Following an internal dispute as to whether to allow Sunday play at The Goldieslie Club, sixty tennis members met at The Royal Hotel and decided to form a new club. Land was acquired alongside the Goldieslie Club and a muddy field was converted into four hard courts and a tiny pavilion. Tennis was played on the 5th May 1923, “the flag being raised and nearly all the sixty members being present.” The following year the main hall was added for Bridge, and a small bar.
In 1937, under the leadership of Eric Shelley and Dr S.W.K. Norris, money was raised to build two squash courts. Considering this was only nine years after the formation of the Squash Rackets Association (SRA) this showed the foresight of the Sutton Hard Courts members. Squash and Sutton flourished during the sixties, and a third court was planned again under the leadership of Dr Norris in 1955. This wasn’t completed though for ten years when a government grant of £7,000 made it possible.
By 1969 and with another grant of £8,100 a fourth court was added along with other facility improvements. It was during this period that the club acquired the freehold of the land and buildings and became a limited company. From that day it has been a club owned by its members, run by its members, for its members.
Sutton Four Nations and 2 more courts
Squash was now hugely popular, and in 1969 the club hosted a four nation’s match between GB, Australia, India and the UAE. Jonah Barrington and Geoff Hunt also played one of their many challenge matches at the club in that year.
In 1983, due to increased demand on the courts, a further two courts were planned in the most ambitious of the clubs expansion projects. N.E. Cox of Boldmere won the contract and courts 5 and 6 were completed by October. The club could finally cope with demand and also had a tournament court of international standard.
Competitive Squash at Sutton
Sutton has always had the full package of successful Squash Club – popular and busy junior section, great social play, an internal league structure and club teams, though as Gym membership hit squash clubs in the nineties, playing numbers declined. In the late early to mid noughties, all elements of the club showed less activity.
In the past ten years though, the club has enjoyed a revival of fortunes.
Strong Coaching and Club Representation
Under Chris Hall the coaching structure has been completely overhauled and both the junior and senior sessions are again over subscribed. The internal leagues are back, popular and providing enjoyable competition, and on the teams front the club is back to its best. County Champions twice in the past five years, Chris Hall is the current County Squash Champion and finalist in the National Racketball Championships; a title that club number 1 Jaymie Haycocks won just two years ago.
Jaymie and Chris represent the club in professional tournaments around the world with Jaymie reaching a career high of 59 in the world last season. When the club is able to put out its full strength team in either
Racketball or Squash, very few clubs in the country can compete! Jaymie and Chris can be seen in action most Mondays of the season representing the club in the Warwickshire league.
In the past few years Andy Murray has represented England at senior level, as well as winning the National over 40’s Racketball title. Barry Gibson and Bill Todd have represented England and Ireland respectively at age group level. Bill went on to the semi-finals of the World Masters in 2008 in New Zealand.
Another notable player of recent times is Tim Osgerby who has a number of County age group titles to his name as well as captaining various Warwickshire teams. However, as an early adopter of the sport in
England, the club has always enjoyed supplying County and National teams with talented individuals.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s Jennifer Crane (nee Gidwell) won the GB Junior Girls title three times, the Scottish Amateur Championships, Welsh Open and played for both England and GB Ladies. Tony Harris and John Ramsden were the men of note in that period with many years of county success between them, and John representing England.
Through the late 1960’s into the 1970’s Sutton continued its record of County success and International representation. Chris and Richard Barker, Roger Varley, Dave Webb and Brian Millington had great success at County level, while Brian Patterson played for England and reached the final of the World Amateur Championships in 1973 in South Africa. Judy White won the Club Championships twice and played many times for Staffordshire.
It was at this time that Abdul Rashid was coaching and playing at the club. An exceptionally gifted player, Rashid won the Midland Open as a Professional and coached all of Sutton’s great players of the era.
Into the 1980’s and as well as the aforementioned club expansion social, league and team squash thrived. Alan Williams was Welsh no. 1, and represented his country in the World Team Championships. Ian Swarbrick was the stand out emerging talent at the club, was county champion seven times at Junior and senior level, and won the England under 19 title.
Excellent Team and Junior Development
As the 80’s played out, Sutton went through a period of transition. The club had a very strong seniors team that twice won the National over 45 Club Championships. These were exceptionally competitive tournaments and were sponsored by Audi no less. While unfortunately actual cars were not part of the prize structure, that sort of sponsorship showed the reach of squash at that time. The club was also developing some very talented juniors, and during the nineties the junior teams were formidable outfits with many going on to achieve club and county honours.
These players included, Becky Eley, Damian Bannister, Russel Peterson, Bruce Joy, Steve Quin, Conrad O’Donnell, Nick Detmar, Chris Vann, and John De’ath.
In 1989, the club expanded with courts 5 and 6 being added; court 5 having a demountable back wall, allowing court 6 to become a show court, at the same time a glass back was added to court 3. The court was opened with an exhibition match between Alan Williams and Peter Verow, and with local celebrity Don MacLean, himself a squash fanatic, playing in a hilarious challenge match against ex-club chairman John Oldfield.
In the early noughties, Sutton again had very strong juniors, with Adam Teerhage ranked number 1 in England at under 17, and winning county titles at under 17 and under 19. The senior teams could not match the success of the past though, and during this time the first team was temporarily disbanded.
Sutton remains Strong whilst Squash declines
Sutton was a pleasant and enjoyable place to play social squash, and even as the sport declined nationally, (from 3,000,000 players in the 1984 to 750,000 in 2007), Sutton enjoyed reasonably stable membership numbers, and a thriving bar scene!
Competitive squash though had suffered at the club, and the then Chairman Simon Nuttall was keen to revive that side of the club. In cahoots with a couple of equally committed members, a plan was drawn up to bring tournament squash, high level team squash and strong internal leagues back to the club.
Sponsorship was raised, players recruited, the County Championships were very successfully bought to the club and the leagues were re-born.
Sutton hosts PSA International Squash and Glen Ragou Memorial North vs South Masters Tournament
From the first Counties in 2008, through to the Sutton Coldfield International PSA competition launched in 2015 and then taking place again in 2016, the vision has been realised, and Sutton Coldfield Squash Club is a club that its members, its town and its sport, can as always, be rightly proud of.
The club is also proud to have been host of the Glen Ragou Memorial Cup in August 2015 where over 80 Masters players battled out North vs South bragging rights whilst remembering and a fantastic squash player.