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Hitting the spot

January 14, 2019

49938217_10156959501777603_6618914077697638400_nIt seems like everybody is writing about Andy Murray.

That in itself is a guide to his impact and influence. And the words they are using testify to the love and respect in which he is held by so many – in the world of tennis and sport – but far beyond that.

He is that rarest of 21st century sporting icons in that he is exactly how you would want him to be – an example to youngsters, an inspiration to aspirant sportspeople, and a credit to family, hometown and country.

His pride in his hometown and in Scotland has always been perfectly pitched. No gallus “Wha’s like us” for this son of Dunblane, not the usual Scots representative: not the hard man midfielder who runs around kicking folk, nor the celebrity who feels he should belittle the people and institutions he has “left behind”, no need for this guy to utter that saddest of sentences “I’m a proud Scot, but….”

Maybe this is the impact of surviving tragedy, or of spending time furth of the country in his adolescence. He certainly has a sound perspective – and for that I’m inclined to credit, among others, his mother, Judy.

What a rock she has been for him. The predictable “pushy mother” sneers have been taken in her stride. If she could be called “pushy” it’s in her unstinting efforts for young people all over Scotland in tennis, sport, and general health and fitness. That she has had the time to support Andy while providing inspiration to so many is quite remarkable.

Credit also to the rest of his family. No doubt the tabloids would have loved a battle between his mother and father but both have been the soul of public discretion while Jamie, no tennis slouch himself, has been hugely supportive of his wee brother.

I guess the story of Andy Murray is one of roots, family, common sense, and talent – honed with sheer hard graft and the capacity to accept direction and advice. All of which makes him a perfect role model for Hibs’ youngsters Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous – and any other future talents he may mentor.

When Andy won his first grand slam title – the US Open in September 2012 – I was actually staying around 80 miles away from Flushing Meadow with cousins in the East End of Long Island. So close but so far.

As his game began we were with extended family in a sports cafe in Southampton. It was actually the last time I would be with my three American cousins – two have since died.

The fun was raucous and the cafe was busy. However, in a back bar, I could see tennis on the tv. None of the family were into tennis and were oblivious to the drama that was playing out in the flickering distance.

There followed a meal of rather divided attention during which keeping track of the score was almost impossible.

However, on the way out, I managed to spot that Andy was still fighting. Arriving home to my cousin’s house, I thought the final set might still be playing out.

There was an anguished request that we might switch on the tv for the end of the match. Luckily, being a lovely person, my cousin spotted the urgency in my voice and maybe understood some of my babbling about Scotland, Dunblane, Hibs etc

We were left in front of the tv to experience that familiar Murray-watching churning stomach – thousands of miles from home but a 70 minute drive from where it was all happening.

When it finished, the family had gone to bed so they didn’t see us laughing and crying on the sofa. It was a good feeling to be near the scene of victory and made better by being in the home of our own family as we celebrated for the Murray family.

I thought of Andy’s grandparents, Ex Hibs player, Roy Erskine and his wife, I thought of the families of Dunblane who so deserved a new reason for acknowledgement, and I thought of the roads and miles his mum and dad, brother and wife had covered on the journey to success.

When I think of Andy Murray, now and, I suspect for always, I think of family – and all it means, and sport – and all it can be.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Dave Ross permalink
    January 15, 2019 4:40 pm

    What a delightful post. As a proud Scot, a prouder Celt, Andy Murray epitomises most of what’s great about Scottish character; wit, dour, dry, eccentric, and in his case brave and determined.
    8 grand slam finals, up yours Tim and Greig, fae Dunblane! If ever a toon needed a miracle.
    When will we see his likes again!

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