Monday, 8 July 2013

Does Andy Murray really deserve a knighthood?

It’s no surprise to see the Prime Minister suggest Andy Murray deserves a knighthood for his extraordinary achievement at Wimbledon yesterday; after all, if a bandwagon passes a politician, they tend to do their utmost to leap aboard.

‘Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who deserves one more,’ the Prime Minister declared and in some ways it could be argued ending one of British sport’s longest failure deserves such an accolade.

While there’s no danger of sportsmen receiving honours for simply doing their jobs, as still seems to occur in politics with Sir Gerald Howarth and Sir Edward Leigh being recent prime examples - as I can work out their only achievement is remaining long surviving MPs in safe constituencies - surely there is a danger of being a bit hasty?

Once upon a time a sporting great would be summoned to the palace at the end of their careers or long after they had retired. Sir Ian Botham was knighted, for services to cricket and charity, only in 2007 and received no honour for his heroics in the 1981 Ashes. Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Donald Bradman both got the nod in the twilight of their long sporting lives. David Beckham is patiently waiting. And Fred Perry was never knighted.

One could take a puritanical line and question whether winning Wimbledon deserves a state honour at all. After all, Andy Murray was simply doing his job for which he is extraordinarily well paid.

But that would be a bit mean. Sporting achievements do cheer up large swathes of the nation but awards hastily awarded in the wake of success have made a mockery of the honours system. A case in point was the blanket awarding of MBEs to the 2005 Ashes winning team (except captain Michael Vaughan who got a CBE). This included Paul Collingwood after scoring just 7 and 10 in his only match of the series. There’s little doubt Collingwood deserved such recognition for his later exploits representing England, but it’s no wonder Shane Warne was merciless in his mockery at the time. Ironically, Warne thinks he deserves a knighthood.

Of course, times have changed and Britain’s success in the Olympics saw several new knights created, such as Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins. But, these sportsmen were at the pinnacle of their careers. Is Andy Murray? Can he top this achievement? Well, he’s only 26 so yes, he could win several more Grand Slam tournaments; he may even defend his Wimbledon title. But if he’s already been knighted, how else could the honours system recognise a long career sparkling with more successes?

Andy Murray is not going to suffer any shortage of honours this year and he is practically guaranteed the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Knighting him now would almost be honouring him for ending our wait for a men's Wimbledon champion. So let's be patient and put the knighthood aaway for another day.

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