Cavaliers announce Murphy


The Oxford Cavaliers RLFC are proud to announce the new President of the club, Alex Murphy OBE. The new President is a world famous name in the world of rugby league and one of the greatest players of all time.

Having been born in the rugby league hot bed of Thatto Heath, in St Helens, he went on to play for Great Britain, St Helens, Warrington and Leigh. Whilst still playing, he became a successful coach with Leigh and Warrington and then coach of Salford, Wigan, Leigh, St. Helens and Huddersfield. Latterly, Alex Murphy has continued to maintain his profile with spells on BBC television and columns in the Mirror and Manchester Evening News newspapers. Alex Murphy is still involved with Leigh RLFC, where he is still a hero for many fans.
Oxford Cavaliers are proud to announce that Alex Murphy OBE has accepted an invitation to be the President of Oxford Cavaliers RLFC. This is a major honour for the club, who are proud to be associated with such an ambassador of the game who has been rightly honoured for his huge contribution to rugby league.

Life and Career

Although Murphy was brought up on the game of rugby league, during his National Service he played rugby union for the RAF. It is suggested that the RAF signed him for his rugby talent, and he would frequently star in a Royal Air Force team in union the same week he played his rugby league for St Helens. This is considered something of a rare exception when one considers that playing rugby league during this time would normally lead to a ban from playing rugby union.

The natural talent that Murphy would bring to rugby league was apparent from an early age. At ten years old he played in both the junior and senior XIIIs at St Austin's School, Thatto Heath, and he had town and county schoolboy honours by the time he signed for his native St Helens on his sixteenth birthday in 1955. The signing itself is was almost akin to a military operation. St. Helens representatives smuggled Murphy 'under cover' to a nearby house until the clock struck midnight to signal Murphy?s sixteenth birthday, and his eligibility to sign professional terms. He would go on to enjoy a successful career at St. Helens, Leigh, and Warrington.

*         St Helens

Murphy began his career at St. Helens where one would expect to find a youngster, playing reserve team rugby (known then as the ?A? team) learning his trade and building a reputation. Murphy?s first team debut was against Whitehaven at Knowsley Road in the same season that he had signed for his hometown team. His career at Saints went on to be long and successful, with 319 appearances, 175 tries, 42 goals giving him a total of 609 points.

*         Leigh

Murphy left St Helens to become player-coach at Leigh. North Sydney had tabled a bid of St. Helens' £8,000 for Murphy which was accepted. It seemed that the scrum half would be making the voyage down under that other British players such as Dick Huddart had made. However, at the last minute, Murphy agreed a 5 year deal with Leigh to become the highest paid coach in the Rugby League.

Murphy's first game in charge of his new team was against his former club in a league match at Hilton Park. Murphy?s Leigh overcame a depleted St. Helens side by 29-5. Murphy later recounted in an issue of the Rugby Leaguer some 20 years later that:

"It never entered my mind to leave Saints in the first place. But events took over and there was a lot of pride involved on both sides and the situation reached the stage where a parting of the ways became inevitable." In 1971, Leigh reached the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and Murphy won the Lance Todd Trophy for being voted the Man-of-the-Match as Leigh defeated Leeds, 24-7.

*         Warrington

Murphy left Leigh shortly afterwards to become player-coach at Warrington and, in 1974, captained them to a 24-9 win in the Challenge Cup Final against Featherstone Rovers before retiring as a player. As coach in 1975, he took Warrington to the Challenge Cup Final the first of several such appointments he had with different clubs.

*         Coaching Career

Upon retirement, Murphy built upon the experience he had acquired as a player-coach by taking up the reigns as a full time coach. He was appointed to high profile roles at Salford, Wigan, Leigh and St. Helens.

In 1991, he joined Huddersfield: within a year, promotion to the Second Division had been achieved.

Alex is still very much associated with the professional game, and is currently Club Ambassador for the Leigh Centurions, a team which he steered to success a number of times, and is considered to be very much a hero of the club's supporters.

Club Reaction

Webmaster, Oxford Cavalier and eager Leigh fan, Pete Baiden was effusive with the announcement, ?Leigh still speak of Alex Murphy as the best player Saints ever had and possibly the best scrum half British rugby has ever produced. There could hardly be a greater name to have associated with the club.

The Oxford Cavaliers coach, Matt Walsh, had asked Alex Murphy to consider becoming club President and was overjoyed at has acceptance, ?Alex Murphy can be an inspiration to the players at this club and it is great to know that a man of his high stature in the game should be eager to be involved with Oxford Cavaliers. It is a high honour for the club."