Hibs pulled off a major coup today as they revealed tennis star Jamie Murray as the patron of the Easter Road club’s Community Foundation.
The former Wimbeldon champion – he won the mixed doubles in 2007 with Jelena Jankovic – has agreed to become the figurehead for the charity, immediately insisting he’s intent on making it a long-term commitment in which he can help “make a difference.”
Pointing to the myriad activities of the Foundation, which only yesterday announced an education programme to tackle youth unemployment, 27-year-old Murray, speaking exclusively to the Evening News, said: “There’s quite a wide ranging group of activities in which the Foundation is involved but, as so often happens, the hard work of so many people goes under the radar. Unfortunately, people seem to want to read about negative things and not so much about the good things. Sport is a great vehicle for young people, Edinburgh has terrific sporting traditions and the more people who can be attracted to being involved in what is going on the better. The fact there is a link with Hibs might be one reason for some to become involved and that can only be a good thing.”
Murray, the current US Men’s Clay Court doubles champion, revealed he hopes his new commitment will help raise the profile of the Hibernian Community Foundation both at home and abroad and admitted he’s excited at the prospect of playing an active role particularly with his family’s strong links to the Capital club.
Along with his brother Andy, the newly-crowned Wimbledon champion, Murray has been a fan because their grandfather, Roy Erskine, played matches for the club in the 1950s behind the Famous Five forward line. He said: “Mum’s side of the family supported Hibs and we were taken by her and Dad to games from a young age and along to Hibs Kids days when we were six or seven, so the club is close to my heart.
“I was delighted when the Foundation approached me and asked if I would be patron. I’m excited and hopefully I can get involved in some of the projects that are going on which help the local community.
“I’d like to think that I can help bring what the Foundation is all about and it’s various activities to the attention of as many people as possible and maybe into areas it can’t reach by itself.
“Hopefully this will just be the start of many years of being involved with the charity. I don’t see myself as being someone who will just turn up one day for a few photographs and leave it at that, I want to be a part of it and, hopefully, help make a difference.”
The demands of tennis are, of course, intense, with Murray revealing he spends between 30 and 32 weeks a year abroad playing in tournaments. However, he is determined not to let that deter him from taking a hands-on role. He said: “I don’t get to see as much of Hibs as I would like because I am away so much and live in London.
“But I was at Easter Road for the Scottish Cup win over Hearts last season and I follow match updates and results wherever I go. Although I am away so much I intend to come to Edinburgh when I can and see all the different activities of the Foundation first hand.”
Foundation director Scott Lindsay said: “Jamie has been supportive of the Foundation and has shown genuine interest in the work we do in the community.
“We are delighted he has accepted our invitation to become our patron and we look forward to working with him.
“Given his status as a top sportsman, it is appropriate because Jamie understands the power sport has to touch and change lives for the better.”
Murray’s agreement follows close on the heels of Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher becoming patron of Hibernian Girls and Ladies, another key part of the Foundation’s activities.
Meanwhile, Hibs have announced tickets for their Scottish Communities League Cup tie against Stranraer as Easter Road on Tuesday week will go on sale tomorrow, priced £15 (adults) and £5 (concessions).