Thursday, December 7, 2023

Alan’s Blog: Olympics and the Junkie weekend


Pre-match meal: The breakfast of kings
ONLY HERE FOR THE MEER! Pre-match meal: The breakfast of kings at Junkie Squash Festival

Junkies celebrate 20th anniversary

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

Looking around the world of squash this weekend, several events bring a smile to the face as soon as you wake up.

Me, I’m leaping out of bed early to play in a racketball tournament at The Mote in Maidstone. Six matches in one day might be a tall order for someone my age, but, for real stamina, you’ve got to look across the English Channel to the 20th anniversary Squash Junkie Tournament taking place in Holland. 

Unfortunately, with Operation Stack clogging up the whole county of Kent, it would have taken me a fortnight to get there.

Not only that, I’m back at work tomorrow morning, so I can only cast admiring glances towards Meersquash in The Netherlands as the Junkies’ weekend gathers pace.

First a short history of this event, supplied by Jason Morris.

There has been a summer team tournament in Amsterdam for 29 years, this year being 30. Originally there was the “Heineken International” held at Dickysquash in Amsterdam itself. I played this tournament together with my friends from Brunel University and later with “Squash Junkies”, our post university touring team. During one of these trips myself and co founder Jason Coleman found ourselves swimming in the harbour of Amsterdam after capsizing our canalbike!

After moving to Holland 19 years ago the organisers of the Dickysquash tournament decided to call it a day after 10 years. I took on the idea because I had enjoyed it so much and decided to try to organize it myself. With only two months’ notice we got 12 teams together for the first “Meersquash summer international team tournament.

I must say the early events were quite amateurish, with all sorts of near disasters along the way. Once, we decided to DJ ourselves, but when we turned the speakers on for the big party they didn’t work! NO MUSIC! PANIC! We did manage to fix it, though!

Another year, after booking a restaurant at the beach despite visiting in person five days before to check all was ready, we arrived with 120 people and the manager had no idea we were coming and had NO FOOD prepared.

Buses have not turned up, quite often teams not turned up. People quite often lost, arrested (including an ex-girlfriend!), one player even managed to get run over by a taxi while sleeping on the road outside the club! He came back the next year after recovering from a broken leg but was handcuffed to his wife for all the parties!

Hopefully, we have learned from all these past events and this year’s will all run smoothly!

We have been on pub crawls, boat trips, had beach parties, had a speedboat and banana, a sailboat, hired 50 canal bikes, been laser gaming. Some players have been for almost all the 19 tournaments. Many for 10 or more. Some have even met at the Junkie weekend and got married!

I know lots of you if not by name by face. It always amazes me that people find the time, make the effort and spend the money to make the tournament work and have the unique atmosphere which makes it so special.
So here’s to you squash junkies! Let’s make it another weekend to remember!

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The Junkie junket coincides with a major IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur ahead of squash’s latest bid for a place in the Olympic Games.

With IOC President Thomas Bach having popped in to watch some squash at the recent Pan-Am Games in Canada and chatted to several players, I am sure the Junkies weekend could have provided a solid back-up to the presentation format.

Meanwhile, in Japan, a massive squash banner has been set up in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, featuring Japan’s number one Misaki Kobayashi … hopefully a good omen for the squash presentation and the eventual vote to get us into the Olympics.


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