No-one has the slightest reason to pity Andy Murray because he has already achieved more in his life than most would ever dare dream of, but it was impossible not to feel deeply touched by the message he issued on Tuesday and, in particular, the image which accompanied it.

I do not mind admitting to having felt ridiculously emotional every time I have looked at it over the past couple of days, with a whole combination of factors at play: the sweet but slightly cheeky wee face of a boy who grew up to be a genuine sporting superstar; the school jumper of the same vintage as those worn by my own lads at their primary school across Stirlingshire; perhaps most of all that particular primary school logo which has become so evocative in itself. 

His choice of that image and explanation that “the little kid inside of me just wants to play tennis” spoke, once again, to the integrity of a young man who knows who he is and has never seemed to want to try to pretend to be something he is not.

Central to that has clearly been the drive to be the best in focusing upon his sport. There have been occasions when he has seemed unable to prevent himself expressing political views, possibly instinctively, such as that polite but firm reminder to a journalist who made the error at Wimbledon last year that Sam Querrey had become “the first American player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final [since 2009]” after beating the Scot, who corrected him that Querrey was in fact only the first male player to have done so. This has offered insight into what makes him tick and he has been all the more admirable for it.

For all that over-reaction is a risk, the way in which he chose to express himself earlier this week typically respectfully opening up by apologising to the organisers of the event from which he had been forced to withdraw, but then going into such detail about his state of health and mind, suggests Murray is deeply concerned about his capacity to compete moving forward. If so, we can but hope, as Scots have been doing where this man is concerned for a decade and more.

Before catching up with his announcement on Tuesday I had, uncharacteristically, already prepared this week’s column, using the excuse of a new year to look back over a career that began 36 years ago today and has taken me to the antipodes, the South Seas, the Far East, to both coasts of America and all over Europe, while witnessing sporting history. 

Highlights include joining Freuchie’s players on the Lord’s balcony in 1985; standing greenside as Seve chipped the ball to within two inches at Lytham in 1988; witnessing Jonah Lomu’s Ireland-trampling World Cup debut in Johannesburg in 1995; a John Leslie inspired Scotland rattling in five tries in Paris en route to winning the last Five Nations Championship in 1999; seeing Chris Hoy claim his first gold medal in the first Commonwealth Games event I watched live in 2002; and following Tom Watson round for four astonishing days at Turnberry in 2009.

For more than a quarter of a century nothing could match the day I continued writing a live running report for The Sporting Post, a Dundee institution of yesteryear, while barely able to watch the closing moments of a rugby match on March 17, 1990, with a kilted Gordon “Broon fae Troon” sitting on the steps of the press box in the old Murrayfield west stand beside me, repeating over and over again “I said on TV last night it would be 13-7.”

That was until 2016 when the chance arrived to be courtside as the man Herald Sport was to identify a year ago as the greatest Scottish sporting icon of all time, won his second Wimbledon title, having watched the first on TV in what was his and is now my home town – a Scottish tennis player winning the sport’s biggest event having been as unimaginable in 1982 as using a laptop and mobile phone to send an account of it.

I do not know Murray or his family any better than the vast majority of those reading this, but I suspect I am not alone among Scots in having felt an additional, almost personal connection to his career down the years. 

The hope for 2018 is, then, that he makes it all the way back to his best, but either way we can all continue to draw inspiration from the boy from Dunblane.


Every young sportsperson who talks about the ‘sacrifices’ they make should absorb this part of Andy Murray’s Instagram message: “I genuinely miss it so much and I would give anything to be back out there.

I didn’t realise until these last few months just how much I love this game. Every time I wake up from sleeping or napping I hope that it’s better and it’s quite demoralising when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be...,” he wrote.

Those words represent recognition of the privilege that having the ability and attitude to pursue sporting dreams represents. Even Scotland’s greatest ever sportsman may yet benefit from enhanced awareness of how blessed he has been should he manage to regain full fitness.