Change is going to come…

I think many of us were surprised that he decided to enter the competition at all.  Nobody gave him a chance of success and when he was finally defeated the result came as no surprise.  All around him were people in tears.  As the cameras panned across the crowd you could see his peers, world leaders in their shared profession, all there to support and to honour someone who had given everything. Someone who had brought the country together and made us all proud.

I’m not talking about Rishi Sunak and the General Election; I’m talking about Andy Murray and Wimbledon.  Andy’s story is truly amazing.  As an 8 year old he had been on his way to his school’s gym hall in the sleepy little town of Dunblane in Scotland when the first gunshots were heard.  He and his class mates were rushed into the safety of the headmaster’s office.  That was where they hid until the shooting finally stopped.  It would be some time before the full horror of what would become known as the Dunblane Massacre became known. 

Under the direction and coaching of his mother, Andy and his brother Jamie soon showed amazing promise as tennis players.  That resulted in Andy moving to Spain at the age of 15 to train at the world famous Sanchez-Casal Academy.  In 2007, aged only 19, through talent, determination and single mindedness Andy forced his way into the list of top ten tennis players in the world. 

Over the following decade and a half Andy went on to win 9 Grand Slam tournaments including Wimbledon twice as well as winning Olympic Gold Medals at the 2012 and 2016 games. A record even more amazing when you think he was playing at a time when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were also at their peak.

Looking at the love, admiration and gratitude shown by the Wimbledon faithful who had stayed on late into the evening, for a doubles match that in reality didn’t really mean too much, underlined the fact that this man was a national hero.  A man who was often said to never knowingly waste a smile showed possibly more emotion, smiles and tears, than many of us had seen before.  It was the end of an era but an era that as the years pass we will all look back with wonder and fondness.

Now to the end of another era.  After 14 years of Tory rule the electorate has spoken, and Britain has a new Prime Minister.  At 10pm on Thursday evening the exit poll suggested a Labour landslide victory that was completely unimaginable only 5 years ago.  As I sat there considering the end of a tennis career and possibly the end of a political party it brought back so many mixed emotions.

In those early years, when Andy Murray was forcing his way into the top tier of tennis, Britain was starting to feel the effect of the Global financial crisis.  I still remember the fear that gripped families like mine as we wondered if the banks might fail and whether the country might go bankrupt.

In 2010 Andy Murray reached his first Grand Slam Final in Australia.  Back home Britain went to the polls and David Cameron became Prime Minster in a coalition government together with the Liberal Democrats. I don’t think anyone was surprised.  Even though via his leadership Gordon Brown has been credited with helping to avoid a complete global financial meltdown the Labour government looked tired and people wanted change.  The moment was summed up in a note left by Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury to the incoming Tory Chancellor.

‘I’m sorry there is no money’

The fact that this type of note was a tradition stretching back through many changes of government didn’t matter, it summed up the way the country felt, and it was no surprise that they voted out those they blamed for their financial problems.

In 2016 Andy Murray had a great year. This was the year he made the final of the Australian open for the 5th time, the French Open Final for the first time and the second time he would win at Wimbledon. This was the year he would become acknowledged as the best tennis player in the world.

In the same year Cameron oversaw the Brexit referendum in what many people saw as an attempt to see off the Eurosceptics in his divided party. Within days of the Referendum result to leave the EU Cameron resigned and started the Tory Prime Ministerial merry go round that finally ended on Thursday.

There followed an election to choose a new Prime Minster.  This wasn’t a General Election where everyone had a chance to have their say, this was the first in a series of Elections where the only voters were members of the Conservative Party.

In 2017 Andy was honoured by the country for his services to Tennis becoming Sir Andrew Murray, but this was a year that saw Andy struggling with injuries leading to a drop in form. The problem of trying to find a Brexit agreement led to the resignation of Theresa May and a new Prime Minster in the shape of Boris Johnson, again chosen by the Party.

In 2019 Andy Murray finally received his knighthood from Prince Charles, underwent his second hip operation and staged quite a comeback winning his first title for a number of years in Antwerp.

 Talking of comebacks Boris Johnson, who many had written off many times in his career, went to the country asking for his own Mandate to finally ‘Get Brexit Done’.  A landslide victory left Johnson with what people call these days a ‘Super Majority’.  With a parliament packed to the gunnels with Tory MPs Johnson was finally able to put a last minute deal together and Brexit was done.

Then came COVID.  The pandemic robbed all of us of so much.  For Andy it meant an enforced retirement until the courts reopened.  In Downing Street laws were made. Lockdowns were hastily announced at the last minute.  And there were parties… parties where walls were said to be stained with vomit whilst the rest of us couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones who died alone.

My father’s socially distant funeral with 7 people around the grave. 2020

Bit by bit the stories of these parties started appearing in the press and denied by those in power. In 2022 following an investigation into ‘Partygate’ Johnson was found to have misled Parliament and forced to resign.

That year, while Andy was making his return to the Top 50 and winning his first ATP final since 2019 the Conservative Party choose yet another Prime Minster.  Liz Truss would be in power for 49 days finally leaving office before the famous Lettuce actually spoiled.  Following a disastrous Mini Budget Truss was replaced by Rishi Sunak and this week he was replaced by Sir Keir Starmer.

I think two different images will stay with me as I look back at a momentous week.  As well as being the shortest serving Prime Minister in history Liz Truss saw her 26,000 majority overturned as she lost her seat on Thursday evening.  She left the stage as soon as she could without saying a word.

Then there was Andy Murray. He lost at Centre Court but was cheered to the rafters.  He thanked family, friends and supporters.  As the sporting cliché goes, ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent.’  Sir Andy Murray we will miss you, as for the others…I’ll leave that up to you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *