David Murphy – Nominee for NSW’s Hall of Fame

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in New South Wales this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.
To commemorate, 140 coaches, players, umpires, administrators and media personalities from both the Elite (VFL/AFL) and Community level will be inducted into the inaugural New South Wales Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Neil Cordy profiles the nominees his former team-mate and close friend David Murphy:

Who is the only player to represent Victoria in State of Origin but never lived in the state?

The answer is David Murphy and it’s a trivia question which has produced plenty of quizzical looks and a few free beers over the years.

‘Murph’ played for Victoria six times but is a born and bred New South Welshman.

He grew up in Finley playing all his junior football there before moving to Wagga Wagga and lining up for Turvey Park.

It was a humble beginning to a stellar VFL/AFL career which ultimately saw him claim All Australian honours for NSW and a hallowed place in the Sydney Swans Team of the Century.

One of Murph’s proudest moments when he sat alongside fellow former Finley resident and legendary coach Alan Jeans at the announcement of the 1988 All Australian team. His father Ray played alongside Jeans in Finley’s 1954 premiership when they beat archrival Tocumwal.

“It was the first time I’d met Yabby,” Murphy said. “It was last day of the National Carnival in Adelaide and I was sitting right next to him. When my name was read out he shook my hand and said well done son, your mum and dad would be proud. It was a nice moment, dad had told me a story about the day he was hit behind play and then he heard clunk. He turned around to see Yabby standing over the bloke who hit dad. Dad said to me he felt 10 feet tall.”

Those formative years in the Riverina were no walk in the park for Murph either as he played most of his junior footy against boys much older and bigger. “When I started playing junior footy I was about four years younger than my team mates and opponents,” Murphy said.

“I eventually got to play against my own age group and thought maybe I can play. It was hard but really helped me in the long run. I learned how to stay out of trouble, I learned how to kick the ball and compete against older boys.”

Murphy faced another hurdle early on when he ruptured his ACL just before he turned 18. The injury could easily have cost him his AFL career as it forced him out of football for almost two years.

“I couldn’t have an operation because I was still growing so I had to wait a year,” Murphy said. When I was operated on I was alongside Keith Greig and Roy Ramsay from North Melbourne. It was a long rehab in those days, my leg looked like my arm. I worked in the bank in Wagga so I would go to the gym or the pool after work to build up my leg.”

When he eventually recovered he started playing in the under 19s at Turvey Park. His form was outstanding and the following year was promoted to the seniors. He kicked 76 goals and 78 in consecutive seasons playing as a half forward.

Swans recruiter Greg Miller came to the Riverina to watch Paul Hawke and liked what he saw with Murphy so signed them both for the 1984 season.

If Murphy thought it was tough going playing out of his weight division in the Riverina there was to come in the VFL. Fully grown at 179cm (5’11”) and 75kg he was smaller than virtually every opponent he played on.

But his lightning speed, high marking and long kicking were prized assets in any league and he quickly established himself as one of the stars in a Sydney team which featured some of the greats of the 1980s.

Led by Brownlow Medallists in Greg Williams and Gerard Healy Murphy was part of a super midfield. The group also featured the ball winning of Barry Mitchell, the dash of David Bolton and the flair and hardness of the late Merv Neagle.

Murphy’s ten seasons and 156 games in the red and white played almost entirely on the wing. He, Williams and Healy were all named in the Swans Team of the Century.

He also played alongside Swans Hall of Fame inductee Bernard Toohey. The pair met on their first day of primary school in Finley and went through their entire schooling together including Finley High School.

When Did the Daniher Brothers First Play Together

l-r: Anthony, Terry, Neale & Chris

If you answered at Essendon you’d be wrong.

If you said at Ungarie you’d also be wrong. Although Terry did play with his father Jim at Ungarie.

The first time the four brothers –Terry, Neale, Anthony & Chris played football together on the one team was for New South Wales in a State-of-Origin match against Victoria at the SCG on Tuesday 22 May 1990 at the SCG.

It was the first time a quartet of brothers had played together in a State game.

And in one of the greatest upsets of all time in interstate football NSW beat Victoria by 10 points.

“We had blokes that just kept boring in. We had a real good crack and we just enjoyed it. It was bloody great!” Terry Daniher told Adam McNichol, the author of The Danihers: The story of Australia’s favourite family.

All four Daniher boys were nominated for the NSW Greatest Team but only Terry was included in the team. He was selected on the half-forward flank.

Neale, who had lengthy period coaching the Melbourne Football Club (1998-2007) was named as assistant coach to Allan Jeans.

The Daniher dynasty started when the boys’ grandfather Jim Snr, moved to Ungarie from Euroa where he played in their 1913 premiership team to take up a 740 acre allotment under the NSW Closer Settlement Scheme.

Jim Snr was instrumental in the formation of the Ungarie footy club according to Adam McNichol, the author of The Danihers. He ensured the newly formed club adopted the black and white colours of Euroa for its guernseys.

Jim Daniher Snr proved to be one of Ungarie’s best players in the club’s formative years. He was captain of the 1923 premiership team. The Northern Riverina Football League official history rates him as the best player in the northern Riverina in this period.

According to Adam McNicol, Jim Snr “occupied various positions in the club for many years, including that of patron”. This was also something that Jim Jnr did as well as his son, Chris, who is still actively involved with the club having been coach, and more recently president.

