thanks to Donald Nannestad
Our Former Players Association President Colin Murphy was an iconic figure in the history of Lincoln City. His two spells as manager are among the Imps most memorable times of the last 50 years and in his first spell he took the club to the brink of second tier football for the first time since the 1960-61 season. Colin’s second period as manager saw him rescue City following their relegation out of the Football League winning promotion back at the first attempt which was another remarkable achievement. Many of his players kept in touch with him long after leaving Lincoln with several attending the Legends Lounge last season for the launch of his biography. To many fans he was revered as “The Messiah” as a result of his achievements with the club.
Colin first arrived at Sincil Bank in November 1978 when he was appointed manager following the departure of Willie Bell. The team was bottom of the Third Division having failed to win since the opening day of the season. City went on to be relegated but in the summer of 1979 Colin rebuilt the team with key signings such as Trevor Peake, David Carr and Tony Cunningham. The Imps finished the season with a 12 match unbeaten run and were seventh in the table with the best defensive record in the division. 1980-81 was an even better season with Murph earning promotion to Division Three as runners-up to Southend and setting a new Fourth Division record by conceding just 25 goals in the 46 games.
In the higher division City initially struggled and by November were 20th in the table. A six week break due to bad weather was the turning point and the Imps put together a tremendous run which propelled them into the promotion race. Everything hinged on the final game at Fulham. The Imps needed a win to be promoted but the result was a 1-1 draw which meant Fulham went up instead.
1982-83 began with further success. City reached the third round of the Football League Cup where they drew with West Ham United, then third in the First Division, and narrowly went down 2-1 in a replay which went to extra time. City thrashed Bournemouth 9-0 at Sincil Bank, in Harry Redknapp’s first game as a manager, with the result leaving City five points clear at the top of the table with two games in hand on their nearest rivals. Promotion again looked a distinct possibility but the Imps fell away in the second half of the season and finished sixth.
Colin stayed at Sincil Bank for the next two seasons keeping the club in third tier football despite financial restrictions before he chose to move on in the summer of 1985 following the traumatic events in the game at Bradford City on the final day of the season.
He went on to manage Stockport County and coached in Saudi Arabia before being persuaded to return to Sincil Bank in May 1987 after City became the first club to suffer automatic relegation when they finished bottom of the Football League. In a similar way to his first period in charge, Colin completely rebuilt the team. The first two games resulted in defeats at Barnet and Weymouth but Colin quickly sorted things out and took City back to the Football League at the first attempt. He stayed at Sincil Bank for a further two seasons before moving on.
Colin subsequently managed Southend United and Notts County as well as coaching at several other clubs. He also had spells as national coach of both Vietnam and Burma and managed clubs in the Republic of Ireland. His most recent role was as director of development at Hull City.
He continued to live in the Lincoln area and until the end of last season was a regular visitor to Sincil Bank.
As a manager his teams were highly organised and very competitive. He had an outstanding record of developing young players and several of the team he built in his first spell at Lincoln went on to play top flight football with David Felgate and Mick Harford winning full international caps for Wales and England respectively.
Colin was originally from Croydon and was signed on schoolboy forms by Crystal Palace before a broken leg ended his hopes of a Football League career. Palace released him before his 18th birthday. And after a brief trial with Exeter City he signed for Wimbledon, then a non-league club.
He played as a full back for a number of non-league clubs and from an early age was involved in coaching. He developed excellent contacts and played alongside the future England manager Roy Hodgson while at Gravesend & Northfleet. Around the same time he linked up with Lennie Lawrence (later his assistant at Sincil Bank) with the two of them living in a house share.
Colin joined the staff at Nottingham Forest in November 1972 as a coach under manager Dave Mackay and later followed Mackay to Derby. When Mackay left, Colin was appointed caretaker manager before being given the job on a permanent basis in January 1977 but the Derby board replaced him just nine months later bringing in Tommy Docherty. Colin went to Notts County as assistant manager before arriving at Sincil Bank.