Calls for statue in honour of tennis hero Murray

Calls for statue in honour of tennis hero Murray

By Gerry Braiden, Local Government Correspondent, HeraldScotland.com.

HIS Grand Slam successes have finally laid to rest the comparisons with the UK’s other great tennis champion, Fred Perry.

But following his Wimbledon double calls have been made for Andy Murray to be immortalised in bronze or stone alongside the tennis legend at SW19.

As he looks set to become Britain’s richest sportsperson amid renewed calls for a knighthood and predictions of a record third triumph at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, the sport’s governing body in Scotland said a statue of the star was inevitable.

Tennis Scotland said the only issue would be where, at Wimbledon or Murray’s home town of Dunblane.

A spokesman said: “When you think his achievements are now up there with Fred Perry but consider that Perry’s was a totally different era and Andy is playing at a time which is agreed is the best ever era for men’s tennis, then yes, there’s sure to be something to mark his legacy.

“If Andy had been around during the Fred Perry era he would’ve won so much more. A statue of Andy would be appropriate in Dunblane as it would at Wimbledon.”

The spokesman added: “Andy’s also done a lot more than very many people who have received gongs.”

According to Stirling’s Provost and Dunblane councillor Mike Robbins, the wheels are already in motion for a commemoration to Murray in his home town, with the entrance to the High Street, close to the newly refurbished bridge, mooted as a possible location.

Mr Robbins said: “Although I watched the match in Brittany I could feel the whole of Dunblane roaring encouragement as Andy fought his way to a second Wimbledon victory.

“I emailed my colleagues in Stirling Council to ask them to start thinking about a suitable response to another magnificent effort, which won’t be easy if you consider the fabulous reception we put on after his first Wimbledon win.”

Dunblane currently plays host to a number of tributes to Murray. Posting a letter in the Perthshire town is in itself a celebration of the tennis talent with the town’s ordinary red postbox repainted gold in honour of his Olympic medal.

There is also a commemorative wooden bench while the18th hole at the local golf course was this year renamed ‘the Murrays’ Hame’.

A statue of Murray’s likeness as a terra cotta warrior was also unveiled during the Rolex Masters in Shanghai, while the All England club are planning a £100million expansion within the next few years, which are rumoured to include a Murray bust.

But while the treble Grand Slam winner has already accomplished more than enough for Wimbledon to commission a statue of him, the All England Club say that will not happen until after he has retired.

Local Dunblane councillor Graham Houston, who is also championing the Sir Andy campaign, has said he has mixed views on the statue plan.

He said: “Andy deserves the recognition. His achievements have been tremendous. But I don’t see him as being at the end of his career, when you would expect to see someone immortalised in bronze. Andy’s not quite ready to be in amongst the ranks of the respected or indeed the deceased.

“But once we reach the stage where a statue would be appropriate I’d be very supportive of it.”

He added: “We’ve not been speaking about Andy returning to Dunblane just yet. He needs time to enjoy his success with his family. But I really don’t know what else he needs to do for a knighthood.”

Leading bookmakers William Hill have given odds of just 2/1 for Murray to be knighted before the end of 2017. He is also 4/5 for this year’s Sports Personality.

Spokesman Joe Crilly said: “Andy Murray has proved himself to not only be a quality sportsman but a popular man off the court and he is odds on to win his third SPOTY in four years and just 2/1 to be Sir Andy by this time next year.”

Meanwhile, tennis experts have called for more investment in indoor facilities in Scotland on the back of Andy Murray’s second Wimbledon success in a bid to create “a handful of Andys” throughout the country.

Doc McKelvey, head of development at Tennis Scotland, and Cameron McMillan, tennis coach at Dunblane Sports Club, said indoor courts were instrumental in moulding the success of Murray and his doubles champion brother Jamie.

Dunblane Sports Club, where the stars trained as children, has experienced an “Andy Murray effect” since his first Wimbledon win in 2013.

Mr McMillan said the atmosphere in Dunblane this week was “fantastic” as Murray played his way to another victory.