So this is it Andy. Nineteen glorious years at Wimbledon about to come to an end but do you remember the first time back in 2005 when Murray mania was born?

Sir Sean Connery cheering you on, being mobbed as you walked along Wimbledon High Street, the numerous marriage proposals. Feeling like you were being stalked by the BBC’s Gary Richardson who followed you everywhere? Being a Herald columnist?

Remember how you used to have to drown out the noise as you walked to games by playing your favourite song “Let’s Get It Started, “ by the Black Eyed Peas through your headphones?

Thank goodness you could relax from the mayhem in your rented flat near the All-England Club by watching boxing videos -mostly Ricky Hatton ones- and drinking frappuccinos.

The Herald was on the ball when it came to Andy Murray from day one. I was at Edinburgh Airport to welcome him home on behalf of the paper when he won the 1999 Orange Bowl, the top tennis event in the USA for players aged between 12 and 14. I was pretty much the papers Andy Murray man in his early years.  

I was courtside for various events at Queen’s Club, numerous Wimbledons, the Swiss Indoor Championship in Basle when he beat Tim Henman and at his first Australian Open in Melbourne. All great events but they say you never forget your first time and it was at the All-England Club in 2005 when Murray mania first took hold.

Andy Murray lifts the trophy in 2023 Andy Murray lifts the trophy (Image: PA)

I was ghosting his column for the Herald during the tournament which was easy to do as the Murray camp was very accommodating despite the pressure Andy was under. His mum Judy was a sportswriter too and had been The Herald’s tennis correspondent earlier in her career which helped me a lot. 

Being a typical teenager, you can imagine Andy was far less forthcoming than he is now. With Judy there to give him pointers the columns came easily. I ended up writing a book along with my fellow tennis writer Eleanor Preston called Andy Murray, the story so far,’ that came out in 2006. With what he ended up achieving to say we were a bit early with the publication is an understatement.

He was just 18 when he played in his first Wimbledon but wasn’t the only Scot who was handed a wildcard to the tournament as this was a golden era for Scottish tennis.

The much loved and never forgotten Elena Baltacha, who died aged just 30 back in 2014 and Alan Mackin who is now based in Canada were the other Scots who were given automatic entry without having to go through qualifying.

Out of the three the greatest expectation was on Murray. He had made it to the third round of Queens Club the week before when just two points from victory over number twenty seed Thomas Johansson of Sweden he started to cramp and on top of that injured his left ankle. He soldiered on but lost the deciding fifth set 7-5.

British tennis fans - Murray quickly became British rather than Scottish when he was successful in the early days- were desperate for a first Wimbledon winner since Fred Perry back in 1936.

This was the era of Greg Rudeski and Tim Henman who was the English sweetheart and Murray was the young Scottish upstart new on the scene. Sue Barker interviewing Tim fans on “Henman Hill’’ was the thing. Tim’s stoic mum and dad in the players box showing no emotion regardless of how their son was doing was the perfect example of the English stiff upper lip. How refreshing it was when Andy’s mum Judy and her best pal Laura Middleton openly showed their emotions as they watched him in action. Like Andy they were a breath of fresh air.

Murray’s coach back then was Mark Petchey although John McEnroe was so taken by the young Scot he offered to help him too. As you can imagine having one of the greats offering to coach him only upped the pressure on the young Murray.

Andy Murray at Wimbledon last yearAndy Murray at Wimbledon last year (Image: PA)

He was given an early indication of what his life had become the weekend before his first game. Walking down Wimbledon High Street turned out to be a real ordeal with well-wishers stopping him all the time. The only moment when he realised his place in the pecking order was still a bit low came when Maria Sharapova was across the street and the fans -especially the teenage boys- flocked to her. I did have Andy’s mobile number back then but as he became hot property he quite rightly changed it.

He was still carrying the ankle injury he picked up at Queen’s Club the day before he was due to play his first-round Wimbledon match against George Bastl of Switzerland but had an extra day to recover as the match was scheduled for the Tuesday, not the opening Monday.

Bastl was ranked 141 in the world to the unseeded Murray’s 317. The man from Switzerland had beaten Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2002 but that had to be put in context. It was the seven-time champions last ever game at the All-England club and he retired the following year.

