England crowned World Team Squash champions as James Willstrop clinches decider

England defeated holders Egypt to win the World Team Squash Championship final in Mulhouse, France, on Saturday night….read more


BBC Sports: Canary Wharf Squash Classic: Willstrop beats Barker to title

Canary Wharf 2013 England’s James Willstrop beat compatriot Peter Barker to win the Canary Wharf Squash Classic for the fourth time….

Canary Wharf Classic: Willstrop, Matthew & Barker make semis

England’s James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and Peter Barker progressed to the semi-finals of the Canary Wharf Squash Classic in London’s Docklands.

World number four Willstrop, bidding to win the title for the fourth time, beat Daryl Selby 11-7 11-5 11-7.
Matthew, who has won at Canary Wharf for the last three years, dispatched South Africa’s Steve Coppinger 11-6 11-4 10-12 11-3….

James Willstrop: my double fake squash shot disbelieving as Ramy Ashour so quick

Sport Magazine reviews for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year

On November 26, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year will select the finest piece of sports writing of the past 12 months from a shortlist of seven. Before they do, however, we’ve done it for them….read more


British cycling’s golden girl Victoria Pendleton has been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2012 – the most prestigious prize of its kind – for Between The Lines, an autobiography co-authored by Donald McRae, already a two-time winner of the award (in 1996 and 2002).

Another William Hill veteran on the longlist is Duncan Hamilton, winner of the award in 2007 and 2009, who has been nominated again this year for The Footballer Who Could Fly, which charts the progress of post-war British football and explores the bond between father and son forged through the Beautiful Game. If either McRae or Hamilton go on to win, they will make history by becoming the first writer to win the award three times.

Other longlist titles include: Fibber in the Heat by comedian Miles Jupp, which follows The Thick of It star as he bluffs his way into the press corps during England’s Test series in India; Jonny: My Autobiography, in which rugby star Jonny Wilkinson reveals the extraordinary psychology that he learned to tame in order to dominate his sport; and Be Careful What You Wish For, the story of Simon Jordan, the life-long Crystal Palace fan who bought the club with his self-made millions, only to lose nigh on everything when it went into administration in 2010.

Now in its 24th year, this year’s 14-strong longlist covers a range of sports, including running, football, cycling, rugby, TT racing and cricket. This year also sees the inclusion of the first ever titles about squash, swimming and Iron Man races.

The longlist in full :

That Near-Death Thing – Inside the TT : The World’s Most Dangerous Race
by Rick Broadbent (Orion)
Running with the Kenyans – Discovering The Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
by Adharanand Finn (Faber)
Iron War – Dave Scott, Mark Allen & the Greatest Race Ever Run
by Matt Fitzgerald (Quercus Press)
The Footballer Who Could Fly
by Duncan Hamilton (Century)
The Secret Race – Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France:
Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs
by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press)
A Weight Off My Mind – My Autobiography
by Richard Hughes, with Lee Mottershead (Racing Post)
Be Careful What You Wish For
by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey)
Fibber in the Heat
by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press)
The Dirtiest Race in History – Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final
by Richard Moore (Wisden Sports Writing)
Between the Lines – The Autobiography
by Victoria Pendleton, with Donald McRae (HarperSport)
Swimming Studies
by Leanne Shapton (Particular Books)
A Life Without Limits – A World Champion’s Journey
by Chrissie Wellington, with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson)
Jonny: My Autobiography
by Jonny Wilkinson, with Owen Slot (Headline)
Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash
by James Willstrop (Rod Gilmour)

“2012 was a memorable sporting year thanks to the Olympics and the Paralympics, the Ryder Cup and the US Open to name but a few of the highlights, and it is a year which has also produced a strong crop of memorable sporting books. It has been difficult enough to narrow the contenders down to a manageable longlist of fourteen titles, and with sports like squash, swimming and Ironman racing represented for the first time, this is the most diverse longlist we have yet seen” said William Hill spokesman and founder of the Award, Graham Sharpe.

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world’s longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £24,000 cash prize, the winning author will receive a £2,000 William Hill bet, a specially-commissioned hand-bound copy of their book, and a day at the races.

The judging panel for this year’s award consists of broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; footballer and chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle, who joins the judging panel for the first time; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chairman of the judging panel is John Gaustad, co-creator of the award and founder of the Sportspages bookshop.

The shortlist is scheduled to be announced on 26th October. The winner will be announced at a lunchtime reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore, on Monday 26th November.

For further information please contact Anwen Hooson or Ceri Maxwell at Riot Communications on 020 3174 0118 / / or Graham Sharpe, William Hill Media Relations Director, on 020 8918 3731 / 07803 233702.

When reality gets squashed


Belatedly people are beginning to find out just what a remarkable athlete – and man – James Willstrop is.

The belatedness does not reflect on him, but on squash, a sport that for reasons never deeply examined or satisfyingly articulated, has never cut it.

