A brief history of the BSPA,
It was 1992, the start
of another season, and we had just begun the Asian circuit. The troops
had gathered in Hong Kong for, what is widely agreed to be, one of the
player’s favourite events on the calendar.
As was common then, and is still practiced now, players were catching
up with events relevant to their home countries through the use of the
Hong Kong SRA fax machines.
The British contingent usually numbered in excess of 15 of its
countries top players. The news that was of interest to them related
to entry for the prestigious British Closed Championships in January
In previous years (as far back as I could remember at that time) it
had always been perceived as the ‘blue ribbon’ event in the UK. Indeed
in all of the recent years it had been played on the spectacular and
innovative designed Perspex court, with a suitably enticing prize fund
that attracted all the top players from England, Ireland, Scotland and
Wales. It projected the feel of a priceless jewel at the pinnacle of
Squash in England.
In Hong Kong, the British players were ready to enter the British
Closed once again. When the fax came through from the English SRA (who
were always the organizers' of the said event) a wave of disbelief
went through the British camp. Surely this couldn’t be……
The English SRA had taken it upon themselves to reduce the British
Closed, it’s National flagship event, to an unacceptable level. It was
to cut out the use of
the spectacular Perspex court (which it owned).
to cut the level of
prize money to a purse which would, at any other event, have
attracted few of the top players.
to cut the entry to
English players only AND
there was pressure from
the English SRA expecting everyone to still participate in the
inaugural ‘National Closed’ Championships or face the consequences of
not being considered for England Team selection.
The players in Hong Kong, at this, felt cheated.
Chris Walker and Tony Hands (two top ten players at the time) took the
mantle and led what the press immediately labeled, ‘the rebellion’.
The only way that the players had a chance to air their view and be
noticed was to act as one unit. There was nothing in place at this
stage which could help the players.
Hence it was Chris Walker and Tony Hands that took it upon themselves
to co-ordinate the movement. The first thing they did was to gather
all the players signatures to show that there was a commitment to ‘the
cause’ and, to cover any administration costs that may occur, a fee of
£30 was also collected.
This group of the majority of the top 20 players in the country acting
as a body, behind the leadership drive of Messrs Hands and Walker,
proved to be a force that The English SRA had to listen to.
Negotiations began and to cut a long story short it was mutually
agreed that the players would not have to compete in the event in
order to qualify to represent England.
All the top 20 players, except one, did not play in the competition.
The English SRA had been sent a firm message that the players were
actually concerned with the elite game.
The BSPA was formed and nurtured by Hands and Walker - the players
were encouraged to join and communication between the English SRA and
the elite athletes of the sport was taken to a higher level.
Since then the Cannons Satellite circuit has become firmly established
as a crucial stepping stone for the up and coming youngsters of our
country. The players have also raised over £50,000 for Leukemia
research, the association's main charity.
The rest is history!!!