No Henman No Summer?

What are we going to do without Tim Henman? As if having no England football team to support wasn’t bad enough, we now have the prospect of a fortnight of Wimbledon without Tiger Tim to cheer on/ anguish over.
Since our favourite tennis ace announced his retirement last year I’ve been wondering what on earth I was going to worry about all summer long. No more can I indulge in my annual ritual of initial optimism and excitement, followed by anxiety and eventual disappointment.
At least, I thought, there’ll be Euro 2008 to watch. That’s sure to end in a dramatic penalty shoot-out exit for the English at least. What more could we want? Of course, thanks to a dispassionate qualifying campaign, our brave boys were all sitting on the beach somewhere, while I tried to find solace in supporting Sweden and Spain. It’s not been a good year for us Brits. Eurovision was a disaster. It’s not a sport, but it’s scarcely a song contest either. And if we ever needed a reminder of just how few friends our country has, then Eurovision is it.
Not that we mind being up against it. We’re very comfortable with battling the odds, punching above our weight, and all the other clichés we love to cling to. It’s our thing. It’s what we do best and without someone to get behind, the Brits are lost. We need someone to drive us to distraction and worry us silly. Especially those of us who follow the fortunes, or rather misfortunes, of a football team. As you may by now have realised, I am a Derby County fan, a season ticket holder actually and 2008 has been a record-breaking season. All the bad records that is. But it was never that tense for Rams fans. Let’s be honest, all the worrying, even the tension, was over by Christmas. After that, it was more of an endurance test as our beloved Rams tested the theory of “just how bad can it get?”
Soon, we’ll have the Olympics, of course, and doubtless we’ll find ourselves temporary experts of Greco-Roman wrestling if one of our own starts to do well. Remember how, for five days, we all loved curling?
But back to the tennis, where we do at least have Andy Murray. But then he seems a young man remarkably reluctant in his Britishness. Fair enough, if he prefers to be Scottish alone then that’s OK. I still consider Scotland part of the UK, and I do have Scottish blood. But there’s something else that prevents me from wholeheartedly throwing my enthusiasm behind him. From his acquired and intermittant mid-Atlantic drawl, to his hangdog body language, there’s something decidedly discomforting about him.
Something tells me that Mr Murray is not exactly enamoured with the sport at which he excels. It’s difficult to get behind someone, to live and die with every serve, volley and smash, when you’re not quite sure they care themselves.
We Brits like our sporting heroes to have old-fashioned gumption, to hold on to the very last, to fight, to work, to show that good-old bulldog spirit, whether they win or not. We want them to draw every last breath out of us, to tie our guts up in knots and make us gnaw on our nails. Somehow Murray has so far fallen short.
Perhaps I’ll have to rely on the world of motor sport. F1’s young Lewis Hamilton is a wonderful prospect - talented, successful, dashing, happy to be British. And, if recent weeks are anything to go by, he’s possessed of that essential trait of all true British sporting heroes: the ability to shoot himself in the foot from time to time.
Well, if there were no chance of him messing it up, it just wouldn’t be fun, now would it?