Les you’ll never be forgotten


Australian Football lost its most passionate advocate of our beautiful game on Monday in the iconic, well-respected, adored and very much loved Les Murray.

I remember fondly growing up as a kid that switching onto SBS and seeing the cult figure to me that was ‘Mr Football’ Les Murray was something I did religiously alongside my football crazed family.

Les quite simply was Australian football’s biggest enforcer in promoting this beautiful game of ours.

Back in the days when other rival sporting codes such as Rugby League, AFL, Cricket and Rugby Union fought tooth and nail in smearing our beautiful game, you saw one man rise up to the challenge, and with millions of passionate football fans by his side, fought that epic battle in pushing our sport to the Australian mainstream as he truly lit that light that woke up what was once a sleeping giant of Australian sports.

When the going got tough and we thought that the game would have its last run, you saw the guise and pizzazz of Les, who, along with his good mate and yet another Australian legend Johnny Warren, put their dukes up and continue on with the fight in pushing this sport to where it is today.

Watching the old National Soccer League shows which he hosted and viewing so many of our Socceroos matches as well as seeing this iconic figure with his stylish attire and his trademark glasses present football shows from around the globe was yet another message Les did ever so well.

At a time when being a football fan wasn’t cool in the Australian mainstream, Les made it cool for those who loved and supported it – someone like me.

We all followed his every move, whether it was at St George Stadium where he covered his beloved St George Budapest in the old NSL to the Sydney Football Stadium where he took the lead at a Socceroos World Cup Qualifier to covering a memorable 8 successive World Cups from 1986 right through to 2014, he simply was ‘Mr Football’ to us all.

I will always remember his famous introduction he put so eloquently when the Socceroos graced the World Cup stage for only the second time in 2006 in Germany that will ring long in my memory.

“You joined us at a poignant moment in Australia’s footballing history, where after 32 year wait, Australia will walk on the pitch behind me face the sun and engage in a game of football that will captivate all in our country like few other events have done before.”

That set the scene where Football in Australia exploded to what it is today.

He was there in the good and the bad times but one thing we always witnessed from Les was his professionalism, his charisma and his style he graced upon promoting the world’s number one sport, he was the face of football.

Football has given me life and one that I am proud to be part and I want to thank Les for shining that flame in those dark times as that gave not only myself, but others in the Australian football media that perseverance to continue that fight in preaching the wonderful game that is football.

Les you will be missed by the millions of Australian football fans but your legacy will live on forever – I know you will be watching the Australian game grow even further thanks to your legacy alongside your best mate Johnny Warren and I am sure you will be sharing a moment or two with the great Hungarian star and one of your idols Ferenc Puskas.

-By Football NSW Media Manager Mark Stavroulakis