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History

Catching up: Joe Murphy

8 May 2020

As featured in our matchday magazine THE IRON, we caught up with goalkeeper Joe Murphy.

The Irishman spoke with us about his time with the Iron, which lasted from 2006 to 2011 and saw him appear 227 times in all competitions and win two promotions, as well as other parts of his career.

MY TRANSFER...
Sunderland took the last year of my contract over from West Brom in 2005 and so I went there because they were struggling for ‘keepers at the start of that season. Mick McCarthy gave me a call to enquire about my availability and I wasn’t getting many games at West Brom at the time so I thought that the move was ideal for me but I didn’t play much up there either and spent a bit of time out on loan with Walsall. It then became clear that I’d be leaving Sunderland and I knew that realistically I needed to take a few steps back in order to play regular first team football. Richard Hinds is a good friend of mine from our early days at Tranmere and he was at Scunthorpe at the time and I‘d heard that they were looking for a goalkeeper so I just put a word in, spoke to Brian Laws a few times during the summer of 2006 where he said that he’d like to sign me and after that, it was all done fairly quickly. The main thing for me was to be going to a club where I knew I’d get some playing time because I didn’t play at all at Sunderland and I only played a handful of games for West Brom. I’d had a couple of loan spells at Walsall but I wanted a permanent move to a club where I could settle down and enjoy my football so when I heard that Scunthorpe were interested, it was a no brainer for me really.

MY DEBUT...
My first game was away at Bristol City which we lost 1-0. I was happy enough with how I played but obviously it wasn’t great to get my Scunthorpe career off to a losing start though it was quite a tight game and as it turned out, both teams gained promotion at the end of the season. We didn’t win in the league for the first five or six games but the rest, as they say, is history and we went on to be crowned Champions with a few games to spare. At the time that I signed, nobody expected us to get promoted and I made the decision to come to Scunthorpe in order to play games so obviously the whole season turned out to be a pleasant surprise. You’re never guaranteed a place in the starting line-up but I knew that I was being brought in as the number one and as the momentum kicked on we got better and better and ultimately reached promotion so my first season with the club couldn’t have turned out any better.

MY FAVOURITE EVER GAME...
That would be my Premier League debut for West Brom against Liverpool at Anfield. I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan and to have been named on the bench that day was amazing but to actually come on and play was incredible. Russell Hoult was sent off after about half an hour and I ended up saving the resulting penalty with my first touch which was special but just to play at a ground like Anfield and being a big fan of the club just made the whole day amazing. Obviously it would have been an absolute dream to have played for the club but to play against them at Anfield was definitely the next best thing and even though we did lose the game 2-0 it is still a match that sticks out in my head as one of the better ones. Everybody wants to play at the highest level and I’ve been lucky enough to play in the Premier League on a few occasions. I have also represented the Republic of Ireland, which fills me with enormous pride because there aren’t many people that can say that they’ve done that in their career so those games are also up there with the game at Anfield as some of my favourite.

THE BEST PLAYERS I PLAYED WITH...
There’s been a few but during the latter part of my time with West Brom I played with Nwankwo Kanu who had previously played for Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal so signing him was massive for the club. Jason Koumas is a good friend of mine and he’s another very talented player. At Scunthorpe, I played with Billy Sharp and Gary Hooper who have both gone on to bigger and better things and I believe that those two will continue to score goals at whichever clubs they play for in the future as they are both excellent forward players. I also played with players like Damien Duff, Roy Keane and Robbie Keane for Ireland which was a great experience and it was fantastic to be around players of their standard who have played at the highest level for a very long time. The whole international set up is so much different to club football and I definitely feel lucky to have experienced that during my career with so many great players.

MY BEST FRIEND IN FOOTBALL...
I’ve got many good friends in football but I’m still really close to Richard Hinds as we played together at Scunthorpe and at Tranmere earlier in our careers. I’ve always been close to Jason Koumas as well who I also played with at Tranmere and then obviously we both moved to West Brom together. Usually footballers tend to keep in contact with players that they’ve started out with at their first club and I’m no different to that but I do like to keep in contact with a lot of the other players that I’ve played with as well. I like to keep in contact with most of my former teammates to be honest and I wouldn’t say that there is one individual that stands out from the rest.

MY BEST IRON MEMORY...
Obviously I was lucky enough to experience two separate promotions with the club but I think the first one in the 2006-2007 season sticks out because nobody really expected it, especially after the poor start that we had but after that first win came we just went on from there. Brian Laws left halfway through the season and things could have gone pear shaped but Nigel Adkins came in and just carried on from where Brian left off. The expectation when I first arrived was to remain solid and finish around mid-table but to go on and win the league was just excellent and I will always remember that campaign as one of the highest points of my career. The second promotion in the 2008-2009 season was a real rollercoaster ride as well. Cliffy popped up with a goal late on in the final game of the season against Tranmere to give us the draw that we needed to finish in the top six and that really set the tone for what turned out to be a Play-Off campaign full of twists and turns. We eventually beat MK Dons on penalties in the Semi-Final to reach Wembley which was great but I was slightly disappointed with my personal performance in the final even though we did eventually win. We went ahead early on with a brilliant goal and then showed great character as a team to come back from 2-1 down and win the game with just a few minutes left and a lot of the players that played that day went on to bigger and better things which just shows the kind of quality that we had.

WHEN I LEFT UNITED...
I left at the end of the relegation season in 2010-2011 for Coventry. Everybody wants to be playing at the highest level and it came to a stage where it didn’t look like Scunthorpe were going to stay in the Championship so I spoke to Alan Knill and as a player when your contract is coming to an end you always have a look around to see if there is anything else on the table. I’d known for a few years that there was interest from Coventry.

WHAT UNITED MEANS TO ME...
Scunthorpe United means an awful lot to me. I came to Scunthorpe to get some games under my belt and to have a bit of first team experience but I ended up gaining two promotions. I think a lot of the fans will feel that I played in some of the most successful seasons that the club has had in recent times and that obviously fills me with pride. We played at a level that the club previously played at 40 or 50 years ago, we reached a domestic cup final and generally gave the fans something to cheer about, especially during the first promotion season and I’m sure a lot of them will never forget those memories.


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