Simon Kelner: Calm down everyone, it was only a game of tennis

Kelner's view

Share

What does it mean if you weren't in the least bit excited by Andy Murray?

Does it signify a lack of patriotism? Or is it because tennis is a sport that fails to get your juices flowing? Or maybe you're just a misery guts. Or perhaps a little bit of all three.

If we believe what we're told, the entire nation was in front of their television sets yesterday afternoon to watch the first British man in 74 years play in a Wimbledon singles final. The build-up was hysterical and portentous, the front page lead in virtually every Sunday newspaper. Just a little over-the-top? I was listening to the radio commentary of Murray's semi-final win against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga on Friday, and found it hard to take in the hyperbole heaped on hyperbole.

Ok, no one doubts that Murray is deserving of his place at the top table of tennis and, unlike others, I've never had a problem with his personality. In fact, I don't know what his personality is. But to listen to the commentators, you'd be forgiven for thinking Murray had just broken the world 100m record, won the Tour de France, and dribbled past the entire Spanish football team, rather than made the Wimbledon final largely because someone else had done him a favour and sent Rafael Nadal packing.

"It's going to be like 1966 all over again!" exhorted one of the excitable voices, invoking the spirit of the England World Cup-winning side. Well, no, actually. I was only eight years old when Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy, and I still remember exactly where I was, and how I felt dizzy with excitement, that sunny late afternoon. I possibly won't remember for very long that I was driving down the M40 while Murray had his appointment with history. It's also nothing to do with his Scottishness. I wouldn't feel any different if he came from Hemel Hempstead (although in the much more unlikely event that he was born in Bacup or Blackpool, I might be more able to get behind him). The fact is that while tennis is an absorbing sport, it exists in our collective consciousness for only two weeks a year, and then as something of a backdrop to a social occasion. Did you see, for instance, the acres of empty seats in the early stages of Murray's epoch-making semi-final match? Where were all those people while Murray was sweating buckets in the national cause? They were having afternoon tea, discussing Murray's heroism over Chelsea buns, finger sandwiches and fruit cake.

Now, I know these aren't real tennis devotees. Those are the ones queuing all night singing old Cliff Richard songs. But I hope you get the point. In the end, tennis doesn't really matter. I doubt that anyone in the country made so much as a cup of tea during the 1966 World Cup final. We couldn't take our eyes off it. It defined us as a nation. And that was an age when we had much more of a sense of proportion.

So, call me an anti-patriotic, uncultivated curmudgeon, but this was a moment in our momentous summer that left me cold. Sorry.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £38,000

£22000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role is a mixture of office...

Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Assistant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

An unelectable extremist who hijacked their party has already served as prime minister – her name was Margaret Thatcher

Jacques Peretti
A Del Tajo la Reina's bull falls during the second  

Spain's torture of bulls has hit a gruesome peak this year – and no thanks to the EU

Mimi Bekhechi
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests