IT is almost four decades since David Norrie left Glasgow but as his son Cameron likes to point out, he hasn’t lost his ‘filthy Scottish accent’. In fact, that is a rather unseemly and unfair way of putting it, any rough edges from his father’s upbringing in leafy King’s Park long having mellowed during the intervening 39 years, the bulk of which was spent in Johannesburg and Auckland.
At some point during today’s Davis Cup tie against Great Britain the old Proclaimers song is sure to ring out around the Emirates Arena. But forget 500 miles, when it comes to the distance David has travelled to see his son inherit Andy Murray’s mantle as Leon Smith’s No 1 singles player in the city of his birth that is small beer. Try 11,000 miles and the best part of 30 hours door-to-door.
“Part of the reason I made the trip is because, as Leon Smith points out, the change in format means this might be the last Davis Cup tie here,” says Norrie Snr. “With it being in Glasgow and Cameron playing at No. 1, I felt I should be here. But it was some journey. It’s 17 hours to Dubai from Auckland, then another seven-and-a-half into Glasgow. And there’s the 11-hour time difference, which doesn’t make it too pleasant.
“I wish he would stop saying that about my accent,” added David. “But I have kept it, of course. Why wouldn’t you? I’ve been away 36 years. Or 39, if you count England as being away. Which I think you do! I think Cameron will be nervous but I’m not great at watching so I’ll have to sit and grit my teeth. I’m very proud to see him progressing and representing his country. I have come back quite often but my mum passed away this year so it’s strange to be back in Glasgow and not see her.”
Norrie, still only 23, has also come a long way in the year or so since he left his tennis scholarship at Texas Christian University (TCU). Having been a talented junior in the New Zealand system, he has just one Davis Cup appearance to his name since declaring for Great Britain, on clay against Spain back in February, when he recorded a remarkable come-from-behind triumph on his debut against Roberto Bautista-Agut, then the World No 23, before going down in four sets to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Now ranked 70 in the world, he will be favoured heavily against Jurabek Karimov this afternoon, although the 20-year-old Uzbek is a young player of some pedigree, having reached the Australian Open junior final.
Cameron may have been brought up on the other side of the world, but David – whose wife, like him a microbiologist, hails from Wales – made sure to indoctrinate his son on Scottish life. Not only has he passed on the love for tennis which made him a player in his youth, he has passed on his love of Rangers, which helps when it comes to small talk in the team room with the Celtic and Hibs fans there, even if squeezing in their match this weekend is out of the question.
“I think you probably try to imbue some of your upbringing and values to your kids,” said David. “I’ve always told both of my kids about their background and heritage. They were born in Africa but I don’t think you change who you are, where you come from, even if you travel all over.
“For instance, Cameron always knew I was quite passionate about my football. I would always have to tell him what was going on because it’s the middle of the night in New Zealand, when games are on. You couldn’t really stay up to watch Scotland. Or, if you did, you paid for it the next day. I tried to keep him interested and I think it has helped him, because there is quite a big dynamic with football within the British team.
“Rangers are playing on Saturday but I thought it would look bad if I said ‘sorry, I’m off to Ibrox’ rather than stay to support the team,” added David, who moved the family on from Johannesburg to New Zealand after a neighbour was held up at gunpoint. “But this will be as near to a football atmosphere as you can get, I imagine. I’ve never been to a Davis Cup tie in Glasgow. In fact, I haven’t been to a Davis Cup tie since I went to watch John Clifton at Craiglockhart in 1970. I suspect the atmosphere will be a bit different.”
This will be the last British Davis Cup tie under the old format, and who knows the last tie to be hosted in Glasgow for quite some time. With Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund both posted missing, much of the leadership burden will fall on new US Open mixed doubles champion Jamie Murray, who will take on Denis Istomin and Sanjar Faysiev in the company of Dom Inglot on Saturday.
“I’ve had a lot of amazing moments playing Davis Cup for my country,” said Jamie, who also took issue about the post-Serena suggestion that umpires officiate men’s and women’s matches to different standards. “I’ve been a part of some amazing ties here. We’ve always had amazing support and I’m really looking forward to it again.”
Tickets are still available for this weekend’s Davis Cup action. Visit lta.org.uk/DavisCup to find out more