Tommy Elphick, another former Seagull who falls into the category ‘should never have left the Albion’, stated recently in the media that Glenn Murray is as big an Albion legend as either Peter Ward or Bobby Zamora.
Sorry, Tommy, but I’ve got to take issue with you. Murray isn’t on a par with Wardy or Bobby, in my humble opinion he’s actually now above them.
Signed from Rochdale for £300,000 shortly before deadline day in January 2008, Murray was actually sanctioned for purchase on the strength of a warm-up by Albion chief scout Barry Lloyd. Lloydie reported back to then manager Dean Wilkins stating that this kid – he was only 23 back then – would get the Albion promoted.
Unfortunately the 300 grand price tag was reportedly out of then Albion chairman Dick Knight’s price range and it looked like Albion would miss out on a great opportunity due to financial issues. Step forward, lifelong Albion fan, who was by then on the board of directors, Tony Bloom, who for the first time, and clearly not the last, paid the £300,000 out of his own pocket.
Murray arrived, scored two goals on his home debut against Crewe Alexandra at the Withdean and, as they say, the rest is history.
Unfortunately for Albion fans, a somewhat chequered one. Murray survived the uncertain times of the return of Micky Adams, and the brief tenure of Russell Slade, where the Albion narrowly avoided going out of the division, as Lloyd had predicted, but not the direction he meant.
Gus Poyet arrived in October 2009,Murray flourished, as did the rest of the team, and as Lloyd promised, he scored the goals that helped Albion back into the Championship, as League One winners in 2011.
And then it all went haywire. Gus achieved a lot at the Albion but for me unfortunately his memory will be slightly tarnished with his handling of Murray’s contract situation in the summer of 2011. With the Albion moving to a new state-of-the-art stadium, the excitement was building throughout the close season. Murray was due a new contract but it was widely reported Poyet was not only not prepared to give Murray the rise he asked for, but fancied Craig Mackail-Smith to lead the line in the Championship.
So CMS came in for a then record fee and Murray departed for Crystal Palace, of all places – despite a respected long-time club figure personally ringing Bloom and pointing out the potential huge mistake Poyet was making.
Poyet can perhaps be comparable to Dick Rowe, the man who famously signed Brian Poole and Tremoloes for Decca, instead of the Beatles?
Had Murray stayed, he clearly would have surpassed CMS’s goal return, the Albion would possibly have reached the Premier League earlier than 2017, he might have been given a chance on the international stage for England and by now he would have qualified for a well deserved testimonial season.
Obviously all ifs and buts but I don’t think many Albion diehards would disagree with me. It does beg the question, how much has Poyet’s decision cost both the Albion and the player himself?
An England cap? In my opinion, almost certainly, given some of the England striking selections since 2011.
As Elphick states, Murray is an Albion legend. I’m sure he features in as many Albion fans’ all time XI’s as either Wardy or Bobby. He’s certainly made it into mine.