Referring back to his Herald columns I can reveal the night before the match Murray tucked into a meal of pasta and steak with tomato sauce washed down with a Frappuccino from Starbucks, then went to his bed to watch Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island and Ricky Hatton boxing videos. I appeared to have had a strange need to continually ask him about his eating habits. On the day of the Bastl game I reported he had two bagels with banana, strawberries, a slice of melon and two hydration drinks for breakfast washed down with another Frappuccino from the Starbucks in Wimbledon that his mum Judy had gone out especially to get for him.

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Being Scottish I was being asked by my English press colleagues what Andy was like. I answered he was a typical teenager and that I knew his mum Judy much better and she was great fun. I became a staple of Japanese television with the presenter from Tokyo speaking much better English than I did with my east coast brogue.

Murray was fantastic against Bastl. He rose to the occasion in style winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. In the mayhem that followed there was one thing he did that stuck with me. He went out of his way to sign as many autographs as he could. He had told me weeks beforehand that was something he was always going to do based on personal experience. “I was about ten I think when we went to Wimbledon from Dunblane,’’he said. “My hero was Andre Agassi but I couldn’t get near him for an autograph. That was no fault of his, it was just there were so many people and I was wee. I work on the assumption the more autographs I sign the less people will be disappointed.’’ It was a promise to his fans he continued to fulfil throughout his career. 

His second-round game was to be against number 14 seed Radek Stepanek- a rather grumpy Czech player who never looked particularly happy. Murray had a dodgy chicken curry (my food-based questions again) which meant he was up at four o’clock in the morning feeling ill. Not the best preparation but thankfully a few painkillers, some pasta and some nectarines settled his stomach and by one o’clock he was ready to go.

Stepanek, who hardly smiled at the best of times, was given no reason to by Murray on court number two. Another straight sets victory for the young man from Dunblane, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. It was easy. He was good at this game was young Andy.

As the only Brit still in the draw the middle Saturday is when Murray mania really took hold. Gary Richardson was now spending what seemed like every waking hour with him for the BBC. They even had a televised breakfast together when Andy sat in his Barcelona top with the name of his favourite player Ronaldinho on the back. My Andy Murray column that I had to convince the then Herald editor to pay for looked very good value for money.

Murray falls to his knees after winning in 2013Murray falls to his knees after winning in 2013 (Image: NQ)
His third-round opponent was the formidable David Nalbandian of Argentina who had lost the 2002 Wimbledon final to Australian Leyton Hewitt. Promoted to centre court the atmosphere was electric with Sir Sean Connery in the Royal Box there to cheer his fellow countryman on. 

A big upset was on the cards when the Scotsman raced to a two sets lead before the match turned. He had the tennis game to compete but his fitness let him down which wasn’t surprising considering he had never played a top-level five-set match before. He had the shots, big serves and mental toughness but his body was ultimately unwilling over three hours and eleven minutes of dramatic tennis. His prize money for reaching the third round was £25,510, more than he had ever won before.

Most people think that was the end of Murray’s first ever Wimbledon but it wasn’t. He had agreed before the tournament to play mixed doubles with his fellow eighteen-year-old Shahar Peer out on court number 3. Even for that game there were massive crowds with fans trying to get a better view of their idol. It was during that match that I heard the first marry proposal heading his way. “Will you marry me, Andy,’’ shouted one over-excited fan during a break in play. Peer and Murray lost 6-3,6-3 to Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland and Lucas Arnold of Argentina but it didn’t really matter. 

He was asked to give an official interview with the international press after his mixed-doubles match. Wimbledon officials said this was the first time an unseeded player, who had just lost a first -round mixed-doubles match had been asked to attend a media conference.

Dunblane’s finest who went on to become Scotland’s greatest ever sportsperson in my opinion, was on his way to greatness. Before he left Wimbledon that year he made a visit to the tournament museum. The curators, clearly realising they had a future tennis great in their midst, had asked him to donate the outfit he wore against Nalbandian. As he wandered round the museum he spotted the racket that his idol Agassi had played with when he beat Goran Ivanisevic in the 1992 Wimbledon final. He felt privileged to have an item of his clothing displayed in the same museum as the American’s racket. If only he knew that one day he would eclipse Agassi and win Wimbledon twice to the Americans once.

Murray couldn’t have predicted the success he would go on to have at the All England Club and the joy and delight he would bring to a nation. The sooner they build that statue of Murray in the grounds of Wimbledon as John McEnroe suggested the better.