As I’m writing this, my favorite men’s tennis player, Andy Murray, is battling against Roger Federer in the final at Wimbeldon. It’s the fourth set. Federer is up two to one.
There was a rain delay during the third set. That’s when they showed a mini-documentary about Murray and I learned something about him I’d never known: he hails from a haunted town.
I knew he was Scottish, but I never knew what part of Scotland he was from. He was born in Glasgow, but later lived in Dunblane as he was growing up. In fact, he even attended Dunblane Primary School.
Why would anyone care what grade school (or primary school, as it’s called overseas) he attended, except maybe those who had gone there themselves?
Dunblane Primary School was the site of one the worst school shootings, if not the worst, in the United Kingdom. On March 13, 1996, Steve Hamilton, armed with four handguns, entered the school. He shot and killed sixteen children plus one teacher before turning a gun on himself. All the children were either five or six. (He basically wiped out a whole grade, which was in gym at the time.)
Andy Murray was there that fateful day. So was his brother. They both escaped unharmed.
In the mini-documentary about Murray’s connection to the Dunblane school massacre, both Murray’s family members (like his mom, grandmother and grandfather), as well as teachers and clergymen, spoke about the day and it’s dark effects on their once idyllic community.
Dunblane was a small, harmonious town before the shootings. Hamilton’s heinous act that day shattered the community’s peacefulness…and naivety. The big, bad world had found a way to mar their tranquility.
Again and again the people interviewed saw Murray as a way to break the darkness that had plagued their town’s name. He was from that area. He was Britain’s No. 1 ranked tennis player. Every year he’s played in Wimbeldon they’ve hoped he’d make it to the finals. (Me too. I like Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, but I’m a Murray fan first and foremost.)
They’re proud he’s finally broken the streak. (Murray is the first British player to reach the men’s singles final in Wimbeldon since 1938.) Of course, they’re hoping he’ll win.
But they also hope this brings more of a positive association with the name Dunblane, rather than the horrific one inspired by the events on March 13, 1996 that has haunted it since that dreadful day.
As I finished writing this, Andy Murray lost to Roger Federer 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
It was still a historic match. Murray for being the first Brit since the late 1930s to get to the finals; Federer for winning his 7th Wimbeldon Championship, which ties William Renshaw’s and Pete Sampras’s records. It also gives Federer back the ranking of number one in the world.
Keep hanging tough, Murry. You’ll win one eventually!