Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Robert Murphy

Known as
Bob Murphy

9 June 1982 (age 41)

Place of birth
Ballarat, VIC (3350)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 36d
Last game: 35y 77d

Height and weight
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg

Senior clubs
Werribee; Western Bulldogs; Australia; Williamstown

Jumper numbers
Western Bulldogs: 22, 2

Recruited from
Gippsland Power (2000)

State of origin

Bob Murphy

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Western BulldogsAFL2000-20173121830.5945%12.635.215.3851
AustraliaIR2002-2003, 2015400.00
VFL2000-2002, 20092590.36
IR2002-2003, 2015400.00

AFL: 11,085th player to appear, 68th most games played, 469th most goals kickedWestern Bulldogs: 887th player to appear, 6th most games played, 29th most goals kicked

A genuine 'Mr. Nice Guy' of the football world, Bob Murphy gave the Western Bulldogs 18 seasons of outstanding service after breaking into the side in 2000. Murphy was drafted by the Dogs in 1999, alongside Daniel Giansiracusa. Lindsay Gilbee and Mitch Hahn. The son of an ex-priest and former nun, the lightly-framed Murphy looked anything but a player who could withstand the rigours of the Australian game when he first took to the AFL field, and many would say not much has changed in that respect. However, over a decade and a half, Murphy has made up for any perceived lack of bulk and strength with poise, balance and exquisite skills that have seen him become one of the most admired and respected players of his generation.

Murphy played three matches for the Dogs in late 2000 and became a permanent member of the Dogs' senior line-up from the first round of the following season. Equally at home in attack and on the backlines, Murphy was a swingman used to telling effect throughout his first few seasons in the red, white and blue.

Season 2005 saw Murphy spend most of his time up forward and he booted 33 goals as the Dogs climbed out of the doldrums under new coach Rodney Eade on their way to becoming regular finalists over the next five seasons. Sadly when the Dogs cracked it for a finals berth in 2006, Murphy was missing, having torn his ACL and undergoing a knee reconstruction mid-season. He was back for the start of the following season, although niggling injuries saw him miss a few matches in that year also.

A fine season in 2008 saw Murphy kick 34 goals as the Dogs came within a few kicks of a Grand Final berth. Nevertheless, in 2009, he made a more or less permanent shift to the backline, where his elusive abilities, run and accurate kicking helped propel the Bulldogs to Preliminary Finals once more in 2009 and 2010, and when a new captain was required for 2011 after the retirement of Brad Johnson, Murphy must have come under heavy consideration. Ultimately Matthew Boyd got the nod, perhaps because Murphy was seen as ageing and injury-prone.

Ironically, Murphy rarely missed a game over the next five seasons. But as the Dogs faded from glory in that period, Murphy - who publicly declared that he had eschewed attractive offers from other clubs and would see out his career with the Bulldogs - acknowledged that in all likelihood he had missed his chance to be part of a premiership side.

However, what seemed a series of catastrophic events at the Bulldogs in late 2014 - with the captain (Ryan Griffen), coach (Brendan McCartney) and CEO (Simon Garlick) all departing in unhappy circumstances - transpired to see Murphy offered the captaincy on the eve of his 16th season. He accepted without hesitation and under the combined leadership of himself and new coach Luke Beveridge, the Dogs stunned all and sundry to win 14 games, playing what many described as the League's most attractive football, only bowing out of contention with a narrow loss to Adelaide in an Elimination Final.

Part of the last interstate Victorian team in 2008 and an All Australian in 2011 and 2015 also, Murphy lead the Bulldogs into the 2016 season looking to play his 300th match, but tragedy struck in the dying moments of the round three match against Hawthorn when he fell awkwardly in a marking contest and ruptured his ACL. It ended his season, and Murphy was forced to look on as his side took all before it to claim a seemingly impossible premiership.

Murphy returned to the field for one final season in 2017, and while he reached the magical 300-game mark, his dream of playing in a premiership side was ultimately unfulfilled. Nevertheless, Murphy's leadership and contributions as captain played a huge part in the Bulldogs' 2016 premiership success, and he can be justly proud of what can only be described as a magnificent AFL career. 

Author - Andrew Gigacz


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.