MASTER SHEFF; Jamie's New Team-Mates Insist He's Timed His Switch to Perfection after Serving a Tough Six-Year, 215-Game Apprenticeship in the SPL
Byline: Gordon Waddell
They say timing your run is everything. If that's true, then Jamie Murphy has mastered the art.
The 23-year-old's move south to Sheffield United from Motherwell last week came after six seasons and 215 games for the Steelmen.
And two of the Scots he'll now line up with at Brammall Lane, both of whom took starkly different routes south, reckon his decision to do the hard yards north of the border will pay off big time for him.
Neill Collins has nine seasons in English football under his belt, having grafted through 107 games as a part-time student with Queen's Park and Dumbarton before Mick McCarthy took him to Sunderland.
Three Championship medals between the Black Cats and Wolves and one promotion from League One with Leeds are testimony to that being the right road.
Ryan Flynn, though, jumped at the chance to put his name in lights with Liverpool at 16 and basked in Youth Cup glory with the Anfield giants twice in his teens.
But he still ended up needing a diversion via Wrexham and back to Falkirk before he realised his dream of playing first-team football in England.
That's why both reckon Murphy's apprenticeship is the perfect platform to hit the ground running in the League One promotion push.
Collins said: "You see it happen time and again when players come down too early. They're not ready to play at first-team level in the Premier League and disappear without trace. "But then there's also a chance you can leave it too late. It's a double-edged sword.
"I've seen great pros in Scotland come down here and struggle because they've gone past the point of thinking they have anything to learn. But the transition needs adjusting to, no question. Then you look at Jamie, a guy who has 200 games under his belt, 50-odd goals.
"He's 24 and has shown he has maturity and loyalty in the service he's given to Motherwell.
"The timing is perfect for him - and from our point of view, he's exactly what we need right now.
"He has a great change of pace, can beat a man and has an eye for goal - he's an ingredient we've been missing in our game.
"We've had so many draws that could have been wins if it had just been for that kind of thing.
"January's never an easy time to move but he's got a few other Scots in the dressing-room, like Kevin McDonald who played Scotland Under-21s with him. Then there's Chris Porter and Nick Blackman who he played with at Well.
"He'll be coming in to familiar faces. That always helps."
It's not Murphy's first chance to move. The rangey forward has been catching the eye since he broke in to Well's top team in 2006.
Unlike more recent breakthrough kids like Jack Grimmer, Scott Allan and Danny Wilson, though, he resisted the lure of the lucre. …