This may or may not prove to be a political omen, but an Anglo-Scottish power-sharing arrangement comes into effect today when Andy Murray and Kim Sears marry in Dunblane Cathedral.
Novak Djokovic, Mr Murray’s precise contemporary and oldest tennis friend, will not be there. Asked why, the Serb laconically replied: “Not invited.” The same goes for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Tomáš Berdych and the rest of the tennis world’s top ten.
This wedding will be anything but flash. The non-guest list is simply stellar, with the serried ranks of the uninvited including compatriots Sir Sean Connery (a fervent Murray cheerleader at grand slam tournaments) and Billy Connolly.
“There won’t be any celebrities as such,” Mr Murray has said. He and Kim have restricted the invitations to “everyone we’re close to”.
The most gratifying absentees will be OK! or Hello! magazine, whose seven-figure offers were rejected. Admittedly, the party will be held at the nearby hotel Mr Murray bought recently for £1.8m. Apart from that minor detail, and the fact that a bunting-bedecked Dunblane will erupt with celebration, this will be a determinedly ordinary wedding. Since Mr Murray exploded on to the scene at Queen’s Club in 2005, little has made me prouder of him than this.
During that decade of following his career with alarming obsessiveness, I have been bemused and ashamed by the arrogant, vinegary Little Englander contempt that hints potently at why so many Scots share the ambition Mr Murray tweeted on the eve of the referendum to leave the Union.
Daintily distressed by the on-court curmudgeonliness that masks a warm and witty personality, and his joke about supporting “anyone but England” at football, for years the English blinded themselves to his genius. In fact it was obvious from his first appearances as a weak-limbed 16-year-old.
He may have lacked Tim Henman’s cap-doffing prep school niceties, as his mother Judy lacks the Henman parents’ glacial Home Counties reserve. For all that, you might have imagined that this country, south of the Tweed as well as to its north, had become sated by good grace in plucky defeat.
Solely because his rivals happen to be the three finest tennis players in history, it was a depressingly long time before his brilliance was rewarded. Without wishing to brag, I take much of the credit that it eventually was.
Ringside at a boxing event at Upton Park on a rain-sodden night in 2012, shortly after Mr Murray lost his first Wimbledon final to Mr Federer then avenged that defeat in the Olympic gold medal match, I was startled to find him in the next seat. For an hour, as he signed dozens of autographs and posed for endless selfies with unflinching patience and charm, I was dumbstruck. Eventually, I offered a hand. “Hi,” he said shyly, as if his identity was a matter of obscurity, “I’m Andy.”
Taking advice from a deranged person wearing a cellophane sheet as a rain hat cannot be fun for a world-class sportsman. But when informed of my overwhelming feeling that he would break his grand slam duck in the US Open if he could hold his nerve against Mr Djokovic, he simulated polite interest and thanked me.
The night of 10 September 2012 was not a relaxing one for the hyperfan. Watching at home with an equally besotted friend, we paced the room in figures of eight for five hours. After yielding a two-set lead to Mr Djokovic he left the court for a bathroom break, and lectured himself in the mirror. Only he can know what he told himself, but I’m fairly sure it was on these lines: “Andy, remember what that sea monster with the plastic head sheet told you at the boxing. You will win if you hold your nerve…” Hold his nerve he magnificently did, and any lingering doubt about his greatness evaporated within a year when he beat the Serb at Wimbledon.
Back surgery, the loss of coach Ivan Lendl and psychic aftershocks from that Wimbledon win conspired to ruin his game. He has won no majors since, and is only now gradually returning to his peak. But the love of Mr Murray transcends his form.
In the era of conspicuous vulgarity, his and Kim’s wedlock provides the belated antidote to the Beckhams’ nuptial golden thrones. A timewarp echo of Stanley Matthews sharing the bus home with fans after a thumping Blackpool win, this anti-bling demigod seems miraculously unaltered by the fame and wealth. His idea of hedonism is walking the dogs with Kim in the Surrey countryside. He would rather lose 0-6, 0-6 to the one-legged world 1,077 from Guam, I suspect, than hang with Tom Cruise in LA. He flogged his Ferrari quickly after buying it because it made him feel ridiculous.
His loyalty to his town and those bereaved in the tragedy he survived beneath his headmaster’s desk is unwavering. Somehow, after all the years of first-class plane seats and distant hotel suites as a globally recognised figure, he remains a thoroughly local hero. Dunblane, as it will show today, appreciates how blessed it is to have him. So should we all.Reuse content