ANDY MURRAY is at the stage in his tennis career when every man, woman and child watching has the uneasy sense that this could be the last time we see Scotland’s greatest-ever sportsperson hit a ball in anger in his home country.

As he takes to the court for the Battle of the Brits in Aberdeen this week, there will be few who do not savour his presence that little bit more knowing that Father Time is chasing Murray down.

How close – or not – the 35-year-old is to retirement is for him alone to decide.

A far more relevant discussion than how long Murray’s career has left is why, oh why, is there still a question over the ability, or perhaps more accurately, the inability of British tennis to wring every last drop out of Murray in terms of creating a lasting legacy.

This conversation, about how to capitalise on Murray, and his brother Jamie’s, success over the past decade-or-so has been on going ever since Murray won his first Grand Slam title in 2012.

There is a reason for this; there has been a continual and prolonged failure to make the most of one of the greatest tennis players ever to pick up a racket in terms of developing the game.

There has been some progress. Within Scotland, money has been committed for building more indoor facilities over the next few years, while from within Britain there are more elite players now emerging.

Only when these facilities are actually built will there be something material that can be pointed to as an offshoot of Murray’s success but the question of why it has taken until the Dunblane man is on the cusp of retirement for much to happen persists.

Murray’s mother, Judy, as well as Murray, have regularly expressed their disappointment about the lack of either will or ability to ensure the family’s success is translated into a widespread legacy.

Clearly, no one within authority was ready for an individual of the ability of Murray to emerge hence the absence of any plan as to how to maintain momentum should it happen.

This fact is almost certainly the cause for the tardy start when it came to acting upon the buzz Murray created, but over 15 years after he reached the world’s top 10, that excuse is no longer valid.

Aberdeen’s P&J Arena will, almost certainly, be packed to the rafters on Wednesday and Thursday as people scramble to see Murray play.

But in the grand scheme of things, how much bigger a sport could tennis be right now if things had been done differently?

We may never again see another Andy Murray, and certainly not from Scotland. Someone of such exceptional talent is less like a once-in-a-generation player, and more like a once-in-a-100 years’ talent, if you’re lucky.

No development programme, however well-funded, well-resourced and well-supported, can guarantee to produce an Andy Murray.

But maybe, just maybe, if things had been done differently since Murray broke on to the world stage, we would not have so long to wait – as it seems likely – for another of the calibre of Murray to emerge.


It was Billy Connelly who said: “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever becoming one.”

The same principle should apply to sports’ administrators.

Despite the best efforts of those in blazers at FIFA, the Qatar World Cup, has, by (almost) all accounts, been an overwhelming success.

This is, however, entirely down to the football saving a tournament that FIFA did their best to wreck.

It’s almost always the case, the sport saves the day.

The Olympic Games is in a similar situation, with the IOC, just like FIFA, doing their best to tarnish the greatest sporting events on the planet.

Many, myself included, were uneasy about the World Cup heading to Qatar. But the football has, as was always likely to be the case, papered over these cracks, or perhaps what should more accurately be described as gaping chasms.

From the enthralling group stages which saw some of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history, to today’s final between Argentina and France, it has been captivating in the same way that as soon as medals are handed out at the Olympics, all the abominations carried out by the men – and it’s almost always men – in blazers pale into insignificance.

Except they don’t disappear.

Let’s not forget that in Qatar it remains illegal to be gay, that hundreds of migrant workers died in order for this World Cup to happen and that corruption, as is the case within the IOC, is, allegedly, rife.

And that FIFA, despite the fact that the four-team group stages continue to be a triumph, is seriously considering abandoning this format.

With the number of teams at the next World Cup, in 2026, increasing to 48, the increasingly-eccentric FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, continues to pursue the “if it’s not broke, fix it but actually break it more” philosophy.

The problem, if you can call it that, though, with both the Olympics and the World Cup, is that the sport always saves it. However much damage the IOC and FIFA attempt to do, sport is the greatest healer.

Except, the worry is that one of these times, it won’t quite be enough. That the wounds inflicted by the blazers are too severe.

It’s hard to imagine, but let’s not put anything past either FIFA or the IOC.