Stevo's Sting: Humble Murphy loved like no other

Mark Stevens

Half a dozen fans gathered at the end of the race, one claiming to be Bob Murphy's personal sponsor for the past 10 years, another in goofy Bulldog glasses.

They waited at the tail of the media line-up, like underage kids at a nightclub hoping like hell to sneak past the doorman.

Sadly, they were knocked back, and looked on dispirited as the media were escorted into the club's auditorium.

You can understand it in these times of tightened security, but somehow it would've been fitting had they been waved through for the Murphy retirement tribute/press conference.

Murphy is a man of the people. A man who has touched fans like no one before him.

Murphy addresses the media. Pic: Getty

The fans instead gathered in the cafe, watching a live feed on their phones, but Murphy would've embraced them.

Murphy was typically humble at the biggest press conference ever seen at the redeveloped Whitten. It was far bigger than coach sackings and coach appointments at the kennel.

He said he didn't want to be seen as a "knob" for enjoying a farewell tour, and deep down might have wanted to finish with a wink and nod and walk away, but these moments need to be celebrated.

Murphy never looked like a footballer in civvies. Just too skinny, and the complete reverse of the 'jock' image.

So it was on Tuesday as he turned up in skinny jeans looking more like an artist working out of a warehouse shell in Fitzroy than a footballer.

Murphy hardly looks like a footballer. Pic: Getty

And it is that everyday look that always endeared him to the people of the west.

Typically, he spoke with reason and perspective.

There were almost tears, questions about last year's grand final and its aftermath bringing the most emotion.

He said missing the grand final had left a hole in his heart. He hasn't watched it back.

But there was no real self-pity. This was a celebration of club, or clan, as he prefers to call it.

Bulldogs players watch on as Murphy retires. Pic: Getty

With some players in the room yet to commit to new deals, Murphy spoke of the wonders of finishing a one-club player.

Not one took their eyes off him as the presser passed the 30-minute barrier.

I interviewed Murphy and his parents, John and Monica, in their family home at Berwick in March 2003.

They are still as excited to watch him now as as they were back then.

Twitter: @Stevo7AFL

In that interview, Monica said of her son: "I like watching Rob's style. I think it's exciting and different. He runs around the outside and he's stylish. And I like it."

Rob is now Bob, but the way he plays footy hasn't changed.

Murphy has at least two games left, one at his birthplace Ballarat, the other at Etihad Stadium. Nobody could begrudge him a final beyond that.

His player sponsor, and the bloke in the Doggies glasses, will be there every step of the way.