Chairman Bob, and the star of British cinema who eulogised him


Courtesy: A Love Supreme

Some of us are old enough to remember the red card protest. Others steadfastly refuse to look back in a revisionist way and say what a grand chap he was after all. And the luminary of British film who worshipped him? Read on …

Five years ago today, as safc.com has helpfully pointed out, Bob Murray – now Sir Bob – stood down as chairman of Sunderland AFC, handing power to Niall Quinn and the Drumaville consortium.

People’s memories, one way or the other, remain strong.

Here are some views from the Blackcats site:

Neil:

Overall, I think his record is fine. He could have invested at the
right time, when we were in the top 2, but a good stadium and some
fantastic football with Quinny and SKP. Overall a decent chairman
(especially when compared to the likes of Cowie). I know there will be some who disagree with me, but they are wrong.

Mark:

History will judge him to have done a good job, all in all,
particularly with having the drive and vision to build the SoL.

Jeremy:

Give it a rest about the stadium. Everybody else has got a new one
too. Murray was a crap chairman and those who disagree with youj are
right Neil.

You would think that Murray was down at Wearmouth Colliery with a
trowel and bricks, building the place himself.

A chairman who was happy to just avoid the drop every year, and that’s official.

Mark:

Give over, Jeremy, most clubs dont have a new stadium and plenty went down
the route of jamming seats onto terraces, building new stands in cramped
stadia, or building new grounds which are too small for PL football. Murray
was criticised for thinking big at the time but he was right. He made
mistakes but he saved the club in the mid-80s and deserves a bit more credit
now he’s gone.

Ian:

No real affection for Bob Murray here. To quote my dad, “the best thing
about Bob Murray is that he’s not Tom Cowie”.

You can bet there’ll be more from both sides. My own recollections tilt towards him on the stadium – I’d have preferred a rebuilt Roker Park but this was not feasible – and against him on the entirely unnecessary relegation of 1997, when reasonable investment would have saved us. I still remember listening to the starting line-up being announced at home games and thinking there must be some mistake: it ended with Stewart and I was sure there should be another striker who’d been forgotten.

But we all have our thoughts on his reign. Salut! Sunderland leaves you for now with the words of David Puttnam – Lord Puttnam, of course, as he is – as I reported them after interviewing him for Wear Down South, newsletter of the London and SE SAFCSA branch, at a time when Bob was still Chairman Bob and otherwise plain mister. The interview was repeated here at this link:

Stand by for a controversial pronouncement. Put down anything breakable or boiling hot that you might drop or spill. Lord Puttnam is anxious for Wear Down South to hear his considered opinion of Bob Murray.
“I absolutely worship him,” he says. “He’s quite wonderfully good, and has an amazing way of making you feel part of a very special family. He lives and breathes that club. I was watching him at Spurs and you could see that every kick, every movement of the game was etched on his body.
“He has effectively poured his life into the club. The most ardent fan of Sunderland AFC hasn’t a quarter of the commitment Bob has got”.

Monsieur Salut

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7 thoughts on “Chairman Bob, and the star of British cinema who eulogised him”

  1. Must be an Arriva bus upset at the denigration of Sir Tom Cowie – arch Tory!! Ii know – Arriva are no longer Cowies, but never let the truth get in the way of a Mike Giggler type observation).

  2. Agree with Birflatt here, there is definately a re-writing of History. When Quinn at al took over there was not a queue of interested suitors for the Club, BM sold to the only offer available. he did take a lot less cash than he had invested, but to get something back he jad no choice. The Clib was worth what he had managed to make it.

    Yes the SoL is a great achievement and he does deserve credit for that although memories see to say that it was not universally supported by all SAFC supporters.

    In reality Quinn and Durmaville took a far bigger risk in taking on the Club than BM ever did. I think BM’s heart was in the right place but his business brain interfered with some key poorly taken decisions in terms of the Clubs best interest. No saint, could have done a lot better, but probably in fairness a product of his time.

  3. I won’t argue about where we were when he left us – and I also agree that with him still there we would probably be even worse off. But without the move to the SSoL, bigger crowds, more interest in the club itself, it would have been harder for SNQ to get Drummaville and ultimately Short interested. Still at Roker – we would have been more like Blackpool are now. It’s not down to home attendances per se but that period generated the interest that kickstarted the club out of the doldrums.

    And yes I thought Peter Reid was a good manager too!

  4. We’d have been in the same place he left us when Quinn took the reins. Bottom of the Champtionship and skint after a 15 point season! That’s where we were and arguably we’d have fallen a lot further. There’s a rewriting of history going on here.

  5. Whatever anyone thinks about Bob Murray, compare the state of the club now to where it was prior to Peter Reid, “Premier Passions” and the Stadium of Light.

    Being of an age where I hanker for the scent of pipe tobacco on a rain soaked terrace, watching blokes in black footy boots kick a sodden leather casey in six inches of mud, I am no great fan of the concept of the Premier League and the multi million pound industry that footy has become. But that is the reality of the game today and the club has to move with the times.

    The way I see it Bob Murray had the SAFC at heart and without his input I wonder where the club would be now?

  6. Sir BM was a top fella and risked millions of his hard earned cash to support the club and take it forward. And just to be clear putting your hand in your pocket for a season ticket doesn’t come close to the risks he took for the sake of the club. He made mistakes of course but everything is so easy in hindsight.

    Putnam was right his heart was every bit in the club – he did everything he could for us within the confines of his wealth.

    And of course he knew when to bow out and in addition he made sure he sold up to people for whom Sunderland had the same importance as himself taking a lower price in the process. Mike Ashley anyone?

    This man deserves respect.

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