JIMMY MURRAY 1933 - 2015
It is with deep regret that we have to record the death of James Murray, popularly and affectionately known as Jimmy, who sadly passed away this morning at Ferryfield House, Edinburgh. Until very recently, he was an engaging personality around Tynecastle Park and, of course, Jimmy was an outstanding attacker in probably the greatest team in the club’s history. That team became Scottish Champions in 1957-58, earning a record 62 points from 34 games and scoring an astonishing total of 132 goals. Jimmy Murray hit 27 of these goals, following a quite brilliant campaign.
He was born in Edinburgh on 4 February 1933 and Jimmy was raised only a short distance from Tynecastle, at Orwell Place. His father, James, an electrician, was a great Hearts supporter and from a very early age, Jimmy junior followed in his footsteps. Jimmy also developed his own playing career and, coached as a teenager by Hearts’ trainers, John Torbet and John Harvey, the Tynecastle schoolboy represented Edinburgh and Scotland.
Jimmy was a robust and vigorous inside-right, who foraged for goals and possessed both a powerful shot and outstanding heading ability. In addition, he was a chaser of lost causes, which not only earned him unexpected goals, but also created numerous chances for his colleagues. Senior clubs noted his potential when he played for Shaftesbury Park, and then Jimmy moved to Merchiston Thistle where he was capped by the Scottish Secondary Juvenile FA.
His over-riding ambition was to play for the Hearts and on 27 September 1950, the 17-year old forward was signed by manager, Davie McLean, from Merchiston Thistle. At that time, Jimmy was serving his apprenticeship as a Post Office engineer and Hearts intended to farm him out to Newtongrange Star. However, Jimmy played only one game for the junior club, before fine-tuning his skills in Hearts’ reserve team.
His punchy, direct style appealed to Hearts’ new manager, Tommy Walker, and Jimmy Murray made his competitive debut on 15 March 1952, when the maroons defeated Stirling Albion by 5-2 in a Scottish League match at Tynecastle. Jimmy scored that day and made a favourable impression, but it would be three years before he saw any more serious action in maroon. This was principally due to his National Service which commenced in February 1953.
The 5’9” forward travelled throughout Britain and Europe during his two years in the Royal Air Force and he regularly played representative football against various units of the British Army and the Royal Navy. In addition, in February 1954, while based in England, Jimmy was loaned to Reading and he played a fair number of games in the Football League Division Three (South).
Jimmy was demobilized in February 1955 and came home to Edinburgh where he worked as a mechanic for the Post Office and provided valuable cover for the Hearts attack. He made a total of only eight competitive appearances in seasons 1954-55 and 1955-56, but after going full-time, Jimmy made his breakthrough in 1956-57 when he successfully replaced the injured Alfie Conn and scored seven goals in 12 Scottish League appearances.
The following season (1957-58) was a remarkable one for both Jimmy Murray and Hearts. The team won the Scottish Championship in wonderful fashion and Jimmy contributed a handsome 27 of the record-breaking total of 132 goals in 34 League matches. Alfie Conn and Willie Bauld struggled with injury during that season, but the Hearts attack remained as potent as ever, with a devastating inside trio of Murray, Young and Wardhaugh. Jimmy’s strong and direct play complimented the different styles of Alex Young and Jimmy Wardhaugh to marvelous effect.
After such an impressive season for Hearts and excellent displays in the Scotland trial matches, Jimmy earned a Scotland call-up and made the first of five appearances against England at Hampden on 19 April 1958. Jimmy then played against Poland and Hungary, before representing his country at the World Cup Finals in Sweden. The opening match was against Yugoslavia at Vasteras and, in the 1-1 draw, Jimmy Murray became the first Scotsman to score at this stage of the competition. He missed the second game with a groin strain and Scotland lost 3-2 to Paraguay. However, Jimmy was back for the decider against France, but sadly, Scotland was eliminated after a 2-1 defeat.
Nevertheless, domestic success continued for Jimmy and in October 1958, he scored two fine goals in Hearts’ magnificent 5-1 victory over Partick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup Final. That season, the dynamic attacker also helped Hearts to runners-up position in the League and then in 1959-60, Jimmy scored 11 vital goals in 18 appearances as Hearts became Scottish Champions once again. In addition, Jimmy played in the club’s first European ventures, appearing in the Champions’ Cup against Standard Liege in 1958-59 and Benfica in 1960-61.
Jimmy Murray was one of the most productive forwards ever to play for Hearts and he scored a highly creditable 81 goals in 143 competitive appearances. With minor fixtures and challenge matches included, his record was a superb 103 goals in 191 games. Jimmy signed for Falkirk in August 1961 and moved on to Clyde in January 1963. He spent season 1964-65 with Raith Rovers, where he became involved in coaching, and had a spell as assistant manager of Falkirk, before working as a sales manager with an electrical company.
On hearing of Jimmy's passing this morning, Chairwoman Ann Budge said "Jimmy Murray never lost his love for Hearts and he was a regular at Tynecastle until his final days, often helping the club with promotions. When we heard of Jimmy's ill health a few weeks ago, Hearts legend John Robertson and other club officials visited him in the Royal Infirmary with the League Championship trophy and Jimmy was immediately boosted and he swapped stories of his happy times at Tynecastle and said he was looking forward to seeing the team back in the Premiership. Legends like Jimmy deserve to be honoured and respected by the club they so loyally served no matter how long ago that was. We are proud to be able to share their memories and, at every opportunity, to be able to allow them to share in the memories being made today. He will be sadly missed by everyone connected with Heart of Midlothian FC and particularly those supporters who were privileged to see Jimmy play and the club extends its sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones."