AN IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN MURPHY PART TWO: THE COACHING JOURNEY TO FULL-TIME FOOTBALL IN OZ
- Reflects on the lonely moment of retiring as a player after relegation in Oz
- Reveals how coaching a high school side to a title reignited his love for the game
- Encourages coaches to take every opportunity they have as a learning experience
- Working with English midfielder Whitworth helped open the door to the job at Magpies Crusaders
- Insists some of his struggles as a player can make him a better coach
SOMETIMES all it takes is seeing a little of yourself in the kids that you coach.
A small part of the younger you, before you learned that The Beautiful Game can often be a cruel mistress.
That innocent joy of playing that you had before the sapping toll of injuries and the uncertainty of retirement.
That's how it was for 39-year-old Irishman Brian Murphy as he took a crucial step on the coaching journey that has now guided him back into full-time football as the new Head Coach of Magpies Crusaders United in Australia.
Sport Careers Agency client Brian is currently in COVID-19 quarantine in Oz preparing to meet his new squad after inspiring Onehunga Mangere United to a historic title win in New Zealand last season.
As Murphy begins an exciting new chapter he reflected: "Looking back I had the talent as a player.
"The truth is I was never prepared for the pitfalls and I struggled with the mental side of the game.
"The day I retired was a very lonely moment. I was at Frankston Pines in Melbourne and we got relegated.
"I was standing in the centre circle at the end of the last match and I thought: 'Is this it?'
"I was lonely and it was gut-wrenching to be honest but sometimes you need pain to grow.
"Then in time coaching made me fall in love with the game again. I was coaching the 14-year-olds at Auckland Grammar in 2015, where I was teaching, and I met a boy called Boyd Curry.
"He has gone on to play for Saint Mary's College in California and he has won the Chatham Cup here as a player and played for New Zealand Under-20s.
"I nurtured him as a player, and we won the league undefeated when I coached him and my love for it all was reignited."
A story of peaks and troughs had started for a forward-thinking coach who puts players first in his approach.
Last year that tale reached new heights for Murphy as he guided Onehunga to their first Northern Region Division Two title in 22 years, a milestone in their 100-year existence.
That success brought him the attention that has seen him recruited to the third tier of Australian football and a bid to mastermind the Magpies' return to the National Premier League.
Brian stressed: "Magpies are now in the Queensland Premier League and they want to go back up to NPL status which is just under the A League.
"There is an A League Two in the offing and we want to be in with a shout of being involved in that.
"We train four nights a week so it is on the brink of semi-professional to professional.
"The club is run extremely well and the players are looked after and that is helping to grow the game in North Queensland."
It's 12 years now since Brian first took the plunge and left his native Ireland and seven years since he said goodbye to the UK for the other side of the world.
In his days teaching at top school Auckland Grammar he was playing for a club called Eastern Suburbs.
And he recalled: "Suburbs were an excellent team, but I ruptured my Achilles a week away from the season and I kind of fell into coaching from that point.
"I coached the reserves and we were runners-up in the league which was a promising start for me."
That was a foundation stone for a career that has seen Brian mix his career as an educator with his passion for coaching.
Last season the Onehunga Mangere job was part-time, and Brian took another assistant coaching role with Northern League Premiership club Hamilton Wanderers women's side.
He was juggling his main task with working at Hamilton and it was a tough mission.
Brian confessed: "That club is around two and half hours away from me and halfway way through the year it got too much.
"Just going there was a great experience, though, and as a result of going there I met a young English player called Bradley Whitworth who was going to play for Magpies in Australia.
"Brad told me that the Head Coach role was open there and that he had mentioned my name.
"He'd been impressed with my man-management at Hamilton and Magpies rang me on the back of that. I got an offer very quickly and it is an amazing opportunity for me.
"Sometimes football is about sliding doors moments like that."
Now Murphy is in quarantine after the emotional wrench of leaving his wife and two young daughters in New Zealand to begin his next coaching adventure.
Signing players, plotting pre-season, it's full steam ahead now even in quarantine but Bryan took time out in the second part of his interview for the SCA site to look back on a playing career that he will always feel could have produced more.
He said: "I don 't regret much about my time as a player but I was offered a full-ride scholarship to a college in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which I turned down.
"It was a junior college that could have sent me towards NCCA Division One in the States, and I regret not going there and giving that a go.
"At the time I was at University in Ireland, and we had just won the National title and my head was all over the place.
"My mum had some health worries and as the eldest of seven kids I didn't want to go.
"My career, though, kept being haunted by injury. I was meant to go to Korea for the World Student Games, and I snapped my ankle a week out from the final training camp.
"We had players like Shane Long who would go on to play at the top level in England and I missed out on it which was wretched luck.
"I look back on it now, though, and while there are painful chapters, and that American regret, playing gave me a lot.
"I think players who have had a little taste of success then seen it disappear can go on to have excellent coaching careers.
"They see the pitfalls and they can talk to players and people because they have been through it."
Murphy's searing honesty when he revealed the darkest days of his soccer career in Part One of this interview last month saw us examine his growing education as a coach.
From top Kiwi sports psychologist Dom Vettise to fear coach Drewe Broughton, Brian has tapped into some enquiring minds to help him become more rounded in how he deals with his players.
He insisted: "I think the sad thing for coaches from Ireland and Great Britain is that they have to move abroad to realise a lot of their dreams.
"I have learned to block out the noise and I've worked with sport psychologists to help me become a more player-centric coach.
"Now I want to mix the psychology with the technical side and help improve the players I work with.
"I believe that curiosity doesn't kill the cat, it helps it to find new opportunities.
"I think every opportunity can help you as a coach and as a player of course. When you are driven, and you love the game so much you don't worry about getting sacked
”I think the more authentic you are and the more you see your players as people rather than a commodity the more success you can have.
"Even the bad experiences teach you good lessons in this game.
"My top tip for young coaches now? Don't try be someone else, take the mask off and be yourself as a coach, don't be afraid of being vulnerable.
"It's only then that your players will see the real you.''
BRIAN MURPHY ON THE SERVICE HE RECEIVED FROM SPORT CAREERS AGENCY
”When clubs see my Sport Careers Agency CV there is no doubt that it helps me. It is slick and professional.
”It was a longer process than I originally thought it would be because of COVID-19 lockdowns and I wanted it to have more depth.
”So I asked Piero and the staff to wait and they were patient in the compilation. Luckily, we won a title with Onehunga Mangere United in New Zealand so it looks a little better now!”