Jimmy Murphy’s great-granddaughter is backing Wales to beat England
When Spirit of 58 recently sent out a package to one particular customer it carried with it great importance.
The Bala-based clothing company which has become synonymous with the bucket hats worn by Wales fans, was sending one of its latest items – a t-shirt that depicted the legendary Wales manager Jimmy Murphy – to his great-granddaughter Olivia Gregory.
This then actioned a chain of events which has seen a number of relatives of the man who took Wales to the 1958 World Cup ordering their own t-shirts.
The tees, which show Jimmy Murphy resplendent in a bucket hat with the the words ‘Jimmy’s Muprhy’s Boys’ underneath the image, have been one of Spirit of ’58’s biggest sellers and not just to the family of the former Manchester United assistant manager who died in 1989.
How the great-granddaughter of the Pentre-born former footballer who managed Wales between 1956 and 1964 came to hear about the tribute to her great-grandfather is down to another Welsh football notable, sports reporter Bryn Law.
“Bryn’s daughter Millie is at Manchester University with me,” said 19-year-old Olivia. “When Bryn discovered Jimmy was my great-grandfather he kindly got Tim (Williams) at Spirit of 58 to send me a t-shirt.
“Now the rest of the family have put orders in. My dad, my brother, my grandfather and my aunty have all ordered one!”
Olivia says the first time she became aware of Jimmy was when she went to Manchester United’s training ground for the unveiling of a statue of her great-grandfather.
“I was six or seven and I remember it was a part of a young players’ award, when the bust of Jimmy was unveiled. “I wasn’t really into football at that age and it’s only through the years that I’ve come to understand the significance of who he was and what he meant to both Manchester United and Wales.”
When Wales take on England tonight, there will be no divided loyalties in the household of Jimmy Murphys’ relatives.
When the only other man to guide Wales to a World Cup, Robert Page announced his squad in his hometown of Tylorstown, it was just three miles to Pentre, where Jimmy was brought up.
In a lovely touch Page visited the childhood home of the legendary Welsh manager, which is adorned with a plaque in Jimmy’s memory.
Olivia says that because her great-grandfather was from such a big family, there are lots of relatives from Wales.
“It’s a really big family. So Jimmy had three sons and two daughters, one of them being my granddad, and then my granddad had three daughters, one of them is my mum Stephanie, she has a twin sister and an older sister. And each of them have three children. So from my granddad, there are nine grandchildren.”
Despite Olivia having grown up in England, there will only be one team she is supporting tonight – and it’s not Gareth Southgate’s side.
“I think I’m going to go back to my Welsh roots,” she laughed. “We’re going to get tickets at the local pub to the game because they’ve got it on a huge screen.”
We think her great-grandfather would very much approve!
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