Unsung Heroes: Darren Murphy


By Pete H

For a time during GW’s second time as Boro’ boss, we turned to Ireland for talent. Darren Murphy was the first to come across – and most successful. And we mean no disrespect to either Darragh Ryan, Don Cowan or Luke Wade-Slater.

When did Darren Murphy join us?

Murph signed for us in mid-December 2008; coming in from his hometown club, Cork City. But we had to wait a couple of weeks for his debut. Until after Christmas, in fact. The Irish FA not open to process his international clearance, so the tale goes, until early January. It meant we didn’t get to see him in action until Lewes away, where he came on as a sub for David Bridges on 70 minutes.

Where did he play for Boro’?

CDM. In the hole, doing all the tough tackling and mopping up that let the creative players flow in front of him. Much like Roy Keane, a fellow Corkonian.

What makes him an unsung hero?

Darren Murphy scores against Portsmouth

For some players, you gotta stand out for people to know you’re doing the job you’re there to do. In goal, up top and out on the wing are three areas where you can’t hide. But, in the middle of the park, it’s not so black and white. For every creative player, there’s one who’s gonna be mucking in behind the scenes. Murph is one of the latter. And it often means the work you do is gonna go unnoticed.

It can seem unfair and unrewarding, of course. But not catching the eye, in a weird way, is a good thing; flying in under the radar and making sure nothing gets past.

He even chipped in with the odd goal here and then. Well, two in a half century of outings. Sure, there were a couple of reds too. That’s an occupational hazard. A third (in the 2008-9 Conference playoff semi-final first leg) was rightly rescinded for being a proper dreadful shout by the ref that day. It nearly robbed him of the chance to turn out at Wembley in our second FA Trophy final in three seasons. And that’d have been a crime.

Darren Murphy in action against Torquay United in the League Two playoff final
Photo: Jim Walton/PA Images/Alamy

All that Murph did under the radar makes him one of Boro’s unsung heroes – certainly of our Conference-winning team. Don’t agree with us? Fair enough. But you’re also flying in the face of the man who brought him to us – Graham Westley: “Things changed at the club when Darren Murphy signed. He was part of us going 24 games unbeaten and he brought a certain mentality to the club that I think was vital.

“I think a lot of players learned from him.”

Darren Murphy: Epilogue

Injuries. Lots of ’em, as recounted in a top interview with Irish sports website The42.ie. On Boro’s books for the best part of three-and-a-half years, “his body abandoned him… again, and again, and again”. In those terms, it’s easy to see why his time yielded so few matches. And it makes you ask how much bigger his impact could’ve been on the team.

A loan spell at Aldershot Town gave him the only action he saw during the 2011-2 season. And, with GW moving on that campaign too, there was no place under the new regime as his contract came up in summer 2012. Port Vale moved in for him, but neither that – nor a switch to Macclesfield Town after – worked out.

Darren Murphy puts in a tackle
Photo: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

GW came back to us in 2013 and Murph got a second crack too; pre-season training and hopes of a fresh start back at the Lamex. It wasn’t to be. A brief stint with Woking couldn’t deliver the desired outcome either – but when does any length of time in Woking do that? It marked the end of his time in English football and a return to Ireland.

“There were a lot of people who tried to pass on their experience to help me when I was playing,” he told The42.ie. “That’s what I want to do for them now.” Who knows. We may feel the benefit of his experience if we look to Ireland for fresh blood once again. Anyone who turns up at the Lamex with Murph’s attitude and approach can only be a good thing.

Darren Murphy43 (10) appearances, 2 goals (2008-11)