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Sat 7th Aug, 2004:
The Willstrops
at Wimbledon

As a general rule, I don’t like exhibition matches. But I must say, the Willstrops know how to entertain.

On a very warm Saturday evening, Mr Willstrop Senior, Mr Willstrop Junior, and Nick Taylor (who Malcolm introduced as “from Lancashire”, stressing the huge gap between Yorkshire and the rest of the world…) came to Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club to entertain a select crowd who had the good taste to prefer the hot atmosphere of a squash club to the delights of a warm summer evening outside a café in Wimbledon Village.

Let me tell you, we were in for a treat!

Willstrop Senior started by explaining to us the programme of the evening, then introduced the players (“Nick Taylor, now the advancing years are catching up with him”…, and “James Willstrop, an extraordinarily well-bred young man…”).

James and Nick started with a quick warm up, commented by Malcolm. Then the coach gave them some routines, with the instruction “hit low, and close to the wall” and charming comments like “well, that’s not very good, is it?”.

There was one exercise I particularly liked, it was “no shots in the centre”, you know, you can only play near the walls… Loved that one! And boy, you can still play a lot of shots in such a small target. When you’re good that is…

Then two players from the Club joined in, Phil Rushmore, the new pro, who was Nick Taylor’s team mate from Heaton, and Neil Desai, a very promising junior.

Malcolm gave his players some handicaps, like, can only play straight, or only crosscourt, and those conditioned games balanced the levels of course, and offered us some beautiful rallies indeed!

A nice doubles to follow, and to finish, the two champions treating us to two games then a first to three points decider, that of course went to 3-2. To whom? It doesn’t matter that much, does it?

But the evening was far from over…

After a few questions/answers, a quick shower, a bite to eat, James grabbed his guitar, and spoiled us with a few gorgeous songs, with a lovely, sensitive, intelligent voice.

If I hadn’t been already madly in love with the boy, that would have done it…

Joking apart, I had the best of times, and so did all the people there. Yes, really a lovely time…

Thank you…

Malcolm starts the evening

During the evening, I discovered Malcolm as a "compere", a role I never
saw him play before.

And let me tell you, he is darn good at it. Yes, darn good.

Another string to his bow...

Question and Answer

The multi-talented James

Nick with Phil Rushmore and James with Neil Desai


If your club would like to play host to "an evening with the Willstrops",
please contact Malcolm at Pontefract Squash Club, 01977 793333

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