How footy flashback ignited finals desire in Murphy
The game flashed across Marc Murphy's TV screen as a reminder of Carlton's glorious past and enticing future.
Only days into the AFL's forced lockdown the Carlton-Richmond 2013 elimination final was featured as a footy flashback in which the Blues marched home from 32 points down.
It was one for the true believers - a glorious spring day in front of 94,690 fans at the MCG as Carlton took advantage of Essendon's finals ban to knock over an inner-city arch rival.
For 32-year-old ex-captain Murphy it was so much more than a chance to reminisce about his last finals triumph.
It was fuel to nourish him in his bid to get back to that football colosseum as part of another Carlton finals win.
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"I recorded it and watched the second half. There were a few blokes watching it and texts were flying around. Guys like Bryce Gibbs, Jordan Russell, Simon White, David Ellard. Playing in front of 95,000, that was our second-last finals game. We went to Sydney the week after and got smacked up there. We drafted 'Cripper' (Patrick Cripps) the year after and he hasn't been around for any finals, so that was our last taste.
"Normally when you play against Richmond in Round 1 there are 85,000-plus fans there so that's as close to a final as you can get, but it brought back great memories when we beat Richmond and Essendon two years before that, but as much as this is a frustrating time and everyone has to stay home, we still we believe we can improve quickly and get back there again soon."
Murphy wants to get back to finals footy - in 269 games he has played only six September contests for two victories in his 14 completed seasons - but not just any old way.
Murphy could so easily have jumped ship for the 2019 season as Geelong came hard at the free agent, keen to realise its premiership ambitions.
In a decision that endeared him to the Carlton faithful he stayed, and at one stage in that season the Blues' win-loss was 1-10 and Geelong's 10-1.
Murphy could have marched around at half forward last September in a team that boasted Tim Kelly, Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield.
So did Murphy have any regrets mid-year?
"Not really, to be honest. I just knew in my gut it was the right call to stay at Carlton. I never even met with Geelong. I knew they were keen to have a chat with me and even thinking about a chat with them didn't sit well with me. I could see how we could improve quickly.
"I really believe in our list. The guys down there were hard workers and wanted to win games of footy.
"If I had one year of footy left in me at that time who knows what would have happened but I still believed I had three or four years left in me at that point.I wanted to play my footy at Carlton and play finals at Carlton and be successful here, and that was basically the crux of my call."
Murphy can still remember those bizarre hours when the season shut down as if in flashback - the texts from footy boss Brad Lloyd that a decision was imminent, the Gill McLachlan press conference, the Monday morning meeting at Ikon Park, the rush to pillage the weights room before a midday deadline.
Since then he has ticked over his legs with a three runs a week in a nearby park and weights in his garage, thrilled to be spending more time with wife Jessie and two-year old son Max.
If that extra family time has been a bonus, Murphy can't help being a little miffed to be in shutdown mode given his exceptional pre-season.
"It was a weird feeling when Gill announced the season was shutting down. Like nothing I have ever felt in my career. I know from my point of view I was pretty frustrated. I know it's a world-wide phenomenon and there are a lot of things more important than footy but you put in all that hard work especially in the back-end of your career and you are excited going into the season.
"From a footy side I was a bit despondent given what we are building and what we had built on from the back half of last year. But having said that the first game (against Richmond) was the weirdest experience I have ever had. It took me back to the under-18 Vic Metro days with no one in the stands. It was bloody strange."
There are weekly club meetings with Zoom, catch-ups with the AFLPA and WhatsApp messages with the midfield group.
"There is no doubt we will play at some point. What that looks like we will know further down the track but in the meantime everyone on our list is training has hard as they can and staying motivated."
If the AFL was to play in quarantined hubs Murphy would be all for it despite the sacrifice of missing family.
"If the AFL and AFLPA came to a conclusion about what it looked like, the ultimate thing is to make sure it's safe. We are keen to play footy. Like most we understand it will be the new normal. Whether it's in hubs or not, I am happy enough to do that. We all want to get out there and play and show our stuff."
Originally published as How footy flashback ignited finals desire in Murphy