Brian Viner: Why Andy Murray is British when he wins and Scottish when he loses
A tabloid newspaper yesterday joked that Andy Murray comes from the Home Counties, on the slightly flimsy basis that he now lives in Surrey, while another found more English antecedents than Scottish in the 23-year-old's family tree.
But there is no doubt that from English media commentators downwards, or perhaps upwards, the young man from Dunblane is considered British when he wins, and Scottish when he loses.
It was ever thus. In 1988, when the Scottish golfer Sandy Lyle became the first man from these isles to win the prestigious US Masters, everyone south of Gretna thought of him as, first and foremost, a Brit. When another golfer, Colin Montgomerie, was winning seven consecutive European Order of Merits, he too was deemed a credit to Britain. Yet whenever he stomps ill-humouredly around a golf course, scowling at spectators with a face once rudely described as resembling that of a bulldog licking urine off a nettle, he becomes Scottish.
It is no wonder that the Scots get chippy about this. They were happy enough to let the English lay claim to Tim Henman as he huffed and puffed in all those failed attempts to reach a Wimbledon final, yet here are the Sassenachs clambering aboard the Murray bandwagon, some of them even waving saltires. Even those Scots who support the England cricket team (once captained by Mike Denness from North Lanarkshire), would never dream of brandishing a St George's flag.
Football and rugby, of course, are different matters. And that's where it gets really nasty. Many Glasgow pubs erupted when Germany thrashed England in the World Cup last Sunday, while one prominent Scottish sportsman even admitted during the 2006 World Cup that he would be supporting "anyone but England". His name? Andy Murray. From Surrey.