We’ve just witnessed one of the most significant weekends in British sporting history. No, I’m not talking about Aston Villa’s home defeat to Watford (which cemented their status as the worst team in Premiership history) I’m referring of course to our triumphs in the tennis and boxing. How unexpected and extraordinary. I’m as happy as a cat rolling in luxury catnip.
First the tennis. Did you see it? I thought our team were magnificent. I just don’t understand people who dislike Andy Murray. He’s an absolute legend in my book. I love the fact he’s emotionally awkward; I love the way that smiling seems to cause him physical discomfort. He’s just so, well, human.
Some people demand so much from Murray. They want him to have the charisma of Andre Agassi and the grace of Roger Federer. They expect him to be as suave as David Beckham but as modest and lucid as Frank Lampard.
I’m sorry, but these people want the impossible. Andy Murray can only be who he is: a Scot with oodles of skill, a veritable cask of determination, and a sense of humour drier than a crisp glass of Muscadet. He’s a world-class tennis player, one of the best we’ve ever had, and we should savour the last few years of his career.
I know some people took umbrage at his comments about the England football team a few years ago, but it’s time to let it go. It was just a bit of banter. What do you expect a young Scotland fan to say? Murray has grown up a hell of a lot since then too. He’s from a country that overwhelming backed the SNP in the last election, but he represents Great Britain with great pride. It’s time to give him the credit he deserves.
We shouldn’t overlook the contribution of the other players though. Jamie Murray and James Ward also made big contributions throughout the campaign, and the captain Leon Smith has also done a fine job. Together they’ve achieved something pretty remarkable. I remember the days when merely competing in the top tier of the Davis Cup seemed like a pipedream. To actually win the thing is utterly surreal.
Now we move on to the boxing. I know Tyson Fury isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – he’s not exactly mine either – but beating Wladimir Klitschko is an impressive feat. He’d been the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world for as long as I can remember, yet Fury beat him comprehensively. He made a lot of so called experts look pretty stupid in the process.
It’s easy to dismiss Fury’s achievement by arguing that the fight was boring, or that Klitschko was over the hill (or never particularly good anyway) but to do so would be unfair. Fury had never fought anyone remotely world-class before, so to win so comfortably against a quality opponent was mightily impressive.
Although Fury’s behaviour is often bizarre, and he’s said some very unsavoury things over the years, he’s still one of ours. To hear the British national anthem played in Germany, and then watch a Mancunian comprehensively defeat a boxer the Germans had taken to their hearts, was one of the sweeter moments of the weekend. It was hardly a 5-1 ‘don’t mention the score’ moment, but it was a good night nevertheless.
Fury is our first proper heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, and that’s something to celebrate – even if the celebrations come with something of a caveat. Boxing is hardly the glamorous sport it used to be, and it can make my stomach turn on occasions, but I found the fight strangely gripping. I have no appetite to analyse the psychological reasons why.
The final piece of news from the weekend was Australia’s victory in the Adelaide test match. Most people seem to think the game was a success. Fair enough. But the low scores did raise an eyebrow or two.
Adelaide is generally known as one of the better batting wickets in world cricket. It’s a bit disappointing they had to prepare a greenish pitch because the pink balls aren’t particularly hardy. I was hoping for a typical test match, with the added quirk of floodlit final sessions. I neither hoped for, nor expected, a completely different ballgame. Each to his own I suppose.