The truth about Nick’s absence and why squash needs a grading system
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Reporter
ACCORDING to The Times, Nick Matthew is snubbing the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Show in protest at the way the show, and the BBC in general, ignores squash.
Sadly for The Thunderer, their coruscatingly sarcastic TV columnist, Giles Smith, has got his precious knickers in a twist.
He’s correct to report that Nick will not be in Leeds tomorrow night for the SPOTY show. But there is no snub involved.
Nick will be spending the weekend in Jersey, honouring a long-term commitment made to the Channel Island squash community and especially coach Nick Taylor, who is doing such a great job over there.
While waiting at the airport this morning, Nick told Squash Mad: “I’m just about to board my flight to Jersey. I arranged this trip about six months ago before I knew the date of SPOTY. It’s important for me to respect the effort everyone has gone to, especially Nick Taylor, to get me to Jersey.
“I have got a great relationship with Carl Doran at the BBC, who is the executive producer of SPOTY. I tried everything to get back but flights wouldn’t get me there on time.”
Nick clearly tried his hardest to be in two places at once. Last year, he enjoyed the whole SPOTY experience as he and a group of friends partied the night away with his neighbour Jessica Ennis-Hill, who was runner-up to Bradley Wiggins.
Nick, who often bumps into athletics golden girl Jess at the EIS training centre in Sheffield, was in London this week to collect a major award from the Sports Journalist Association in recognition of his hat-trick of world titles.
Shame the BBC didn’t do the right thing and put Nick on the shortlist for this year’s SPOTY.
Enjoy the weekend, Nick. You deserve it. And regards to Mr Taylor.
CHRISTMAS: JUST AROUND THE CORNER
What do squash players want for Christmas? Well, apart from a new left hip and a season ticket to the osteopath’s, I’m pretty well sorted, thanks.
However, allow me to make a couple of hearty recommendations: Grab some tickets for the Canary Wharf Classic before they sell out, and order a copy of Nick Matthew’s excellent book, Sweating Blood.
With the World Series Finals postponed, Queen’s Club regulars might fancy heading east to the wonderful East Wintergarden venue to watch the 11th edition of the Canary Wharf event from March 24-28.
Tickets have sold out every day for the past four years, and every seat has been snapped up for the 2014 final, so I would advise you to get on Ticketmaster as soon as possible.
And, if you want to read a world champion’s take on life on the world tour, then Nick’s book provides a succession of outstanding tales.
He even mentions the time he and rival James Willstrop hugged each other at the airport after a successful tournament with England, and reveals some intimate details of the drug-testing procedures that athletes must endure.
One of my favourite sections is where he describes his brutal battle with Willstrop in the 2010 Canary Wharf semi-final as one of the top five matches in his entire career.
TIME FOR SQUASH TO MAKE THE GRADE
Great to see such a mixture of playing abilities at last weekend’s Canterbury Open. One day, hopefully, we will see a thorough grading system in place in the UK so that more events of this nature can take place.
Many of us cast envious eyes towards the USA, Canada and New Zealand, where grading systems are embedded in the structure and the psyche of the sport. Not having such a system in operation in Britain is holding back the sport.
In fact, it’s the biggest failure in the management of the game by our governing bodies. Some enterprising software code writers have launched a system that helps counties to hook up with each other. Let’s hope it can spread across the nation.
Joe Magor is the man who put the Canterbury event together. He also found time while collating all the scores to write a brilliant article on Gregory Gaultier’s preferred stringing tensions, which caused many a jaw to drop.
Well done Joe! Hope the bodies have finally been removed from the clubroom lounge floor after a weekend of Canterbury carnage on and off court.
Time for an extra play-off in the PSL. As well as the semi-finals and final, maybe we need a Wooden Spoon battle. Looks like it would be close call this season between Pontefract and Winchester. Or am I jumping the gun?