Doncaster new-build project survives funding setback to launch thriving four-court club
By ROB WALLER, Joint Founder of Woodfield Squash and Leisure Club
Woodfield Squash and Leisure Club have just opened their brand new state of the art squash club and are arguably the fastest growing squash and leisure club in the UK.
The Doncaster facility houses four high-tech squash courts, a state of the art gym, studio and on-site physiotherapists.
The Squash Club currently have around 10 teams and are looking to introduce their first ladies team and steadily increase the number of junior players by mid-2017.
Their success hasn’t gone unnoticed with significant publicity during the building phase.
To celebrate the opening of the new facility the club are hosting a grand opening on March 31st, 2017, with on-court appearances from three-times world champion Nick Matthew, former World No. 1 James Wilstrop and teenage sensation Sam Todd, from Pontefract.
The squash courts are a focal point for the new leisure centre and are open from 6am to 10pm seven days a week, with a large Sports Bar and viewing area. With access to all the other facilities Woodfield has to offer, taking visitors directly past all four squash courts and multiple competitions weekly, playing host to not only the friends and families of the Woodfield players but those of their opponents and general spectators, the footfall is expected to be huge.
It all started when I took redundancy from the RAF and bought a small gym and squash club called the Maltings which I changed to C&R Health and Fitness and C&R Squash Club.
The club was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2012-2013 and was losing almost £5k per month with only one vets team at the bottom of the league and 18 playing members. With the help and support of Malcolm Willstrop, I managed to turn things round and by the 2015-2016 season we won four league titles, three cups and runners-up medals. The squash membership went from 18 to 100-plus and the club was thriving!
In 2016 we decided to take the gamble and I went into business with current partner and friend, electrical engineer Matt Hudson. We came up with the ambitious plan of building a brand new squash club in Woodfield Park.
Matt is a good friend and a genius in the building trade, and the project would not have been possible without him. His work ethic is similar to my own and we have grafted non-stop for as long as we can remember through a truly testing time. The fact that we are still friends after going through all this stress and turmoil says a lot about the relationship we have forged.
We then put plans together and decided to go for it at a lot of personal expense. With a promised grant of £50k pledged by England Squash it was just possible. Regrettably, midway through the building process, England Squash retracted their promise of funding and the whole project was in major jeopardy of falling through.
Anyhow, somehow we pressed on without the funding and saved money by the outstanding Woodfield members (the Woodfield family as we have become to be known) all putting in blood, sweat and tears and getting us across the line.
It really is an amazing success story against all the odds and we can’t thank all our members enough.
The National Governing body have really let us down and let squash down, but this success story is about the players, the squash population and the amazing people who inspire guys like me and Matt Hudson to fight against the odds to promote this sport and keep our dream alive.
A bit cheesy, I know, but these are genuine feelings and right from the heart. My life is about inspiration and squash has inspired me.
Pictures courtesy of Woodfield Squash and Leisure Club