Rewriting History: The Jimmy Murphy Biography (Part Two)
As part of a new feature for the website, I wanted to take a look back over some of historical projects I have worked on. Kicking off that series will be a number of articles dedicated to the forthcoming Jimmy Murphy biography.
For part two, Jason Pearson asked – How emotional was it delving into the detailed life story of arguably the most important man in our great club’s history?
You can’t help but get caught up in the story. I’ve spoken about it elsewhere; but one of the triggers for my starting writing the book was working with Mick Duxbury. He talked about how Jimmy had told him he would have graced the Babes side at a player’s dinner in the 80’s and as he did, Mick had tears in his eyes.
Going through those dark days after Munich and putting yourself in Jimmy’s shoes – remembering that he had lost his best friend, didn’t know if his manager would pull through, and assuming such a huge responsibility with only Joe Armstrong to help in the early days… I defy anyone to not feel affected by what he went through.
Nick Murphy, Jimmy’s son, was one of the last people I interviewed for the book; Jimmy Jr was one of the first. I interviewed Paul, Jimmy’s grandson, at the same time as talking to Nick. I don’t want to give away what they were speaking about because it’s all in the book but there were times where they were all were overcome by emotion.
By the time of my interview with Nick I had already had engaging meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul McGuinness and I was mulling how I would construct the conclusion of the book, which is effectively explaining how deep Jimmy’s influence ran and how important he was to the very identity of the club. (I got a ‘well done’ from Sir Alex, which I’m very proud of, haha!)
Jason, I agree with you, I think he is the most important man in United history. Jimmy’s family are humble; they will never go as far as to say they agree with that, they’ll only say that they would like for his contribution to be better recognised. Having become a full convert of that opinion after all of my research, I explained to Nick and Paul that I was hopeful that the book would convince some people that Jimmy is the most important man in United history because that’s what I believe; I was very passionate as I waxed lyrical about it to them.
I’ve found myself to be that way whenever talking about the book to people who ask. There are so many different stories within the book that reveal something different about Jimmy and I find myself going on and on whenever asked; my poor uncle, who I hadn’t seen for a few years, had to listen to me talking about Jimmy for about two hours!
The simple answer is that it has been very emotional. The consequence of that is I am very proud of this work but also very anxious and nervous; because of how important I value Jimmy and his work, I’m aware that doing his story justice is a very important responsibility.