February 2004

National O35 Champion, Feb 2004, Manchester


After watching the women's over 35 final, I couldn’t not watch the men’s. I missed the first set, as I was working for you, squash fans. Had a bit of a fight to get a seat, as a quite determined man wouldn’t give up the press seat. “Unless your name is Mckenzie, you’re not having this seat”, he said.

Well, I know I’m not as cute as I used to be, but I shaved my beard a long time ago….

But the show was worth the fight. Gary Thwaite (Cumbria), seeded 3/4, was playing the number 1 seed Nigel Willis (who has got in common with the other Willis a shaved head). The game was of a very high standard indeed, and the rallies breathtaking.

Nigel Willis seemed to lose a bit of his concentration when he started questioning several referee decisions. The score was very close, 2 sets all. I heard Nigel’s mum saying just behind me

‘It’s worse than watching the shoot-out for the World Cup!”

But Thwaite eventually exhausted his opponent in the 5th, and as Willis was still discussing a referee decision, said to him with a smile,

“How are you, Nigel, feeling a bit tired?…”

Thwaite beat Willis 6/9, 9/4, 2/9, 9/1, 9/1 in 58 minutes.

I had to fight his girl friend off, but I succeed to get close to the winner.

“I’m just relieved. In my mind, he was the favourite, although I was seeded. He is tricky, I always knew that I would have to work hard, and dig in.”

I asked him if the discussion between his opponent and the ref was a problem for him:

“I don’t mind, on the contrary, it fuels me! I think that in the end, it disturbed him more than me, and that I probably ended up intimidating him”

Willis was very calm about his defeat.

“I think that Gary, who I've known for 20 years, should have been seeded higher than I was, and in my eyes, he was the favourite. He thoroughly deserves to win. I’m very disappointed especially because I was up 2/1, and feeling comfortable. But I probably had the wrong attitude on the court, and once Gary got firmly in front of me, I just run out of ideas.”

And of legs, if you want my opinion, as they both run like lunatics, and their age never seemed to be a problem.

Just a detail. I learned by one of the volunteers, Rosemary, that Gary Thwaite nearly missed his first match on Thursday, as he was not able to park his car close to the Centre, and only had 10 minutes to get on court. It would have a shame now, wouldn’t it?



Gary Thwaite



Framboise joins the queue
to see Gary ...