Friday, 31 December 2010
Sportsmen I love: Part Two. Glenn Murray
Every team needs a talisman and every set of fans needs a player they can pin their hopes on.
More often that not at Brighton and Hove Albion, the player most loved by the fans has been once willing to run around a lot. Gary Hart and Alex Revell both fall into this camp. It says a lot about the lack of genuinely gifted footballers seen at Withdean in recent years that a forward (Hart) with three goals in six season (compared to 22 yellow cards and two reds) still commands a raucous rendition of his own song whenever he enters the fray.
Since the halcyon days of free-scoring Bobby Zamora, Brighton's flairniacs have not had much to shout at. Leon Knight came, scored a hatful, got thrown off of the team bus, and left. Darren Currie twisted and turned defences inside out despite looking like a fat boyband member, but was sold. That is pretty much that.
Then, in 2008, Glenn Murray swaggered his way down south after a £300,000 deal was struck with Rochdale.
He made his debut in an uneventful 1v0 defeat away to Northampton but, just days later, he notched a brace on his first start - a 3v0 win at home to Crewe.
Since then, his every touch has left the football purists at Withdean salivating like Pavlov's dogs. Well, not quite his EVERY touch, but, well, you get the idea.
Standing out like a crap lookalike of Pete Townshend, Murray pomped and probed his way through League One defences seemingly at will.
After deftly caressing his seventh of the season at home to Charlton this week, Murray took his Seagulls goal tally to 42 in less than 100 games.
At times under-appreciated, Murray often divides fans. Some bemoan his laid back, languid style. Others embrace it. he works hard for the team, but somehow manages to look like he doesn't give a shit at the same time. Like a less fat Matt Le Tissier - and equally important to his club.
Anyone who saw him waltz through a static Leeds defence to score at Elland Road, or plunder four goals away to Wycombe will testify as to the dreams he is capable of weaving.
And often, it is the flash of genius which does not result in a goal which shows his true class. Earlier in the season at The Valley he teased three home defenders into following him on a mazy run, despite the fact he had already left the ball behind. Murray, it seems, takes as much delight in making people look stupid as he does in bulging the onion bag.
A fellow fan likened him to a cat. He swans about like he is doing you a favour, his performances demand your affection, but he rarely gives any emotion back. A stroppy tom with a penchant for goals and milking applause.
He has also been dubbed The League One Berbatov (by, well, me) and it is a comparison which is easy to make. Both stroll around, both have outrageous abilities and both are criticised for not running around like a headless chicken.
Rumours of homesickness have dogged Murray during his time on the south coast. And, with his contract fast running-out, the usual mutterings of discontent and want-away-ness have surfaced.
But the player, whose career started at Workington Reds and included a sting over The Pond at the superbly named Wilmington Hammerheads, seems happy. Well, as happy as Glenn Murray ever seems.
If the Albion are to go up and succeed at a higher level, they will need to either keep Murray or break the bank to find a replacement.
Hopefully Glenn will keep grumping his way to the goals and keeping the fans happy for a few seasons yet.