IT is always a sign of doleful times when a nation’s strips attract more attention than the quality of those who don them. This week saw the launch of a couple of sets of Scotland strips that are typically controversial, though this fan cannot summon up any indignation as the whole idea of fitba jerseys as fashion statements is beyond me.
The Scotland strip should be dark blue with a V or round neck. The shorts should be white, without any adornment. The socks should be red. And that is that.
However, my trip this week to the Davis Cup in Ghent produces an intriguing idea. What if Andrew Barron Murphy had decided to continue as a football player? As a youngster, he trained with Rangers and was offered the chance to progress. His grandad, Roy Erskine, was a professional player with Hibs. His dad, Willie, was a combative Junior player. Murray, too, has continued his love for the game. He regularly watches Fulham, was a big Barca fan until everyone else loved them, still is a Hibs supporter, and plays football whenever he can. His days with the big ball are restricted. Murray’s body carries a lot of mileage. But he still plays keep-uppy and his head tennis competitions were once the stuff of legend among his backroom staff with forfeits being wagered on the outcome of matches.
It is impossible to watch Murray close up and not believe he would have been a serious player. His touch with a tennis ball is excellent. He nonchalantly keeps it up with flicks of both feet. He is incredibly fast. He chases down the drop shot swiftly and effectively. He is physically imposing. Like Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, he is The Missing Footballer. I see Murray as the technically gifted, pacey, strong centre half that Scotland so needs. His brother, Jamie, a gifted golfer, could play alongside him. He, too, is quick and physical.
But the strangest recruit to the Scotland team would surely be Roger Federer. The Greatest Player of All Time has a Caledonian past. If you trawl the Internet, you will find the Swiss player bedecked in a Scotland strip of the eighties. Why? Who knows? But how about Rodger the Dodger in a Scotland squad? And what about the half-back line of Federer, A Murray, J Murray?
I would gladly watch them play. Even in the new Scotland strip.