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One of the best

Monday, 13th January, 2014

William John “Jocka” Murphy with a poppy on Remembrance Day in 2012. William John “Jocka” Murphy with a poppy on Remembrance Day in 2012.

Members of the footballing and returned servicemen’s community have suffered a great loss with the passing of William John “Jocka” Murphy.

Jocka passed away at the Broken Hill hospital on Friday.

Jocka was well known in the community for his national service and sparkling career with the North Football Club.

His football career started in 1942 when he played his first senior game under coach Stafford Barrett.

Shortly after he received his call up notice for the army, starting his military training at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills before being transferred to Loveday Military Compound near Berri to guard internees.

He also spent periods at Wagga, Ingleburn and Meadowban, and was then sent to Bougainville where his battalion replaced American troops who had completed their tour.

When the war ended he was transferred to Port Moresby for a term before finally returning to Australia in 1946.

He made an immediate impact on the field upon his return, showing great skill and love for tough contests as a rover.

His 1946 season yielded 16 matches, 38 goals and representative honours for Broken Hill against South Australia.

From this point onward, he was an almost automatic selection in all representative teams, and was a massive contributor in the Bulldogs’ flags in 1946, 47, 48, 50 and 51.

He received numerous individual awards including North’s most effective player (1948 and 1952), most consistent (1947 and 1952), leading goalkicker (1947 - 30 goals, 1948 - 31 goals), most outstanding player (1952), and best, fairest and most brilliant player (1951).

He was rewarded with the captaincy in the 1952 and 1953 season, the latter of which would be his retirement year.

His career totalled 132 league matches for 229 goals.

With his playing days behind him, Jocka then moved onto the club’s Management Committee for four years, and was president of the social committee.

He introduced monthly cabarets at the club which consistently attracted 250 patrons and raised a lot of money for the Bulldogs.

In 1953 an exodus of war weary players, trainers and officials led to a disastrous result on field, with the team finishing last.

It became apparent that something needed to be done to rebuild the supporter base, so Jocka, George Gurney, Doug Buss “Dooney” Gillespie and others set about forming the North Past Players Association.

Jocka was a foundation member and inaugural secretary, and served on the committee for over 30 years.

Patrons who enjoy the annual “Old Timers” weekend owe a great deal to Jocka and his colleagues for setting up the Past Players committee, and having the foresight to introduce the concept some 61 years ago.

Jocka is a life member of the North Football Club, Past Players Association, AFL Broken Hill, and was rewarded with North’s Seat of Honour in 1969 for his years of service.

In 2012 Jocka was a special guest at the 60th anniversary of the past players reunion.

The North Football Club is richer for having a dedicated, talented and long-serving member such as Jocka, and his memory will forever be a part of the fabric of the club.

- Submitted by the North Football Club

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