UK

Henry Searle’s Barmy Army among those celebrating teenager’s Wimbledon victory

Henry Searle won Wimbledon to the sound of raucous applause from his very own Barmy Army (Steven Paston/PA)
Henry Searle won Wimbledon to the sound of raucous applause from his very own Barmy Army (Steven Paston/PA)

Henry Searle’s very own “Barmy Army” were among those celebrating the teenager’s victory at Wimbledon, which has made him the first British boys’ singles champion in more than 60 years.

The 17-year-old from Wolverhampton, a lifelong supporter of the city’s football club, beat fifth seed Yaroslav Demin 6-4 6-4 on Court One to emulate Stanley Matthews, son of the famous footballer, who triumphed 61 years ago.

He did not drop a set over the course of the tournament and has been supported throughout his run by “Henry’s Barmy Army”.

Henry Searle kissing his trophy
Henry Searle kissing his trophy (Steven Paston/PA)

The group was out in full force on Sunday with around 50 of them spectating in matching T-shirts, cheering loudly at every point won by Searle with encouragements like: “Fire it up”, “Keep it rolling, Hen”, and “Light the candle”, before jumping to their feet and roaring when he won the match.

In his winners’ press conference, Searle said the Barmy Army have been “exceptional”.

The 17-year-old also said it would be “pretty cool” to have the hill at Wimbledon renamed “Henry’s Hill” one day.

Outside Court One after the match, Searle’s supporters huddled together and chanted: “Champion” before following up with: “We are Wolves” and: “Henry Searle’s Barmy Army”.

The Barmy Army in the stands
The Barmy Army (Steven Paston/PA)

One of the group called out from the back of the huddle: “To the bar.”

Searle’s brother, Oscar, was pulled into selfie after selfie with spectators who had formed a small crowd.

He told a few people that he was “not Henry”, but posed for pictures anyway.

Searle’s mother, Emma, told BBC Sport she was “hugely proud” of him.

The junior star’s best friend, 17-year-old Max Walker, said: ““I’m kind of lost for words a bit, I think we all are. We couldn’t have asked for anything more, it’s a dream come true watching him up there.”

His mother, Juliet Walker, 47, said they have been doing six-hour journeys to and from Wolverhampton every day.

Amber Fellows, 37, was Searle’s first ever coach and said: “It’s very surreal watching him lift the trophy, very emotional.”

Marc Hughes, 57, general manager of Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, which Searle joined aged two-and-a-half, told the PA news agency: “We’re over the moon with how he’s done today.

“We’re proud of the fact he’s represented the club with his competitiveness, his behaviour and his amazing performance.”

The club hosted a “rammed” screening of the match, which had a “fantastic atmosphere”.

Mr Hughes went on: “We can’t wait to see him when he’s back, we’re really pleased that Henry has stayed with it.

“We run a junior performance programme and Henry comes down and hits with them – the guy’s just won at Wimbledon, two weeks earlier he was hitting with the juniors, that’s the sort of guy he is.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers FC congratulated him on Twitter: “What a performance, Henry Searle! Congratulations from all the pack.”

On Saturday evening, manager Julen Lopetegui gave Searle a good-luck message.

In a video, Lopetegui said: “All of us, all the group, all the fans at Wolverhampton, we are very proud of you and we hope that tomorrow you are going to have a big day.

“I hope that the strength of the wolves will be with you tomorrow. All the best.”