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Andy Murray is a winner. Is that why some Brits don’t like him?

Posted on 28 June 2009 | 9:06am

For a few humid, air-cracking minutes, I was
sure I was going to witness another moment in history yesterday – namely the
first competitive tennis played under the new roof at Wimbledon.

Somehow, with giant hailstones and mini-flash
floods hitting the other side of London, it stayed dry in SW19. Instead the
history we witnessed was the next chapter in the emergence of a real winner, in
the form of Andy Murray.

I don’t mean winner as in someone who won the
match 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 against Serbia’s Viktor Troiki. I mean winner as in someone
who has the word stamped all through his newly hewn physique.

Tennis comes fairly well down my list of
favourite sports, certainly after football, athletics, cricket, both codes of
rugby, cycling, triathlon, golf and boxing, but one of my sons is a big tennis
fan so we make a point of going to Wimbledon at least once each year if we can.

Yesterday I am glad I did.I last saw Andy Murray
close up a couple of years ago at Queen’s. This is a new model in so many ways.
His body, in particular shoulders and legs, is  different,
bigger, more muscular, giving him a more confident and composed demeanour.

But new bulk and strength have not led to loss
of pace or touch. He is also much stronger mentally. You just see it in the way
he warms up, the way he plays, the way he handles himself between points. It
was a ruthless performance.

There was one point in particular yesterday, in
the third set when he was in the process of breaking his opponent
psychologically, when he looked three times to have lost the point. He just
never gave up. And he won it.

I also noticed that when he lost a point on a
lucky net chord to his opponent, he did not even look over for the customary
apology that follows. He was head down, readying himself for the next point.
Focussed. Ruthless.

His win was fairly rapturously received. Yet
there had been quite a few ‘come on Viktor’ English voices
urging on his opponent.

Murray himself is on record as saying he
supports anyone but England at football, so maybe it is an anti-Scottish thing
that provokes that kind of reaction to someone flying the British as well as
the Scottish flag.

But I wonder if those who complain about
Murray’s ‘attitude’ – and I heard a few yesterday – are not actually objecting
to his winning mentality.

Is there something about us that prefers the
good loser to the sometimes surly, sometimes edgy, obsessively determined

In the front row of the Royal box sat three
knights of sport, Chris Hoy, Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent. Murray, I would
venture, is in that league in terms of his natural talent and, more important,
what he is doing with it.

At 6.51pm, he won a game won with four
successive aces, followed by three aces in the next game he served. It was
brutal to watch.

What I like about him is that he and his team
worked out what he needed to do to go from great potential to the likelihood of
fulfilment of it, and he is so clearly doing it. I like too the fact that he
appears not to care

too much what people think or say of him.

He is already loaded beyond the expectations of
any child who picks up a racket. I hope he does not care too much about that
either. Because what shines through is that he cares about winning. It’s great
to watch.

He will win plenty of big tournaments, which
will be great for Britain, whatever the ‘come on Viktor’ Brits may have thought
as they cheered on someone they had likely never heard of till yesterday.
Interesting too that those who do support him can’t decide if it is ‘come on Andy’
or ‘come on Murray.’ There was never any such doubt over Tim Henman.

I would be surprised if Henman’s successor as
Britain’s Number 1 cares what they call him, so long as he keeps winning.

  • Simon Leonard

    Alastair, I watched the Murray match on tv and it just seemed like those few people who shouted out for his opponent were doing it out of sympathy rather than to spite Murray.

    I agree though that Brits do love a plucky loser, everyone knows who Eddie The Eagle is but how many could actually name any successful British winter olympians.

    This could be starting to change though. The attitude of Stuart Pearce and the U21s is brilliant in that they’ve stated getting to the european final isn’t enough, they have to win it.

    Anyone want to bet there will be at least one post on here blaming Labour for the problem by ‘destroying’ competitive sport in schools 🙂

  • Mal Kellis

    No, some Brits don’t like him because there is nobody in any walk of life who can command universal support.People can admire his skill without having to like him. Also sport does attract pettitness and that is what the come on Viktor syndrome is all about. Good blog btw. I enjoy the politics but also like it when you branch out like this

  • Cassie Hills

    People have to remember he is a very young man still. I think we expect far too much of sports people. He is a tennis player, not a PR man. He should be what he is and as you say not worry too much about anything other than how he plays.

