Long hair, like loud rock, has never been in fashion. Then again, Aussie sportsmen aren’t renowned for their good taste. Which is just as well because, in former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, rock and metal boasts one of its most vocal supporters and an individual never afraid to nail his true colours to the mast.
A talented guitar player, the one-time darling of centre court’s female fans never fails to do his bit for the music we love by mentioning his other passion everywhere he goes. Always keen to combine his BBC-funded visit to the All England Club with a gig or two, Cash has really come up trumps in 2009.
As coincidences go it couldn’t be better for the suppressed rock star living in an athlete’s body. The first weekend of Wimbledon – an historically tame period of competition and therefore not requiring the pundit’s full attention – takes place at the same time AC/DC plays Wembley Stadium. It just so happens Cash points to Back In Black as the soundtrack of his life and describes his ideal night out as ‘a great concert with a great rock band – maybe AC/DC’.
After growing up listening to the Aussie giants and Judas Priest a young Cash relocated to London and became buddies with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. He jammed with both and another of his all-time faves – Thin Lizzy. Despite pressure to follow the crowd and revise his tastes Cash never, ever drifted down the road of listening to music for music’s sake and still worships his rock heroes to this day.
If watching Wimbledon and AC/DC in the same London weekend is pretty much close to perfection for Cash then I had the pleasure of bumping into him at another of the capital’s major rock events a few years back. Again Wimbledon was just getting into full swing and this time Aerosmith had lured the former champ out of the comfort zone of the commentary box and into the beer-soaked backstage area.
With his family in tow, Cash was like a wide-eyed kid as he watched the likes of Jet and Chris Cornell pass by during Hyde Park Calling. And he couldn’t stop talking about a new British band called The Answer. Cash had high hopes for a gang of untamed Ulstermen playing their unique brand of retro blues rock and promised to keep an eye on the surprise package of the main stage.
Tomorrow night The Answer will open up for AC/DC at Wembley Stadium in what will be one of the band’s biggest shows to date. And for one night Cash can forget all about Murray Mania, strawberries and cream and Cliff Richard singing in the rain. He can forget about tennis full stop and remember that for as long as the likes of Brian Johnson and Cormac Neeson are belting out blazing rock anthems it doesn’t matter that the Brits are shit at tennis.
It might not be cool to like rock but it’s cool to celebrate success. And at a sold-out Wembley Stadium, Cash and his fellow dedicated followers of the unfashionable will be doing just that. Good on yer sport.