Nick and Daryl discuss lockdown issues and how squash can grow when courts are open again
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Nick Matthew and Daryl Selby have enjoyed a few words on court down the years, both in jest and during the heat of battle. Now they are entertaining the squash community with their own lockdown chat show called Bobby and The Wolf.
The Wolf, of course, is the nickname bestowed upon three-times world champion Matthew, who is just as adept at hunting down and cornering his prey with a new line of questioning as he was in hunting down the ball and killing off opponents during a wonderfully successful career.
Selby, his long-term England team-mate, is known as Bobby, more of a geezer nickname expanded from Daryl the Dazzler into Bobby Dazzler. He, too, is never short of a quip or a question during some lively and entertaining conversations with leading figures from the game.
In an entertaining series, guests have included Gregory Gaultier and James Willstrop, Ramy Ashour, Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro, Davide Bianchetti and Stewart Boswell, brothers Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy, Amanda Sobhy and her coach Thierry Lincou, plus referees John Massarella and Roy Gingell.
Squash Mad Editor Alan Thatcher catches up with the two of them and this time gives them a few questions to answer.
1: It’s great to see so much innovation emerge during the lockdown. You have both been busy with online workouts and lockdown games, so what led to the launch of Bobby and The Wolf?
NICK: I basically felt I wasn’t seeing enough of Daryl these days and wanted to try to figure out a way to see more of him. Now we’ve filmed the entire series he is completely sick of the sight (and sound) of me and he is refusing to take my calls until ‘at least September’. I’m not sure how that affects me getting the £50 off him for the Sheffield United bet we had at the start of the season!
DARYL: I think Nick got tired of doing his workouts and I couldn’t think of any more trick shots so we thought sitting down and chatting was a better way to go! We thought with the rise of video calls and videocasts that it would be a fun thing to do for squash whilst in lockdown.
2: Who has been your favourite guest so far and what plans do you have for keeping it going?
NICK: We’ve been lucky in the sense that squash players haven’t been as busy as normal so we’ve had some great guests so far. For me a highlight was listening to Davide Bianchetti as he’s pure comedy Gold!
DARYL: We’ve been extremely lucky to have some great guests on so far. Definitely big plans for season two, including a higher percentage of actual right answers for Bobby’s Quiz!
3: Instead of just a bit of fun during the lockdown, are you looking at commercial partnerships to help it grow?
NICK: Hopefully season 2 will coincide with the start of a new Squash season (and when Daryl starts talking to me again) so there will be lots to talk about. Daryl is the man with the business degree so those interested should contact [email protected] (Daryl, do the privacy laws allow me to share your email address on my Linked In?)
DARYL: As Nick said, anyone interested, please get in touch…
4: Any technical issues proving a challenge so far? Like childcare issues and family members wandering into shot?
NICK: Yes, a couple! I ran out of storage space on my laptop for the Laura Massaro and Jenny Duncalf episode so had to ask them to film it again! Thankfully the girls are both so lovely they agreed and deservedly gave me a bit of stick in the process!
DARYL: Aside from Nick’s storage issues, I had to sort out my internet after the first episode. After all the freezing I then realised we had 18 different devices connected to our internet! Luckily we haven’t had any surprise kid visits but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…
5: Lockdown Lagers: How much weight have you put on in the past two months? Or are you setting a good example to the world of squash with control and self discipline!
NICK: I figure it’s harder to get back in to shape once you lose it so I’m trying my best to stay in shape. Easier said than done though when Coronas (the lager) are 25 for £2.50 in Sheffield.
DARYL: I started well then went off the rails, fast got used to having 3 or 4 beers every night. Have now not really drunk for the last 4/5 weeks and have been also doing a Keto diet for the same amount of time. I’ve lost 3 or 4 Kgs from it but I’ve not really been exercising so need to start doing that again very soon!
6: I am sure, like everyone else, you can’t wait to get back on a squash court. What have you missed most about the game during the lockdown?
NICK: If I had still been on tour I would be driving everyone around me mad with pent up energy and frustrations of not being on court. As it is, I am still driving every around me mad with pent up energy and frustrations of not being on court.
DARYL: Just competing, really. Miss competitive sport in all forms so much but not playing matches has been hard.