  • Paul C-T

    I think there is an anti-Scottish sentiment in some people’s opinion of Andy Murray. There’s also a general tiredness around English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish sport. Take Rugby Union for example, the Scots have Flower of Scotland, the Welsh have Land of My Fathers etc… So why is it that the English have to sing God Save The Queen? Is this not the national anthem of Great Britain? If not then it should be… English rugby fans should be hoarse before each game having raised the roof and the spirits of the players with a hearty rendition of Jerusalem or Swing Low Sweet Chariot or Land of Hope and Glory. I am a huge supporter of the monarchy as a symbol of what is Great about Britain – we are where we are in the world because of our great and glorious past not inspite of it; so my comments are not anti-royal but pro an English identity.

    So back to the point… Andy declares himself Scottish before he is British so who is he representing at Wimbledon? As it is an individual event one assumes he is representing himself, as a Scot. Henman was an Englishman and that is why even if Andy wins Wimbledon it will still and always be Henman Hill.

  • @claretsgirl

    To be honest, I think it’s the mid-Atlantic/ Californian/ Scottish brogue that winds people up! A Brit or a semi-Brit. is he ours anymore? The odd race that we are, we always prefer the underdog; a Brit who is an underdog has sure-fire support … is the nation not as sympathetic now the underdog tag is gone?

  • Kevin Lohse

    Alistair. English voices or voices in English? There are lots of Serbs in London who speak very good, accentless English. Why is it OK for a Scot to refuse to support fellow britons, but bad for britons to refuse to support a Scot?
    Having said that, Andy has matured into a very good tennis player who can beat anyone on his day, and is becoming evermore consistant in his performance. I wish him nothing but success and hope he’ll win the All-England mens’ final this year – at least he’s a home-grown foreigner 🙂

  • Wyrdtimes

    Murray’s “anyone but England” sums up the myth of Union solidarity – there is none.

    Chippy Scots (even plastic ones) can’t support England in anything, but are surprised and horrified and manage to get even chippier when the English turn round and decide to support anyone but Scotland.

    So there’s that, there’s his charisma bypass and the fact that successive Scots in power have been shafting England for the last 10 years. More and more English are waking up to the latter and it’s far more important than the trivia of sport.

    Home rule for England.

  • Colin Morley

    “Focussed”, “Ruthless” There you have it in a nutshell. Being focussed and ruthless and not looking up for the nodded apology is just not British. “Come on Tim!!”

  • Boudicca

    For years we have had to listen to Scots saying they would support any team over that of England …. so when a few English people decline to support a Scot, why are they surprised.

    This is played out in the political ‘field of play’ by Scotland (and Wales and NI) having their own Parliaments, but one for England is not allowed. Scottish MPs can vote on English-only matters, but English MPs can’t do likewise in Scotland.

    Andy Murrey is a good tennis player and I really don’t care whether he is a Scot or not. I just don’t particularly warm to him because (certainly when he was younger) he comes across as a rude, arrogant, and unpleasant character with a chip on his shoulder. That MAY be because he is Scottish and has inherited a national/cultural inferiority complex which has to be countered by aggression and rudeness – but we see a similar inability to radiate pleasantness, charm and even likeability in our Prime Minister and many of his Scottish Ministers.

    What a shame Nadal isn’t playing …. a great player and one with a huge reserve of personal charm.

  • Anne

    One of my best friends is from Glasgow, one of my sporting heros is Colin Hendry. I am not anti scottish but I just don’t warm to Murray.

    I will be pleased if he wins, but I haven’t connected to him, which means I won’t go the extra mile to watch him, like we did to see Redgrave and Pincent win gold – or England play in Japan. Its a hearts and mind thing – in my mind I know he is a great sports person and admire him for that but in my heart – I’m just not bothered whether he wins or not. Its why even if he win’s he will not be BBC Sports Personality of the year. That has to be that boy Giggsey – who has won it 11 times!

  • Jake

    Strange analogy as you’re a loser and most brits don’t like you.

  • Martin

    Isn’t Murray British when he wins……and Scottish when he loses?

  • Em

    Even here many support “anyone but England” and it doesn’t take a genius to understand the psychology of it. People like an underdog and England is anything but.

