Career : 2006 -
Debut : Round 1, 2006 vs Melbourne, aged 18 years, 257 days
Carlton Player No. 1091
Games : 185*
Goals : 143*
Guernsey No. 3
Height : 180 cm (5 ft. 11 in.)
Weight : 80 kg (12 stone, 8 lbs.)
DOB : 19 July, 1987
Club Captain 2013 -
Best and Fairest (2011)
All Australian (2011)
AFLCA Player of the Year (2011)
AFL Rising Star Nominee : Round 1, 2006
AFLPA Best First Year Player (2006)
Marc Murphy was widely recognised as the outstanding young footballer in the country when he was selected by the Carlton Football Club at pick number one in the 2005 National Draft. Equipped with an impeccable football pedigree, Marcus (Marc) is the son of former Fitzroy and South Melbourne legend John Murphy; (246 games, 374 goals, 6 times Best and Fairest) and the grandson of Hawthorn’s Leo Murphy; (132 games, 22 goals, twice Best and Fairest).
Had he wished, Marc could have chosen to join Brisbane under the father-son rule, but to every Bluebaggers’ joy, he opted to stay close to his family in Victoria. A rover with exceptional awareness and poise, he played junior football at Beverley Hills and Doncaster, before making waves with the Oakleigh Chargers in the elite TAC Cup Under-18 competition. In 2005 he won the Larke Medal as the best player in the Division 1 State Championships, and earned All-Australian selection. After that, he was rated as the outstanding prospect in the draft, and the Blues snapped him up as soon as he turned Brisbane down. Carlton’s assessment of his ability became clear when he was allocated the number 3 guernsey, previously worn by some of the greats including Norman Clark, Jack Bennett, Kevin Hall and Mike Fitzpatrick.
Murphy’s arrival at Princes Park was all the more important in that it gave the club’s supporter base some much-needed encouragement after three of the worst seasons in Carlton’s history. His debut match in round 1, 2006 - in a surprise victory over Melbourne on a Sunday evening at Docklands Stadium - immediately showcased his potential. Eleven kicks and six handballs, highlighted by his first career goal, earned ‘Murph’ an NAB Rising Star nomination. But it was the quality, not just the quantity of those disposals that impressed friend and foe. Suddenly, Carlton supporters began smiling again.
Marc averaged 18 disposals per game in his first year, highlighted by a season-high 26 in round 11, when the Navy Blues travelled to Subiaco and went down fighting against the top of the ladder West Coast Eagles. A fortnight later at the Gabba in Brisbane, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in when he was crudely slung to the turf in a tackle by Rob Copeland of the Brisbane Lions. That may well have cost him the Rising Star, but he still capped off the year by winning Carlton’s Best First Year Player award, and being voted by his peers as the AFLPA Best First Year Player. As well, those 13 quality games put him into the top 10 in Carlton’s Best and Fairest - an excellent effort from a debutant who played little more than half a season.
Marc’s composure and consistency came under the spotlight again early in season 2007 when the Carlton’s principal midfielder, Nick Stevens, succumbed to a neck injury in round three. As a consequence, Murph began wearing the opposition's best tagger. His flair was blunted somewhat, although he adapted quickly and was rarely subdued. From a season-high 30 disposals against eventual premiers Geelong in round 2, to cracking 20 touches on six other occasions, Marc averaged 17.6 possessions and kicked ten goals for the year, while the youthful Blues endured another tough season to wind up second last. Under a new coach in Brett Ratten, Murph learned fast, and continued to grow in stature as he provided long-suffering Carlton supporters with some much-needed optimism.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest football stories of the decade broke in October, 2007 when West Coast Premiership captain and 2004 Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd announced that he would be crossing to Carlton the following year. In a huge boost all-round to the Blues, Murphy grasped the opportunity to fast-track his career under the close guidance of one of the all-time greats.
Judd’s arrival, and the eventual return to top form of Nick Stevens, took some of the heat off Marc, and he found a lot more of the ball in 2008. Under Judd’s captaincy, the Blues climbed to eleventh place on the ladder, and Murphy had an outstanding season. He was credited with the second-most kicks in the competition, topped the list at Carlton for disposals, and capped off his second year of senior football by representing Australia in the keenly-contested International Rules Series against Ireland. As well, he finished runner-up to Judd in the club Best and Fairest, and scored an impressive 11 votes at the Brownlow Medal count.
