History of Lilleshall Squash and Racketball club
Let’s uncover the history of Lilleshall Squash and Racketball club. Late in 1968, a like-minded group of people joined the Wellington Technical College. They were attending an extra curricular squash coaching course. Held at Lilleshall National Sports Centre.
The coaches were Peter Lancaster up to Christmas 1968 and in the New Year, John Davies joined the coaching staff. After the coaching sessions, the players often retired to the bar. During discussions, over a pint, a Squash Club was formed. The first AGM of the fledgling Squash club was on the 29th January 1969. Thirteen people attended that first AGM with one apology. The committee formed. Electing the first officers of the club.
The first President was Jim Lane, Resident Director at the Centre. Chairman, Howard Courbet. Secretary, Graham Evans and Treasurer M. Dowling. The committee contained Messrs J. Perks, R. Fisher, S. Holt, Dodds. Plus, J. Cuffley, the Match Secretary, and Club Captain being Harry Parton. The first committee meeting was on the 27th February 1969. The subscriptions for that first year were set at 10s.0d (or fifty pence in today’s money).
Over the ensuing years, as membership increased, the club was able to field a team in the Midland League. Together with a second team in the Shropshire League. Subscriptions during the mid 70’s were set at £1. With a membership ceiling of 120 people and playing time over three nights.
In 1974, the club installed a ticket machine to take control of their own finances. Although this move proved to be problematic over the latter years that it was in use. It being the topic for discussion at many committee meetings. During 1975, the committee even looked at the possibility of owning its own premises.
Up to this time, new members needed to be approved by the committee. Nobody was ever turned down. In 1976, with membership rising a waiting list was rolled out. This remained in operation for many years. Membership was now at 140. The club was now running one team in the Midland League. Plus, two in the Shropshire League and also running a Ladies Team. The Midlands League team beat Draycote in 1978 which was their first win in three years. This became minuted at a committee meeting in January 1979.
1984 saw membership of the club standing at 160. Still there was a waiting list, which saw hopeful members waiting as much as two years to get in to the club. In 1986, membership was increased to 200 by inviting the waiting list to join. Play was now over five nights i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Most of the Midland League matches were on the Sunday.
Many more initiatives have been introduced over the years. These include: coaching for adults and juniors, club clothing, and many social events. From Christmas Dinner Dances to Barn Dances. Wine and Cheese Evenings to Beer and Skittles. Not forgetting Ten Pin Bowling at Cosford and various Discos.
The committee were proud of the long run of very successful 24hr Sponsored Squash Events. Over thirteen years, the club raised some £9,562. All went to The West Midlands Sport Association for the Disabled. Except for £500 which went to a local charity – The Iron Wills.
Trophies in memory of beloved players who passed away on court
Members play for individual competition trophies each year. Two of which are named after members who both sadly passed away while playing squash. The Andy Sliwa Trophy and The Dave Fox Trophy. Both members are still sorely missed. Yet, their names are perpetuated through these trophies.
Also, the Veterans Trophy, contested by club members over the age of 55, was renamed. It became the John Perry Trophy in 2014, following John’s sad and sudden passing in December 2013. The tournament has since switched over from squash to racketball (handicapped). It is enjoyed by all members of the club irrespective of their age. John is missed by many members of the club. Those who came in to contact with John have many good memories. John was a very sociable, friendly and considerate gentleman, someone with whom it was easy to be a friend.
At the present time, the club is once again in a buoyant position. Having come through a very bad patch in the late 90’s, when membership slipped to under 30 people. This came with the inevitable dire financial implications. Yet, with the stoic attitude of the committee, the club was saved and the club has now turned full circle.
Reaching our half a century milestone
The club celebrated reaching half a century in 2019. The committee organised a huge party for past and present members. We met on Saturday 22nd June 2019, at The Wheatsheaf Inn, Chetwynd Aston. Attended by over 50 people, the club supplied a free BBQ, live music, and plenty of drinks.
The club has had 60+ committee members in our history. Plus, several Chairmen, four Secretaries and Treasurers. There were also Presidents, Club Captains, and Match Secretaries. All committed themselves to the smooth and efficient running of the club. Ensuring its welfare for the future.
Lilleshall Squash & Racketball Club will maintain its presence. As long as the Lilleshall National Sports Centre is operational.