7: When the PSA World Tour resumes, in whatever shape or form, do you envisage that players will have to accept less prize money if sponsors are difficult to find and promoters can’t find the cash?
NICK: Obviously the economy has taken a massive hit so it’s hard to say what the future looks like for sport in general never mind Squash. Fingers crossed we can get the Tour back to what is growing in to asap as it has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years.
DARYL: I think it will take a little while for things to get back to normal again and it will be a gradual rebuilding process. Obviously players won’t earn as much in the short term but with the work the PSA are doing then I think people’s appetite for live sport will be so strong that we will surpass where we were before.
8: Talking of money, how many players do you think are in desperate financial plight right now? Daryl, how are sales of the Squash 305 masks going?
NICK: We all know squash players don’t get as well rewarded financially as some other sports so it’s a fantastic initiative from the PSA Foundation to have created the ‘We are One’ Fund to help players in desperate financial need.
DARYL: I think a lot of players are struggling right now. The We Are One fund is a great initiative from the PSA Foundation but can only help so much. I hope we don’t lose too many professionals during this time. The masks have been great and Joel from 305 Squash has done a brilliant job behind the scenes. We wanted to try and bring the squash community together through these whilst also trying to help keep people safer when they are out and about. It’s nice to give back to the We Are One fund as well, so all mask support welcome!
9: Looking at the Unsquashable XL Series that took place in New Zealand, do you see that as a kind of template for temporary events, featuring just local players if travel restrictions continue?
NICK: Hopefully international travel will become a lot clearer and simpler in the coming months but in the meantime perhaps we could create domestic leagues to create that sense of competition for players and fans alike
DARYL: I think it’s a good template in that you could just have local tournaments until the travel situation is sorted out. The problem we have is that the two countries where we have the most tournaments (UK and USA) seem to be the countries most affected and with the strongest restrictions so it will be tough for the PSA to resume properly until travel is back to normal.
10: Racial Equality In Squash: With Black Lives Matter protests sharing the headlines with Covid-19, what did you think of the comments by Tim Wyant published on Squash Mad last week?
NICK: I know Tim well and have always been impressed with how he handles himself as the CEO of such an important institution like the Squash & Education Alliance. What SEA have achieved over 25 years is remarkable and Tim deserves a lot of credit for what he does but I also find his attitude honest & refreshing. You never become great by looking at what you’ve achieved in the past; there is always more work to be done.
DARYL: As Nick said, Tim is a great guy and does a lot of brilliant work at the Squash & Education Alliance. I think we all have to work hard in the constant fight for racial equality and within squash I think we have made great strides over recent years, but we have to keep pushing forward together as one. Declan James also spoke really well on the subject recently and him saying ‘Education is key’ really resonated as I believe we have to teach the next generation about these racial equality issues.
11: This break gives us all the chance to think about doing things differently when the world is back to a new kind of normal, whenever that will be. Are there any changes you would like to see in how the game is promoted at both club and professional level?
NICK: I think it’s clear that we need to keep pushing and growing the sport even before this crisis, and certainly even more so after. The cycle that I have always believed in is ‘Grassroots-Clubs-Greatness’ with the clubs well and truly in the middle of that. We need to inspire the kids through the grassroots and create innovation and promotion around our Professional game to broadcast our sport to a wider public. The day to day hubs where this happens, as well as the really important social side of the game, is through our clubs.
DARYL: As Nick said I also believe grassroots is key. We have to get squash played in as many primary schools as possible across the country. Had my Dad not played the sport then I would not have been a professional squash player as by the time I had found it it would have been too late. In terms of promotion we have to think outside the box and do something so different to catch people’s attention. I’m still working out what that is!
ALAN: Thank you, guys, for sharing some valuable insights into some important current topics. We all look forward to the next series of Bobby And The Wolf… and some easier quiz questions! I too have been using the Keto diet to shed the excess weight caused by the lockdown lagers, so next time maybe we could invite some experts in to discuss the benefits of a low-carb diet, with mountains of meat, as opposed to an alternative nutrition programme (and the inevitable feelings of utter superiority) delivered by a plant-based diet. Let’s hope we are all back on court before too long.
Pictures courtesy of PSA and Bobby and The Wolf Productions