Prior to the commencement of the 2009 pre-season, ‘Murph’ re-signed with the Blues for a further three years, starting his fourth season with a sensational Best on Ground in round one, as the Blues handed out an 83-point thrashing to the Tigers in front of almost 87,000 fans at the MCG. Twenty-two weeks later, another year of real improvement came to a disappointing end when Carlton lost an Elimination Final – Murphy’s first final – by 16 points to Brisbane at the Gabba.
However, one of many positives to come out of that season was the consistent excellence of Carlton’s busy number 3. He didn’t miss a game, racked up another 15 Brownlow Medal votes and, for the second year running, finished ahead of every other player at the club (except his captain) in the voting for the John Nicholls Medal. Averaging almost 26 disposals per match, he contributed 31 goals as his stature within the game took another step up.
On the way to another finals appearance in 2010, Marc celebrated a unique milestone when he played his 100th match for Carlton against Geelong on a Friday night at Docklands Stadium. The Blues were well-beaten by the in-form Cats, but Marc ensured that his family would be included in the history books as the first grandfather-father-son combination to each play 100 games of VFL/AFL football. Despite losing to the Cats, Carlton’s 11 wins for the season qualified the team for an interstate Elimination Final against the Sydney Swans at Homebush Stadium. In a pulsating contest, the Blues all but beat themselves when they missed a string of gettable shots at goal in a frantic last quarter, and were edged out by a heart-breaking five points.
Although another year had ended perhaps before it should have, Marc had continued his rise through the ranks, and his third consecutive top three placing in the 2010 John Nicholls Medal ranked him among Carlton’s elite. At round the same time, he rejected a huge offer from the AFL’s 18th club, Greater Western Sydney, and signed a new three-year contract that tied him to the Blues until at least 2014.
In 2011, Marc lifted his standing in the game to a new level when he averaged 29 possessions, 5 marks and 5 tackles in his 24 games, rounding off the season with two slashing finals matches. Although the injury-depleted Blues bowed out of flag contention after a 3-point Semi Final loss to West Coast, there was no doubt afterward that Carlton was poised for a real tilt at another Premiership in the near future.
Marc’s first accolade for another stellar season came when he collected The Age Footballer of the Year Award, followed by a well-deserved place on the half-forward flank in the All Australian team – the first time he had made the final list of 22. A week later, he made history by becoming the first Carlton player to win the prestigious AFL Coaches' Association Player of the Year, edging out his captain Chris Judd by 4 votes. Then he added to an already overflowing trophy cabinet at Carlton’s Awards Night, when he took home the award for Best Finals Player, and – at last, the Big One; the 2011 John Nicholls Medal. In polling 678 votes, he finished ahead of Chris Judd again, only this time the difference was a whopping 209 points.
Those honours confirmed Marc’s standing in the game, and further stoked the hopes and aspirations of an impatient Carlton supporter base - especially after club President Stephen Kernahan made it clear that that only a top four place in 2012 would guarantee an extension of Brett Ratten’s contract. Sure enough, the razor-sharp Blues burst into the new season with huge wins in succession over Richmond, Brisbane and Collingwood, and jumped to early flag favouritism. Murphy had carried over his form from 2011, and his display against Collingwood was a stunner. He racked up 39 disposals, 6 marks, 10 inside-50 entries and two terrific goals – although the umpires thought Judd and Heath Scotland deserved the top Brownlow votes. The joy at Princes Park lasted only another week however, before a shock loss to Essendon in round 4 was compounded by the first in a spate of injuries that would cripple the Blues’ season.
From then on, Carlton’s fortunes slipped from bad to abysmal, and in round 8, Adelaide inflicted the Blues’ third defeat in five games. Playing at Docklands on a Sunday afternoon, the visitors were getting right on top in the second quarter when Murphy and the Crows’ Patrick Dangerfield came racing toward a loose ball from opposite directions. Neither would yield, and they smashed together in a fearsome clash that knocked them both near-senseless. Dangerfield recovered after a few minutes, but Murphy was substituted out of the game at half-time, and later booked into hospital for exploratory surgery on his shoulder.
That operation and the recovery process cost Marc eight weeks. By the time he was fit to return for the crunch match against North Melbourne on a Friday night at Docklands inround 16, Carlton had dropped out of the top eight and their season was teetering on the abyss. The consequent loss to the Shinboners – made worse by a four-week suspension incurred by Chris Judd for a ‘chicken-wing’ tackle - sent the Blues over the edge. By that evening, Carlton’s 2012 was officially a train-wreck; in theory, and in fact.
