Sunday, January 5, 2014
As Norwich City’s youngsters took each step towards FA Youth Cup triumph last season, it was hard not to look forward to the day both Josh and Jacob Murphy would be involved in the first-team set-up – but everyone, especially the twins themselves, thought it would take a little longer than a matter of months before it happened.
Jacob got his first taste of senior Norwich City action with an 11-minute substitute appearance in place of his brother, and he showed how far he has come in a short space of time.
But no doubt he will be desperate to match his 18-year-old twin, who not only made his ninth senior appearance and first start, but also created Robert Snodgrass’ first-half equaliser and provided plenty of evidence that City do indeed have a genuine top-class academy product on their hands.
“I thought I would be playing in the first team but not for another year and a half maybe, so to be playing now is a great feeling,” said Josh. “Every game right now is just a learning experience and to play against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (in last season’s FA Youth Cup run) and at Carrow Road in front of all those fans, it helped me massively. So I took all that into today and I used it all in my favour.
“If you’d said maybe two months ago that I would be on the bench for the Norwich first team, I’d have said you’re lying. But I’ve now played nine times, I’ve played at four of the best stadiums in the country, I’ve scored a goal, I made an assist tonight. So it’s unbelievable.”
You would imagine adding sibling rivalry to football squad competition is a recipe for disaster – but that simply isn’t how it works in the Murphy household.
“There is no rivalry at all,” said Josh, entirely convincingly. “We’re there to support each other and when I came off, I was happy he was coming on because I know what he’s capable of and all the backroom staff know what he’s capable of. I was just happy for him to play.
“It’s crazy. I saw him getting undressed so I knew I was coming off. And when I saw him standing there with a little smile on his face, I thought it’s your turn now.
“Obviously I wanted to stay on longer, but just to see my brother come on to make his debut was unbelievable because he’s worked so hard. It’s a great night for the Murphys tonight.”
There is still a long way to go for Josh, never mind Jacob. But the way he dealt with his first start offered much promise.
“It was a weird feeling because I knew I had to put in a shift and I’m not playing against kids anymore,” added Josh. “I’m playing against men so it’s going to be hard, physically and mentally. I just tried to do my best throughout the whole game. My defensive work, tracking runners – and then going forward I just tried to do my thing.
“I was nervous. It was my first start and you don’ t know how the fans are going to react to you.
“So I just went out there and did what I can do best. Some things didn’t come off and obviously I just had to work hard and get the ball back. And some things came off and the fans appreciated it, so it’s all good.”
Josh Murphy was arguably one of the few people to welcome another fixture, as the Canaries had to settle for a replay at Craven Cottage a week on Tuesday to see who will travel to Sheffield United in the fourth round.
“It wasn’t the result we were looking for but at least we didn’t get knocked out of the cup. So all the lads are happy in there and we’ve just got to go to Craven Cottage and get the result. It was unbelievable to start. You could see I had a smile on my face all throughout the game and it was just a brilliant feeling.
“The replay isn’t ideal because we have had all these games recently but I’d be looking forward to any game. If I’m involved I will be there ready, have my boots and pads, and be raring to go.”
Murphy admitted the news he would be making his first start, with his brother on the bench for the first time, was worthy of a quick celebration.
“I found out I was in the squad on Friday night because the squad goes up before the game, and then 11am Saturday I found out I was starting,” added Josh. “I was happy and I thought I just had to go out there and do my job.
“I’ve been in the squad for the past few games, so that’s feeling normal now. But when I found out I was in the starting line-up and he was on the bench, me and my brother just went in the toilets and quickly gave each other a high-five because it was a big moment for us.”