A brief history of the BSPA, from
It was 1992, the start of another season, and we had just begun the Asian circuit. The troops had gathered in Hong Kong for, what is widely agreed to be, one of the players
favourite events on the calendar.
As was common then, and is still practiced now, players were catching up with events relevant to their home countries through the use of the Hong Kong SRA fax machines.
The British contingent usually numbered in excess of 15 of its countries top players. The news that was of interest to them related to entry for the prestigious British Closed Championships in January 93.
In previous years (as far back as I could remember at that time) it had always been perceived as the blue ribbon event in the UK. Indeed in all of the recent years it had been played on the spectacular and innovative designed Perspex court, with a suitably enticing prize fund that attracted all the top players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It projected the feel of a priceless jewel at the pinnacle of Squash in England.
In Hong Kong, the British players were ready to enter the British Closed once again. When the fax came through from the English SRA (who were always the organizers' of the said event) a wave of disbelief went through the British camp. Surely this couldnt be
The English SRA had taken it upon themselves to reduce the British Closed, its National flagship event, to an unacceptable level. It was proposing:
to cut out the use of the spectacular Perspex court (which it owned).
to cut the level of prize money to a purse which would, at any other event, have attracted few of the top players.
to cut the entry to English players only AND
there was pressure from the English SRA expecting everyone to still participate in the inaugural National Closed Championships or face the consequences of not being considered for England Team selection.
The players in Hong Kong, at this, felt cheated.
Chris Walker and Tony Hands (two top ten players at the time) took the mantle and led what the press immediately labeled, the rebellion.
The only way that the players had a chance to air their view and be noticed was to act as one unit. There was nothing in place at this stage which could help the players.
Hence it was Chris Walker and Tony Hands that took it upon themselves to co-ordinate the movement. The first thing they did was to gather all the players signatures to show that there was a commitment to the cause and, to cover any administration costs that may occur, a fee of £30 was also collected.
This group of the majority of the top 20 players in the country acting as a body, behind the leadership drive of Messrs Hands and Walker, proved to be a force that The English SRA had to listen to.
Negotiations began and to cut a long story short it was mutually agreed that the players would not have to compete in the event in order to qualify to represent England.
All the top 20 players, except Phil Whitlock (who decided that the money and personal benefits from winning at his local club were too good to miss) did not play in the competition. The English SRA had been sent a firm message that the players were actually concerned with the elite game.
The BSPA was formed and nurtured by Hands and Walker - the players were encouraged to join and communication between the English SRA and the elite athletes of the sport was taken to a higher level.
Since then the Cannons Satellite circuit has become firmly established as a crucial stepping stone for the up and coming youngsters of our country. The players have also raised over £50,000 for Leukemia research, the association's main charity.
The rest is history!!!