Marc Murphy is set to play his 300th and final AFL game against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday after announcing his retirement during the week. Older brother Brett Murphy, the AFLPA’s General Manager Player & Stakeholder relations, looks back on the star Blue’s journey.
Words from Brett Murphy
It’s amazing how quickly 16 years can go by.
It seems like barely yesterday that Marc played his first AFL game, and now he’s on the verge of 300.
In a bittersweet sort of way, it will also be his last.
It may have been 16 years ago, but I remember that first game so vividly.
It was Round One, 2006, against the Demons.
The Blues were coached that day by Denis Pagan. The same Denis Pagan who had coached North Melbourne – the team we supported growing up – to two premierships in the 90s. The same Denis Pagan who is now a champion horse trainer and the winner of the Victorian Derby.
The Dees were coached by Neale Daniher, who’d later inspire a generation with his work on MND. They also had a (club) first-gamer named Byron Pickett, a player we’d adored in his time at the Roos.
Marc played well, had 20 touches, kicked a goal, and the Blues won. I learnt today that he was the Rising Star nominee for that match. Not for the last time, he did at least a couple of things that made the crowd gasp.
While I remember that first AFL match so vividly, I honestly can’t recall his first game when we were growing up. There was clearly a first game at some point, I just can’t recall the game, nor even a time when Marc wasn’t playing footy at some level.
While to this day he’s still the best junior cricketer I’ve seen, football was always his undisputed passion, and he was never going to play anything else.
His career has come with more than its fair share of highs, as well as some lows.
The high of an outstanding first season which saw him take out the AFLPA Best First-Year Player Award. The low of a horrible shoulder injury in round 13, which prematurely ended his debut season.
The high of three successive finals campaigns from 2009-2011 (they seem like a while ago now) – and the low of losing in all three of those games by under a goal.
The high of being named captain of a proud club; the challenge of fronting up each week through some pretty tough times.
As the No.1 draft pick and the son of a Hall of Famer, our Dad John, it is easy to think that the game came easy to him.
But Marc’s undoubted skills were more than matched by an extraordinary work ethic, a desire to be the best, and an unwavering commitment to his club and his mates. He has a quiet determination and integrity that I am in awe of, and he has demonstrated loyalty to his club like few before him.
We are left with so many extraordinary memories. The game winning bananas. The stirring come-from-behind victories. Beating up on Essendon, the old enemy, on a frequent basis!
It’s fair to say that the emotions of our family will be mixed this week.
There is the pride of Marc’s monumental achievement in reaching 300 games. The sadness of how it’s ending, with none of us there to watch.
The sudden emptiness, as we realise that we no longer have a family member to go and support each week. At least not until our kids are old enough to pull on the boots and take after both him and their Pa.
On behalf of the rather large Murphy and Guest clan, we not only congratulate you Marc on all you’ve achieved, but thank you for letting us come on the journey with you.
As the youngest of three boys, the youngest of more than 20 cousins, and as a third-generation (champion) AFL player behind your dad John and grandfather Leo, I think we all lived vicariously through your incredible playing career.
We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.