The game has deep traditions in many countries, Australia, England, Pakistan and Egypt lead among 135 nations that officially play.

It is not as broadcast-friendly as tennis – the small ball and speed makes tracking the action and its many subtleties difficult. But it still isn’t a bad watch.

What it really needs is a slick spin doctor (though it is endearing they have not yet come across one) to turn exceptional athletes and their matches into the stars and their monumental rivalries you want to read about.

Instead the sport has been preoccupied for many years with becoming an Olympic event.

They have had great opportunities before; in Jahangir Khan they were briefly relevant (though that had as much to do with his management as squash authorities).

But if you think about the compelling characters squash has had – Geoff Hunt, Jonah Barrington, Amr Shabana, Jonathon Power, Hashim Khan to name an exact handful – and how little you know about them, then the game is failing, repeatedly, over many years.

In Willstrop lies another golden opportunity and at least he has done something about it himself.

An Englishman, Willstrop is the current world No 1 but that seems barely adequate.

He has recently published what is essentially a diary – Shot and a Ghost – A year in the brutal world of professional squash – but is actually a grand and delicate gesture of self-revelation and introspection, on a scale few sports autobiographies can hope to imagine.

Willstrop, a Yorkshireman, is unceasingly human and if that sounds obvious, just remember how unreal sports stars really are.

He leaves nothing untouched, not tensions with his girlfriend (a former top-ranked player) on whether to have a child, his obsessive compulsive tendencies or the trauma of his mother’s passing from cancer.

The relationship with his father-coach Malcolm is complex though not troubled. Many days he cannot be bothered to train, the prospect filling him with serious dread; his description of driving to training, passing the same signs, shops and pubs but mostly fearing the same impending pain is instantly relatable to anyone who has agonised over not wanting, for example, to go to the gym.

And those same people will recognise his subsequent eagerness to return to train after what he calls, frankly, periods of excessive indulgence. “One can only feel a slob for so long,” he writes.

Willstrop stands considerably apart generally, but especially from the vast lump of sporting humanity, not just because he is a committed vegetarian, that he likes musicals or that his opinions on team spirit are stripped of cliche. It is because he is not a man to let life and its moments pass by without pause for deeper consideration.

Consider this simple, powerful take on the strangeness of success. “After winning events, I had always expected to feel immensely happy, and of course to a certain extent I do, but the immediate aftermath is really quite strange.

“After the photos and the cameras, the interviews and the people, the only obvious thing to do is retreat to the hotel, usually alone … I look at the trophy and the room and it is odd. I wonder what on earth I should be doing next.”

Later, as he discusses the uselessness of bank holidays, he drifts into wondering how athletes are prone to obsessive compulsive tendencies, because of how their experiences swing from one extreme to another.

“Athlete’s lives consist of great contrasts: from the hardest training sessions to hours in bed; large crowds to empty hotel rooms … There is such a gulf in the level of intensity that for some it can cause problems.”

The word brutal often appears with squash. It is a brutal game, even when played among friends to no serious quality.

Minutes in and your brain stands shaken like little else; few sports make it so hard to unite mental faculty with physical agility simply because the disorientation is so acute.

So to read as humanising a line as this – “It continues to baffle me that, despite all my training over the years, this sport can still render me exhausted within 10 minutes” – is to be on almost personal terms with a man who is the very best.

There are not many athletes of which that can be said.

Book review: What the Press say

What the Press have said about ‘Shot and a Ghost’ 

The National – When Reality Gets Squashed

The Guardian – London would have been perfect stage

Inside the Games – Willstrop revels in dishing out the nitty gritty

Canadian Press – Willstrop details life

The Independent – Simon Redfern reviews…

Metro – Willstrop learns lessons from his diary

The Guardian – Willstrop bares his soul

Pontefract Express – Willstrop’s book is rewarding read

Daily Telegraph: how book came together

Swiss Press review

Herald Sun – Ramy ‘one of the greatest’ 

Carnegie Sports: book review

English Institute of Sport – Willstrop Shares Support Team Success

What they’ve said on the blogs:

Eau C Squash

Squash Dashers and Bashers

Luton & Dunstable Squash Blog

Willstrop on BBC Radio 4 review

In defense of Willstrop’s US assessment


Willstrop details life on squash tour in book

By Gregory StrongThe Canadian Press

It has been a long and arduous road to the top of the men’s squash world for James Willstrop.

The endless training sessions, demanding travel schedule and physical and emotional hurdles are described in painstaking detail in his book, “Shot and a Ghost — A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash.” …read more


World squash number one James Willstrop learns lessons from his diary

Metro - By Richard Hookham - 20th March, 2012

World squash number one James Willstrop confronts some painful truths in his warts-and-all diary – and reveals how he wishes squash was an Olympic sport… more

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