SOUTHEND’S Neil Harman is relishing his role in tracking Andy Murray’s defence of his Wimbledon title.
The Rochford-born Harman will again be covering the world famous tournament for The Times newspaper.
And the former Echo reporter counts himself extremely fortunate to be court-side in south-west London.
“It’s a huge privilege to be covering one of the world’s best sporting events for the 27th time,” said the high-profile Harman, who can also often be heard on BBC Radio Five Live.
“When you consider I started back in 1974 writing about Southend United’s youth team playing at Wellstead Gardens then I’ve come along way.
“I’m now also close to covering my 100th Grand Slam event and I count myself to be extremely fortunate.
“What journalist wouldn’t want to be reporting on these fantastic events for The Times?”
Harman, who has also worked for the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, has been with the Times since 2002.
But it was with the Echo that he first got into tennis.
“It was through knowing the Lloyd brothers through the Echo that I started getting interested in tennis,” said Harman.
“Even when I moved on from the Echo and covered other sports, including football, my tennis flame was still burning strong.
“It’s been fantastic and covering Andy Murray winning here last year was as good as it can get, especially as I’ve known him since he was a kid.”
However, it is not just Murray’s fortunes that Harman regularly follows as he remains a keen supporter of Southend United.
“It’s very hard to get to the games but I always have my heart in my mouth watching Soccer Saturday,” said Harman, 57.
“Quite a few of the tennis reporters support teams in the lower leagues but Southend is a good club and hopefully we can get out of League Two soon.
“I still come back whenever I can but it’s never often enough as I’ll always class Southend as home.”
NEIL'S TIPS FOR THE TITLES
Men: Andy Murray
"I'm backing Andy to win at Wimbledon again this year. He's had a very difficult time of it since winning here last summer, having a back operation and a change of coach, but his form is good. He's striking the ball beautifully and he would be my tip for the title."
Women: I've gone for an outsider for the women's title and I'm backing the Romanian Simona Halep to win it. She got to the final of the French and is a wonderful athlete."