SO NOW we know. Andy Murray is British all the way, and not that losing Scot that we have heard so much about in the past.
Unlike last year’s Olympics, the Centre Court at Wimbledon was largely free of Union Flags, and while the crowd obviously favoured the home hope by some margin, there was little of the jingoistic fervour that could be seen in London last year.
The UK’s main cheerleader, the British Broadcasting Corporation, also distinguished itself by making a thoroughly competent job of its television coverage of the tournament and the ending which, let’s face it, they and almost everybody watching really wanted – a Murray victory.
It may be many things to many people, and as institution it has not had its troubles to seek in recent times, but there’s no doubt that Auntie Beeb does Wimbledon better than anyone.
The coverage of yesterday’s final was comprehensive and hugely professional from build-up to post-match reflections by all and sundry, and given the result, it’s entirely forgivable that the BBC’s famous impartiality went out the window at times.
But at no point did the commentary team or the presenters go over the score in their enthusiasm for the Murray cause, though clearly everyone was on their best behaviour yesterday after the events of Saturday.
While Murray and Djokovic engaged in their thunderous slugfest that saw them chew up Centre Court, the BBC team seemed to be walking on eggshells at times, and were at their most politically correct. That was because of the storm of criticism raised about BBC presenter John Inverdale’s remark that women’s champion Marion Bartoli had stuck in at tennis because she “was never going to be a looker”. We know what you meant, John, but it was very ungallant of you to put it like that.
So no-one on the BBC yesterday was going to say anything out of turn, though Sue Barker judged the mood wrong when she said we would be watching “the final we all wanted”. Sorry, Sue, most of us wished to see Murray play an unknown qualifier and have an easy three-set romp so we could get to the champagne quicker.
Yes, it was only three sets, but Novak Djokovic fought like a tiger and that last game seemed to go on for an eternity before we got the result we wanted and our Andy raised the trophy.
The commentary team was captioned first time round as Andrew Castle, Boris Becker and Tracy Austin, but the latter sounded awfully like Tim Henman, and they did correct the caption later.
Those of us in the media who cover sport but never played to the highest level often get irritated when second-rate competitors fluke their way into a press or broadcasting job while being unable to talk properly or write a proper sentence.
Top rank sports people who can communicate well in print or on the airwaves are thin on the ground, but one of those is Andrew Castle. He really knows his stuff and his scene-setting piece yesterday was simply excellent.
He spotted Alex Salmond first before David Cameron, and knowing the latter’s prowess at tennis he called him “a useful leftie”. There are no doubt plenty of right-wing Conservative MPs who think the Prime Minister is a useless leftie, but at least he and Scotland’s First Minister got equal air time, so to speak, though the cameras cut away when Salmond started waving a Saltire.
Castle did a good job of explaining to people who possibly do not watch tennis all the time about such concepts as Hawkeye challenges, though he should have explained the mysterious term “unforced errors”. Given the pressure the two finalists were under, you might have asked which mistakes were not forced.
His sidekicks Tim Henman and Boris Becker made several useful interventions, though both of them suffered from the simple fact that neither is John Patrick McEnroe, possibly the finest pundit working in any sport in the world.
Castle delighted in winding up the crowd on Henman Hill and also stuck to the task of celebrity spotting, the director seemingly fixated on finding any recognisable face in the crowd. The direction was also a bit artsy, with copious use of the ‘super-slow mo’ High Definition camerawork, when we should have seen many more replays of the action.
For his part, Becker seemed too keen to emphasise how brutal it all was out on the court. We could see that for ourselves, Boris.
Fair play to Castle, then, for not intervening and talking over the action – the late great Dan Maskell would have been proud of him.
For most of the first set, the game was “Hunt the Judy” as Andy’s mum seemed to have gone missing, but credit to the Beeb for showing the emotional scenes at the end when Judy Murray was hugged and kissed by everyone, including that clearly cold-blooded bearded gentleman in the bodywarmer in Djokovic’s retinue.
Castle eventually hailed “a Scottish champion” and to the main commentator goes the prize for the most pertinent observation of the day.
Murray deserved to win because “you simply cannot give more” than Andy did. Spot on, Mr Castle, so let’s hope for more next year.