Johnny Murray was a much-celebrated multisport coach at Windsor-Walkerville High School. The first WSSA football coach to capture six titles, he also won a Canadian Inter-Scholastic Championship as a basketball coach. As an athlete, he was a member of Windsor first nationally sanctioned Canadian Champion sports team.
Murray was born on July 18, 1904 in London, Ontario where he attended St. Peter’s Separate School as a classmate of Guy Lombardo, the famed orchestra leader.
Murray moved to Windsor as youth, where he attended Assumption High School and College. There, he starred in football, basketball, and baseball.
After his school days, Murray enjoyed a fruitful career with the Windsor Alumni Senior Men’s Basketball team. In 1927, his Alumni reached the Canadian Finals, dropping the title to the Winnipeg Toilers. The following year, Murray’s team became Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball Champions, Windsor Alumni, making them the first Windsor team to hold a nationally recognized title. The Alumni defeated the University of British Columbia 29-23 and 35-23 in a two-game total-points series, contested at Windsor Arena. The team, coached by Gordon Fuller, also included Bill and Les Butcher, Eddie Dawson, Frank Dowd, Al Edwards, Gourley Howell, Clarence Kenney, Don King, and Carm Wood. Later, Murray also won Ontario Senior Championships with the Alumni in 1930 and ’32.
In 1928-29, Murray trained to work as a teacher at the Ontario College of Education in Toronto, during which time he played basketball for the University of Toronto. He returned to Windsor in 1929 to begin what became a forty-year teaching career at Windsor-Walkerville High School, which would later become W. D. Lowe. Murray achieved legacy-defining success as a coach of many sports a Windsor-Walkerville.
As a football coach, Murray won three sets of back-to-back titles to become the first WSSA coach to win six football championships. He won titles in 1934 and ’35 (with star player Mike Hedgewick), 1938 and ’39 (with Bill Hodgins, Steve Zepka, and Al Lenard), and then 1944 and ’45 (with Bud Westlake and Roy Battegello). Murray’s teams added WOSSA title in 1935, ’38, and ’39.
In 1933, Murray coached the school’s basketball team to the Canadian Inter-Scholastic Championship. Led by team captain Malcolm “Red” Wiseman, Norm Nickerson, George Chapman, and Stan Willimott, Windsor-Walkerville defeated Kennedy Collegiate Institute to win WSSA, then Kitchener C.V.I. and Aylmer High School consecutively to take WOSSA. The team overcame Hamilton Westdale to capture the Ontario title, then travelled to Quebec to defeat Montreal Strathcona in the Canadian semifinals. Finally, Murray’s squad beat Saint John Collegiate on their home court 37-29 and 34-23 in a two-game total-points series.
Away from Windsor-Walkerville, Murray coached the Windsor Grads to an Ontario Rugby Football Union Junio A Championship in 1937. Windsor defeated the Welland Clippers 13-1 and 12-5 in the finals. He was also the inaugural coach of the ORFU’s Windsor Rockets in 1945, and he led the Windsor AKO Fratmen between 1947 and ’49.
Murray passed away on December 9, 1995.