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Class of 51 - Peter Murphy

Posted on 17 February 2016  - 09:30

Manager Arthur Rowe used just 19 players when we won the Division One title for the first time in season 1950-51. Now, 65 years on, we pay tribute to each one. Here John Fennelly spotlights the contribution of inside-forward PETER MURPHY.

Peter Murphy at the LanePeter, back row, fourth from left, with the Spurs team of 1951Peter has a shot saved by Bert Trautmann at Wembley

PETER MURPHY
Games: 25.  Goals: 9.

Peter Murphy was with us for just over a year. He was brought in by manager Arthur Rowe to bolster his squad as we faced up to life in the top flight having finished on top of the Second Division the season before.

Murphy arrived at White Hart Lane in May, 1950, but by January, 1952, he was gone! But he took with him a League Championship medal and subsequently went on to help Birmingham City to promotion from Division Two in 1955 and to play for them in the FA Cup Final a year later.

The irony for such a capable footballer is that he is best remembered as the man who accidentally broke Bert Trautmann’s neck in that Wembley game when the Manchester City goalkeeper saved bravely at his feet!

Born in Hartlepool, the Murphy family moved to the Midlands when he was four and he actually played as an amateur for Birmingham before signing professional forms with Coventry City. An athletic, energetic and mobile inside-forward with a great left foot, he scored regularly for the Sky Blues and also hit the target for us when he made his Spurs debut at Bolton in August, 1950.

He played regularly that season and concluded with nine league goals for a side that scored consistently throughout its ranks. Sonny Walters top scored with 15, ahead of Len Duquemin on 14, Eddie Baily with 12 and Les Medley 11.

With the inspirational Les Bennett returning to fitness, Murphy found it difficult to hold down a regular place the following season so the man known as ‘Spud’ returned to the Midlands to join Birmingham.

Peter, predominately an inside-left with Spurs, took on a more directly attacking role at City and was their leading scorer for three of his eight seasons at St Andrew’s. He also played a leading role when they won promotion as champions of Division Two in 1955.

Murphy notched five times on their way to the 1956 FA Cup Final as Birmingham, playing every tie away from home, scored 18 times and conceded just twice. They lost 3-1 at Wembley to a Manchester City side who beat us by the only goal in our semi-final at Villa Park, surviving a last minute penalty claim when Trautmann clearly grabbed George Robb by the leg.

Peter played in Birmingham’s first match in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1955-58, when they became the first English club to participate in Europe, and finished the tournament as the competition’s joint leading scorer. He also played in the second leg of the final in the 1958-60 competition when City lost 4-1 to Barcelona.

He retired from playing in 1959 to coach Birmingham’s youth team but was called back to help out when the club fought relegation and he scored four goals in seven games to help steer them away from danger. He finally left in 1960 to wind up his career with Rugby Town before returning to Coventry to join their coaching staff.

Sadly Peter died on April 7, 1975,  at the age of 53.