Champagne on ice - and fingers crossed - in Murray's hometown

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The Independent Online

The champagne is on ice; the bacon rolls ordered and alarm clocks set unusually early for a Sunday morning in almost every home in Dunblane.

Its residents woke on tenterhooks ahead of Andy Murray's Grand Slam final in the Australian Open. Pubs, clubs, shops and homes are decked in blue and white Saltire flags bearing messages of support for the 22-year-old tennis player who has helped to change international perceptions of Dunblane.

For the past 14 years, the image of the pretty, historic town has been tainted by the tragic events of 13 March 1996 when Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and their teacher before killing himself. Murray, a pupil of the school at the time, is one of a generation whose lives are clouded by the tragedy. Now, with the possibility of his becoming the first British tennis champion to win a Grand Slam title for 74 years, Murray has helped to lift that cloud.

The Dunblane Hotel has a special licence to serve alcohol from 8am. The hotel, dubbed Murray HQ because of its unswerving support, has been chilling the fizz for days. "The game is a massive boost for Dunblane," said the landlord, Tom McLean. "Prior to Andy coming along, Tim Henman was my favourite but he never quite reached the heights that Andy has.

"We've had a lot of great nights in the bar following Andy, but if he wins the Grand Slam it will be the best ever."

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