Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Fan Alan Is Home to Roost

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Fan Alan Is Home to Roost

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

Like so many youngsters for whom the world was gloriously black-and-white, Alan Murray squeezed into St James' Park to sit at the bob end with his feet on the shale track and marvel at his fleet-footed heroes.

That this particular starry eyed lad should one day, many years hence, return home to become United's assistant manager was something he dared not dream about. Life surely couldn't be so generous.

Even today, a couple of months into his job of a lifetime, Murray still feels a shudder at his sudden, unexpected luck.

If Graeme Souness is delighted at gaining a shot at one of England's biggest clubs then for his great friend it's even better. Home is where the heart is.

The size of what Souness and Murray have inherited can best be gauged by the next five days ( Chelsea visit in the Carling Cup tomorrow to be followed by Manchester United on Sunday.

"This is a massive, massive club and I love it, always have," Alan told me.

"To be sitting here now discussing our plans for Newcastle is unbelievable. I'm 53 years of age, have travelled the country and abroad either playing football or coaching, and now at last I'm back where I started on the terraces. It's a marvellous feeling and we'll all give it some crack at winning a trophy."

Murray's family are steeped in their love of "the Toon."

"Me and my two sisters were born in Lightbourn Road, Walker and I got my love of football from my dad," said Alan.

"He was a sheet metal worker and was given a trial by Newcastle and Hull City. He framed the Newcastle invitation and I've still got it.

"All I ever dreamed about was becoming a footballer and supporting United. Nothing else mattered. I'd squeeze in the bob end and be passed down to the front where all us kids sat with out feet on the track."

Murray, a right-sided midfielder, made it as a player but, though he never played for his hometown club, he's achieved the next best thing thanks to a friendship forged in digs during the early days of his ride on football's big dipper.

"First I went to Wolves in 1966 for a trial with an Ashington lad called John Farrington who later played for Leicester," explained Murray.

"It was a horrendous journey, a long way from home, and I didn't settle. After eight months I was back in Newcastle playing for Peter Kirkley at Howdon Boys' Club and Willington Quay."

Next Middlesbrough came calling through legendary coach George Wardle, who had won the Amateur Cup with Crook Town. Murray signed after a trial and stayed for five years.

"I was in digs, at 53 Chipchase Road, and one day another young lad who had just joined Boro came to stay with us," smiled Alan. "He was a Scot, brim full of confidence, and it showed. But we struck up a great rapport. His name was Graeme Souness.

"He'd left Tottenham Hotspur because he thought he should be in the first team. He considered himself a better player than the guy who had the shirt, who was Steve Perryman no less. But Graeme was right.

"Graeme had an outstanding career at the very top because he was the complete player."

Murray and Souness only lodged together for a few weeks before Murray was transferred to Brentford but such was their bond that "whenever I got a day or a weekend off I went back to Chipchase Road. We'd have nights out together, play squash and the like.

"Later in his playing career, as Graeme became a big star at Liverpool, he was nicknamed Champagne Charlie by his team-mates because he looked and acted the part. He always dressed immaculately and lived like a king.

"Sure, Souness could enjoy a good night out as much as the next young footballer. He knew how to enjoy himself, but he also knew when to do it and where to go out of the public eye.

"It was so different in our days to today. Punters now have camera phones and they take a pic of any well known footballer and send it in to the tabloids. …

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