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Billy on the Box: Sue Barker only has eyes for a star at No.1

By Billy Weir

Published 24/11/2016

Star man: Andy Murray, World No.1, ATP champion and very much British at the moment
Star man: Andy Murray, World No.1, ATP champion and very much British at the moment

Back in the day, through the dark mists of time, simpering Sue Barker was infatuated with a man who wasn't everyone's cup of barley water and made a bit of a song and dance over many years in an attempt to reach No.1.

It seemed that history was about to repeat itself on Sunday evening as BBC2 played host to the ATP Tennis final only for the lights to dim and smoke to billow from an opened door and we all held our breath as to who would emerge in Stars In Their Eyes fashion.

It was a woman called Sue, not dressed as Cliff Richard or indeed Johnny Cash, but she told us that "the stakes couldn't be higher, one match for No.1, hahhhh, it doesn't get any better than this".

For those not in the know, awesome Andy Murray was taking on his nemesis nasty Novak Djokovic, the latter having lost his No.1 spot in the world to the British ace recently and this was the chance to win it back.

First, though, we had to endure the sort of torture that I thought had been banned by the UN many moons ago in a toe-curling, stomach-turning, buttock-clenching piece where 'celebrities' sent their good wishes to oor Andy, including the likes of James Corden, Louise Redknapp and Honey G.

In the makeshift studio at the O2 Arena, Sue, rather cruelly, said she was joined by Tim Henman and "one of the legends of the sport" in Stefan Edberg and incredibly they still look the same as they did when they were playing.

Tim revealed that "Andy loves that combative element, just look at his camouflage shoes" and I did but couldn't see them, although it does explain why Tim was always in pristine white, as it made it easier to surrender.

The players also came out in Stars In Their Eyes fashion, introduced by a man who sounded exactly like Matthew Kelly but for celebrity-spotters there was plenty to see, and commentator Andrew Castle was on look-out.

"Clive Owen is down there - he would have been a good James Bond, there's Jude Law, and Bastian Schweinsteiger is down there with his wife, Ana Ivanovic," he said, before turning into a tour guide.

"Nine million people come here each year to watch music and sport, it's easy to get here on the Tube, the Jubilee line," and we wondered just how long we'd have to listen to this particular tube.

Djokovic was having as much effect as Schweinsteiger, although one shot meant he "restored faith in his smash", which is nice because it's horrible when a man can no longer trust his mashed potato substitute, but he still lost the first set 6-3.

"Most people who are ordinary humans can't do this," said Castle, pointing out how many hours Andy had been on court that week, but conveniently forgetting that you get a wee sit down and all the barley water you can drink, before pointing out Woody Harrelson was in the crowd and saying "cheers Woody for being here". Taxi for Castle, or Tube, or anything.

There was then a more sinister element as Murray closed in on the title and world domination.

"He's like one of those dogs that you can swing around and they just hang on," said Castle before an even more cruel attack on another defenceless animal.

"It's never easy to serve out a tournament, but winning is a habit Tim, as you know," and a faint yelp was heard as Henman ran off into the hills.

And talking of running, as victory was wrapped up it was revealed that Murray had run 2,000m in an hour and 42 minutes - I could almost manage that myself - prompting Castle to announce "you have to be looking at Britain's No.1 sportsperson at the moment".

Tricky one. Mo Farah can run 10,000m in about half an hour, but Sue was having none of it.

"You wonder just what awards are to come his way from now on, Sports Personality of the Year for a record third time, maybe it'll be arise Sir Andy, he certainly deserves it all, he has proved this week what a winner he truly is," she hinted.

Indeed he has, and all this achieved despite the collective heads of the BBC Tennis department lodged in a very uncomfortable place.

And remember, if you see Tim running around out there on his own, bring him in, give him a bowl of barley water and assure him that there's still a hill with his name on it, just catch the Tube, District Line is your best bet, but just watch out in case there's a Scotsman in camouflage shoes trampling all over it.

Belfast Telegraph

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