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Murphy's the daddy as Carlisle win at Wembley

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Paul Fletcher | 19:44 UK time, Sunday, 3 April 2011

At Wembley

They say that everything comes to those who wait and for Carlisle United's long-serving Irishman Peter Murphy, victory in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final arrived at the fourth time of asking at Wembley on Sunday.

The commanding central defender stabbed the ball home after Francois Zoko flicked a corner into his path after 12 minutes, scoring the only goal of a largely disappointing match.

But for the 30-year-old and his team-mates the manner of victory was very much a secondary consideration to the over-riding mission of leaving Wembley with a trophy.

Murphy, who joined Carlisle in 2001 and is the club's longest-serving player, was on the wrong side of the result at the 2003 and 2006 finals, both of which were played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The 30-year-old was also in the team humbled 4-1 by Southampton in last year's final. In that game a needless handball from Murphy gifted Saints an early penalty that set them on their way to victory.

Peter Murphy

Murphy redeemed himself after giving away a penalty in last year's final - photo: PA

Sunday's match was an altogether happier experience for Murphy, who became a father for the first time on Friday and was the man of the match in the final.

The new-born boy does not even have a name yet - Johnstone perhaps? - but can probably claim to be the youngster person to enter a Wembley dressing room after Murphy's fiancee Lisa brought the baby down to the changing area after the final whistle.

Lisa was actually due to give birth on Sunday and had planned to travel down to watch the match, risking the possibility that she could start labour while watching Murphy at Wembley.

Thankfully for all concerned, the baby arrived early, although Murphy was only able to spend an hour or so with mother and child before he left to catch up with the rest of the squad, who had already arrived in London.

The baby was born at 0739 BST after a five-and-a-half-hour labour and as Murphy boarded the train at Carlisle on Friday afternoon he intended to make full use of the pillow tucked under his arm. Alas, shortly after nodding off, the defender was awoken by someone informing him that he had sat in the wrong seat.

Murphy eventually caught up with the rest of his team-mates and, after eating dinner, crashed out at 2100 BST and did not wake for 11 hours.

Fast forward to Sunday lunchtime and the former Blackburn trainee was scoring the winning goal at Wembley.

"I cannot really put it into words," said Murphy. "It has been an unbelievable few days."

The rest of the squad had told him that he had to imitate the rocking baby celebration made famous by Brazil forward Bebeto at the 1994 World Cup if he scored, but when the goal went in, his mind went blank and he claims he just ran Forrest Gump style towards the stand where his family were gathered.

Even on a day of incredible joy for Murphy there was a moment that took him back to the disaster of last year's final. As he stood on the balcony and waited to receive his medal he looked down at the pitch and noticed some of the Brentford players watching him. It reminded him that for every deliriously happy winner at Wembley there is also a dejected loser.

Nobody felt last year's defeat more keenly than Cumbrians manager Greg Abbott. Even in the warm glow of victory on Sunday the 47-year-old winced as he thought back to the hammering by Southampton.

"I still cannot explain how bad I felt last year," said Abbott. "It is nice to be on the winning side now."

The candid Abbott admitted that he was so demoralised by his team's failure last year that he even considered whether he was cut out for management. He had built a game's room with a small bar and a pool table at his family home but, much to his wife's annoyance, did not want any photographs of last year's final on the walls. In short, he wanted to erase the day from his mind.

"All the photos in there at the moment are of goals I scored while at Hull and Bradford - so there are not very many," added Abbott. "But I will be putting some up of this year's final."

Last year Carlisle became caught up in the occasion. They went for a tour of Wembley the day before the match and ended up stuck in traffic, which disrupted their training schedule. This year Abbott deliberately toned down the team's preparations. The manager and his players did very little media in the build-up and dressed down in tracksuits on the day of the game.

"I tried to keep it as normal as possible, stressing to the players that they were coming here to play a football match," added the Cumbrians boss.

Sunday's match was a record sixth final in the competition for Carlisle but only their second triumph after their penalty shoot-out win over Colchester in 1997.

The Bees have now lost all three finals they have reached in the various incarnations of the JPT. Sunday's fixture was just the 14th game of boss Nicky Forster's fledgling managerial career but his team arrived at Wembley on the back of three league victories, including a 2-1 win over Carlisle.

