Mates chip in for Keith Murdoch’s grave
The pauper’s grave of the infamous All Black player Keith Murdoch has been appropriately upgraded through lovers of “the game they play in heaven”.
Murdoch, 74, an uncompromising prop with a droopy moustache who was sent home in disgrace from the All Blacks’ 1972 UK tour after he punched a security guard, died of cancer in Carnarvon in February.
He would become the first — and only — All Black to be sent home from a tour. But to avoid the waiting New Zealand press, Murdoch, pictured, jumped on an Australiabound plane during a stopover and spent the next 40 years drifting from job to job, State to State, across the Australian outback.
About a decade ago, he settled into a quiet pensioner’s life in Carnarvon, a nine-hour drive north of Perth.
After stories and photographs of Murdoch’s final resting place were published by various media outlets, a small band of past and present mates as far away as Thailand got together and chipped in.
Mt Pleasant man Bruce McCosh worked with Murdoch at Mt Isa Mines over the Christmas of 1967.
He got in contact with Murdoch’s sister Barbara who lives in Invercargill, and co-ordinated some fundraising.
“I asked Barbara whether she wanted to put some words together and we’d raise some money and get a proper headstone for Keith,” he said. “Barbara said ‘yes’ and just a couple of days ago the local undertaker sent me the photos of Keith’s new headstone.”
Murdoch was buried in March in a small cemetery on the outskirts of Carnarvon along the North West Coastal Highway.
The words on his new headstone read: “Here lies a man some called a legend, a mystery man, but to his family and friends he was a very much loved big man with a kind heart, who loved a beer with his mates and found his peace in the solitude of The Outback.”