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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Blog: All write now, squash beer in New York and a Kent legend

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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The Squash Writers Guild meets at Leadenhall Market in London, from left: Aubrey Waddy, Peter Heywood, John Branston and Alan Thatcher

Some years ago I launched the Fleet Street Squash League at the original Cannons Club, underneath the railway arches at Cannon Street Station.

Teams of journalists, photographers and editors, TV and radio presenters, and assorted PR executives, took part in teams of three once a month

At its peak the competition boasted 16 teams, and notable players included TV presenter John Suchet (brother of Poirot actor David), Daily Mail gossip columnist Nigel Dempster, and The Sun’s controversial editor, Kelvin Mackenzie.

The Fleet Street League ran for several years, moving across the river to the Cottons Club, opposite London Bridge Station.

The early years coincided with squash’s boom years, and the FSL was a valuable marketing tool for England Squash (then simply the SRA) to promote the British Open and the American Express-sponsored National League to an enthusiastic group of squash-loving journalists.

With a sumptuous buffet laid on after every round of matches by American Express, we were the best-sponsored rubbish squash players on the planet!

Some of us got together to form a media team called The Press Gang, and some convivial evenings were spent at squash clubs in and around London as the hacks turned into hackers on court.

Numbers dwindled down the years and these days you will struggle to find more than a handful of journalists at even the biggest events.

However, a recent book project has brought together a group of squash writers from the UK and USA in a collaborative novel called The Club From Hell.

It was a pleasure to meet up in London last week with fellow writers Aubrey Waddy and Peter Heywood, both from the UK, plus John Branston, a squash enthusiast who also happens to be a senior editor on the Memphis Flyer.

John flew across for a short holiday with his wife and sister and it was a pleasure to swap stories over an excellent al fresco lunch at Pizza Express in Leadenhall Market.

John also jumped on the train to Kent the following day and we had an enjoyable match on court at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone.

Just like the Ryder Cup, Europe hit back from a difficult position to record a famous triumph. I look forward to the return match in the States, possibly at the NAO in Richmond VA in February.

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Squash-flavoured beer. Sounds like an energy drink.

Some New York City area bars and restaurants are serving up an autumn brew made with roasted pumpkins and squash grown on an organic Hudson Valley farm.

Katchkie Harvest Ale is a joint effort by Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook and Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Westchester County. The limited edition brew goes on tap this week at a series of bars and restaurants in the metro area.

Would love to have some customer reviews from squash players!

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Squash lost one of its great characters this week when Kent’s former junior organiser Ken Cotton passed away.

So many famous players, including Adrian Grant, Paul Johnson, Ben Ford, John Russell, James Robbins, Paul Butler, emerged from those Kent squads, and most of them were present at a special get-together held recently in Ken’s honour at Park Langley.

Despite his illness, not only was Ken present to greet everybody, he was back at the club the following night to offer words of encouragement to the club’s second team.

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