    Connecting with an audience is not entirely contingent on performance. What’s the point of Murray winning if his attitude winds up keeping sponsors away? I can separate work and product from the human being and judge them separately. That being said, we all prefer it when success is granted to humble and level-headed human beings. Gives us a sense that there is a moral order to this universe.

  • Alan Quinn

    I’m proud to be English and British but love to see Scotland lose, it’s called rivalry. As a nation, in boxing for example we love Frank Bruno but never seem to recognise the true brilliance of Joe Calzaghe.
    I do think this is changing, our cyclists are ruthless, our swimmers are getting better and old Physcho is doing the business with the U-21s.(so far).
    We need to be as ruthless as Murray and start to humiliate opponents, we need to be getting medals rather than personal bests.
    Whilst you’re on about tennis Ally, how about some praise for the All England Club? They’ve not gone the way of others in selling their soul for TV money and massive sponsorship but have stuck with long term partners such as Slazenger and Robinsons. If only they could have some influence on the square mile…………

  • Alan Quinn

    While I’m at it AC I have an idea re England in the world cup and raising money for charity. It might be a bag of shit but if it works you could be remembered as the Scotsman who raised money helping England.

  • Wyrdtimes


    England is the underdog though.

    England does not even officially exist. It doesn’t get any more underdog than that. In fact sport is just about the only area where the English are allowed to actually be English.

    We have no recognition and no representation. England is one of the only nations in the world to have no parliament. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments England has the “UK” parliament. Which is intent on the complete destruction of England via the English regions project – despite the idea being rejected the only time the establishment dared to put it to a vote.

    Surveys disagree but are consistently coming out with a majority in favour of an English parliament. This should come as no surprise, England too is a proud historic nation. But the people are not consulted and there is no referendum.

  • Brian Moylan

    I feel sorry to be Welsh with such mainly “English” type responses coming through; are you not also of the UK Alastair?

    Because I am Welsh I have had to put up with being called a citizen of “United Krapness”, a terrorist (because of some knob’s attempted bombing of Prince Charles in the 70s); because my surname comes from Ireland I am a member of the IRA too.

    re: Alan Quinn: us Welshies should just lose, because we’re losers are we, like the Scots?
    For me personally, add “brain damaged” “losers” like me as well and the UK is truly knackered isn’t it? Thanks Alan Quinn.

    Or was it all just a “great laugh”? To call somebody with a brain injury a “terrorist”, if not that then a “hack”, just make sure that the brain injured moron cannot get anywhere? Make the brain injured moron who used to work for the WAG and had to be employed under the “friend” of the boss, the friend that happened to be a (perhaps prospective?) Conservative Councillor, crawl to these “powers”.


    Because I was harrased loads and labelled a “NuLab hack” before I could even talk properly (had no idea wha6t the word “nulab” was meant to be) I thought hmm, on to something here; a bit like when eight years before, when the Conservstive estalishment of Italy tried to cover up Genoa G8 brutalities with direct and indirect Police and Paramilitary action.

    Where will the Conservative response end?

  • gary Enefer

    It is amusing to me (and me only probably) that you ask why some ‘brits’ don’t like him. I am sure Scottish and Welsh and Northern Irish Brits like him because of his anti – England comments.

    He is a small town boy and you don’t really feel you are in Great Britain unless you are in England so he needs to be forgiven for his comments-he could have said worse . Scotland always feels like Scotland when I am there.

    Scotland and Spain produced him and we other brits should respect that.

  • christine higginbottom

    Dear Alastair,

    The tendering process to run Blackpool’s Mental Health Day Services ends today. The next stage is to complete a shortlist.Then we wait to see what service will be provided.

    Incidentally, I continue to email Blackpool Council with questions about their level 3 (structured day service).They seem to have become “fed up” with me, and I have been passed to the “customer care team”, who do not seem to reply to emails to date.

    Hoping that Blackpool Council fulfil their obligations to the most severely ill, if not I will fight on unceasingly.

    Thank you, Christine.

  • Alan Quinn

    Well here’s some Welsh winners for you. Joe Calzaghe who I mentioned, Ryan Giggs, most ever league titles and your RU team.

  • Brian Moylan

    OK Alan, thanks, I was being a little flippant 😉