Les Murray (broadcaster)

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Les Murray
Born László Ürge
(1945-11-05) 5 November 1945 (age 73)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality Hungarian, Australian
Occupation Broadcaster, sports journalist and analyst

Les James Murray AM (born László Ürge, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːsloː ˈyrɡɛ]; Budapest, Hungary, 5 November 1945)[1] is an Australian sports journalist, soccer broadcaster and analyst. He was the host of The World Game on SBS television, retiring in July 2014,[2] and has been inducted into the FFA's Football Hall of Fame.

As the country's most prominent TV presenter of soccer, Murray has played a major role in the sport's growing popularity in Australia since the 1980s.[3][4] Murray coined the phrase "the world game", which later became the title of SBS's football programme.

Early life

Murray was born as László Ürge in a small village on the outskirts of Budapest,[5] Hungary, the son of József and Erzsébet Ürge. The family immigrated to Australia in 1957 under the Hungarian Refugee Assisted Scheme.[1] They resided at Wollongong, New South Wales after some time at Bonegilla Migrant Camp near Wodonga.[3] He was educated at Berkeley High School (now Illawarra Sports High School). He decided to anglicise his name because Ürge was difficult for Australians to pronounce and prone to taunts;[6]:133 the name Murray was suggested by his father as "Muray" is also Hungarian for "of the Mura River".[6]:134

Career history

His passion for soccer, in which he had been interested from an early age, was sparked after watching a replay of the 1960 European Cup Final.

He began work as a journalist in 1971. In between, he found time to perform in a rock music group, 'The Rubber Band' where he was lead singer. He moved to Network Ten as a commentator in 1977, changing his name from László Ürge to Les Murray at that time.[5]

Murray moved to SBS in 1980 as a subtitler in the Hungarian language, but soon turned to covering association football. He has been the host for SBS coverage of association football including World Cups since 1986, as well as Australia's World Cup Qualifiers, most memorably in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He also anchors the SBS team covering friendlies and international tournaments in which junior and women's national teams are competing.

SBS sports programs hosted by him have included On the Ball (1984–2000), Toyota World Sports (c. 1990 – 2006) and The World Game (2001–present).

Murray was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to association football on 12 June 2006 as part of the Queen's Birthday honours list.[7]

In 2006, Murray stepped down from his position as SBS's Sports Director to become an editorial supervisor for SBS, while his on-air role remained the same. His main motive for this decision was to concentrate on his range of presentation duties as the 'face' of SBS Sport.[8]

He is a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee.[9]

In August 2011, Murray won the inaugural 'Blogger of the Year' award at the FFDU Australian Football Media awards,[10] ultimately defeating fellow finalists Matthew Collard and Christian Layland.[11]

In 2011 Murray published a book entitled "The World Game: The Story of How Football Went Global" in which Murray cited an undisclosed source in alleging that Lucas Neill, the captain of the Socceroos, had instigated a mutiny just before the Germany vs. Australia game at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Murray alleged that Neill had asked his coach, Pim Verbeek, to leave the room, before describing Verbeek's game-plan as "bullshit" and erasing what the Dutchman had written on a whiteboard, telling the team to play like they normally do. The publication of this story was followed by responses from team members who had been eyewitnesses of the actual events, including Craig Moore, Eugene Galeković and Mile Jedinak, clarifying that such an event, as portrayed in Murray's book, had never occurred. Neill himself protested that before the Germany game it was Mark Schwarzer, and not Neill himself, who had given the team pep talk. A few days after the allegations hit the news, Les Murray retracted his allegations with a full apology, with an undertaking that future editions of his book would have the relevant portion deleted.

In June 2014 he announced his retirement as Chief Football commentator on SBS, to begin after the FIFA World Cup. He will continue in guest spots on SBS.[2]

Les Murray is also a passionate supporter of Western Sydney Wanderers FC.

Personal life

Murray has two daughters, Tania, a singer-songwriter, and Natalie, a television journalist and presenter.

References in popular culture

  • Les Murray appeared with the Australian alternative rock band TISM in their song "What Nationality Is Les Murray?". Les can be seen on their video Gold! Gold!! Gold!!! accepting an ARIA Award on behalf of TISM for the album Machiavelli and the Four Seasons, on which the song appears.
  • Ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Melbourne band, Vaudeville Smash released football anthem "Zinedine Zidane". The song features Les rhyming the names of football greats such as Juan Sebastián Verón with Gianluigi Buffon.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 NAA: A2478/19 URGE J/BOX 158, Non-British European migrant selection documents, National Archives of Australia
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2014/06/07/les-murray-end-era
  3. 3.0 3.1 Les Murray, AM – a refugee kid who became Australia’s face of football Refugee Council of Australia media release, June 2008
  4. Brunch – Les Murray (Mr Football) at 702 ABC Radio Sydney, 22 June 2008
  5. 5.0 5.1 From Hungary to Australia: Les Murray's Life Interview by Richard Aedy, Life Matters ABC Radio National, 12 June 2006. [This is a 35-minute audio MP3—No transcript is available]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Murray, Les (2006). 'By the Balls: Memoir of a football tragic' (first ed.). Random House Australia. ISBN 978-1-74051-355-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours". Australian Government. Retrieved 15 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. SBS – Les Murray Takes On New Role Media release at Entertainment News, 30 October 2006
  9. "Ethics Committee". FIFA. Retrieved 10 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "http://www.thefootballsack.com/2011/06/footy-fans-unite-downunder.html" The Football Sack, Retrieved 2 August 2011
  11. "http://discover.scu.edu.au/2011/issue6/index.php/5" Southern Cross University, Retrieved 2 August 2011
  12. http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2014/05/30/les-more-zinedine-zidane-hits-airwaves

Further reading

Murray, Les By the Balls: Memoir of a football tragic, autobiography. Random House Australia, 2006. ISBN 978-1-74051-355-5

External links