Before Tuesday night's Windsor Park game with Glenavon, the legendary Billy Murray will become the 10th Linfield Great to be presented with the Torrans Trophy. Billy will then take to the Windsor Park pitch once more, to receive what will no doubt be a great reception from the Linfield supporters who will be delighted that the hugely popular former winger has received this prestigious honour and accolade.
What follows is an article featuring previous winners of this award, as well as career details of the great Billy Murray's Linfield career. Later today, Linfieldfc.com will provide a personal tribute from the broadcast and written journalist Ivan Little who knows Billy well. Over the next few days Linfieldfc.com will feature 3 programme articles focusing closely on the massive contribution Billy Murray made to the great history of this proud club.
Full coverage of the award presentation by the Linfield chairmen Roy McGivern will be provided on Linfieldfc.com
The Torrans Trophy, an award presented annually to a Linfield player deemed by the club's directors to have achieved legendary status, is to be awarded this year to Billy Murray the mercurial former winger of the successful Roy Coyle era.
A few years ago a wonderful octogenarian and a grandson of one of the founder members of our club way back in 1886 presented a special trophy to the management committee with the expressed wish that annually they should present it to a player, past or present. Given that the donor was John Torrans, a name that became iconic over the first thirty five years of our club's history, the committee decided that the trophy should be awarded to a player who had also become an icon or a legend in the proud and illustrious history of Linfield Football Club.
Noel Bailie became the first holder of the Torrans Trophy
and in many ways mirrored John’s great grand-uncle Sam who had captained Linfield for 17 years and had won many honours in the game. Having played 1013 games for his one and only club, Noel is a true Linfield all-time great and richly deserved the MBE award.
Another Linfield great was the second recipient of the Torrans Award. With a tally of 57 goals scored in the 1984/85 season, Martin McGaughey
earned the coveted European Silver Boot award which he later donated to the club.
The management committee then decided to bestow this honour upon another star striker in Glenn Ferguson.
Glenn won countless medals in his time at Windsor Park and "Spike", the current Academy supremo is a legend at this club, having scored over 250 goals for Linfield.
This prestigious honour was next presented in memory of the late, great Tommy Dickson.
"The Duke of Windsor" was the captain of the legendary 1961-62 Seven Trophy Winning team and he ranks in the opinion of many privileged to have seen him in action, as the greatest player ever to wear the famous royal blue jersey.
The Torrans Trophy was then presented to Peter Rafferty,
a great centre-half and captain from the hugely successful Roy Coyle era of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The "Raff" or "Bald Eagle", as he was affectionately known, was one of the great characters of the local game. He was an instantly recognisable figure and a fearless and inspirational leader on the pitch.
Four years ago Alex Russell
became the first goalkeeper to win this award. He served Linfield with distinction between 1946 and 1960. A few years ago the Kop stand was re-named the Alex Russell stand in honour of the modest 'Sandy' who died in 2014.
Three years ago the Board of Directors decided that the Torrans Trophy should be awarded to Isaac Andrews,
the Shankill Road right-half who achieved legendary status through his exploits in the Seven Trophy Season of 1961-62 and Linfield’s epic European Cup Winners’ Cup battles against Manchester City in 1970.
Two years ago the Board of Directors decided that the eighth recipient of the Torrans Trophy should be George Dunlop,
the colourful and stalwart goalkeeper who achieved legendary status through his achievements in 570 games in the Linfield jersey through the glory years under manager Roy Coyle during the late 1970s and early 1980s during which he picked up nine Irish League winners and two Irish Cup winners medals.
Last year the Board of Directors decided that the the Torrans Trophy should be awarded in memory of the late Bobby Braithwaite
who achieved legendary status as a star member of the 1961/62 Seven Trophy Winning Team and who sadly passed away the previous October. Bobby was one of a select few to have won all seven medals in that never to be forgotten and glorious 1961/62 season.
Before today's game this year's award will be presented to Billy Murray
who was born in Belfast on March 1, 1955.
An East Belfast Blueman and member of the Belmont LSC, Billy played for Portadown between 1973 and 1977, before Roy Coyle signed him for Linfield in November 1977 for a £7,000 fee. With Linfield he made 390 appearances (65 as sub) and scored 131 goals, before leaving for Ballyclare Comrades in August 1988. His 23 goals made him the club's leading goal scorer in the 1978/79 season.
Billy won the following honours in a distinguished career with Linfield
7 Irish League Winners medals - 1977/78, 1978/79, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1984/85 and 1985/86.
2 Irish Cup winners medals - 1977/78 in a 3-1 win against Ballymena and 1981/82 after a 2-1 win against Coleraine, with Billy Murray scoring the winner from the penalty spot.
4 County Antrim Shield winners medals - 1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83 and 1983/84
2 Ulster Cup winners medals - 1978/79 and 1984/85
Gold Cup winners medal - 1983/84
Tyler All-Ireland Cup winners medal - 1980/81 after Linfield defeated Athlone 2-1 away.
In addition, he won an under 21 international cap against the Republic of Ireland, as well as inter league caps against the Scottish League in 1979 and 1984.
He was awarded a Testimonial season in 1987, with the highlight a game against Shamrock Rovers.
He played in 15 European games (4 as sub) for Linfield. He featured in games against Panathanikos, Bevern SK, Nentori 17, Benfica, Shamrock Rovers, Servette, Rosenborg and Lillestrom.
Billy, one of the most gifted players to have graced the Irish League scene, had natural footballing talents few could equal. His ability to ghost past defenders with the minimum of effort and his knack of accurately floating balls in from the wing for the waiting strikers, were his special forte. Those hanging, teasing crosses from Billy were a nightmare to defences and encouragement to supporters who knew that when 'Minto' was on song, they would have plenty to cheer. His uncontrollable joy when Linfield triumphed was an inspiration and delight to behold.
He will always be remembered for the Ulster Cup game in October 1982 when he scored three goals in a 5-2 comeback win against Glentoran. He was a shy man off the pitch but a wing wizard on the pitch. When on form, he was a real extrovert star player who could turn a game and who will rank among the greatest ever to wear the royal blue jersey.
There are so many great names in the proud and illustrious history of this great club and all of them would be worthy winners of this prestigious award. There is no doubt that the name Billy Murray will be revered by generations of Bluemen and women for his terrific achievements in Linfield's cause during the late seventies and early to mid-eighties and for that reason, we are delighted to today announce that he is to be the tenth recipient of this very special award.
The presenter of the trophy, John Torrans ’junior’, followed the Blues from a distance. He spent a match day at Windsor Park in May ten years ago and returned with the new trophy a few months later. Sadly, he passed away on February 5 nine years ago, after a brief illness. He was a man of great courage and charisma and he impressed all who met him with his quiet modesty. He served with distinction in the RAF during the second World war and was shot down over France in 1943 to be rescued by the French resistance and hidden for some six months, before finally ending up as a prisoner of war.
We remember his life and it is a huge honour to have the Torrans Trophy at this club.