Weir’s Week: Title hopes, top tiers and that Tsonga semi

Andy Murray in action in his Wimbledon quarter-final against David Ferrer Picture: Nick J Webb
Andy Murray in action in his Wimbledon quarter-final against David Ferrer Picture: Nick J Webb

Saturday
I remember watching a few late matches at Wimbledon over the years. Ironically, the two I recall best were both on Thursday evening semi-finals, one when Roger Taylor (before he became drummer for Queen) lost to Jan Kodeš, the other when Björn Borg came from two sets down to win (I think against Vitas Gerulaitis).

Both times, the commentary was interspersed with references to how dark it was. On TV screens, it was grey dark, but that was due entirely to the TV cameras playing games.

I can’t remember the matches going past 9 o’clock, although I’ll happily stand corrected. The fact was, back then, they couldn’t.

Different now, as anyone watching Andy Murray’s match against Marcos Baghdatis would tell you.

Pull the roof over, switch on the lights, and on Saturday evening we were there until 11 o’clock to see the Scot triumph. Well, a little after 11.

Murray rattled off the last set in double-quick time, probably in the knowledge that if he didn’t, he’d be back on the Monday. While Wimbledon has the facilities now, it doesn’t have a late licence. And you can hardly have a lock-in.

11pm was the cut-off point. I waited expectantly to see if it would be like the local snooker hall, where the meter runs out and the lights go off. But Murray beat the curfew – and Baghdatis – by a few minutes.

Amazing in this day and age that you have Wimbledon governed by archaic bylaws. At the Australian Open, matches last until 3am at times. But then, maybe they are used to staging major sporting events.

London might be among the big boys now they have the Olympics. But it’s toytown in reality …

Sunday
Congratulations go to Welshman Jamie Donaldson who wins the Irish Open at Royal Portrush by four shots.

It was Donaldson’s first win after 12 years on the European Tour – at the 255th attempt.

You have to applaud his dedication, and believe in the law of averages …

Monday
The good news, for some, is that Michael Phelps has opted out of the 200-metre freestyle at the Olympic Games.

The bad news is this means he will only chase seven gold medals. The American champion will now concentrate on two butterfly and two individual medley events, as well as three relays.

If successful, it will take his count of gold medals to 21.

Given that Steve Redgrave got a knighthood for five, and Chris Hoy and Matthew Pinsent were similarly honoured for winning “just” four, I reckon Phelps must be a sure thing to be US President some day …

Tuesday
Scottish Football League clubs – all 30 of them – are represented at Hampden as they meet to discuss what they will do with a problem like Rangers.

Rangers of course, shouldn’t be their problem. But given the scheming and conniving going on between the SFA and the SPL, the SFL clubs have been landed with this toxic mess. And it’s too much for some.

Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton was scathing in his condemnation at the SPL/SFA carve-up, which wants Rangers parachuted into Division 1.

I should point out at this stage that the SPL clubs who don’t want Rangers say their fans will revolt over the “integrity” issues surrounding the Ibrox club being allowed to stay in the top tier. But, hypocritical as ever, they seem to think it’s OK to dump Rangers on Division 1 clubs, despite several warnings of similar revolt among supporters.

Hutton left no one in any doubt what he thought about his SPL counterparts, saying he and his like had been “threatened, bullied, rail-roaded, lied to” and calling the game in Scotland “corrupt”.

Emotive and angry words. The kind that would normally have someone appearing in front of one of the many SFA disciplinary coffee mornings on a disrepute charge.

Not so easy, however, when someone was speaking the truth – and they knew it …

Wednesday
“Surprise, surprise”, as Cilla Black would sing. “Reality hits you between the eyes.” Well, maybe not.

But that’s where Rangers were struck when they were voted out of the SPL.

Rangers had turned up – according to CEO Charles Green – believing they could get a positive outcome from the ballot. Of everyone in Scotland, only Green could have thought that.

Maybe that’s why chairman Malcolm Murray went out of his way with his apology the previous day. He’d have been better saving his breath.

Rangers’ fate (one of several fates they appear to own) was sealed by 11 clubs, just and true, more or less.

Well, not exactly. Ten clubs jettisoned Rangers, the only ones to abstain being Kilmarnock. Of course, they might have had their reasons. After all, they were due to play Rangers – or Club 12 – on the opening day of the season. One last pay day, perhaps? If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Of course, all clubs had their reasons: integrity, the fans wanted us to do it. And they wanted Rangers punished. But not too much that it might cause them any significant financial damage.

SPL head paper-shuffler Neil Doncaster said it wasn’t right that 41 clubs should be punished because of the behaviour of one. And rightly so.

But maybe if the business models of the majority of those clubs hadn’t been so dependent on Rangers, their enforced demise might not be having such a dire effect.

In all of this, I cannot remove myself too far from the belief that had the SFA – who apparently run Scottish football – had robust, fit and proper methods of punishment in place, then a great deal of the anguish and agony within the Scottish game would never have happened.

To now advocate that Rangers should drop to Division 1 – or an SPL 2 as it might become – is nothing short of a cop-out. And most fans know it.

Thursday
Stuart Pearce’s Team GB football squad had been met with controversy and apathy in equal measures.

Compare his selections to the squad Brazil have named, which includes strikers Hulk, Neymar and Alexandre Pato as well as Marcelo, the Real Madrid wing-back and Thiago Silva of AC Milan.

Those who still fancy Team GB for a medal must believe the Brazilians have bought season tickets for the London tour buses …

Friday
You know how history has a habit of repeating itself in sport?

Well, In beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray became the first British male to reach a Wimbledon singles final since Bunny Austin in 1938. And in the Ladies’ event, Agnieszka Radwanska became the first Polish woman to reach a Grand Slam final since 1939.

Should we be keeping an eye on Boris Becker this weekend?

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