Murray mints gold.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett

I never thought that my second blog would be about sport.  But as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tennis (couch-potato division), I wanted to mark Andy Murray’s achievements at the Olympics.  I was lucky enough to be cheering him on on Murray’s Mount (surely no longer Henman Hill?) on Sunday and a month earlier I’d shed tears along with many others as he made his emotional speech after his 4-set defeat to Roger Federer.  To see him thrash Federer (to quote the BBC’s Jonathan Overend) in straight sets was a joy.

Murray divides the British public.  If you look at a fan website such as Murrays World you’ll find passionate supporters (not just British).  But he’s taken a lot of stick from parts of the media and those who think tennis begins and ends with Wimbledon.  So many times I’ve heard grumbles that he’s a loser (ignoring 8 Masters titles); that he doesn’t smile; that he’s anti-English (because of that ‘anyone but England’ joke).  I’ve even overheard people rejoicing when he loses on the ‘anyone but Murray’ principle.

Why does this supremely talented, dedicated and modest young man attract such antipathy?  I don’t think it’s just because he can look grumpy at times.  Could it be a question of nation and class?  IPPR has identified growing anti-Scottish sentiment among the English.  And Murray has never fitted the home counties template of what a ‘gentleman’ tennis player should look and sound like.  But happily that does seem to be changing now.

More importantly from the perspective of British tennis is whether his gold and silver medals (take a bow too Laura Robson) will inspire a younger generation.  Murray has suffered from being the only world class male singles player of his generation.  There are now some genuine talents emerging in both the women’s and men’s game and the Lawn Tennis Association’s Allplay initiative aims to get more people playing tennis.  But, as its Chief Executive Roger Draper acknowledges, its ‘job now is to capitalise’ on the medals.  All thoughts welcome on how it should do so.

10 comments for “Murray mints gold.

  1. Lord Blagger
    07/08/2012 at 10:56 am

    When he’s Scots, he loses.

    When he’s British he wins.

    There is a lesson in there.

  2. MilesJSD
    07/08/2012 at 11:37 am

    This Baroness Lister post comes across as “Good us, Bad them”, and
    “Look what a good girl am I”
    “the Winner takes it all – the Loser stands so small”
    under the obsoletely-dominant Reinforcement Theory

    but also as a militantly-aggressive leftover from the gloriously scurrilous British Empire Era:

    ‘we’ “thrashed” Federer
    ‘they’ had no business “giving us the stick”

    (Such fallaciousness only makes us Sick)

  3. Twm O'r Nant
    07/08/2012 at 6:28 pm

    Why does this supremely talented, dedicated and modest young man attract such antipathy

    Partly the Dunblane legacy, which was so very unfortunate for all concerned.He’s reinvesting now though and they think the world of him.

    HE is a very hard worker at his sport, and not a natural in the way that Federer is.
    It has been a pleasure to see somebody who apparently had not much talent six or seven years ago, to improve year by year by year.

    Not many people are prpared to work that hard, but the family have been members of Queen’s Club for generations which makes a difference in tennis terms.
    Their Scottish home is Dunblane.

    One man did not understand.

  4. Gareth Howell
    08/08/2012 at 1:39 pm

    IPPR has some truth in it but you should have thought of that before the referend-ums for regional government took place slectively in the north of england in about 2002.

    You might then in the UK have had a dozen regional governments with the Welsh and the Scottish proportionately one each.

    I have mooted a new Capital building for London in the last few days (sell off Portcullis house for a nice price, more than the 900m it cost) Turn the Palace in to a museum, and build a specifically English parliament with a little space for a federal
    government on the periphery of London to form the basis of a 21stC new town, such as
    Welwyn Garden city/Crawley MK and so on.

    Don’t forget that Crawley is really london Gatwick to all intents and purposes ,so a new town with capital building 40 miles from Marble Arch is and still called London, is entirely feasible.

    (not forgetting that much of England is London any way by default; england is decadent; London is a vibrant city. After these Olympics Weymouth dorset
    may be renamed London Weymouth but it may be stretching a point a little too far)

    The new town would have a projected population of 250,000 over the course of 40 years mainly for government and ancillary workers. Their pay would be less on account of no London travelling allowances or time spent travelling.

    You gave me sixpence. Those are my thoughts,
    in this very silly Olympic season.

  5. A M Lightbody
    08/08/2012 at 5:56 pm

    How refreshing to read Baroness Lister’s blog. I’ve been a tennis fan for over fifty years and I too have followed Murray’s career with great interest and also with pride, particularly as I too am a Scot – although not one of those who has any desire to see the break-up of the UK.

