Fred Perry and Bunny Austin

Fred Perry and Bunny Austin with the Davis Cup

It has been quite a nostalgic weekend on the BBC, what with Andy Murray being the first Brit to make the men’s singles final for 74 years.

What a great excuse for dusting off archives and playing the clipped home counties accent of the commentary from 1938.

But it has at least reminded us who Bunny Austin and Fred Perry were.

The latter was born in Stockport, where I live, so we have a Fred Perry Way and a Fred Perry House, but I suspect that many locals think they’re named after a range of casual menswear. (I mean the clothes are casual, not that men are casually swearing.)

I’m sure there was a lot of casual swearing among the 17 million UK tv audience as Andy tried hard and failed to become the first Scot ever to win a tennis major, but the thing that has struck me throughout Wimbledon fortnight is the unquestioning reliance on computer technology.

HawkeyeI’m talking about Hawk-Eye of course. Doesn’t it strike anyone else as odd that instead of having slo-mo tv to arbitrate on a line call, we happily take the word of a computer simulation?

I’m not suggesting that it isn’t accurate – I’m sure it is if you read the blurb on their website – it’s just that we think it normal to watch something that hasn’t happened in real life to find out what did, if you see what I mean.

We have a similar system in cricket to judge on leg before wicket decisions. That won’t mean much to non-cricket watchers, but if a batsman’s leg gets in the way of a ball that would have hit the stumps, then the umpire can give him out.

It’s a bit more complicated than that, but a bowler can call on another version of Hawk-Eye if they think the umpire has got the decision wrong.

As in tennis, Hawk-Eye’s silicon chips then decide whether the ball would have hit the wicket, based on speed of delivery, trajectory, spin etc, but again it’s a computer simulation, not real life.

And it gets even more complicated because as well as Hawk-Eye, the review of the decision also includes slo-mo tv to check whether or not it was a legal delivery by the bowler and the Snickometer and Hot Spot technology to determine whether the batsman hit the ball first.

Now FIFA has also decided to introduce Hawk-Eye to football for those rare occasions when the ball crossing the goal line is missed by the officials.

Personally, I think that eliminating human failings from sport devalues it somehow. Isn’t that what it’s all about really?

How long before we go the whole hog and hold the World Cup, Wimbledon and The Ashes on the Playstation 3?

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

6 comments… Add yours
  • john 9th July 2012

    oh I am so falsely nostalgic for anyone that could be called “Bunny” what a lovely name…………

  • Chrissy Brand 9th July 2012

    I have such fond memories of Fred Perry as a tennis pundit on Wimbledon round up evenings at 2015 GMT on the BBC World Service, when I was a girl in the 1970s 😉

    I know what you mean, but think the technology has helped tennis and cricket and needs to come to the top level of football too…

  • Roger Green 9th July 2012

    I was rooting for Murray, FWIW.

  • Trevor Rowley 9th July 2012

    Fred Perry certainly was born in Stockport, Mr P, and there’s a blue plaque on the wall at the side of his old front door on Portwood (?). Come on, Mr P, you’ll have to help me with this one. Is it the Brinnington district of Stockport? As a boy, I always knew we were almost into Stockport town centre when we passed the factory/dairy which processed “Cheshire Sterilised Milk.” I was weaned on the stuff but my workmates always went to great lengths to tell me that it was a dreadful indicator of coming from the labouring classes (but that was quite true anyway so why should I worry). I pass the house whenever I go to Stockport on the bus (only about twice a year) but the bus doesn’t slow down for long enough at the bus stop outside the house to be able to read the inscription. To be honest, when I was growing up in the sixties, the Fred Perry range of menswear was seen as a bit naff and most youngsters wouldn’t be seen dead in them (and then the mods came along and adopted it as theirs).

    The name “Bunny” only makes me think of Bunny Lewis. He was one of the older entertainers in Manchester in the 1960s. He had a penchant for squeezing his rather portly frame into skimpy ladies dresses and then cavorting around the stage telling the most outrageous jokes – he was very funny.

  • Mr Parrot 10th July 2012

    Your raise several points Trevor. The Fred Perry Blue Plaque is on Carrington Road, not far after the main road to Stockport goes right at the lights at the junction with New Bridge Lane and New Zealand Road.

    Brinnington is more over towards the motorway exit at Bredbury, but there is still a commercial dairy over that way if that is the one you mean. I too was raised on ‘sterra’ because it didn’t go off. I used to hate the taste of the proper stuff that they gave us at school!

    The main memorial to Fred Perry these days is the recently opened council offices, behind the old town hall, that is called Fred Perry House.

    Bunny Austin got his nickname from the comic strip Pip, Sqeak and Wilfred, Wilfred being his middle name.

    As for Bunny Lewis, I met him a couple of times when I worked for Wilsons Brewery and he was booked to do a turn at some WMC. It was a star-studded life I lead!

  • Arctic Fox 10th July 2012

    he was Scottish until he won a set, then he was British, then when he lost…. he’s scottish again! Hawk-eye is also used in snooker, and it talks a lot more sense than John Virgo!!


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