RIP Mick Murphy

Mick Murphy

St.Helens RFC is sad to hear of the passing of former Saints’ front-rower Mick Murphy at the age of 77.

Mick is remembered as a solid reliable front-rower, who also possessed great mobility in the loose. He was a member of the St.Helens squad that became First Division Champions in the 1974-75 season. Mick’s Heritage number is 886.

A fast, mobile forward, Mick made his debut for the Saints in a Lancashire Cup second round tie at Naughton Park, Widnes, won 2-13 by the Chemics. His fellow prop was Graham Rees, with Tony Waller in the hooking role. Mick was a tremendously mobile forward, with a high work rate who enjoyed his best season in 1973-74, when he made no less than 42 appearances in the Red Vee. He played in two John Player trophy semi-finals; a Championship semi-final and received a runner’s up medal when Saints lost 12-13 to Alex Murphy’s Warrington in the 1974 Merit Competition Championship final.

Mick’s final game for the Saints – his 98th – was on 2nd February 1975, when Salford were beaten 18-5 at Knowsley Road and Mick got on the score-sheet for one of his four tries for the club.

Liverpool born, on 30th September 1941, Mick trained as a PE teacher. He returned to St Helens to stand as an Independent candidate in the 2001 General Election and at one stage took some television acting roles. Yet what was also to become a real rugby odyssey began with Waterloo RUFC and he turned professional with Leigh in 1963, where he made 166 appearances. He was transferred to Barrow in 1969 before leaving them for St Helens. Switching to Bradford Northern for two seasons from 1975, he then moved overseas and spent much of the 1977 Australian season with New South Wales side Wagga Wagga. On his return to Europe, he spent time in France with Tonneins XIII and St Jacques XIII.

A Lancashire county representative, he also played with great passion for Wales, [Heritage Number 294] winning five caps from 1975-79. This also included three appearances in the 1975 World Cup, when his former St Helens team-mates Kel Coslett, Eddie Cunningham, John Mantle and Frank Wilson were also stalwarts of the Welsh squad.

He maintained his links with rugby league when his playing days were over, turning to club management and was part of a three-man consortium who rescued Huddersfield in 1988 when the club was heading for liquidation. He persuaded Alex Murphy to become coach, which led to a significant revival in the club’s fortunes. Mick was made a Life Member of the Huddersfield Giants and attended last Thursday’s Super League match against his old club St Helens. Saints’ Chairman Eamonn McManus spoke to him before the game and was particularly saddened to hear of his passing.

Mick was a tremendously popular character, with a wide circle of friends throughout rugby league and beyond. He lost his wife Rosemary last June and leaves four children, Michael, Anastasia, Léoncia and Francesca, together with four grandchildren.

Everyone at St Helens RFC sends their condolences to his family at this sad time.

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