ARMY SQUASH HISTORY 1928 – 2018
The earliest record of Squash in the Army shows the Army Men’s Team winning the Inter Services for a ten-year uninterrupted streak between 1928 – 1938, with the first ever Army Open Champion from 1925 – 1929 (Lieutenant General Scott Chadd, Coldstream Guards) at the helm.
Squash has remained a popular sport within the Army ever since, with long standing fixtures and strong connections with other clubs and teams being played over many years. The successful spread of the sport worldwide is commonly attributed to the British Army, and the prevalence of squash courts at most of the barracks overseas. The Army Squash Roll of Honour is extremely impressive with numerous International and National Level players featuring over the years including Captain (Retd) Neil Stewart R Sigs (Scotland), Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) John Woodliffe RAOC (England) and current Army Mens Team Captain, Major Sam Miller RA (England). Lt Col Robbie Robinson RAC Open Championship 14 times 1978 – 1992. Not bad for someone first introduction to Squash was as a 15 year old apprentice at Deepcut
“Being dragged out of my bed one Saturday Afternoon to make up numbers for an Apprentice College squash match” (Lt Col Robbie Robinson – Army Champion 14 times reflecting on his introduction as an RAOC Apprentice).
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
Army Squash today is thriving. At representative level, Army Squash continues to support 4 strong teams – Men’s, Women’s, Masters and Under 25’s (Development Team), with our players coming from across the ranks from Regulars and Reservists. The Men’s Team dominated the Wiltshire League Premier Division throughout 2017 – 18, and the Women’s Team were unbeaten in the Inter Services for 5 successive years and finalists at the prestigious National Club Championships in 2017.
At Corps level, the Inter Corps Championships still proves to be one of the most popular fixtures in the Army Squash calendar. Despite the dominance of the RLC throughout the Nineties, winning ‘Division 1’ in an impressive 14 years in a row, there have been a number of different winners since then, and some memorable epic contests played across all three Divisions.
At Unit and individual level, squash remains a popular activity, due to most barracks having access to courts. Entries to the Army Individual Championships continue to be at maximum capacity, with over 160 players playing in 12 different categories across 3 action packed days. The Novice category continues to attract the highest number of entries and is the most competitive, evidence that squash is a sport open to all.
In December 2017, Army Squash took centre stage at the Professional Squash Association World Championships in Manchester, where the President, Major General Tyrone Urch CBE, witnessed the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant by our National Governing Body (England Squash) and the Professional Squash Association. The signing marked the start of a mutual and ongoing partnership with England Squash, a fantastic opportunity going forward.
And now ….
Members of the Army team had the opportunity to meet the up and coming stars of the England Squash Academy, whilst taking a role in developing their teamwork and resilience (Ex Iron Racket). In return, we have cultivated a solid working partnership with England coach Paul Carter, who now provides coaching and mentoring to the Army team players. Army squash have also set up a talent identifier in the form of the Army Squash Academy, where selected players are individually mentored and coached by Paul Carter to maximise their potential. This forthcoming season will find Army Squash turning a focus on recruiting and developing U25 and Female players, looking not just inculcate a love of the sport within this cohort, but to simultaneously develop mental resilience, teamwork and leadership skills that will stand these players in good stead to succeed within every sphere of the Army.