Colin Murphy is perhaps best known for helping the Imps regain a place in The Football League with promotion from the Conference at the end of the 1987/88 season. However, Colin’s ties with the Club began much earlier than that. After a brief career in semi-professional football Colin turned to coaching and became manager at Derby County between November 1976 and September 1977. After leaving Derby he joined a struggling Lincoln City side that was beset by financial problems and had just completed a lacklustre campaign in Division Four. In what was to be a successful period in management, Colin secured Lincoln’s promotion to Division Three in the 1980–81 season, with a second place finish behind Southend United, thanks in large measure to 21 goals from Gordon Hobson. The following season was almost as successful, with the Imps knocking out First Division side Leicester City in the League Cup and leading the Division Three table for four months. A loss of form resulted in Lincoln throwing away their advantage and finishing in a disappointing sixth place. The next two seasons were less impressive and Colin eventually resigned on 1 May 1985, after seven years at the Bank. This first Murphy era is remembered fondly by the Imps faithful, with players such as Steve Thompson and John Fashanu contributing to one of the finest teams in Lincoln's history.
While manager at Lincoln Colin gained cult status for his notes in the club's match day programme. His column demonstrated a level of inventiveness with the English language and surrealist imagery that marked it out from any other offering in this medium. Lincoln programmes from this era are now collector's items far beyond what would be considered the norm for the publications of lower division and Conference clubs from this era.
Colin quickly returned to management in August 1985 as manager of Stockport County, but left the club on the 24th October after a disappointing start to their Division Four campaign. However, in a bizarre U-turn, Colin took charge of Stockport again in November 1986 and in another ironic twist, Colin masterminded the club’s dramatic escape from relegation to the Conference - at the expense of Lincoln City, who were relegated in their place.
Just a few weeks after the end of the 1986-87 season, Colin resigned as Stockport manager and began a second spell at Lincoln City on 26 May 1987. He completely rebuilt the side bringing in players such as Gary West and Paul Smith (for a club record fee of £48,000). Towards the end of the 1987-88 season the Imps lost three consecutive away games and the final game against Wycombe Wanderers was a ‘must win’ situation. A Conference record crowd of 9,432 turned up and saw a goal apiece from Mark Sertori and Phil Brown to see a 2-0 result and a return to the Fourth Division.
Murphy’s Mission – Accomplished!
Colin left the Imps at the end of the 1989-90 season and went on to manage Southend and Notts County and then, in 1997, the Vietnam national team. Other appointments in football followed before he retired in 2008-9.
Colin often comes along to the Bank to support the Imps. If you see him say ‘Hello’ - to all of us he is the hero who took us back to the Football League.
With acknowledgements to Wikipedia and “Lincoln City FC, The Official History” by Ian & Donald Nannestad