When Andy Murray steps onto Centre Court at Wimbledon today to face the big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, he will no doubt be expecting his usual rousing reception from the crowd. But he may be in for something of a surprise.
South West London, and the area around the All England Club in particular, is home to an unusually high number of South African expats, all of whom will be hoping that the 6ft 8in Anderson can become the first of their countrymen to reach the last 16 in the singles tournament since Wayne Ferreira in 2000.
Greg Crammond, 40, who is originally from Durban, will be one of a large South African contingent making their voices heard from the Centre Court stands today. He moved to the UK 15 years ago and is manager of The Slug in Wimbledon, where he says 80 per cent of the clientele are “Saffas”. But despite his loyalty to the UK, he has no doubt who he will be supporting.
“In the old days we used to obviously all support Wayne Ferreira, but he’s not around any more, so Kevin Anderson is the one now,” he said. “I personally know of about 40 [South Africans] who are going to the match. Andy’s a great player so it’s probably going to be a bridge too far for him – but you never know, he’s got a great serve.”
He added: “We do show Wimbledon in the bar, and whenever there’s a South African playing the customers will always support them, even if they are expats who’ve been living here for years. They are quite vocal as well – it’s not great for somebody who’s an Andy Murray supporter.”
The number of South Africans living in England and Wales has risen by 60,000 in the last decade to 191,000, according to figures from the 2011 census. About a third of the total expat population live in London, largely concentrated in the South Western suburbs of Wimbledon, Southfields and Clapham Junction.
“They call Southfields ‘Saffa-fields’ because there are so many South Africans there,” said Mr Crammond. “There’s a bit of greenery which reminds us of home. It’s just happened over the years. The majority of South Africans I know all live in this area as well.”
Anderson, 28, said last week he was a big fan of US rapper Eminem and might pump himself up before his match against the defending champion by blasting it at full volume. He also joked that he might relax by watching Ricky Gervais, one of his favourite comedians, who he met after beating Fabio Fognini. “Maybe I’ll watch some of his stand up before,” he said. “Just some of his stand-up shows and some of his gigs with Karl Pilkington. I’ve been a huge fan.”