Forster had no complaints with the result, acknowledging that his team had hardly forced a save from opposition keeper Adam Collin, although Jeffrey Schlupp did hit the post. Perhaps Brentford repeated the same sort of mistakes made by Carlisle in 2010.

"We thought that we had prepared the players well, that they were raring to go," said an honest and thoughtful Forster. "But they did not turn up. We will have to go away and analyse that."

Forster talked of trying to take 21 points from the remaining seven games of his team's season in the hoping of snatching a play-off place but that could be an impossible task given they are eight points off the top six.

Carlisle are 11 points adrift of the play-offs but they will end the season satisfied that their persistence in the JPT has finally brought them another victory in the competition.

As their players waited to climb the steps and receive the trophy the television cameras zoomed in on the delighted face of Murphy.

At Wembley on Sunday he really was the daddy.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Well done to Carlise, don't understand people who refer to this competition as 'micky mouse' etc. Especially fans of the clubs that compete in it. Do they prefer the FA Cup? Where they have next to no chance of a trip to Wembley?

    I think it's an important competition, and maybe even would like to see it given more importance, maybe with the League Cup changed to only involve teams from the top two league.

    Anyway well done Carlise, although I am more than a little jealous, as a fan of Sheffield Wednesday, who they knocked out on the way to the final!

  • Comment number 2.

    The sponsor for this cup devalues it. It makes it sound like they've won a tin of emulsion.

    Didn't non-league clubs, or at least Conference as was, also enter this tournament in the past.

    Stoke fans still sing "We won it 2 times, we won it 2 times.....the AutoWindscreens Shield, we won it 2 times"

  • Comment number 3.

    Congratulations Carlise, but in reality all English cup competitions need changing.

    Drop this cup entirely, change the League cup to all teams from the Championship down to the Conference, give the winners of the FA cup a CL spot and expand the competition by having the top teams enter it earlier, maybe even seed it in the first round, thus ensuring that decent money is always shared amongst the smaller sides, even if it only happens once a year.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great competition - provides teams with a chance to win a trrophy at Wembley and a nice day out for the fans. Well done Carlisle for bouncing back from last seasons defeat.

    This cup competition is great for fans and players alike and needs to stay.

  • Comment number 5.

    Congratulations to Carlisle. As a supporter of last year's winners Southampton, I was rooting for Carlisle to have better luck this time around. It's good to see their long journey to Wembley was a happier one this time around! And yes, it's disrespectful to the JPT calling it a Mickey Mouse cup. For many clubs, this is one of the only hopes they've got to get to Wembley and that in itself is worth a lot to any supporter. And no, this competition has never had Conference teams enter. Its unbranded name is the Football League Trophy, so by virtue only League clubs can enter.

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 Kev Smith

    Sorry to disappoint but Conference National teams played in the competition from 2001 for a good 5 years.....

  • Comment number 7.

    Now then,

    Thanks for your thoughts so far. I must say, I do not think that Carlisle fans are advocating a change of format for the competition at the moment.

    The Brentford fan in the office is understandably pretty glum today but I do not think he can have too may complaints with the result.

    I imagine Peter Murphy is pretty shattered right now. I just hope a day out at Wembley wasn't too much for his two-day old son.

  • Comment number 8.

    Shame the bees didn’t turn up yesterday - I was there and looked a case of stage fright especially for the young lad Reed from Sunderland. Weston had an absolute terrible game and looked like Carlisle had done their homework and doubled up on occasions. But what next for the Bees? An appointment in NF or someone with a bit more experience? Carlisle seemed to put last seasons no show behind them and were dogged enough to last the win.

  • Comment number 9.

    3. At 02:46am 4th Apr 2011, ReallyReal wrote:
    Congratulations Carlise, but in reality all English cup competitions need changing.

    Drop this cup entirely, change the League cup to all teams from the Championship down to the Conference, give the winners of the FA cup a CL spot and expand the competition by having the top teams enter it earlier, maybe even seed it in the first round, thus ensuring that decent money is always shared amongst the smaller sides, even if it only happens once a year.


    What are you on about?

    Typical, we win something, a premier league armchair man comes on and starts spouting about extra champions league places.

    Get rid of the competition we have won twice and been finalists 6 times? You are joking!


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