Still, in Judd’s absence, ‘Murph’ took on the captaincy and led his team to three wins in four matches. The Blues only loss under him was to eventual premiers Sydney at Docklands in round 19, before Judd returned and Carlton slaughtered Essendon by 16 goals at the MCG in round 21. This was the Blueboys’ second-biggest win ever over the Bombers, and Marc was credited with 37 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles and three Brownlow votes from the umpires.
Marc made it through the last few rounds of the season in good shape to finish the year with figures of 16 games, 11 goals and average possessions of 26.25 per game. Only 2012 best and Fairest Heath Scotland had a better average; (26.33) and only Chris Judd (12 votes) was awarded more Brownlow Medal votes than the 11 the umpires gave Marc.Still, Carlton wound up the season in a miserable tenth place. Injuries to key players certainly played their part, but too many defeats were simply unforgiveable. So it was no real surprise when, in September, Brett Ratten was sacked and replaced by former Collingwood and West Coach Premiership coach Mick Malthouse.
The impact of Malthouse’s appointment was compounded within weeks, when Chris Judd announced that he was stepping down as captain after five honest but fruitless years. Murphy, Andrew Carrazzo and Kade Simpson emerged as the front-runners to succeed him, before an extensive selection process culminated in Murphy’s appointment as the 47th captain of the Old Dark Navy Blues in March, 2013.
As Carlton’s on-field leader, Murphy knew that he would be even more of a focus for taggers, and the pressure on him started early when his pre-season preparation was interrupted by a shoulder injury. Then the Blues lost their first three matches, and in some quarters the criticism was harsh. But as the season progressed, he came to terms with his new responsibilities, and was playing good football again by June, when he suffered a hairline fracture of his cheekbone during the round 12 Friday night blockbuster against Hawthorn at Docklands.
In that incident, Murphy and his rival captain Luke Hodge charged at the football with fierce intent, and crashed head-on. After treatment, Hodge was able to continue, but Marc was taken from the field and immediately sent to hospital. The next day he underwent surgery, and insisted on returning to the team (in a head-guard) a fortnight later.
Carlton faltered late in the season to finish ninth, before gaining a late entry into the finals when Essendon was sensationally disqualified for bringing the game into disrepute. As a consequence, Murphy led his Blues twice more in September – a stirring Elimination Final victory over Richmond, followed by a deeply disappointing Semi Final loss to Sydney at ANZ Stadium, to end the season having played 23 of a possible 24 matches. Although his personal statistics were down overall, and he missed out on a top-ten placing in Carlton’s Best and Fairest for only the second time in his career, Marc finished 2013 with his standing in the game undiminished and was further honoured with Life Membership of the club at Carlton’s 2013 Annual General Meeting.
Now, as 2014 looms, the Blues will be led by a harder, yet more relaxed and experienced leader - on the verge of his best years, and forged in the heat of competition over eight tough seasons. Everyone who bleeds Navy Blue hopes that ‘Murph’ can take his game to another level, and inspire his team-mates to join him.
Milestones50 Games: Round 15, 2008 vs St Kilda
100 Games: Round 21, 2010 vs Geelong
100 Goals: Round 18, 2011 vs Essendon
Career Highlights2006 - AFL Rising Star Nominee
2006 - AFLPA Best First Year Player
2006 - Best First Year Player
2006 - 9th Best and Fairest
2007 - Leadership Group
2007 - Pre-Season Premiership Player
2008 - 2nd Best and Fairest
2008 - International Rules Series
2009 - 2nd Best and Fairest
2010 - 3rd Best and Fairest
2011 - The Age Footballer of the Year
2011 - All Australian
2011 - AFLCA Player of the Year
2011 - John Nicholls Medal - Best and Fairest
2011 - Best Finals Player
2012 - 5th Best and Fairest
2013 - Life Member
LinksArticles: Carlton's Top Tenners | That First Pick...Players taken with Carlton's first pick in the draft | Murphy's Lore - 100 Games
YouTube: Marc Murphy Kicking Brilliance
Blueseum: Summary of playing stats for Marc Murphy | Career Breakdown | Captains | Murphy's Blueseum Image Gallery
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