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"Mick Todd's involvement and impact on the club is nothing short of a miracle."

He has been involved with the Pontefract Squash & Leisure Club, Malcolm's base, even since before Malcolm's arrival, and has been the owner since 2000.
Mick TODD:

When did you get involved in the ownership of the club?
It was about four years ago, the club had been in administration for 4 years which is a hell of a long time. So, it was going nowhere, except downhill. I had been a member of this club for 20 years. I had a bad motorcycle accident, and, as I am a mechanical engineer by trade, and I couldn’t do anything for 18 months.

So I looked into the possibility of purchasing the club. It took a very long time. When I was showing my solicitors and my accountants the books, etc, they were all saying, it’s not a worthwhile business to take on, they said I was mad. I had a partner at the time who was a good squash player who decided it wasn’t a good idea, but who said he’d stay with me if I tried to achieve it.

And it took about 2 years before eventually we signed on the dotted line, which was a lease agreement and it had a planning option on it from a big development company who was buying all the land around this area, eight acres. They could close it within six months. So, I was buying into a business without knowing what was going to happen.

You’re mad!
Yes, but not as mad as Malcolm or you, anyway…

You couldn’t be more right…
Yes, but that’s how it is! You have got to have passion, your heart, a gut feeling, and a will to win. When I took over, there were less than 50 paying members. Now, there are over a thousand. There again, I couldn’t tell them the whole story, couldn’t tell them that in six months, it could be closed.

So what did you say?
So, I told them what was going to happen “I purchased the place, we are going to make it like it was, even better than what it was”. Within six months, we had something like 800 members, and we put the money straight into the fabric of the building. The amount we put back is absolutely ridiculous. It’s just a continuous job, it’s twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

How did your spouse take the strain?
Still to this day, we have massive arguments about it. My wife doesn’t play squash, but she knows I’m passionate about it, she knows exactly what’s happened, she knows what I’ve done, people know.

And the results speak for themselves, don’t they?
Yes, in three years, we’ve been voted “Centre of Excellence”, and there are not many clubs that get it, we were the first or the second club to get the Gold Club Charter Award from England Squash, and then last year, we received the “2003 Best squash club in Britain Award” at Earl’s Court.

And with all that, you can’t get Lottery funding?
No, because I’m private. For a few years now, I have been looking at all different angles to try and get money in, because this is a massive place, and a lot of the times, the areas are quiet. What I have done now, is restructure the organisation and I’m in the process of forming a Committee and several companies, one of which will be a non-profit making organisation. That should hopefully make us eligible for a Lottery Grant.

Because you desperately need money, don’t you?
The club needs massive investments, a new roof, rewiring, heating system, air conditioning… It’s a continuous cycle: first of all we salvaged it, second we made it a nice club to be, I’ve got the best coach in Britain, as far as I’m concerned, we are producing the players.

There is a “Pontefract seal”, isn’t there?

You know, it’s very simple, you either love Pontefract Squash Club and you become part of it, or you hate it. We are achievers, we have passion, we give a lot of support, and if you’re part of Pontefract, you’re going places.


Malcolm Willstrop Week
Day 1: Malcolm
Day 2: The Players
Day 3: Pontefract
Day 4: That Match
Day 5: And Finally




He basically goes head on with everybody and everything, and he says it as it is, and that’s really how I live my life, and that’s why we have a good relationship, an unbelievable relationship.




Malcolm in 3 words
fair, humble.
Lee Beachill


Pontefract Achievements

Individual Championships
23 British Closed
3 British Opens
4 European
1 World

14 Internationals from U15 to O35, including 6 current

6 Major Club awards

Pontefract Teams
6 National senior titles
6 Mixed U19 titles
2 European Club titles

British, European &
World Champions

Lee Beachill
British U12, U14, U16, U19
(7 titles '89-'96
Euro U19  '96
British Nationals 2000 & 2001

James Willstrop
British U12, U14, U16, U17, U19, U23 (9 titles '95-'03)
British Open U14, U17, U19 ('98-'02)
European 2002
World 2002

Janie Thacker
European U19 ('96)
Laurence Delasaux
British U17, U19 ('01-'03)
Lauren Siddall  British U17 ('01)
Neil Cordell  British U13 ('01)
Adam Toes
British U19, European U19 ('93)
Mark Blowers British U12 ('86)
David Campion
World U19 r/up ('90)

Other Awards

Super League player of the year '02
England Squash 'most improved' '01

Variety club young sportsman '02
World fairplay award  '00
England Squash young player '00,'01

Coming up on Day FOUR:

That Match

Malcolm talks to Framboise about his dealings with Gregory Gaultier, and about that match in the World Team Championships in Vienna.

Day four was published on Thursday 19th August

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