Tribute to Jimmy Murphy

A plaque was due to be unveiled today in memory of Jimmy Murphy, the coach who helped nurture Manchester United’s legendary Busby Babes and led Wales to their only World Cup finals.
Murphy, born in the Rhondda of a Welsh mother and Irish father, was the man who stepped into Matt Busby’s shoes after the Munich air disaster which killed eight players in 1958.
It was he who had to steer the grief-stricken club through a fifth-round FA Cup tie just 13 days after the tragedy.
United beat Sheffield Wednesday, and then West Brom and Fulham, before a 2-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in the final spoiled what would have been an even more amazing cup story.
Murphy himself only missed the Munich crash because of his other job as Wales national team manager.
He had stayed behind to guide his country successfully through a World Cup playoff match against Israel in Cardiff.
“I usually sat next to Matt on the plane and had the next room to his at the hotel whenever the team went away and I had suggested that I went to Belgrade, with it being such an important European Cup game. He had said, ‘No, Jimmy, you have a job to do,’ so [the coach] Bert Whalley went to Belgrade in my place,” Murphy recalled later.
Whalley was one of the 23 players, coaching staff, journalists and crew who died in the crash.
Busby was a spectator on crutches at Wembley in 1958 when United lost to Bolton.
“It must have been a terrible time for Jimmy and everyone at the club after the crash,” Busby said in the book, The Team That Wouldn’t Die – The Story of the Busby Babes by John Roberts. “It needed someone who, though feeling the heartbreak of the situation, could still keep his head and keep the job going. Jimmy was that man.”
In the same year Murphy, who died in 1989, took Wales to the quarter finals of the World Cup.
The plaque was being unveiled at the house where he grew up at 43 Treharne Street, Pentre.

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