By a Newsnet reporter
He’s gone from being a surly anti-English Jock, incapable of winning a Grand Slam event, to the latest example of the Great British Union Hi-Jackery.
No sooner had Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic that the southern scribes were out in force airbrushing all things Scottish from the tennis superstar.
It’s been Britain this and British that as red, white and blue ink, formerly used to tatoo the Team GB Olympians, is now applied to the boy from Dunblane.
According to one TV commentator, Murray’s triumph had left England (sic) with a difficult task as to who to award the Sports Personality of the Year award to.
So ubiquitous was this re-branding of Scotland’s most famous sports star that Sir Sean Connery felt compelled to chastise one reporter for failing to acknowledge that Murray was in fact Scottish.
For Murray’s part, he has learned from experience just how dangerous and intolerant the British (English) media can be after a light hearted remark about the England football team resulted in the Scot being hounded by sections of the southern press.
Murray is now a lot more careful and guarded when dealing with the UK media, and rightly so. His answers are well thought through and he knows exactly what to say in order to move on. He still has his detractors though, as evidenced by remarks by English journalist Carole Malone, who said on SKY TV: “He’s not a likeable person, he is not easy to like… he’s just dour.”
Contrast Murray’s demeanour and handling of interviews with the UK media with this clip from CBS and note his willingness to engage and even enter a relaxed chat on the passion of Sir Sean Connery and references to Scotland.
In truth the reason the mass English media are desperate to adopt Murray is that there are no signs of an English born world class male tennis player able to challenge for Grand Slams. If there were then be sure, Murray would find himself occupying the same role as cyclist Graeme Obree did when he had a rivalry with Chris Boardman.
England is desperate for a ‘home grown’ player to lift the Wimbledon men’s title and Murray is as good as it gets right now.
Of course, running in parallel with this sporting need is the political landscape currently dominated by the independence referendum. It was in the background when Murray was ‘invited’ to the British Consulate in New York to be handed a Union Flag decorated tin of goodies, whilst surrounded by the pro-Union imagery.
Red, white and blue balloons and Union Flags greeted Murray. ‘Sport is Great’, bellowed a poster in camera shot, the reference of course to Great Britain and the Olympics. Prime Minister David Cameron’s congratulatory message, where he described Murray’s achievement as ‘Great’, was also a subliminal reminder of the ‘Great British’ agenda.
Murray, accompanied by his mum, had to go along with the charade. To have refused would have been to invite unwanted vitriol.
For me, and I would guess most Scots, Murray is a Scotsman who has surpassed the expectations of many of us. It’s OK for the rest of the UK to celebrate along with us - we do the same when the likes of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy win - but the media should stop trying to force this British brand onto someone who is clearly not interested in any identity baggage.
I for one would hope that Andy Murray remains apart from the Scottish or British nonsense, he doesn’t need the hassle. His career is about to enter a new phase and he is now a recognised global sporting champion. An added bonus is that the Americans have very clearly taken to this shy and unassuming Scotsman - welcome traits in the arena of corporate sponsorship.
Murray will still have to endure the moronic ‘British’ questions from now on from the usual suspects, that goes with the territory.
“You’re live on SKY News Andy what do you want to say to the British audience who supported you so strongly?” shouted a SKY reporter as Murray walked through a media scrum.
Yep, it really is that pathetic.