Nick Matthew has plenty of kill shots in his armoury, but here he tells the story of the night he thought he’d killed an opponent. Nick clearly put his rest day to good use in the US Open, writing in his own website about the night he took Simon Scott at Berkhamsted. Now, Simon and I are still nursing an unbeaten doubles record, stretching across many matches and many continents, so maybe Nick can find a partner and we’ll settle the score on court. But let Nick tell the story …
I always enjoy going into clubs and playing exhibition matches or giving clinics as I feel like I am going into the heart of the squash world and mixing with people who both play and are passionate about the game. I had one such night this summer in Berkhamsted, one which had the added bonus of being a charity night to raise money for Luna Petagine. (www.lunapetagine.co.uk) and what an eventful night it turned out to be!
We had just finished a National squad in Guildford so I turned up early to find Simon Scott, the UK Harrow rep, waiting to go on court with me. Apparently Simon had paid £450 for this privilege (all to the charity of course) and Marc Woolhead, the event organiser from First4Squash set us up playing a Best of 3. By this time a good crowd had appeared waiting to watch the main event which was an exhibition match between myself and Daryl Selby, so I didn’t want to disappoint them and proceeded to run Simon around for their entertainment. Now, the funny thing about this sort of a match is, the better the player, the easier it is for a pro to run them ragged because they are good enough for the rally not to break down. And Simon was a little bit too good for his own good, if that makes sense?
Halfway through the 2nd game, he let a drop shot go, having run for everything previously, and I turned to see him bent over double. At this point I shouted to the crowd to give him some encouragement but he didn’t move, except to sink lower, and lower, and lower…….and LOWER until he was flat on his back on the ground staring blankly at me.
He had lost all colours in his body and had turned white as a sheet. On his way down, my initial thought had been he was milking things for the crowd, but when I saw his colour change like this, laughing & joking had turned to panic and I frantically shouted for someone to call an ambulance. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. There was a time in which I thought I had killed him, but fortunately there had been a doctor courtside who had put him in the recovery position and aided him in his time of need.
When he came round, Simon himself was the calmest man in the building, and at this point I knew this had happened to him before. As the medics took him away (I half expected him to ask what the score was and want to continue playing) and by this stage I felt like the one who needed the ambulance! It transpired that Simon had had a brain tumour himself as a child and therefore felt particularly passionate about Luna’s cause. Thanks for telling me!!!
What I didn’t mention is that before the match Marc Woolhead told me, in a nice way, to ‘Run him in to the ground!’ Talk about taking somebody’s advice literally!!
Oh yes, and the evening didn’t end there. After the exhibition versus Daryl we had a raffle in which we had donated various prizes, including a signed Dunlop racket of mine. (Daryl had informed me afterwards that he was going to pretend to collapse on court after a tough rally, but then realised it wouldn’t be very funny) A young boy, called Hamish was so happy to have won my racket (donated by SBM, top man, Steve!) that he broke down into tears when he had his photo taken with me. Now, everyone assured me they were tears of joy……but after the night I’d had I wasn’t so sure!
Oh yeah, and on the way home a rabbit ran under my car and I’m pretty sure stayed there. What’s that saying again? Bad things happen in 3′s? Pretty sure I would agree with that! What a night!