The Global Gallery: Views on the world of squash by Martin Bronstein

Global Gallery Number Six: June 9, 1999   ©1999 SquashTalk

[Who is Martin Bronstein?]

Read the past Global Gallery Columns:

[#Five, June 6, 1999 (Power/Nicol head-to-head)]    
[#Four, May 5, 1999]    
[#Three, May 2, 1999]    
[#Two, April 2, 1999]    [# One, March 8, 1999]







JUNE 1999, London England

HERE BE GIANTS.

It suddenly struck me when I was interviewing Paul PriceĀ…from the crick in my neck I realized I was forever looking upwards when talking to squash players. Once it was Gawain Briars who stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries, in the days when the top players were 5’8″ and weighed as much as a wet paper towel. And then there was Del Harris who stood out from the crowd. Now suddenly they’ve all gone over six feet: Dan Jenson and Derek Ryan must be 76 inches and then there’s David Evans, Stefan Casteleyn, Lucas Buit Anthony Hill, Paul Price and Omar El Borolossy. And you wonder why the back wall never wears out? They are all so tall that they can volley everything. Or is it, I wondered yet again, whether they all look taller because the tin is two inches lower?

AMSTERDAM, THE NOTTINGHAM OF HOLLAND.

In the last Gallery I wrote about how Nottingham has become England’s squash centre with a bunch of international players making it their base. Well, young man or woman, if you don’t like the English food or weather, get yourself to Amsterdam. Suddenly that city is home to a whole gang of international players, albeit with an Aussie accent. Nobody seems to know who started it, but Anthony Hill was an early settler. He has been joined by Joe Kneipp, Billy Haddrell, Paul Price, John Williams, Michael Fiteni with constant visits from J. Power himself. Liz Irving moved there two years ago and Rachel Grinham is also a resident. Just half an hour away in The Hague lives Vanessa Atkinson, the English-born Dutch Champion.

BRAVE MAN, THIS JOHN WHITE.

You have to admire John White. Not for his entertaining skill on the squash court.
Not because he bravely discarded his Australian ties in order to play for Scotland.
Not even because he knocked out Ahmed Barada in Maastricht, surely his biggest win to
date. Not for any of those reasons does he get my deep admiration. No, his courage of
epic proportions came to light when it was revealed that sitting in the front row while he did
battle with Jonathon Power was not only his gorgeous lady, and his two month old baby,
but his mother-in-law. Brave John had paid to have his mother-in-law travel to Maastricht. No, she didn’t give John an earful between games, being far more interested in her grandson. He did shave his beard on the final day, but I don’t think there were any biblical implications in that.

ANTHONY HILL: BAD BOY into HERO.

Photo: Anthony Hill had a bad day (file photo, © 1999 Debra Tessier)

Just when I had written that Anthony Hill was mending is wayward behavior, he blew
up again in Maastricht. After arguing almost every decision from World referee Jack
Allen, he finally got himself thrown out in the fifth game. This was followed by a
near fight among his local supporters with one of them even aiming threatening words at the
referee. Fortunately for the supporter, he never went further than words. Allen is a
policeman from Belfast and has seen the sort of action, because of the IRA, that most
cops never see. Let me put it this way. He is not soft.

I missed the first round match (against Paul Johnson) where this incident occurred and asked Jack why he had allowed the dissent to go on for four games before taking action. “I was trying to be kind to Hill. I tried not to let his reputation influence me and bent the other way. I was wrong,” said Allen, who had a reputation for being too tough.

The really sad part of this whole episode was that the MC, Robert Edwards, when
introducing all the players to the crowd, started the roll call with “First, the bad
boy himself, Anthony Hill!” Big laughs all-round. Huge cheers from the audience.
Another eight players were brought on, but Mr. Edwards somehow forgot to introduce Paul Johnson and Mark Chaloner, two of the best behaved players on the circuit. One day somebody ought to tell Mr. Edwards the difference between showbiz and sport.

SMALL CITY, BIG PERFORMANCE..

The taxi driver told us that Maastricht was first settled in 2000 BC. It’s a lovely
little city, closer to Brussels than Amsterdam. The Libertel Squash Open offered just $35,000 in prize money, peanuts really, in the big scheme of things, but by giving Jansher a wild card and doing things properly, Libertel, a major Dutch phone company could well have joined the exclusive Super Series circuit.

The glass court (not Perspex) was put up in the city square, the seating for about a thousand well placed, the front wall could be exposed so that anyone could watch without paying and all the services were done properly. As a journalist I was particularly impressed by the public relations company, Thema, who looked after us and who had computers, faxes, e-mails and phones just 50 yards away. It made life very easy for the press. I do hope that John Nimick takes notice and for next year’s Tournament of Champions in New York, he hires a proper PR company to get the word out to the New York press as well as the world’s news agencies at large.

THE POWER OF LOVE AND VICE VERSA.

Jonathon Power will be marrying his lady on July 24 in Toronto with his stag night being held in – wait for it – Las Vegas! Power’s long-time friend and training partner, Graham Ryding is the man in charge of proceedings and I shudder at what might occur in the wild west. Power did confirm that he had not arranged an exhibition match in Caesars Palace. (Which would make a helluva site for a squash tourney, no?). It’s not only the paying customers who love Mr. Power; almost every pro I speak to has nothing but praise, not just for the guy’s magic with a racket but for his wit and his laid back personality. “I think he’s so good for the game, just terrific to have someone like him as world champion,” Paul Price said. About sums it up.

JANSHER:CONFIDENCE OR SELF DECEPTION?.

Make no mistake about it, the name Jansher still has enormous pulling power.
They packed the bleachers in Maastricht
and gave him a long, long ovation, even though he lost to Power. Jansher thinks that after a couple of more tournaments he’ll be right back up there. Will he? Or is he just deceiving himself? One man, who can’t be named, who has been a close Jansher observer for a dozen years says that the former world champion no longer has the motivation and should retire. We’re going to have to wait until August in Hong Kong and Cairo in September for the World Open and World teams championship before we’ll know who is right.

FROM WORRIED OF KINGSTON.

Dear Abbie: I have been assured by the promoter that the British Open is going to take place in Scotland in November, but there are many other people, real nice people too, who say that it is not going to happen. One man said that the Scottish Sports Council will only put money in a World Open, not a British Open. I am so confused and worried, I can’t sleep during the day. What should I do ?

Dear Worried: Forget about it. Que sera , que sera. Meanwhile, buy yourself a nice straw hat and pay ridiculous prices for tickets to Wimbledon. And take an umbrella.

You can reach Martin Bronstein by email in the UK.

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