Sad news today as one of Australia’s Football/Soccer pioneers Les Murray passed away and went to that great broadcast desk in the sky.
The Gurgler website rarely jumps on bandwagons, or do many tributes, but someone like Les Murray is worthy of a tribute.
Les Murray combines so many things we love that others don’t or find uncool or lame, Football aka Soccer, SBS, correct pronunciation, the Football World Cup, and memories of the excellent Toyota World Sports and the World Game on a Sunday afternoon with Francis Awaratife and friends.
Long before SBS became the feeder side for commercial networks (case in point Ninja Warrior, Top Gear, Socceroos) or the focus point of cyclists everywhere, Les Murray seemed to be the entire SBS Sports department, and what else did they need.
The previously mentioned World Game on a Sunday afternoon was a true sports nerd choice. In-depth, dry and full of football teams and nations that never grace a Courier Mail, it was the perfect accompaniment to a slowly disappearing hangover.
Les Murray had to fight to get Football any momentum in Australian mainstream, he tried to get the country excited about the game, hosting football events after football event on SBS, including so many World Cups that didn’t feature Australia as they were too busy breaking the nation’s hearts.
Eventually, Australia make the World Cup and go so close to making the quarter finals and have made every one since, the A League kicks off and interest in European football and especially the Champions League increases and is absorbed into the mainstream Australian sporting culture.
Who could blame him if Les looked back on his pioneering ways and put his feet up, turned the Channel over to whichever Football League was playing on BeIn Sports, and sat there with a big dose of smug satisfaction. He’s earned it.
He also became a bit of a cult figure. Notably when TISM penned a song questioning which country he hailed from before moving to Australia. The fine work is below.
The answer of course was Hungary, and his first job at SBS was translating Hungarian movies and TV for the International broadcaster in 1980. He moved on later into the world of SBS Sport to be come the broadcasting legend.
But Les was not only a subject of musicians, he had a go himself, and we have a little snippet of his fine work covering a Rolling Stones song below. A man of many talents.
Les will be missed, as another one of a generation of professional broadcasters who aren’t a boofhead ex sportsman, thoroughly professional, genuinely enthusiastic without being over the top, and a pioneer has moved on. A once in a generation sporting doyen.
Why he wasn’t included in our list of greatest Sports Commentators on Fox Sports was an oversight of the highest order. I guess like a lot of things you don’t appreciate things until they’re gone.
So we pay tribute the Voice of Australian Football, and instead of finishing up with a final comment or our own, we leave the final words to TISM who put it so brilliantly.
Les is more, more or less,
Les is more, lest we forget.