Wimbledon 2013, The View from Dunblane: A town once twinned with grief transformed into one of jubilation by Andy Murray's victory


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The Independent Online

Amongst the blare of car horns, skirl of bagpipes and popping of champagne corks in Andy Murray’s home town of Dunblane on Sunday the residents of this small Scottish town managed to express their delight at his historic triumph.

“It is a fantastic moment for the town,” said Alan Duncan, owner of the Dunblane Hotel and unofficial Murray HQ for fans from far and wide. “We all knew he could do it, but who would have bet he would beat Djokovic in three sets?”

Long before 26-year-old Murray walked out on to the centre court for his showdown with Novak Djokovic in front of an estimated UK television audience of 17 million, the tension was already mounting among the 9,000 residents of Dunblane.

Pubs, clubs, shops and private homes were decked in union flag bunting or the Scottish Saltire. Even the toy shop had a two-foot Lego statue of a tennis player.

For 17 years the town has been tainted by the tragic events of 13 March, 1996, when gunman Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and their teacher in the primary school’s gymnasium, before killing himself.

Murray, a pupil of the school at the time, has now helped to change the town’s reputation.

Helen Gourley, who has lived in Dunblane most of her life, said: “For a long time when you went on holiday and people asked where you came from you could see the shock or sadness on their faces. Now, they remember it as the home of Andy Murray and smile in recognition.”

The centre of the town was unusually busy as people from as far afield as Hertfordshire and San Francisco came to be part of what they hoped would be a historic occasion.

“We were on holiday just a few miles away and thought it would be a great place to come and watch the match,” said Jenny Harris from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.

By the time the match started the streets were almost deserted. While the majority of locals watched the match in their homes, the scent of barbecued “Wimbledon” sausages, specially created by the local butcher, filled the air and the supermarkets fought to keep the shelves stocked with champagne. The Dunblane Centre was filled to capacity and was forced to turn people away, but the Dunblane Hotel catered for the over-spill, with fans hovering in the street to listen through open windows and doors.

Harry Richards even brought his own bagpipes to serenade his hero onto court, much to the delight of the 100-plus crowd squeezed into the tiny hotel bar.

Almost as soon as Murray won Championship point, revellers followed the pipes out into the street from an impromptu victory parade.