“The changing room at Banbridge Town is like no other,” according to Tuda Murphy.
Town’s Player of the Season has called time on his spell at the club and his career, but not without the highest of praise for the local club.
The 35 year-old stopper enjoyed a career that included international football and a lengthy spell in the Irish League’s top tier. His abilities, most notably under crosses, caught admirers from George Town to Windsor Park.
But in all of that, he says, there was one thing his final club can boast above any other.
“I have been around a lot of clubs and the changing room at Banbridge Town is like no other one I’ve ever been a part of in terms of attitude, heart and determination. It’s amazing,” he said.
“Even at Glenavon, the changing room wasn’t like it is at Town. There are no divas at all. Everyone loves the club and plays for the shirt because a lot of them are from Banbridge. I love that.”
The former Cayman Islands international played for only one season at Crystal Park but caught the affection of supporters, even named the club’s Player of the Season.
So when his career’s on such a high, why call an end?
“My heart isn’t there anymore,” he explained.
“I want to be able to spend more time with my kids. These days I prefer to go and watch my son play or to do some coaching with him or with other guys. I’m going into a different phase now.
“Stuart (King) said he could make sure I was happy at the club but it was nothing against him or anyone else. It was all down to me and my heart.
“I really wish that I wanted to play more because physically I could go on but I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. Towards the end of last season, I was struggling but I wanted to finish off the year.
“At least we did the job and we kept the club in that division. They should be in Championship One and hopefully they can push on but at least we could keep them up there.”
The goalkeeper leaves Town with positive words for everyone at the club. He even reckons Stephen Greene should be playing in Northern Ireland’s top tier. Not even ‘Greener’ though could claim Tuda’s top affections at Town.
That accolade falls with club President Andrew Cully.
“I’ve never clicked with somebody so well,” said Murphy. “Andrew’s always washing the kits and picking up the dirty clothes and getting everything sorted. He had my respect from the start.”
Tuda played in his native Cayman Islands and the USA before moving to Northern Ireland and signing for Donegal Celtic. It was at Glenavon where he really made his name locally, earning all of the club’s Player of the Season awards for the 07/08 campaign.
“I wish I had got the opportunity to play at the highest level for longer because I felt I had the ability to do it,” he recalls.
“After the situation at Glenavon, I jumped around a few clubs but I wasn’t happy with myself.”
Tuda won seven international caps, the final four coming in 2008 when he was starring for Glenavon.
“It breaks my heart a bit that I didn’t savour those matches more,” he said. “I was at Glenavon and everything was going well. I expected to play more times. I wish I had appreciated it all more.”
It’s on to a new chapter for Tuda now and he’s happy to be the one to decide to hang up the gloves.
“I like the fact that I’m going out knowing that I could still play. I’m going out on my own terms and I didn’t wait until I got bad,” he laughed.
Tuda may return to an Irish League dugout as a coach but his time on the pitch appears to be at an end.
The jovial character is no doubt one of the top keepers in Town’s recent history and throughout his career has won admirers across the country.