Almanac Book Review – Leather Soul: Reflections of Bob Murphy’s Football Career and Inner Feeling with Uniqueness


It’s bit late, but Happy New Year to great Almanackers. I wish you all the best in 2019.


The Bulldogs legend’s book was delivered on New Year’s Eve, but I was not at home at the time, so I collected it on the first day in 2019. Reading Bob Murphy’s book was the good way to start the brand new year.


The title reflects on his passions on touching leather ball (footy) and soul inside him both on and off field.


His stories started with his childhood ones as his autobiography. His family, background, and footy involvement in childhood are read. Like other footballers, his family had a cricket pitch at the backyard and indeed Bob played cricket there.


As a young boy, Bob decided to jump the back fence seeking an adventure or someone to play cricket with. He ended up joining a bunch of kids playing at nearby front yard. Such attitudes create his uniqueness and passions of playing sports, I reckon.


Then I sense his bravery was established when he accidentally released a handbrake on his mum’s car and tried to push the vehicle up.


It’s like one of his close friends Nick Riewoldt having not wanting to lose cricket games in his childhood that created his competitiveness.


Due to unavailability of grass footy field, he played footy at school car park during his primary school years in Warragul. Although he was not a big kid, he was picked into a team fast. His dad sensed he was gifted at his first game played for the ‘Colts’ at the age of nine.


He describes high school times more with romance. His first kiss under a big tree at the back of footy field. Everyone does, but his one was controversial that is out of his character.


The highlight of his high school times is how he met his wife Justine and his sense of uniqueness of his sweetheart.


His excitement of being drafted is covered. The interesting story was him spending nights at his mate’s house and not available for a phone call from Hawthorn Football Club’s recruiter. However he was drafted as number 13 from the Bulldogs in 1999.


His professional playing stories follow with his unique storytelling.


Bob talks about tortured pre-season camp, tough program called Leading Teams without humour, dealing with knee injuries, how he was greeted by Irish on his International Rules tour, nicknames and names of players whom he loved playing against and playing with because of their characters.


The 2016 Grand Final story and talking about captaincy are also talked about.


I had never read such a footy book before. At the epilogue, he tells readers he wanted to write a unique book and I have sensed it before he mentions. Bob has the same attitudes as Saint Nick but both legends write differently.


I admire his honesty. He was unsure if he was the right person to lead the club or not. He had thought someone else would be better. But when the club had a turmoil in 2014, he was honest with Club President Peter Gordon and accepted to be a skipper.


Also his expressing his Irish spirits and soul that he found during the International Tour to Ireland is impressive. I want to be honest with my emotion and spirits like is Bob.


Describing great friendship with Saint Nick as well as Hawk, Jarryd Roughead and expressing his worry on Nick’s knee injury at Round 1, 2017 are what make me smile. I am happy three are close friends no matter they play(ed) different clubs.


At the end of reading, I got a big attention.


Athletes absorb themselves and don’t listen to the thoughts, it’s said and Bob mentions.


Then here is the respond from his respecting journalist’s wife.


“Writers are the worst! They’re always off in their own worlds, ignoring the real world, the real-time problems of life at home!’


As an amateur writer, it still shocks me, even I am single.


Writers are creative. Players need to be motivated to win and to set strong mind to be competitive.


But these attitudes can’t be created without seeing real world, can they?


And they are talented and have unique thoughts. Simply they have different perceptions, I reckon. But each parties need more discussions to have better relationships, I think.


After asking my mate Harry his approve of my featuring story about him, he says I am a talented writer. Cheers mate!


Unfortunately I have been criticised with my unique friendly attitudes at work recently. Even having been told that writing is a lonely job (as well as is a skipper, Bob says), why would I need to hide talents and gifts?


Like his three-year captaincy, it should be time to unleash in profession.


Bob has a good point – working with Luke Beveridge brings the club the second flag in 2016. The pair had the right matching.


It is a reminder of myself I need right people to unleash my talents and utilise them.


I advise you to read his life journey. It’s a wonderful book for good entertainment.

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    Terrific review Yoshi. As I told you, I read his book just before Christmas. It gives you a good picture of someone growing up in country Victoria so attached to AFL football and cricket from such a young age. It was the same for us growing up in suburban Melbourne during the 1950’s. You can understand what a momentous occasion it was for me as a seven year old living in Footscray when they won the premiership.
    I marvel at Bob’s writing skills for someone who went straight from school to the footy club, bi-passing tertiary education.
    I think the secret to his writing and approach to life is adhering to the Almanac motto. He writes from the heart.

  2. G’day Neil,

    Thanks for your compliment on my piece.

    I have just watched his interview conducted by Martin Flanagan and found out that Bob has gained his writing skills while he was writing columns for the Age newspaper. At his childhood, his dad was a librarian but he just played footy. It’s another interesting story of him and I am glad he shows and blossoms good skills in writing.

    And it’s good to know about how you were grown up in Footscray in 1950s and was Bob in the countryside of Victoria. In good ways, I am sure!

    The last line of your comment is exactly.



  3. Hi Yoshi

    I was in the last 60 pages of Leather Soul yesterday when I saw that you had put a review up. I waited until I had finished this most wonderful autobiography before reading your review. You have captured the essence of the book and Murph’s character very well. His columns in The Age were fantastic and he is very modest in his discussion of them in the book. His modesty is one of his strengths: as a writer, footballer, leader and everyday good guy. His sense of humour shines through, as does his generosity of spirit. We were fortunate to have his Mum and Dad speak to the Almanac Grand Final lunch and they were great. His Mum in particular was stand-up comedian funny, had the room in stitches. Without giving anything away (because Leather Soul is a must read), the final chapter and last pages sums up his character.


  4. G’day Rick,

    Thank you for your comment and I bet you enjoyed reading the book too.

    I found his columns in the Age were wonderful with positives. Last night I watched a YouTube video Bob being interviewed by Martin Flanagan and he has gained writing skills maturity like has leadership skills. He’s gifted.

    His weekly appearance in AFL 360’s Captain’s Run with Nick Riewoldt was what I enjoyed to see. He shows his sense of humours. One day Nick has advised Bob what to wear for an interview.

    I’m sad I missed his Dad and Mum made speeches at the Almanac function. I should have been there!



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