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There are churlish omissions from the honours list, but Murray's time will come

IF Andy Murray has turned down a knighthood, fair play to him, but we suspect that, if that were true, Dunblane's finest would also have rejected the OBE bestowed last year, so I guess we can discount the possibility.

Andy Murray kisses the championship trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic to end Great Britain's 77-year wait for a men's singles champion at Wimbledon

Just what, precisely, one has to do to receive an honour is as hard to define as how far one must fall from grace to be stripped of one: Lester Piggott (lost his OBE for tax fraud), Fred Goodwin (Sir-cumcised?) and Lord Archer (still fragrantly enobled) may in some way have helped clarify the boundaries, yet it remains more art than science.

So why no Sir Andy? Surely last year's Wimbledon victory after Britain's 77 years in the men's tennis wilderness should have done the business? Or did that ill-advised "anyone but England" remark count against him? It is difficult to avoid being accused of going off on a nationalist rant here. One cannot help thinking that had Tim Henman ever achieved the feat, he would have been dragged up to the Royal Box to be enobled on the spot. Or does the fact that England is still looking for a first Wimbledon men's singles champion in 78 years rankle so much?

We may, of course, be experiencing a simple counterbalance to the rush of post-Olympic and Paralympic honours last year. If so, this is an over-reaction and one which ill serves Chris Froome, Justin Rose, Mo Farah, Leigh Halfpenny and David Beckham, in what was still a dramatic year for high sporting achievement.

Lord Murray of Dunbland? Is Andy simply a victim of his own self-confessed lack of charisma? Personally, I believe his soul-baring has absolved him from any perceived deficiency: his emotional responses to defeats in the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals, to victory at the latter, the revelations of his eve-of-Wimbledon documentary last year, and his demeanour when acknowledging his own deficiencies when accepting the BBC Sports Personality Award last month.

I found these endearing, and made me proud of him as a Scot. And if Murray remains healthy, he should have many more years in the game during which further honours may be conferred.

After all, Seb Coe (who chairs the current sport honours commission) bypassed a knighthood and moved directly to Lord Coe, but that was on the strength of a political career, not services to his sport of athletics. It is hard to envisage Andy as a politician.

Besides, one can prematurely elevate sportsmen and women to the pantheon of greatness. That is why the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame, of whose selection panel I am proud to be a member, requires a candidate for induction to have retired from top-level participation for five years or more. I would defer to colleagues' opinions, but cannot envisage Murray being other than a shoo-in when he does become eligible.

No such criteria, however, constrains the honours office. Froome's Tour de France victory was hardly less worthy than that which led to Bradley Wiggins being knighted; Rose was England's first US Open winner since Tony Jacklin in 1970; Farah's 5000 and 10,000m World Championship double made him only the second man to do so having already achieved the Olympic double; Halfpenny kicked the Lions to their first tour success since 1997; and Beckham retired after a career in which he has been an exemplary icon in a sport not noted for paragons. Their omission from the honours list, along with that of Murray, is little short of churlish.

For the record, I would submit that Chris Hoy's knighthood, after his three gold medals in the 2008 Olympics (first Brit to win three in since 1908) capped a sporting career greater than Murray's as yet. At that time it amounted to nine world titles, four Olympic golds, and was closing in on 50 World Cup medals.

Yet Murray is surely worthy of a knighthood now, up there with the likes of Wiggins, Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and coach Sir David Brailsford. We look forward to more success from him making the honour inevitable, and in the certainty that he would personally be happier with further grand slam titles.

and another thing

THE recent death of the BBC commentator David Coleman marks the end of an era for those of us privileged to have lived through the halcyon days of commentary, when the Beeb was blessed with peerless voices of authority behind the microphone: Bill McLaren (rugby union), Sir Peter O'Sullivan (racing), Dan Maskell (tennis), Murray Walker (motor racing), Harry Carpenter (boxing), Brian Johnston (cricket) and Henry Longhurst (golf).

Coleman was a fellow member of the British Athletics Writers' Association and had a style so readily imitable that members were wont to ape him.

Once, I recall our colleague Ian Chadband, of The Daily Telegraph, taking him off, with a trademark tug of the right ear and a "quite remarkable!" so true to life that some in the company looked round searching for Coleman . . . just as Coleman's head popped up like a meerkat at the back of the room with a huge grin, to see who had so perfectly captured him.

Inevitably, myth overtook the legend. It was his colleague, Ron Pickering, who uttered the memorable: "Juantorena opens his legs and shows his class", in Montreal, 1976, but it helped launched Colemanballs, a column of gaffes in Private Eye.

It is hard to believe he is gone, and harder to imagine we will hear his likes again.

His generation was from an era when the BBC enjoyed a near-monopoly of sport, now long gone, and the platform to make a monopolistic mark on any sport's commentary with it.

Michael Johnson and Steve Cram are perceptive analysts; Brendan Foster is a decent commentator, but would be first to admit he is no Coleman.

Andrew Cotter is a promising Scottish voice, with a decent grasp of rugby, athletics and golf. But he has a way to go before he has the charismatic colour of the man who once told viewers: "For those of you watching with black and white sets, Liverpool are wearing the all-red strip . . . "

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