I’ve got to hold my hands up, I’m surprised to be sat here writing this.
Just a couple of days ago, I was pretty sure nothing could get me on side with Andy Murray and, as far as I could tell, he wouldn’t have been lying awake all night fretting over what I thought about him. I haven’t really changed my perception about that if I’m being honest – given that I’ve never met the man it would be somewhat alarming to me if he was.
For reference, if that were to be the case, I’d probably pretend to indulge him while I checked his house for any sign of shrining and, depending on what I turned up, either let him get on with it (under careful monitoring from afar) or call in the professionals if it seemed particularly severe. I haven’t had so many negative experiences with celebrities becoming obsessed with me since the restraining order I had placed on Craig Doyle; that seems to have done the trick as far as deterring them, although I did once catch Lee Dixon fishing my used Starbucks cup out of a bin, when I went to Welwyn Garden City on a bank holiday (he dropped it and ran away when a pigeon flew at him – shit scared of birds he is).
Lee Dixon religiously listens to ABBA while he paints endless portraits of Mick Fleetwood, using only tomato ketchup and his own bathwater, always while wearing ill-fitting floral print dresses. He then tries unsuccessfully to sell these outside Morrison’s on the High Road.
I actually didn’t see anything post-match straightaway on Sunday because I had a train to catch but I was texting one of my friends about the match and, when I said something about how it was hard to feel bad for him, he responded by saying he had instantly become likeable thanks to a genuinely emotional speech.
I was sceptical. Andy Murray!? A man who looks like he’s been having salt, sauce, and hot piss on his chips for dinner every night for the past twenty-something years?
Well, assuming Andy Murray has little or no interest in stealth-collecting mementos of my existence, I have now completely changed tack on the man. I’ll willingly admit that I found his speech after Sunday’s final very difficult to watch. I actually instantly welled up a bit (a lot) as he choked out “I’m getting closer”. I couldn’t help myself.
In that one sentence he suddenly became incredibly human. It was raw, genuine, and uncontainable emotion on show in front of thousands of people; people who surely all went “Aww!” in unison.
I think that was what we needed to see from Andy. A lot of us have probably been kidding ourselves that this man, who none of us know, was a completely one-dimensional character – gruff, ambivalent, and cold. It’s easy to forget, when people are in the public eye, that they are in reality human beings and that we don’t get to see enough of them to make real judgements on their character.
Not only that, but like it or not we are all led to some extent by the media’s agenda on how to feel about certain issues and people. Even now, while there is no escaping the fact that you would have to possess a heart of stone not to be on side with him after that outpouring of emotion, he will be treated like a saint by the press until at least the next Wimbledon.
We’ll all have to be careful about that – he might still be a tosser who was just having a good day.
For now though, we should all give him the benefit of the doubt and congratulate Andy, not just for putting in a sterling effort to get to the final, but for allowing himself to cry in public, for being gracious in defeat, and for being generally very classy this past Sunday.
R-Feds described this as a potential watershed moment in Andy’s career. I think he’s probably right; not necessarily in the sense that he will come back a better player, because I suspect he’s playing at close to the top of his game at the minute, or that he’ll probably go on to win a load of trophies, as Nadal and Djokovic look like being immovable obstacles for the foreseeable future, but I suspect the nation will now truly embrace him in a way they haven’t really up until now.
Let’s be honest, he’s a safe bet for the Sport’s personality of the year trophy this year, isn’t he?
And will that will cheer him up?
Probably not – it is after all a big pile of pointless wank.