Mark Steel: Well done Andy Murray, some people in the pub even put their pints down

By the time Murray went up by a set and a break a heart attack was a dreadful worry, as there'd be no television in the ambulance

In all the hours of commentary and analysis yesterday, I don't think anyone said: "The place to be today is the Wetherspoon in Crystal Palace." As the match started one bloke was sat under the television doing a crossword. He should have been barred for life. This was history. It's like if someone was at the signing of the Magna Carta, and when they were asked what it was like, said: 'I didn't watch, I had a tricky anagram for three down."

If a BBC presenter had left Henman Hill to say "Let's have a wave from the Wetherspoon", viewers would have heard: "Are those nachos ready yet? I don't care if you are Sue Barker, I've been waiting 20 minutes."

The pub, like much of the country, seemed divided between those who saw it as irrelevant, and sensible people, who'd been unable to sleep since Friday and were so nervous they couldn't take solids. By the time Murray could go up by a set and a break I was sweating, with an irregular heart beat and a pain down my arm, making a heart attack a dreadful worry, as there was no guarantee they'd have a television in the ambulance.

Ivan Lendl has done the easy bit, getting Murray to stop fretting and keep calm while playing, but now he should be employed to do the much harder and more important task of teaching the rest of us how to keep calm while we're watching him.

But maybe it's the petulance, the vulnerability, the visibly intense effort that makes him so endearing.

And that's why the crucial moment in matches in which he's lost to top players isn't usually an important point, but when his back's slumped, he's clutched his ankle, and started snarling, until you expect him to stomp into the corner and play on his PS3, while his mum, Ivan and Roger plead: "Come on Andy, finish the game, the BBC have cancelled Antiques Roadshow for this so it's not fair to sulk."

So during the rain break, there should have been officials, sent by the All England Tennis Club, at every Wetherspoon to announce: "Now listen everyone, we work tirelessly to make it extremely difficult for most people to play tennis, with a century of dedicated snobbery, so for Murray to be in the final at all is one of the most stunning achievements ever in British sport so SODDING WELL WATCH."

Then, during the critical period after the rain break, the all-day drinkers and those dipping nachos were converted to the momentous events on the screen. Murray's winners were applauded and the vital game in the third set was scrutinised, and maybe this was the moment, as it seemed possible Murray really could be Wimbledon champion, that the country realised the extent of the Scot's accomplishment, just in time for Federer to sweep him away.

When Federer hit that astonishing lob that landed on the baseline, for a moment the old Murray threatened to reappear, as he pointed at the grass, as if to say: "How am I supposed to play when there's grass? They all told me we'd be playing on cushions."

But he didn't collapse, he battled magnificently, so even the people who were taking no notice at the start left at the end with a sense of aching disappointment. Especially after his speech, he may well have won the country round to spending the next few years screeching and squeaking and making up words such as "Yagadrabaraaaa" when he puts a return in the net.

Suggested Topics
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup