#SJA2013: Why I am voting for … Andy Murray

RANDALL NORTHAM, the SJA’s former treasurer, has never liked tennis. But he has grown to admire and respect the 2013 Wimbledon men’s champion

I’ve never really liked tennis.

I had to cover Wimbledon in the early 1980s and while I was conscious I was watching the game at the highest level, when Borg beat McEnroe in that final of endless tie breaks, I still found it mundane at best.

The best part of my three years at Wimbledon was Nigel Clarke’s fight with the Americans in the press conference room; sadly I was upstairs working at the time and only saw it on the in-house video system.

Murray newspaper montage
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph transcended the back pages

So when it comes to voting for the SJA Sportsman of the Year, I’m more likely to turn to athletics – one of my complaints about tennis 30 odd years ago was that the players weren’t fit. Even today, some of the players don’t look particularly toned. And Mo Farah followed up his two Olympic golds by winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in the Moscow world championships to become the first man achieve the double at Olympic and world level.

But Farah hasn’t got my vote because although I admit I’m prejudiced against tennis, I just had to vote for Andy Murray for becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 – 77 years of hurt! Just imagine all that middle-class expectation heaped on your shoulders every time you step through the gates at Wimbledon.

Murray finished third in our ballot in 2012, the year when he won an Olympic gold medal – at Wimbledon – and his first Slam title, at the US Open. So it does rather seem that as far as tennis concerned, our nation cares only about two weeks in SW19. His victory was universally front-page news, and extended to the comment and features pages, too, over several days.

Finally, Murray had won and surely the monkey has been removed from his back. Maybe that’s what his recent surgery was for, just to make sure?

The man’s great grace in defeat at Wimbledon 12 months before has done much for many to reappraise their view of Murray, whose maturity as a “personality”, whatever that may mean, has grown to match his growing stature as a great player, one of the world’s top four men in an era which, we may come to recognise in due course, is even more competitive as those days of Borg and McEnroe when I was working at Wimbledon.

But I still wouldn’t take odds against headlines like “Will Andy Ever Win Wimbledon Again?”

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