SquashTalk > Andrew Shelley of WISPA Resigns > A Tribute
Good bye Andrew Shelley ... Come Back Soon
March 25, 2010, by Martin Bronstein © 2010 SquashTalk.com , Independent News; SquashTalk LLC; Photos by Patricia Lyons Photography
(updated 25-mar-10 14:23 )
MARTIN BRONSTEIN REPORTING FROM EAST WINTER GARDEN, CANARY WHARF, LONDON
A Tribute to the Outgoing Chief Executive of WISPA
By long time admirer Martin Bronstein
With the shock news that Andrew Shelley is leaving his post as the WISPA supremo, squash is losing one of the best bosses that the sport has had. The difference between Shelley and that string of Chief Executive Officers that have tried to run PSA, WSF and England Squash, is that for Shelley the job was the important part – not his title. He tried to run WISPA without a title: CEO, COO, Managing director, Chief executive, whatever fancy title the other people wanted or demanded, Shelley would have been quite happy with the word gaffer.
With Nicol David and Sarah Fitz-Gerald photo @ WISPA
The fact was that he was better than all the others put together. His background in squash, from when he left a Bond Street jeweller to join the old Squash Rackets Association back in the 80’s has been all encompassing. He is known, liked and respected around the world because of his unrivalled knowledge of almost every aspect of the sport. When the WSF made him technical director of a world champs we all knew that the tournament would run like clockwork. (The one exception was the junior men’s world champs in Milan 2001. The Italians completely misled him. It was the only time I have seen Shelley lose his temper. Having been there, I understand why Berlusconi is still prime minister).
There was no ego with Andrew: his main and only aim was to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. And he nearly always succeeded. He was not a power hungry empire builder; he was a negotiator. When the British Open ran into trouble about eight years ago and Mike Corby came to the rescue, he asked PSA and WISPA to forego their registration fee. Gawain Briars, then sadly running PSA, refused. Shelley, appreciating the dire situation, agreed.
The growth of the WISPA circuit was almost wholly due to Shelley’s working behind the scenes. The annual tour to far-flung places with the help of a rich American, bringing top players in exhibitions, was priceless. The commencement of tournaments in the far East is all due to his patient cajoling. At one time on his travels around Europe he was going to each national body and trying to bring back all those tournaments (German Open, Dutch Open, French Open, Italian Open etc) that had disappeared from the calendar. Shelley could always get an audience with anybody in squash because he was trusted and admired.
On top of this he always maintained that impish sense of humour, never taking himself too seriously. His most uncomfortable moment was in in Penang after the women’s junior world champs when the hosts paid tribute to him, bringing a roaring, table thumping ovation from all the WISPA members present. It went on for minutes and certainly brought a lump to my throat. He was not good at taking praise; if the spotlight started to come in his direction, he slid behind a pillar.
His decision to leave will come as a great shock to WISPA. All the members know that it will almost be impossible to fill his shoes.
Au revoir Andrew, you will be sorely missed !!!