    Murray is unquestionably a player whose unique talent was obvious from the moment he hit the ground running at Queens in 2005. Fortunately he did not turn out to be a nine-day wonder but has instead gone from strength to strength as his 23 titles and current world No.4 ranking show. All this has been the result of very hard work, sheer determination to never give up, and 100% dedication to the sport he loves. He has often been critised because he has never won a Grand Slam, despite reaching four finals, his misfortune being that in three of those he came up against probably the greatest player in the modern era. Murray though has gone one better by winning an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain and beating his nemesis in the process.

    How can the LTA capitalise on this? Well Murray’s earlier achievements have already seen a growth in the number of children, and young adults, who have shown an interest in the sport, something which has also been fostered by his tennis coach mother, Judy. Murray himself has shown that tennis doesn’t have to be an expensive, elitist sport (an image which Tim Henman did little to dispel) but is instead one which is open to people from all walks of life. What the LTA must now do is to use its considerable funds to provide centres throughout the UK where those wishing to do so can play and receive coaching either free of charge or for a modest fee for those who can afford it.

    This cannot happen overnight, but Murray’s career has possibly only five more years to run. Now is the time for them to fully embrace that Olympic victory and, to coin an appropriate phrase, set the ball rolling. Only by doing this can Britain’s bright tennis future be assured.

    • maude elwes
      09/08/2012 at 2:32 pm

      The Olympic madness is growing into a horror story out of all proportion.

      What are you allowing to take place in this so called ‘free country’? You close your eyes to such practice at our peril.

      Here in this link, we read a father with Parkinson disease was arrested as he watched a cycle race, for, and wait for it, ‘not smiling’ as they went past.

      This is simply another example of how close to tyranny we have become as a people. Who do you hire to do this kind of abuse? What could be the instruction given? The police in this country are out of control. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t read he had been murdered because of it. And when a case against the officer came up, some months from now, he would be free to walk our streets as he didn’t mean to kill him.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2185494/Olympics-2012-Parkinsons-sufferer-Mark-Worsfold-54-arrested-police-smiling-cycling-road-race.html

      Greatest Show on Earth. I’ll say it is.

      What a scandal.

  6. 13/08/2012 at 12:17 pm

    Baroness Lister,

    I appreciate your celebration Murray and in context of what was a great achievement in the struggle to create a culture which can survive the unique stresses and pressures of the era in which the globe can be communicated acros almost instnatly and traversed so very quickly.

    Lord Bates and his truce, the countless volunteers, the royal family and their untitled sivler medalist, the security forces, the hospitality industry, the entertainers, Lord Coe and the British public — all contributed to this greatr Olympics. It was from my point of view in relative terms a worthy competitor to Athen 2004 and Beijing 2012 and that is saying quite a bit. But from a British point of viewthe home team achieved unequaled greatness by population, the commonwaelath if treated as a total would be quite impressive in very key racesand events especially.

    It was an effort to be proud of which will long be remembered. Sports participation, development of various sites, the contribution to world order and launching of many Brits into national and world prominence will join Murray’s achievement…

  7. Gareth Howell
    13/08/2012 at 4:41 pm

    he’s taken a lot of stick from parts of the media and those who think tennis begins and ends with Wimbledon.

    Of course it does not. It starts and ends with membership of Queen’s club, whose new membership closed about 60 years ago.

  8. Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    14/08/2012 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you to everyone who has posted comments. I’ll pick up just a few points.
    Twm O’r Nant: it’s good to read an appeciation of Murray’s hard work and dedication but I have to agree with A.M. Lightbody that his talent shone out from an early age. Indeed some commentators suggest that he has more natural talent than Nadal and Djokovic.
    Gareth Howell: thanks for your thoughts on regionalism/centralism. It’s interesting how some people are interpreting the success of Murray and other Scots in the Olympics as a blow for Scottish independence. At the same time as a Yorkshirewoman by birth, I can’t help but notice the bragging rights Yorkshire has scored with its successes!
    Finally with regard to the ‘legacy’ question I agree with A. M. Lightbody that we need to overcome the elitist image tennis still has for many and make it accessible through a network of centres where children and young people can play and be coached either free or at affordable prices.
    And yes while it may be ‘a very silly Olympic season’, as someone who groaned when London won the Olympics I now believe that I was wrong. They have proved an important milestone I think in how this country sees itself and like many others I felt they demonstrated an open and inclusive country that I’m happy to be a member of.

  9. Kangkim Ratan
    31/08/2012 at 12:17 pm

    murray won the olympic final just because his opponent was fatigued.

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