Bob Murphy lives around the corner. I see him walking the streets of Carlton North with his family, Justine, Frankie Jarvis and his dog, Arthur. I guess it’s the lot of an AFL footballer living in Melbourne but it’s weird knowing so much about a person you’ve never met, let alone talked to. We know a lot more about Bob because of the weekly column in The Age. We’ve read about the first pair of football boots he owned, his friendships with Gia and the people’s Beard and his love of the kennel.
Bob writes a good piece, he has humility and an eye for detail that you don’t often see. Bob’s musings on life, mateship and the joys and pressures of football provide a unique perspective on what is an increasingly sanitised industry. His writing is reminiscent of the Brent Croswell pieces I’ve read.
Other than our geographic proximity there is bit of common ground between Bob and I. We seem to share a taste for flannel and the music of Tom Waits, Tex Perkins, the Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and You Am I. We also both grew up in Gippsland. I’m pretty sure I shared a ground with him once or twice while playing junior footy, him for Warragul, me for Wonthaggi. Any similarities didn’t carry through to the playing field. Bob’s a creative flanker, a quality footballer. I was an ankle kicking struggler.
Because of these associations I’ve followed Bob’s career more closely than others. Not only is he an astute sports writer he’s also a joy to watch on the field. He’s quick of both mind and foot and rarely wastes it. Good footballers bring their teammates into the game and that’s one of Bob’s strengths. His creativity allows his teammates to shine. What I like most about Bob is his unabashed love for his club. It’s righteously old fashioned and wonderful to see.
Being the off season I’ve noticed Bob around the neighbourhood a bit more often over the past month, having dinner at the Great Northern, grabbing a coffee on Rathdowne Street, going for a run around the streets of Carlton North.
I have probably paid a little more attention given all of the press around the Bullies. He seemed to cut a forlorn figure amongst the Carlton crowd. I couldn’t help but wonder what he made of the Griffen, Cooney and Higgins departures or how he felt about Brendan McCartney’s resignation and now Luke Beveridge’s appointment. Bob ducked out of the kennel for a couple weeks and has returned to a different looking family.
I was glad to see Bob named captain. He’ll be a ripper. He looks the man to build a bridge between old dogs and new pups. He’ll insist on a respect for tradition and share his love of the club and it’s people. I reckon things will be all right out at the kennel. All this recent turmoil will be quickly forgotten. I’ll still see Bob around the neighbourhood now and then but I won’t be wasting my time wondering whether the pups of the west are in capable hands.
Originally published at footyalmanac.com.au on November 25, 2014.