• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Sheffield's steel is made in Scotland

QUEEN'S PARK were the last Scottish team to reach the FA Cup final back in 1885 but a Sheffield United success this season might be the next best thing.

Jamie Murphy left Motherwell last year to sign for Sheffield United and was a prominent figure as the Sky Bet League 1 side eased past both Aston Villa and Fulham to reach the fifth round of this season's FA Cup.
Jamie Murphy left Motherwell last year to sign for Sheffield United and was a prominent figure as the Sky Bet League 1 side eased past both Aston Villa and Fulham to reach the fifth round of this season's FA Cup.

There is a definite tartan tinge to the team assembled at Bramall Lane by former manager Danny Wilson, added to briefly by David Weir during his short spell in charge last year, and then tinkered with by Nigel Clough, the current incumbent of the dug-out. Should United continue to defy expectations and advance all the way to the final, Wembley will echo to a smattering of Scottish accents.

Sixteen teams are left in this season's FA Cup and United are the lowest ranked of them all. Stuck in the Sky Bet League 1 relegation zone, albeit with a number of games in hand, the team from Sheffield have sought succour in the cup. To date they have gamely ploughed through four rounds, taking some notable scalps along the way. After victories away to Colchester United and Cambridge United, the third round draw sent them on the road again, this time to Birmingham to play Aston Villa.

Again they prospered, knocking out Paul Lambert's side with a 2-1 victory. Next up was Fulham, another Premier League side. A 1-1 draw at home was followed by a single-goal victory, secured after extra-time in the replay at Craven Cottage. In his starting XI that night, Clough fielded six Scots, plus two others - the goalkeeper Mark Howard and striker Chris Porter - with Scottish clubs on their cvs. Next up is Nottingham Forest at home tomorrow when United will look to book their place in the last eight of the competition.

"The FA Cup has been brilliant for us this season," Jamie Murphy, one of the scorers against Villa, told Herald Sport. "We've had every tie away from home, apart from the original tie against Fulham, so to get through all those rounds to reach this stage has been great. For a League 1 club to put out two Premier League sides in a row was some achievement. We were underdogs for both of those but it just shows what we are capable of on our day.

"The cup run has got us a bit of attention and deservedly so. We've really picked up our form since the new manager came in and he's a big part of why we've got this far. We won't be favourites again against Forest but we believe we can win any game if we play to our best. I feel like I had a pretty good cup record up the road with Motherwell so hopefully that can continue down here."

It has been something of a tumultuous first year in Sheffield for Murphy following his move south in January 2013. A hamstring injury restricted his involvement in the second half of last season and he then struggled to nail down a regular place under first Weir and then Clough. He was restored to the side, however, midway through last month and has been a regular presence ever since.

"It's been up and down since I got here," admitted the 24 year-old. "Last season we made it to the play-offs and it was disappointing to lose in that, and then we struggled at the start of this season. It took me a while to adapt to the different style of football down here. I don't think you can compare it to Scottish football, it's two completely different styles.

"Since the new manager came in, though, I've been playing more in the team and doing well. Hopefully I can repay him by scoring a few more goals. This is my third manager in just over a year, although I was used to that chopping and changing when I was at Motherwell. I think I worked under seven or eight managers when I was there - maybe it's me who's the jinx!"

Murphy's return to the United side came at the worst possible time for Terry Butcher, the Hibernian manager thwarted in his attempts to take the player back north during the January transfer window. With typical humour, Butcher had cursed the former Motherwell player for finding his form at the wrong moment, something which tickled Murphy when he read about he Englishman's faux ire.

"I never spoke to anyone about Hibs although I read what Terry said in the paper about it," he added. "It put a smile on my face when I read it as I could just imagine him saying it. He's a manager I really respect, and it was Maurice Malpas [Butcher's assistant] who gave me my first chance at Motherwell.

"Maybe if I hadn't been playing I would have had something to think about but the manager told me he I was in his plans and he didn't want me to go anywhere. It was a big decision for me to move away from Motherwell but hopefully things have now started to pick up."

And what of the Caledonian contingent at Bramall Lane, with Murphy sharing a dressing room with Bob Harris, Ryan Flynn, Stephen McGinn, Neill Collins and Stefan Scougall? "There are a few Scottish boys here now and it's always good to hear familiar accents. We take a bit of stick down here but it's all in good fun. As long as we're winning games nobody will bother where we're from."­

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

212863