'A young, naive kid, with a brand-new football. Over time, the leather aged from the bumps along the trail. The Footscray winters and some glorious liniment-scented afternoons. All of the laughs, the scraps, the yarns and characters. The game. It all left a mark on me, on my soul.'
Bob Murphy has never been a typical footballer. Music buff, Age columnist and Winnebago driver, he is as comfortable in a quiet corner of a Fitzroy cafe or the front bar of a grungy pub as he is in the locker room.
Murphy takes the reader inside his 17-year career, including his three years as captain of the Bulldogs, exploring the people, places and events that shaped him- from playing backyard cricket in 1980s Warragul to Community Cup with Paul Kelly in the 2000s, and from the joy of marrying his high-school crush to the agony of a season-ending ACL ruptures.
How did the country kid with a gypsy's heart become an All-Australian captain? What's it like to have your club win the grand final for the first time in 62 years and have to cheer from the sidelines? How does it feel to realise you can no longer do the things that made you great?
The celebrated Australian football bard Martin Flanagan has long insisted Bob Murphy has a book in him like no footballer has written. Leather Soul proves him right.