“Dundalk will never die, but you will”
It’s a slogan which has done the rounds on social media in recent years as a reinterpretation of Scottish band Mogwai’s album title ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will”.
The band are hardcore Celtic fans but it was well known Lilywhites supporter Ruairí Murphy, if I’m not mistaken, who put the Dundalk spin on it.
It’s a phrase which immediately came to mind on Saturday when news filtered through that Ruairí’s father Jim passed away.
Ruairí is right of course, Dundalk will never die but a little bit of what made the club so magical is now gone following Jim’s passing.
What that man didn’t know about the club wasn’t worth knowing. A lifelong supporter, in recent years he had published two books on the club which were must-haves for any League of Ireland fan.
It was around the time of the first publication, 2003’s ‘The History of Dundalk FC – The First 100 Years’ that I first got to know Jim. At the time working in The Dundalk Democrat, he had scoured the archives of local titles such as it, The Argus and many other sources to put together the definitive history book of a club he adored.
His contribution since then has continued. For the public, there was another book, 2013’s ‘C’mon the Town – a Dundalk FC Miscellany’ as well as a Dundalk FC Who’s Who website which detailed the brilliant careers of some of the club’s most legendary players.
He was also pivotal in putting together the ‘One Team, One Dream’ exhibition in the County Museum as well but behind the scenes he was always only too willing to help out journalists such as myself and many others with research pieces we were working on.
When feats such as Patrick Hoban overtaking Joey Donnelly as the club’s all-time leading league goalscorer last April were celebrated it was because of Jim’s tireless work and research that we are able to acknowledge such achievements.
In covering Dundalk FC over the years, you get unbelievable access to players, managers and coaches, the kind most fans could only dream of. Yet it was the trip to Reykjavik for Dundalk’s Champions League meeting with FH Hafnarfjordur in the summer of 2016 that was perhaps one of the few occasions I was awestruck talking to someone associated with the club.
I had the pleasure to buy Jim a couple of pints of Guinness as he held court in The Dubliner pub telling all sorts of stories from down through the years. Amazingly, at 80 years of age that was his first ever European excursion following Dundalk FC.
A job with PJ Carroll’s and commitments had home to his beloved Áine and eight kids meant it was never something truly possible until the twilight of his life. Like so many others, Jim caught the bug after that trip to Iceland. After that trip there would be others, including as recently as this summer to Riga.
There were so many great fans who would have loved to have been there in recent years to savour all the success of the Stephen Kenny and Vinny Perth eras. The likes of the Tommy McConville’s and the Des Denning’s, who sadly passed away just before the real period of glory arrived at Oriel Park.
Thankfully Jim got to savour it.
The night after the 2-2 away goals win over FH in Iceland, there was no one with a bigger smile than that of Jim. I interviewed him at the time and it was, in his view, the greatest Dundalk FC team of all time. Little did we know at that stage that the journey had only just begun.
Sadly, Jim’s own journey came to an end on Saturday but he leaves behind an unbelievable legacy to a club who will be that little bit poorer without his presence and knowledge in the stands next season.
Generations from now will be able to look back on the club’s good days and bad because of Jim and new records will hopefully be broken that might not have ever come to light were it not for his work.
Players and managers come and go but people like Jim Murphy are what really make a club. It is they who are truly irreplaceable.
Jim was one of a kind. A gentleman, a fountain of knowledge, great company and an avid supporter. He will be laid to rest this morning (Tuesday) but the one consolation for his family and those closest to him is that his spirit will live on due to the work he has left behind.
Dundalk will hopefully never die but a little bit of what made it special is now sadly gone. Gone, but never forgotten.