Young Gulls Koby, Tadhg, and Callum with Bob Murphy at Western Park on 11 August.
Former premiership-winning captain of the Western Bulldogs and, most importantly, Warragul Gulls alumni Bob Murphy was back at his home ground in August.
This interview was first published in our 16 August 2018 print edition.
Having launched his autobiography just two weeks before, Bob signed some copies before joining mates to watch Warragul Seniors beat Maffra in the rain.
We caught up with Bob, now based in Melbourne, and asked what it was like to come home.
Bob Murphy: “You know what? For me, it’s a bit like time travel in the best possible way. I spent most of my Saturdays as a kid either playing out there or watching footy and walking from one end to the other to follow the full forward and cheer the goals and to bag the opposition full back. I’m a bit of a nostalgia victim, so it’s nice to be back on a cosy Warragul football day.
Baw Baw Citizen: Your memories of growing up with this club have been quite good, I assume.
BM: I played for the Colts Under 12s, but then [came here] for under 14s, 16s, and sort of all the way through. I guess in some ways it’s a pretty unremarkable story, but it’s my footy club. It’s a home footy club and I don’t get back as much as I’d like to, but just to come back and watch the seniors, I get a bit of a buzz out of that. It’s just a nice feeling to be among my people.
BBC: So you still keep up with your old team to some extent!
BM: Yeah, it is kind of hard because I just am unable to get [here] and I work Saturdays, so it’s a bit of a treat for me to be back today. I always keep an eye out and just ask around.
BBC: And you’ve met up with some old mates here too.
BM: It’s cool. Because I haven’t been back much at all, you come back and ‘oh God,’ realise that 20 years has passed that quickly. It’s a bit of a shock, and nearing middle age now but that’s okay too. It’s nice to see some familiar faces. Some things change but not a lot really. It’s really nice. I like the familiarity about it.
BBC: You’ve just launched your book, Leather Soul. Tell me about it.
BM: It’s two love stories; one with a girl, one with a game. It jumps between a traditional memoir and a captain’s diary. The timeline sort of jumps around a bit but a lot of the stories about growing up in Warragul and riding my bike, jumping the back fence looking for adventure, and learning how to kick on both sides of the body and junior football mornings, getting up early in the fog to go and play in the various satellite towns around Warragul.
BBC: How has it been received so far?
BM: It has been pretty warmly received so far, I think. I think people are kind of into it. It’s a different kind of footy book. I mean, I wrote it so that kind of makes it a different footy book because I don’t know if any other players have written it (sic), so it’s a different kind of vibe but people seem to be into it.
BBC: And the title?
BM: [It represents] football leather, football soul, and the game and all the bumps along the trail that kind of age you a bit like leather. And it’s a Beatles reference, in the Beach Boys font.
BBC: You’ve met a few young people today, they must feel pretty inspired to have you here.
BM: When I was growing up, there were people who had been drafted and played league football who grew up in Warragul, but I don’t remember thinking that was possible. That wasn’t really what happened when I was a kid. I hope maybe kids don’t feel like that in Warragul now; if you want to have a crack at it you can do it.
I had a good time, I enjoyed it, but I’m kind of enjoying now just watching and listening to other people’s stories.
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