Bob Murphy: Big brother, big influence and even bigger heart



By Anna Pavlou



“I know this sounds like a cliché,” Bob began, his signature grin beaming. “but this was a childhood dream.”


Today, Bulldog’s favourite son Robert ‘Bob’ Murphy has announced that he will be hanging up the boots at the end of the 2017 season.


The 310-gamer took to the press along with coach Luke Beveridge, explaining the football world, according to Bob.


He began with thank-you’s, to coaches of old and new and to his family, for their optimism from game one to game 310. He thanked his teammates for ‘keeping him young’ and he noted the privilege and pride he felt to be part of, but to also lead his Bulldogs’ pack.


There was even a mention of Murphy’s heroes, in the Richmond Tigers team of 1995, giving the then 13-year-old boy hope to play the gritty game of AFL. As well as a long-time hero in Martin Flanagan, who notes Murphy as ‘one of the special people’ in sport.


As the conference continued, Murphy admitted he retired three times last season, after his knee injury sidelined him for the most part of 2016.


Bob then went on to explain that he was ‘that close’ to actually retiring at the end of the 2016 season, but felt as if he had more to give, hence his decision to play on in 2017.


However, he knew when winter 2017 hit, that this season would be his last, with his body giving him ‘tell-tale signs’ that he’d ‘run the tank completely dry.’


Bulldogs head coach Luke Beveridge stated that the club would be ‘disturbed’ by the exit of a favourite son, but focus would remain heavily on the rest of the 2017 season, with Murphy believing that the Dogs have ‘still got some cards to play.’


Beveridge also stated that Murphy should walk away ‘fulfilled’ as he was such a positive figure who brought the club into a good space, placing him up with the likes of Bulldogs’ heroes Ted Whitten and Charlie Sutton.


When asked what he’d miss most about playing football, Murphy explained the feeling of ecstasy and brotherhood shared in the two minutes prior to the team running out to play, highlighting how it would be a feeling he would forever cherish.


He ended with some wise words for his younger teammates seated in front of him. “This football club is in my skin, in my bones. I encourage young players to hang on at the one club, because it’s a pure joy.”


Murphy’s end statement was that the song ‘End of the Line’ by The Traveling Wilburys, would fit his retirement perfectly.


So, don’t be surprised if you hear it blasting from the Whitten Oval come season’s end.


Bob Murphy changed the way we perceive the game of AFL today.


AFL now is all corporate and big business, but Bob Murphy was able to survive by being grass roots and all people.


His endless fascination with football people, their stories and the oval ball makes him a great AFL hero.


Bob Murphy represented every man. From the little kid snapping goals over his shoulder down at the park, to the weekend warriors battling it out on suburban grounds around the country.


It felt like he played for us, because he WAS one of us.


Congratulations on a fantastic career, Bob. Keeping smiling.





About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    This is certainly something to remember your work experience by Anna. Well done.

  2. steve todorovic says

    Anna, I loved your article. The summing up of the press conference was one thing. Concise and accurate, it would put many a professional footy journalist to shame. But where you really won me over, was when you gave your description of the great man. Evocative writing that belies your youth. Dare I say it, it had the feel of a Martin Flanagan piece. There can be no greater compliment. Make sure you send a copy to your English teacher, it will guarantee you top spot in the class! Looking forward to reading more of your pieces in the future. Cheers.

  3. Thank you, Anna.
    Yours are lovely words.

  4. Me too Anna, greatly enjoyed your writing and you set a high standard for yourself for the future! Keep at it. Murphy’s retirement and conference gave me 2 thoughts: firstly the parallels with Matthew Primus who was also unable to be in the Premiership team in 2004, having led his club so strongly. Secondly, Murphy’s comment about taking his family up the east coast in a Winnebago. Man, keep going!!! Up across the north and into at least the top of the west, there is so much more to see and so much less crowding up and over there.

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