Simon Murray ready to lead Hibs charge as he emulates dad

Simon Murray knows that his dad has been there and worn the shirt, after all Hibernian's summer signing grew up '¨listening to the stories. But he says he is looking forward to writing a new chapter all of his own.
Hibs striker Simon Murray launches the Ladbrokes SPFL fixtures for the 2017/2018 season. Picture: SNSHibs striker Simon Murray launches the Ladbrokes SPFL fixtures for the 2017/2018 season. Picture: SNS
Hibs striker Simon Murray launches the Ladbrokes SPFL fixtures for the 2017/2018 season. Picture: SNS

“The family have always had a soft spot for Hibs even though I’m from Dundee,” said Murray. “He’s got pictures in his kitchen and it’s always a team we’ve looked out for. When the opportunity came for me to come to Hibs it was good and I think he was a bit emotional as well.”

Dad, of course, is Gary Murray, who was signed by Bertie Auld back in 1980 for £60,000. A promising and popular acquisition, who is remembered fondly by team-mates and fans of that era, a knee injury meant he never really fulfilled his true potential in Leith. But he still enjoyed a return of 18 goals in 80 games in his three years at the club.

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“I think he scored two against Celtic. In fact, I know he did score two against Celtic because he never stops going on about it! I think he was up against Danny McGrain and he said he had him on toast, those were the words he used,” adds his 25-year-old son with a mischievous smile.

But while he aims to emulate those big-game scoring feats when he eventually takes to the field in the green and white of the Premiership new boys, he is even keener to eclipse them. If he does, no-one will be 
happier than his dad.

“When I signed, he came down with me,” continued Murray. “He was here a good few years ago – so they never had a training facility like this. I think they were just at a 
public park. He loved the look of the place, the facilities are just amazing. He knows it can only help me improve.”

But there was a brief trace of envy and the sight of the modern training ground was enough to prompt a few old tales of woe. “In his day, he said, they were running up dunes or something! He loved it when he came here through. It’s a great place to be playing.”

These days the toil takes place on the training ground but having seen the effort put in by his peers and the demands made by the coaching staff in the first couple of days of pre-season, the younger
Murray is convinced that the class of 2017/18 is just as willing to put in the graft in the quest for success.

“There are high expectations from the fans and we want to meet those,” he said. “But we never want to say too much.

“The manager said he just wants me to work hard and score as many goals as I can. He knows how I play so hopefully I can help the team.”

Murray senior made a name for himself courtesy of his work ethic, earning the nickname Charger due to his willingness to charge everything down and never consider anything a lost cause. His son believes the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

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“I think I do play in a similar way and I’m called mini-charger by Jackie McNamara,
whose dad played with my dad. But I’m hoping I can do better than what he did when he was here, that’s my goal.”

The fixtures announcement yesterday simply stoked his enthusiasm. Handed an opening day home match against Partick Thistle, he is itching to get going and looking forward to running out at Easter Road.

“Obviously Dundee United, where I’ve come from, have a good history themselves. But coming through to Edinburgh, seeing the fans, seeing those season ticket figures, it’s amazing, the size of this club. It’s absolutely massive. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to get started. I’m just looking forward to the first game, against Partick. But then obviously you look to the Rangers game second up. It will be great. You want to get a good run but we know each game is going to be difficult.”

But having had to bide his time before earning a place at the elite level of the game, Murray is eager to make the most of the opportunities that befall him. “I was a plumber and I don’t want to go back there. I suppose I’ve done it the hard way coming through the juniors and the lower leagues, at Arbroath. I still feel as if I’ve got a bit to learn and hopefully I can do that under the manager here. I’m sure I’ll improve.

“A lot of boys come through the academies but some don’t get that chance and you keep working hard. I was lucky, I got picked up by Dundee United and that’s given me the chance to come here. It means you don’t take it for granted.”