Les’s world of good
FOOTBALL players, supporters and broadcasters have joined to remember the man known as “Mr Football” after the death of Les Murray was announced yesterday. He was 71.
There will be a minute’s silence before tonight’s four FFA Cup ties. Players will wear black armbands as the game begins to acknowledge its debt to a man who anchored SBS’s coverage of football for 3 ½ decades.
Murray passed away yesterday morning after a long illness, just months after he had announced plans to be the face of a bid for a new A-League team in Sydney.
His death came three years after his retirement from SBS at the close of 35 years’ senior involvement at the network, during which he presented coverage of eight World Cups and a variety of competitions from the old National Soccer League to the Champions League.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Murray “had made the world game Aus- tralia’s game”, while former Socceroo Craig Foster – for years Murray’s companion on screen – said the world had lost a “football colossus”.
Murray’s final broadcast at the 2014 World Cup contrasted with his first at SBS in 1980, commentating on the NSL with two days’ notice.
But he and his close friend, the former Socceroo Johnny Warren, forged a powerful identity for SBS as the home of football, presenting shows including World Soccer, which ran for 22 years.
In 1990, Murray convinced SBS bosses to acquire the rights to the World Cup, sparking audiences in their millions, and in 2006 he proudly presented coverage of Australia’s first games at a World Cup in 32 years.
SBS CEO Michael Ebeid spoke of a “devastating loss for us all” in announcing Murray’s passing in an email to staff yesterday morning.
“His role went far beyond being a football commentator,” Ebeid said.
There was a stream of tributes from current players who remembered watching football presented by Murray in their childhoods.
“So sad that Les Murray has passed,” Socceroo Tim Cahill tweeted. “A pioneer and legend of our game.”
Wanderers captain Robbie Cornthwaite wrote: “Thank you for teaching me about football.”
MR FOOTBALL: Les Murray has a little fun presenting SBS's World Cup coverage in 1994.