Master of the underdogs
By STEVE SPINKS
GRAHAM Murray will always have a soft spot for Lismore.
After all, he lived in the town for 12 months when he was the captain-coach of the Lismore Workers first grade team in 1985.
Being back in the area this week has revived plenty of memories for the coach of the City Origin side that will take on Country at Lismore's Oakes Oval tomorrow night.
"I still keep in touch with a heap of people from the old days," Murray recalled.
"Obviously I don't talk to them every day, but I do every opportunity I get."
Lismore Workers, who are now defunct, still holds a special place in Murray's coaching career.
"They gave me my first chance of coaching at the senior level," he said.
Despite playing on Oakes Oval on numerous occasions, Murray said he didn't know what to expect on Friday night.
"We'll have a look at it on Thursday (today)," he said.
"But I still remember playing there.
"I remember beating Marist Brothers in first grade 18-14 in a Easter Thursday game."
So why does that match stick in his memory?
"Because everyone said we couldn't win," Murray laughed.
It's an insight into the man.
Murray's an underdog.
He's never coached glamour sides, besides a two-year stint with the Sydney Roosters in 2000-2001.
Have a look at the teams he's been in charge of.
Penrith (reserve grade), Balmain (reserve grade), Illawarra (first grade), Hunter Mariners (Super League), Leeds (England), Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys (first grade).
Perhaps that's the reason why you saw a smile a nuclear bomb couldn't wipe off his face when the Cowboys knocked the Brisbane Broncos out of the finals last season in front of a packed stadium at Townsville.
The underdog had had its day!
A former halfback, Murray played 88 first grade games with Parramatta and South Sydney before pursuing his coaching career.
He has a reputation as being one of the easiest going coaches in the competition.
But don't think that he likes losing. Which is why he has no qualms being public enemy No1 as coach of the City team this week in a Country area.
"This area is very passionate about its rugby league," Murray said.
"And so are we."