despite the fact that he was the more defensively minded of the two full-backs.
Now consolidated in the First Division, the 1970-71 season opened without John Murphy, who had the misfortune to injure a knee during training. It was a temporary setback, involving absence in League Cup ties only. For this and the next two seasons, he was to be an ever present in Ayr United's League fixtures. However the Malone-Murphy partnership was broken up in October 1970 when the former was transferred to Sunderland. It is a fact that when Dick Malone was spotted by Sunderland, John Murphy was the player who was supposed to be getting spied on.
Ever reliable throughout the halcyon years of the early seventies, it was made known in the summer of 1974 that Spud was in line for a testimonial match. Birmingham City agreed to supply the opposition, provided that the clubs were kept apart in the Texaco Cup draw. As luck would have it, Ayr United did get drawn against Birmingham City! The testimonial eventually took place on the evening of 12th March, 1975, when Danish club Aarhus were beaten 4-1. The team was : Sproat, Taylor, Murphy, McAnespie, Fleming, Filippi, Doyle, Graham, Ingram, McCulloch and Gibson; substitutes - Dickson, McLean and Train.
In order to qualify for the impending new Premier League, it was necessary to finish in the top ten in the first Division table for 1974-75. Ally MacLeod made it known that he was looking to his experienced players to pull Ayr United through. John Murphy was the most experienced player at the club. Ultimately, seventh place was attained. However it was a season which included a unique occurrence. Spud had a reputation for being strong in the tackle but discipline was never an issue. Yet at Motherwell, on 4th January, 1975, he was sent off after questioning a linesman, whom it was considered had given a throw-in the wrong way. It could scarcely be believed that a gentleman like John Murphy was dismissed. It was a bigger shock than the 5-1 defeat!
It came as a surprise when Ally MacLeod departed for a managerial vacancy at Aberdeen in November 1975. His replacement was Alex Stuart and the new boss's first game in charge was a visit from Ally MacLeod's Aberdeen on 29th November, 1975. Murphy scored the only goal of the match.
He was released at the end of 1977-78, by which time the young Robert Connor had laid claim to the 'number three' shirt. John Murphy played for no other senior club. However he did do scouting work for Aberdeen at the request of Alex Ferguson, a former Ayr United team mate.