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30 Sep 2021 : Linnets mourn 1970s star Tony Murphy

The club has received some distressing news, after the death yesterday of ever-popular former Linnets defender Tony Murphy.

Tony was one of three hometown full backs who served the original club with distinction in the early 1970s.

Both Tony and Tim Rutter were only in their mid to late teens when they first broke into the Northern Premier League side.

It has to be remembered that at this time, the NPL was at the top level of football outside the Football League and yet they were both stellar performers.

Tim switched from left back to right on the playing retirement of Derek Baker, the third of the Runcorn-based full backs, at the end of the 1975-76 NPL title-winning season.

It was at this point that Tony made the left back berth his own.

Then living in Castlefields, he had come through the Linnets' reserve ranks.

Tony subsequently moved on Bangor City when his Runcorn manager, Stan Storton took over at Farrar Road in the late 1970s.

But he later returned to Cheshire, signing for Northwich Victoria with whom he won the FA Trophy in 1983-84.

After a draw at Wembley, Vics won the first ever final replay - defeating Bangor City at the Victoria Ground in Stoke.

Two other ex-Canal Street men, Runcornian Graham Abel and Phil Wilson were in the same Greens squad.

Tony was as enthusiastic on the field as he was off it and would maraud forward on trademark runs from defence.

Runcorn themselves fell victims of his ebullience in November 1980, Murph's spectacular long-range strike knocking the Linnets - bound for another NPL title that same season - out of the FA Cup.

Alliance Premier League outfit Northwich triumphed 2-1in a thrilling Drill Field tie, the 86th-minute 'thunderbolt' in front of a 2,866 crowd offering his former club little or no time to recover.

Tony would briefly return to Canal Street in the mid 1990s to manage Runcorn's Youth team.

That side featured David Ness, another left back who graduated to the first team at a young age.

Nessy has since served Runcorn Linnets as first-team coach.

Tony Murphy's youth side also included the hugely-promising Chris Shuker, who was promptly snapped up by Manchester City and went on to appear 402 times in the English Football League, representing a number of clubs over a 14-year career.

Tony's team had son Andy in goal.

Andy went on to play a few games for the first team as understudy 'keeeper towards the end of the original club's days.

Tony Murphy was a guest of Runcorn Linnets at a game in 2017 when he accompanied, in typical larger than life style, another ex-Linnets and Vics star Eddie Bishop and Northwich legend Kenny Jones.

Kenny had been invited by Linnets to collect a commemorative tankard, which related to his long Vics career and had been found in the Halton Arms pub next door to us (Jones having been a one-time landlord) immediately prior to its demolition.

Tony Murphy was an excellent player and a great, fun-loving character, who never really changed - always having a big smile on his face.

RIP Tony.

Picture: Tony Murphy, left, with Kenny Jones and Eddie Bishop at the Linnets Stadium in 2017.

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