Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy on trying to emulate former stars like John Wark
DARYL Murphy has had a lesson in Ipswich’s rich history over the past week – and the in-form striker admits he is desperate to write his own name into club folklore.
Ted Phillips, Ray Crawford and John Wark are names that roll off the tongue for most Tractor Boys fans. The trio are top of the all-time scoring charts and between them rattled in an eye-watering 589 goals for the Suffolk side.
The 31-year-old will have to go some to wrest his way onto that list, but his own stunning return so far this season has brought memories of the old guard’s past glories flooding back.
Murphy’s season tally stood at 21 before this weekend, and he already knows all about Wark – the lively 57-year-old still pops his head through the Portman Road door every week.Yet the names of Crawford and Phillips – with 218 and 181 Town goals respectively – became more resonant to Murphy last week when boss Mick McCarthy challenged the former Celtic forward to “become a legend”.
Murphy is already the first Ipswich player to break the 20-goal mark since Marcus Stewart (pictured above right) in 2001. And the Republic of Ireland international says he’s now got Wark’s 1981 tally of 36 in his sights.
“To even be mentioned in the same sentence as these club legends is an honour for me,” admitted Murphy. “But the gaffer has challenged me to go past 30 goals and there are plenty of games left.
“I know the names of the guys, Ray Crawford and Ted Phillips, but I’ve not seen much of them play. I know John, though, he’s still around the club and we see him maybe a couple of times a week.He’s a character and a really nice fella, and he’s been on to me and given me a lot of support.”
While records are all well and good, Murphy was quick to point out the ultimate prize was a return to the Premier League.
The last time the former Sunder- land striker stepped foot in the topflight was over five years ago and he wants to put that right.
“Everything is going well at the moment for me and for the club, I’m scoring but the main thing is the club is doing well,” he added.
“We have to keep our performances up between now and the end of the season and see where it takes us. Promotion is the main aim, but we have to remain consistent and not get ahead of ourselves.”
It’s even longer since Murphy played a competitive game for Ireland. In fact you have to venture all the way back to October 2007 – a goalless draw at home to Germany in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
The ex-Celtic forward has recently made a comeback to Martin O’Neill’s squad with three friendly appearances against Oman, Gibraltar and USA bookending 2014.
But with France 2016 on the horizon, Murphy is keen to stake his claim with a crucial qualifier against Poland on March 29 now around the corner.
“I’m in the form of my life, it’s the most consistent I’ve been over the course of a season so far,” continued Murphy, who has 14 caps for his country.
“I’ve lacked that consistency to my game in large parts of my career, but it’s nice to be finding the net and great to be back involved with Ireland.
“The game against Poland will be massive, the group is so tight, but I know I need to keep producing for Ipswich to force my way in.”
HUNTING GOALS: Daryl Murphy scores against Wolves and, inset, Ipswich legend John Wark
PROUD: Playing for the Republic of Ireland against Turkey