Jonny deserves respect for starting winning run

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IN all the excitement of the announcement of the shortlist for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year one name that didn’t make it has received nothing like the attention it should have done.

It will be a 12 months when sport was front page news and legends have been created from the Olympic Park through to the Medinah Country Club in Chicago.

From Jess to Wiggo and Mo to Rory there’s a set of sports stars who have no need for a full name, such is their fame.

However, there’s one young man from Sheffield who can consider himself a bit unlucky not to be even mentioned when people were speculating about who would make up the 12 strong shortlist. And that’s Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Jonny Marray.

If you remember it was Marray who really kick-started the great summer of British sport. The pressure was on Andy Murray to become the first home male player to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936 when he won three of the four.

And he duly delivered at the US Open in September after falling to Roger Federer at the All England Club.

But before all that Marray had already written his name on the Wimbledon honours board for his remarkable doubles triumph alongside Denmark’s Freddie Nielsen.

This was no small achievement. Tennis may not be in the national consciousness in the same way as football but it does become an obsession every summer as Wimbledon fortnight begins.

If it was that easy to pick up a Grand Slam title don’t you think it would have happened on a more regular basis for the British.

It’s not like the players don’t play doubles. There’s plenty of home-grown professional over the years who have made a good living by becoming proficient at supplementing their singles winnings by picking up a cheque every now and then in the two-man game.

Marray, who was born in Liverpool but moved to Sheffield as a small child and attended St Wilfrid’s primary school and then All Saints secondary school, had been rattling around the second division of the tennis world before his and Nielsen’s run at Wimbledon.

The equivalent in football would be for a low ranked team being invited into the Champions League and then beating Barcelona on the way to winning it.

Marray’s triumph and subsequent excellent showing in the end of season ATP Finals in London where he and Nielsen made it through to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez prove that he’s at the very top of his sport.

I hope he gets recognition when the Sports Personality Award’s night takes place on December 16. He thoroughly deserves it.

IT was the first anniversary of the death of Gary Speed this week.

The occasion was marked with respect at clubs he played for around the country and there’s still a sense of shock that such a fine man is no longer with us. Speed had a profound impact on my life when I was a young professional at Leeds as he did on many people who met him.

Late last week I heard news that another former team-mate of mine, Gary Ingham, who I played with at Stocksbridge Park Steels and was part of the club’s Senior Cup winning side of 1999, is also no longer with us.

It’s always sad when someone dies but even more so when good men leave us well before their time.