Nick Matthew: I used to yell at refs. It was the Yorkshireman coming out
ENGLAND’s three-time world champion Nick Matthew took Guardian readers on a short squash journey in an insighful and fun Q & A session. He talks about blowing his first big pay cheque on a watch, yelling at referees and resisting Sheffield United’s advances in favour of Wednesday
Hi Nick how are you? I’m good, sorry I’m late. I was due on court at 3pm but didn’t get on until an hour later than scheduled.
No problem, did you win? I did yes, I would have gone home in a huff otherwise.
Good job then, so let’s get the boring bit out of the way. What are you promoting? Sorry, in what sense?
Isn’t there some sort of Dunlop racket you want to talk about? I’ve not been told that but it must be my racket I guess, the Dunlop Biomimetic Evolution 130.
Excellent, so you’re from Sheffield, is it Wednesday or United for you? Wednesday, although I’m actually an ambassador for Sheffield United which causes some confusion.
I bet, how do you feel about that? Well United are really into squash and they do a lot of good stuff with the sport and they’ve even come to support me in Hong Kong, although Milan Mandaric [Sheffield Wednesday’s chairman] sent me a personal email when I won the worlds so if United were ever going to worm their way into my heart Mr Mandaric put an end to it then.
Are you a typically proud ‘God’s Own Country’ type Yorkshireman? Yes I think so. I’ve been born and bred in the county, I still live in Sheffield and my mum would harp back to the era when only Yorkshire-born people could play cricket for Yorkshire. Through my travels I’d like to think I’ve got a little bit more worldly but even though you can take the boy out of the county, you can’t take the county out of the boy.
At your home club, Hallamshire in Sheffield, you’ve got a court named after you. Have you ever lost on it? Oh yes, a fair few times. They only named it after me about three months before I became world No1 so there were definitely some defeats before then. I remember losing to John White in about 15 minutes once.
So how did you get into squash? Your dad wasn’t a businessman who took you along to play him in his lunch hour was he? No, I actually started with tennis. They came round to my school to give us lessons and I enjoyed that but I had to walk past some squash courts to get to the club. One Saturday morning I said to my dad I wanted to try out squash and soon I was hooked. My tennis career stalled after that.
So do you have any regrets about giving up tennis and all its potential riches and fame? Not at all. I’m sure the money’s better but there are certainly no regrets. I might not have made it at tennis.
So what’s the most extravagant purchase you’ve ever made with your squash winnings? Probably a watch. About seven or eight years ago I made my breakthrough in Qatar and we used to get paid our winnings in US dollars cash so I went straight down to the jeweller’s who sponsored the event and bought a brand new Omega.
I handed them all the cash that I had, which was probably about £3,000, and got quite a good deal as it was probably a £5,000 watch. Nowadays its much more professional and it all gets paid into your bank, which is probably a good thing as we were all lethal with the cash in those days. It was in one pocket and out the other.
Happy days. Squash always seems a pretty frenetic game, have you ever been injured in an on-court collision? I’ve not been injured too badly on court. The worst injuries are from the wear and tear of hitting the ball. The slapping action of the forehand means the shoulder can take some real hammer like a baseball pitcher. Having said that it can get rough and you have to be strong and take up the space on the court, within the rules of course.
I see. Have you ever had to apologise for any on-court antics? Good question, there were numerous times in my younger days when I ended up yelling at referees or my opponents. I guess it was the Yorkshireman and the only child in me coming out. But I’m much better behaved now.
Glad to hear it. Are you a cheese or chocolate man? Neither really.
What was the last CD you bought? My wife bought me Rebecca Ferguson’s album.
What, the one off The X Factor? Yes, we had one of her songs as the first dance at our wedding. It’s a bit embarrassing really but I still like her. The best ones on The X Factor are always the ones that don’t win.
Have you ever had a celebrity girlfriend? No, I dated a couple of athletes in the past but no one famous.
Who’s the most famous person in your mobile phone book then? Jessica Ennis. She’s a Sheffield girl and we’ve trained together – and she’s become good friends with my wife.
Miley Cyrus or Nicole Scherzinger? Nicole every day of the week.
Fair enough. Who would win in a fight between a lion and a tiger? I’d say a lion because I’m a Leo.
What would you cook for your last meal? Steak medium rare with sweet potato fries and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.
A man who knows his own mind. What’s your favourite pub? The Cricket Inn in Dore. It’s a brilliant country pub with good ales and you can bring your dog in. And it does the best fish and chips in Sheffield.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘never trust a man with two first names?’ Is it true? I have and I’ve quoted it many times, but whether it’s true depends on whether I’m on or off court. Off the court you might get more change out of me because on it I’m not gonna do you any favours.
Finally, can you tell us a joke? I’m not sure. Jokes are like red wine. Much as I try I can never remember the good ones. Sorry.
Nick Matthew plays with Dunlop Biomimetic Evolution 130 racket, available for £139.99. To view Dunlop’s full range of squash equipment and apparel, visit Sportsdirect.com
Source: The Guardian