Jim Daniher

Jim Daniher Jnr was an outstanding footballer, both in Australian football and in rugby league. He played both codes for Ungarie for many years. After representing Riverina against Great Britain in Wagga in 1954 and scoring two tries against the reigning world champions, Jim received offers from a number of Sydney-based clubs including Manly-Warringah, but Aussie Rules football was Jim’s passion.

Jim Jnr won three competition best and fairest awards in the Northern Riverina Football League – 1949, 1956, and 1959. He led the Ungarie Magpies for over a decade, the highlight being five premierships, 1950, 1956 and 1959-1961. He was well supported by his two brothers, Jack and Leo, who were integral to Ungarie’s success in this period. Leo won the competition award in 1951.

The three brothers married three sisters. They produced more footballers for Ungarie. Jack’s sons, Mick, Peter (better known as Po) and John, who made their names at Turvey Park in the South-West league, and Mark, Pat and Rodney, sons of Leo. Pat also played in Coolamon’s 1983 premiership team.

Terry Daniher had a celebrated career in football after going to play for South Melbourne in 1976 under the VFL country zoning rules after a season at Ariah Park-Mirrool under Rick Quade.

He played a total of 313 games in the VFL/AFL (19 for South Melbourne and 294 for Essendon) and booted 469 goals. He captained Essendon to the 1984-85 premierships during his period as captain from 1983-88. He played 15 State games (11 for Victoria and 4 for NSW). He was named All-Australian captain at the Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide after leading NSW to victory over WA and a close loss to South Australia. He also coached NSW against Victoria at the MCG in 1993.

Terry was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named on a half-forward flank in Essendon’s Team of the Century.

After Essendon, Terry coached Wagga Tigers in the Riverina Football league to five premierships. He won the RFL best and fairest Quinn Medal in 1994.

Named as captain of Essendon in 1982, Neale Daniher became the Bombers’ youngest-ever captain in their history but he had badly injured his knee in round 21 against South Melbourne. He underwent reconstructive surgery during grand final week. He was not to play a senior game again until round 9 1985. He never really fully recovered from the injury for which he had multiple operations.

However, he did recover sufficiently to join his brothers in the NSW Origin team that beat Victoria in 1991 and to play more games for Essendon including one game with all his brothers.

Neale played 82 games for Essendon in two stints punctuated by injury, 1979-85 and 1989-90. He represented Victoria twice and NSW just that one time. He won Essendon’s best and fairest in 1981.

After a stint as an assistant and Reserves coach at Essendon, Neale was appointed coach of the Melbourne Football Club in 1998. In 2000 he got the Demons into the grand final but were beaten by Essendon led by his old coach Kevin Sheedy. He coached the Dees until 2007 securing 108 wins from 223 games.

He is currently waging a courageous campaign against Motor-Neurone Disease (MND) and has been instrumental in fund-raising efforts that have raised millions of dollars for research into the disease.

Anthony Daniher, better known as “Ants” (never Tony as the Melbourne media called him) has the unique distinction of playing over one hundred games for two VFL/AFL clubs: South Melbourne/Sydney Swans (115) and Essendon (118).

“Ants” went to the Swans under the zoning rules in 1981 after stints at Ungarie, Turvey Park (when he moved to Wagga to do a wool-classing course) and Ganmain, then under former Carlton player and 1961 Coleman medallist, “Turkey” Tom Carroll.

He transferred to Essendon in 1987 where he consolidated his position as a key defender and was named the All-Australian full-back in 1991. He played in the Bombers grand final team that lost to Collingwood in the first-ever AFL grand final in 1990. He played five State games for NSW.

Like his antecedents Anthony also became highly involved in football at the local level and became a junior coach at the Aberfeldie footy club in Melbourne’s north-west suburbs after retiring in 1994. Two of his sons, Darcy and Joe have played with Essendon under the father-son rule.

The youngest brother, Chris, went to Essendon in 1987 and played 124 games and kicked 40 goals in a ten-year stay. He was a member of the famous “Baby Bombers” premiership team in 1993.

He played four games for NSW including Origin wins over Victoria and Queensland.

After finishing his AFL career, Chris returned to the family farm, and to play again for Ungarie. He led the Magpies to premierships in 2000-2001 and just like his father Jim and his brother Terry (1974) won Northern Riverina FL competition best and fairest awards in 2000-2002, and again in 2004.

As well, Chris coached Temora and Mangoplah-Cookardinia United in local competitions. But his primary focus has been the Ungarie footy club where he has served in various roles both on and off the field.

“I want to keep it going so my kids can play footy at home rather than folding and having to drive another half-hour to play with someone else”, he told the author of The Danihers.

In 2019 Ungarie are still a constituent member of the Northern Riverina Football League. Chris retired at the end of last season. His youngest son, Logan, is currently playing in the Under 13s, while eldest son, Harvey, is expected to return home for next season.

POST-SCRIPT:

The NSW AFL History Society expresses its condolences to the Daniher family on the passing of Jim Jnr in May this year. He was secretary of the Northern Riverina Football league for many years and was the delegate to the NSW Country AFL where he developed an association with our president Ian Granland (then Executive Officer of the country body) and vice-president Rod Gillett (who was President at that time).