BLOG: A tribute to Adam Murray, who makes promises and somehow keeps them

Mansfield Town v Morecambe - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Saturday 6 Feb 2016 - Photographer Steve Uttley

Adam Murray claps the fans despite being sent off
Mansfield Town v Morecambe - Skybet League Two - One Call Stadium - Saturday 6 Feb 2016 - Photographer Steve Uttley Adam Murray claps the fans despite being sent off

As a player, Adam Murray always gave 100 per cent on and off the pitch, so I’m delighted to see him adapt to management with the same ‘nothing’s going to stop me’ attitude that helped him captain us back into the Football League.

With the rain set to lash down over Mansfield, I wasn’t surprised to see images of Murray and members of his coaching staff helping the ground maintenance team cover the ‘problem areas’ with newly acquired rain covers prior to Saturday’s game – the same can be said for weeks earlier when he was out with the roller, attempting to soak up any standing water to get the game on.

If someone said to Muz he needed to walk on water in order to get a game on, bet your bottom dollar he’d find a way.

I’m a huge admirer of that work ethos and am 100 per cent certain he will drive this club in the right direction, as he is already doing.

Back when Murray was just a mere member of the playing squad, under the tenure of Duncan Russell, his effort and commitment to the cause perhaps went unnoticed – after all we are talking about the era when the likes of Hayes and Yeading would walk all over us.

I remember however being drawn to watching Murray, running about like a child in a sweetshop playing at being the master puppeteer pulling all the strings to try and steer the ship.

Towards the back end of that season, we we’re playing Gateshead in the final home game of the season and completely switched off with all eyes, bar those of Murray, on Wembley a few weeks later.

At half-time we were 2-0 down and playing woefully, but in the second half one man took it upon himself to ensure the fans ended what was a torrid home season with a smile on their face – he scored twice and then played a sublime pass in the 94th minute to set-up Louis Briscoe, who did the rest and prompted a pitch invasion like we’d won the league.

A few days later, I was privileged enough to be invited to press day at Wembley Stadium ahead of the FA Trophy final and sat pitch side interviewing Murray.

The previous season he’d missed out on the chance to lead out a team at Wembley (Oxford) due to injury, he recalled it with a pang of sorrow but failed to get carried away with it being all about Adam Murray.

He stated his immense pride in being Mansfield captain and wanted one thing – to win.

As it happened, he picked up only a losers medal.

From the commentary box at Wembley I couldn’t look anywhere other than the ground, I was badly attempting to hide my tears.

For a second however I did look up and caught a glimpse of Murray, who had ran his socks off through the pain barrier until he was begrudgingly replaced after 105 minutes, one look at his face was all I needed to see that at least someone in that squad cared.

Exactly a year later, Mansfield had transformed and against the odds, had reached the play-offs.

A certain Matty Blair had broken Mansfield hearts with an extra-time winner for York City to dash dreams of a Wembley return and a stab at promotion to the Football League.

I commentated that day from the back of the West Stand Lower and after the game, Murray walked past to go and collect his Man of the Match award.

He looked at me as he walked past almost willing me to stop him having to walk into a room full of people and be interviewed.

Three minutes later he returned, I was pretty much the only one still in the west lower and again, had tears running down my face of sheer disappointment, he walked past again and looked like a ghost.

Neither of us were in any mood to talk, as we had done all season whenever Murray was in the office – I was doing some work experience there at the time – yet Murray said just two words which stopped my crying and self-loathing in an instant: “Next year”.

He walked off back towards the dressing room, broken in tears but determined.

A year later, his promise came true.

In true Murray style there were more twists and turns to come, you must have to question what your future holds when you are the assistant manager and being loaned out to local non-league teams, mere months after lifting the league trophy.

When he was appointed manager, to go from one of the lads to ‘boss’ must have been tough – imagine telling some of your closest friends who you’ve shared so much success with over the years as a team mate, that they’re surplus to your requirements as a manager.

I’ve listened willingly to Murray’s stories of his younger playing days and heard about how wrong it could have all gone.

I’ve watched Murray wince in physical pain for Mansfield Town, I watched him laugh and I’ve watched him cry.

Sadly not commentating or reporting week by week any more, I see as much of Adam Murray as the next man.

I’ve not witnessed if there’s been any behavioural change in him or not, nor have I seen the pendulum of Murray’s emotion swing as results go one way and then the other.

But what I do see, is a man of principal and a man who will quite literally do anything to see this club evolve and succeed.

What drives that passion is beyond me, but I know from experience that promises and plans made by Murray are not made in jest – they are carried out and accomplished.

How on earth did we turn things around on Saturday when we were so poor in the first half against lowly Dagenham? How on earth did Murray produce the goods against Gateshead that day when nobody else cared?

How did he summon the strength to keep going after so many set backs?

How did he manage to walk back into the dressing room as number two and commend respect after being loaned out like a youth teamer?

Simple. He’s Adam Murray – and he made someone a promise.