• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

'I wanted something built in our backyard'

THIS is a family story.

Judy Murray plans to built a sports village between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan. Picture: Julie Howden/Newsquest
Judy Murray plans to built a sports village between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan. Picture: Julie Howden/Newsquest

And not just for Christmas. It contains the sombre elements of legacy, reflection and purpose. But there is sentiment, too. It is a happy tale and it could become even more so.

It is set in Bridge of Allan and Dunblane and is narrated by Judy Murray. One may have heard of her and her sons.

She sits in a café, breaking off to greet well-wishers, and tells of her plans for a possible museum to her son, her gratitude at a year of blessed relief and solid achievement, and a future that she trusts will include what may be best described as her lifetime's dream.

"The guts of it is community, family," she says of her plans for Park of Keir, a stretch of land between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan. These include six indoor and six outdoor tennis courts, a six-hole, par-3 golf course, a range of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities.

A tennis museum - heavily featuring a local hero - will also be included. There are plans, too, for 80-100 homes on the site.

Murray is aware that there is the potential for the housebuilding to cause concern and she is meeting this head-on with a series of consultation meetings before the official planning permission is sought ahead of a possible completion date for the project in spring 2016.

"This is not a plan to link Dunblane and Bridge of Allan; there will be no more houses after the initial build and they will be tucked away put of sight," she says. "But we need to build the houses to make the academy viable."

She speaks with the quiet purpose of a woman who sees her dream slowly crystallising into reality. The gym, the café, the houses are all the necessary accessories to fund a project that will meet the ambitions of a tennis coach and mother.

"We will have an elite academy but that will be a small element. The goal for me is not to produce another Andy or Jamie. The goal for me is to share what I know with other coaches and on to young players," she says.

"In regards to producing tennis players, I have done my bit," she says with a smile. "I want to build a stronger coaching workforce so that I can share my 25 years of experience so that when I am long gone other coaches know what they are doing, know what the journey looks like, know what is required."

However, the centre has a more personal focus. "I wanted something to be in our backyard," says Murray. "It might have been more practical to take this to Edinburgh and Glasgow but I wanted it here where the boys grew up. Where we have roots."

She pointed out that the golden post box in Dunblane High Street, so decorated after Andy's Olympic triumph, had attracted people to the town, and the academy - with Colin Montgomerie the face of the golfing element - had the power to do the same. "I want to promote the philosophy of the family together," she says. "When the boys were young we had to travel all over Stirling and district to drop them off at various sports.

"I want a centre that parents can bring their children to for tennis, mini football, golf, basketball whatever."

She adds: "It is about the philosophy of the family together, about giving kids a place to exercise. This is not a commercial venture. The idea is to trying to set it up as a charitable trust so that anything we make is ploughed back in.

"It is about reaching out into the local community. We want to do sessions in schools, show the kids that sport is fun and then have them come to the academy to take tennis or golf or whatever further if they want to do that. This ethos is that, if we make any money, we can put mini courts in the schools or even in the town."

Murray, though, is crucially aware of the sense of time passing.

"That is my big driver," she admits. "I would hate to look back in five years' time and see that we have are not in any better position than we are now. It kills me that Andy has been in the top five for five years now and we have only had two new indoor courts in Scotland, at a private club in Bridge of Weir."

Her sons are both now preparing for seasons that promise much. Jamie has teamed up with John Peers and the partnership has reached No.10 in the world, just missing out on a place as alternates for World Tour Finals at the O2. This is a specific aim for next year.

"He's in a good place," says his mother. "He invested in himself in the last 12 months. He is back working with Louis Cayer [the specialist doubles coach], he took on a sports psychologist and he has a dedicated fitness trainer. The key to his progress is the settled partnership with John. "

And what of Andy, the Wimbledon champion, who is in Miami building up his condition ahead of the start of the 2014 season and in the wake of back surgery?

"He's good," says his mother who will spend Christmas Day with her son in Dubai, who is warming up for his first competitive action since the surgery in Abu Dhabi.

"He is strong and building up slowly and properly. He is good after a setback. He has always been that way. If he loses a match he is always hurt but it would make him stronger.

"He has come through serious injuries before. He suffered badly with his bipartite patella when he was 17. The specialist told him then that he might never play again. I could have throttled him. What a thing to say to him.

"Andy was out for five months but he came back and, after three months, won the US Open juniors. You don't lose the tennis, you don't lose the technique; you just need the edge. He has not lost the will. This will drive him on."

She will travel to Auckland for a tournament as part of her duties as Federation Cup captain and then fly on to Melbourne where she will watch both sons compete in the Australian Open.

It is a life she could not possibly have contemplated when she was ferrying the boys to football, swimming or tennis training.

But she is constantly reminded of the past, even as she plans for the future. "I was at the Christmas concert at Dunblane High," she says. "I was made so welcome and it made me think about the boys and where we have come from and what is important to us. You are in among your own people."

She was also sitting next to Murray Hall, dedicated to Jamie and Andy who both attended the school. "That is when everything strikes you. You look at the hall and say that will be here forever."

It is cocktail of legacy and sentiment. It provides a toast to the future.

Contextual targeting label: 

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.