Andy Murray meant every tear. What courage he showed in trying to speak when he was choking on a bit of personal grief. Yes, until yesterday he was a boring, grim-faced bloke with a giraffe’s neck and an Adam’s Apple that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Finn McCool. His press conferences were about as exciting as a Cliff Richard concert – thank God for that roof, eh? – and he couldn’t tell a joke for toffee.
Indeed the lad who hid under a desk during the primary school massacre at Dunblane seemed to have forgotten how to smile! I mean, come on! He earns a fortune, his girlfriend’s got hair to die for and his entourage isn’t much smaller than Madonna’s. I mean, cheer up son!
But that speech. Now we know who Andy is! Cos he got upset, cos he keeps getting beat by one of three of the best players ever to hold a tennis racquet. Cos if only he had been around when the comparative lightweights like Ivanisevic and Hewitt were winning Wimbledon, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Well I’ve never got why Murray has to justify himself in the hearts of the British people. It’s bloody ridiculous, frankly. I’ve always liked the fact that he’s reserved at press conferences, that he doesn’t let down his guard – and more than that I like the fact that he’s a brilliant tennis player.
I don’t mind that he rants and raves on court, unless he puts himself off by doing it. I’d be happy if he never shed a tear on a tennis court and won three Grand Slams. You get the impression now that the press and the public wouldn’t mind if he carried the Henman baton and passed it on to the next generation of gallant losers.
As Federer prepared to serve for the match, cries of ‘Murray, Murray’ echoed around Centre Court. Wonderful, unprompted, but all in support of the inevitable loser rather than the cast-iron winner. Much like the widespread commendations for Hodgson’s grim Euro 2012 campaign, give a man a ‘plucky and emotional’ tag and this country will embrace you like no other.
Well I’m telling you, Mo Farah, I’m telling you, Jessica Ennis, I’m telling you Ben Ainslie, Rebecca Adlington, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and the rest of you, you’ll get nowt off me for coming second. Then again you know that or you wouldn’t have won so much already.
Not that I’m having a pop at Murray. There are those who claim he missed his chances, he got passive, he didn’t impose himself like he should. Well maybe, but only a little bit. For here’s the other thing. I know we’re used to Roger Federer by now, but to make the whole match about Britain’s relationship with its best tennis player for 70 years (and word is that no one much cared for that victorious bighead Fred Perry either), seems to me to be the height of neglect.
Federer was bloody marvellous. There is something close to divine about the way he plays the game. Opponents, even quick ones like Murray, seem to be huffing and puffing and straining every sinew as they go about the court; Federer doesn’t even glide so much as teleport himself across the court.
The two drop-volleys at the end of the second set defied description, so beautiful were they, but I’ll do my best: they were the crossed ‘t’s’ and dotted ‘i’s’at the end of a couple of sentences written by a great calligrapher. Murray, a man who is often described as ‘having all the shots’ learnt a few more at the feet of the master.
I mean yes sometimes the fact that it all looks so effortless can get a tad irritating. And the RF brand of clothing is one of the naffest that’s ever adorned a sporting competition. I’ve never seen anyone other than Fed and his entourage actually wear the damn stuff, probably cos your average Joe realises it looks really crap and a bit fey.
But there are times when you reckon the Swiss could win a 28-stroke rally while setting out a table for a spot of afternoon tea. He is the greatest tennis player there’s ever been. There’s no shame in getting beaten by him. There’s even less shame in crying when you talk to the public after losing to him. It’s just a bit of a shame that we needy people seem to require such emotional outbursts before we can truly feel we like a person.
I mean our postman delivered our mail for 25 years but I never felt I truly knew him til I found him slumped on the pavement having broken his ankle. He never misposted one of my letters in all that time but I just couldn’t warm to him as a man.
I never much cared for my brother-in-law either. He was a tight-lipped right-wing bastard with a locktight wallet. Until one day, his cat died and you could not hold him up such was his grief.
And when John Terry burst into tears after he missed that penalty in Moscow – well, that’s when I truly realised that I’ll never warm to that bloke in a million bloody years.
So, in short, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job – if you’re a sportsperson, even a brilliant, committed, hard-working one like Andy Murray – make sure you have a wobbly emotional moment in public and we’ll all love you. Forever.