The Collingwood Archives lost one of its most beloved and long-serving volunteers just before Christmas when Robin Murphy (on the right in the photo above, with good friend Pat Overend) passed away suddenly.

Robin, who was 73, had been a member of the Archives for around 14 years.

Outside the group he is perhaps best known for his self-published book The Collingwood Barracker 1853-1906: a history of social recompense, which he released in 2017. It was a rich and wonderfully researched account of the early days of both the footy club and the suburb, and especially the social environment which saw the club emerge. Murph not only published the book but sold it himself at fairs and markets across the country, generating many sales. It was a highly successful project.

He was a great contributor within the Archives, helping to manage our collection of memorabilia. But perhaps his biggest contribution was his remarkable research around the origin of our club song, “Good Old Collingwood Forever”. He found priceless newspaper reporting confirming who wrote the words and when the song was first performed (by three-game player Tommy Nelson, on a trip to Tasmania in 1906). He was also later able to find evidence of the first known occasion in which the song was sung in the rooms after a game.

These were hugely important research finds.

But far more important than his research and general Archives work was his contribution to the fabric of the group. In football terms, he was a great clubman. A former business studies teacher who worked at schools including Ballam Park Tech and Lilydale Secondary College, among others, he was smart and hilarious with a great love of banter. No one was safe when Murph and his co-conspirators like good friend Pat Overend were around. It helped make the Archives a fun place to be.

He was planning to be back in action with the Archives again in 2022. But early in December he was out walking his two dogs when he suffered a massive stroke, and he died in hospital soon afterwards.

Robin Murphy will be sorely missed by all his friends at the Archives, and of course far beyond as well. His book remains as a testament to his love for Collingwood, and his passion for history, but there is a Murph-shaped hole in our little group that will never be filled. Our hearts go out to the wonderful Barb, the rest of Robin’s family and all his other friends.

Side by Side.