This week the Australian sporting community lost one of its great ambassadors, Les Murray, known locally as Mr Football. In marketing parlance, his personal brand was unique and intrinsically linked to Australian football.
As someone who played football for much of my life, I regularly tuned into his various shows, or listened to his match day calls. I admired Les for his passion, honesty and raw admiration for the world game, as he warmly called it. His accented English and dulcet tones were easily recognisable, even for those who didn’t follow the sport.
But the biggest surprise for me came at Taronga Zoo in 2012, when I discovered another use for his dulcet tones. I took the family to a Twilight at Taronga show. It was a Rolling Stones tribute night. The concert consisted of different artists covering classic Rolling Stones tracks in various combinations of performers.
One artist would lead one group or musicians and singers for one song, then the band would breakdown and reform with other musicians and another artist would lead the next number. It was a collective of talent playing in different formations depending upon the song. Sort of like using a mix of players in different combinations for different game plans in football matches.
The music was familiar and there was even a mosh pit which my kids joined enthusiastically. A very talented lady named Tania Murray gave a good rendition of Paint it Black. But to everyone’s surprise, it was Tania’s father Les, who stole the show. The last person any of the crowd thought would turn up on stage to sing at a Rolling Stones tribute show, was Mr Football.
So here it is folks, Les Murray singing “It’s all over now“. An ironic title under the circumstances, but without trying to be too clever, his legacy will be like a rolling stone. It will gather no moss and roll on forever in Australian sport.
Vale Mr Football…