Almost 15 years after making his debut for Ferrymead Bays’ first team at just 17, central midfielder Chris Murphy became the club’s first player to reach 300 appearances.
Murphy, 31, was recognised for the achievement following Bays’ 1-1 draw with Nelson Suburbs on Sunday.
“I wasn’t actually aware, I knew I was close but it came as a surprise,” said Murphy.
A number of Murphy’s old teammates and coaches appeared at Bays’ after-match function to help him celebrate the milestone.
“We were pretty frustrated with the result so it was a happy moment to go with a frustrated one.”
Murphy has been a one club man since moving to Sumner with his family from Ireland at 14. At first he combined weekend football for Shirley Boys’ High School’s first XI with club duties.
“As a young kid you can get away with two games in a day. I don’t think the body would get away with that now,” said Murphy.
When he cracked the first team Murphy spent two seasons playing with his father Neil who was a striker for Bays.
“I did the dirty work and hoofed it up front and hoped he’d finish it off. Often he didn’t,” said Murphy.
Remaining at one club for almost two decades is a rarity these days, and Murphy recognises that things could easily have panned out differently if it wasn’t for the attachment he has felt towards the club.
“I used to get asked by various clubs each year to leave, but it’s just always been a bunch of my mates that have been here . . . When you’re winning it always helps as well,” said Murphy.
“It may have been different if we hadn’t been up there but we’ve always been up and around the top.”
Murphy says the highlights of his Bays’ career are the four Mainland Premier League titles he has helped the team win. He says that last year’s title was made more rewarding by overcoming old rivals Cashmere Technical in a title race which went to the final round.
“They’ve always been the big rivals right from playing at under-15 level, when they would have been Woolston Technical, right through until now. That will never go away and obviously we’ve got Coastal Spirit now who are bringing some noise to the party and doing quite well, but the big one has always been Tech.”
Murphy has also spent the last 10 years coaching Bays’ youth teams. He’s now reached a point in his career where Mika Rabuka – a player he coached at under-13 level – has joined him in the first team. Murphy says it won’t be long until he’s joined by more players he has coached, with Canterbury United youth player Tyler Mounty pipped to be the next.
As for how his own first team plans, Murphy can’t see his days at premier level finishing anytime soon. Four hundred may be on the cards.
“If I can stay injury-free I’d like to think I could go for another five years.”
Murphy’s next chance to add another cap and begin his journey to an even bigger milestone comes next Saturday when Bays travel to Cuthberts Green to take on Coastal Spirit in the Southern League.