Murphy feels pride of place

Irish goalkeeper hopes trip to unfashionable Scunthorpe for Man City's millionaires may give advantage to Iron in FA Cup showdown

Aidan Fitzmaurice

KEEP an eye out for tights, gloves and long-sleeved shirts worn by the away side when mega-rich Manchester City put their dreams of global domination aside for a weekend and head for the more humble surroundings of Glanford Park, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.

It's hard to know what Roberto Mancini, Carlos Tevez, Robinho and friends will make of the place (capacity 9,000) when Mancini's men trot out at the venue for their FA Cup meeting with Scunthorpe tomorrow.

Old Trafford or the San Siro it ain't. The glamour is reflected by the fact that, in a guide to the immediate vicinity of the ground, the club's own website lists KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Tesco Cafe as the closest eating establishments, leaving Mancini very disappointed if he planned to nip around the corner for a quick pre-match espresso.

But Scunthorpe as a club, in spite of their lowly league status as fifth bottom in the Championship table, feel a sense of pride about their place, and their Irish international goalkeeper Joe Murphy, who himself played in the Premier League, hopes that the big names in the City squad just won't be up for it when they walk out onto the pitch.


"A lot of teams come here, have a look at the place and don't fancy it," says Dubliner Murphy, now in his fourth season at the club.

"Some of the City players might not fancy it if it's cold or there's bad weather so we have to use that to our advantage like we have done this year.

"We all know it's going to be a massive task. We've played them already this season and got stuffed, but we saw the gulf in the difference in quality and what money can buy," added Murphy, in reference to the Carling Cup meeting of the two sides in October when City, then managed by Mark Hughes, beat The Iron, as they are called locally, 5-1.

"It's a great experience for us to play against, financially, one of the biggest clubs in the world, though. "We know it's going to be massively tough," the keeper said, adding that the players may still be trying to catch the eye of new boss Mancini.

"When a new manager comes in, everyone wants to impress," he explained.

"So if he brings a few of the fringe players in, they'll all want to impress and be equally as good as the starting 11 which played the week before in the Premier League."

Scunthorpe have had their moments in the sun and their days of glory before, especially on their home patch.

"We have a decent record at home, it's a promotion record really. We haven't lost many and have beaten some of the big names," added Murphy.

"Financially, it's great for the club, being shown on TV and all around the world, so hopefully we can impress and get a better result than last time."

Murphy has been capped once at senior level by Ireland, against Turkey way back in 2003, so long ago that from that Ireland squad, only four players (Damien Duff, Kevin Kilbane, Richard Dunne and Steven Reid) are still involved with the international team. Former Stella Maris man Murphy has been in Ireland squads since then, but has yet to add to his tally of caps.

"I'm fed up of being a one-cap wonder, I want to play for Ireland again, even once, to get that monkey off my back," says Murphy, who has been on the bench as an unused sub six times for Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni, most recently in the two-legged World Cup play-off against France.

There's no guarantee that Murphy, 28, will get to start against City and go head to head with Shay Given.

Earlier this month he missed two games with a shoulder injury, but his understudy Mark Lillis did well in his place, helping United win both games, and when Murphy was fit again, for the league game with Cardiff last week, Murphy was left on the bench, the player deliberately left out of the side for the first time in two years.

"I have always brought Joe straight back before," said manager Nigel Adkins. "It is fantastic we have two good goalkeepers.

"We have a young emerging keeper in Josh and we have got to help his development. I decided it was only right to stick by him after his performances in the two previous games.

"But Joe knows he is the No1 keeper at this club. I have a lot of respect for him. He has to get his mindset right."

Murphy may not get to play, but fellow Dubliner Clifford Byrne should start in central defence and also wear the captain's armband.