By The Balls
I found a CD version of Les Murray reading his autobiography 'By The Balls'.
I have always viewed Les Murray as a hero of football. Even when I drifted away from the game I was always pleased to see that he was there promoting it. One step down from Johnny Warren, Les was there as a key player.
When it became clear that finance had become the critical factor in the game's sustainability and the FFA and then the A-League came along, I felt for SBS and Les Murray. They had invested a lot and expediency meant that they were being sidelined.
I like getting CD books because it means I can do 'reading' when I am driving and it only took me 4 days to get though Murray's work. We are given insight into to the man behind the TV personality, his escape from Hungary, his football playing days, his singing and work as an entertainer, his football commentary and presenting career steps. But for me there was something missing. For example, initially his father's role is key in his interest in football and the bravery in being questioned by guards when escaping Hungary. But later he appears to be dismissed as a drinker (even his father's claims to have played for a top team are treated with skepticism). There is very little coverage of Les Murray's joy for football. Even at the end he is longing to be up in the stands with the fans.
Les Murray seems to have used the book, as we can all use writing, to get a few things off his chest. For a journalist, he seems to have little empathy for the other side of any argument. And the heart of the book is an extended rank against Frank Farina. Why? Frank was a straw man in the performance of the Socceroos before world cup qualification. Clearly, SBS, one of its journalists in particular and Les Murray were doing little to help other than singling out a young coach that had been given 6 years of intense tripe - the Socceroos wins are ours, the losses were clearly lain at Frank's feet. Contract or no contract, out of respect for the position of Socceroos coach, SBS should have changed interviewers when it was clear there was a personality clash and criminal charges should never have been threatened against Farina.
Les Murray doesn't focus on the joy of football and only really gives us a picture of Johnny Warren in the process of dieing. Which is a shame. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder and this chip seems to have green-lighted the jaundiced view that we now get from SBS on football in Australia.