Murray boosts town that forever lives in shadow of tragedy

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There is an air of quiet pride among the residents of Dunblane, home town to Britain's latest tennis hopeful Andrew Murray.

There is an air of quiet pride among the residents of Dunblane, home town to Britain's latest tennis hopeful Andrew Murray.

There are no banners , posters or fluttering flags to be seen in the picture-postcard streets.

Over-the-top shows of affection and support, such as those shown by Henman fans, are alien to the mild-mannered population of this community which despite numbering only 10,000 is officially a city.

Just as Murray has gone out of his way to play down his chances of beating David Nalbandian today, friends and neighbours have remained reserved in their public show of adulation.

"We are all very proud of him. He deserves all the success in the world but we are also frightened for him," said a resident, Judith Cook

"He is still very young and we don't want him to feel too much pressure and end up like poor Tim Henman. The media built him up into a hero and when he lost they ripped him apart."

The family of the teenage tennis sensation are thrilled but not surprised at his success to date.

"I don't know how I'm going to cope with this tension when Andy plays his third-round match," said his grandfather Roy Erskine.

"[He] has coped remarkably well with the pressure but we don't want people to get carried away now he is the only Brit left in the tournament. Talk of him reaching the final is stupid," said the 73-year-old retired optician, who admitted losing a £10 bet over the result of the thrilling second-round match at Wimbledon.

For Dunblane, Murray's success is another bandage on the emotional wounds which remain almost 10 years after Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 small children and a teacher in three minutes of carnage in the local primary school gym.

Murray survived the massacre by taking refuge in the headmaster's office and, like the rest of the community, has striven to put the nightmare behind him.

"Maybe now Andrew is doing so well people will think of him instead of the tragedy when they hear the name Dunblane," said Elizabeth Howie, a pensioner who claimed she had become a tennis fan only recently.

Her fellow Murray supporter Jane Thomson, 42, said "it is nice to see Dunblane being mentioned for the right reasons now".

"So many of the kids who were at Dunblane Primary School at the time of the massacre have gone on to achieve things. What they went through made them stronger and more focused on what they want to do, and you can see that in Andy," she said.

At the Dunblane Arms Hotel, staff were preparing to host a "bit of a party" during today's match. The landlord Tom McLean and his wife, Emily, were making posters promising discounted drinks for customers watching the match at the hotel.

"People round here aren't into flag-waving much but we are very proud of Andrew and want him to do well," Mr McLean said.

Last night Andrew's uncle, Neil Erskine, was rescheduling appointments so he could fly down to London.

"This is Andrew's first match on centre court so I wouldn't want to miss it, whatever the outcome," said the optician, whose sister Judy has masterminded her teenage son's career.

"This is just the start of his career and to have done as well as he has at this stage is fantastic," he said.

The bookmakers Coral have slashed the odds for Murray to win Wimbledon from 250-1 to just 50-1.

Last night there were half-a-dozen youngsters on the tennis courts of Dunblane Sports Club trying to emulate the performance of their local hero.

"If he can do it, maybe I can," said one young girl confidently.