Well how do I sum up 18 years and 4 months on the professional
circuit? Very hard to do but I will do my best!
I turned pro in august 1988 a very green 16 year old just so eager
to get on the circuit and mix with the big guys. I had won every
junior tournament there was to win and was tipped for big things.
had the confidence of youth and was afraid of no one. A few months
earlier at the age of 15 I played my first world juniors in
Edinburgh and I remember genuinely expecting to win the thing! Cocky
As it happens I managed to make the quarters losing to 18 year
old Aussie Anthony hill who continued to be a difficult player for
me in the following years. I was gutted. Everyone around me said how
good it was to do so well so young but I didn’t care – I wanted to
The team event was also a disappointment as we ended up losing
to Pakistan in the semis (and I lost 50 quid in a bet). I also
realized how much the Scots despised the English when in the
individual final between Del Harris of England and hilly the Aussie,
they were shouting against our boy. I was Not impressed.
The next two years I spent picking up junior events as I always had
but I also started trying my luck on the PSA (then ISPA) tour.
expected to be successful but it is completely different when you
are 16 and living out of a suitcase competing against seasoned pros.
I had some bad losses, constantly made schoolboy errors with travel
(like flying to the wrong country!) and basically had to grow up
It wasn’t how I expected it to be – it was very hard. The
draws seemed to be huge in those days – I remember regularly playing
$3000 events with 128 draw. Can you imagine how many points that was
for a first round loss? There were no hotels paid either and there
was one tournament I remember where Peter Marshall and I slept on
Stephen Meads floor! It was freezing but at least he lent us his
coat to keep warm.
COMING OF AGE IN PADERBORN
After a couple of years I had reached the world’s top 24 and I had
one more junior tournament to win. The world juniors in 1990 was in
Paderborn, Germany and I was expected to wrap it up quite easily.
The two weeks there proved to be two of the best of my life – I managed
to beat my mate David Campion in the final but England also had a
clean sweep of the semis!
I turned 18 during the event and a whole
coach load of supporters came over from Yorkshire and gave me a
cake. The coach was driven by Malcolm Willstrop and included all the
mums, Lee Beachill, 12, James Willstrop, 8 and a whole host of
others. Fantastic! In the team event we were favourites and managed
to beat Australia in the final 2-1 to cap it all off.
The following summer the Queen had a garden party to honour
Britain’s successful sports people and our team was invited plus
ones so we all took our mums! It was a scorching summer’s day and we
got to meet all sorts of famous people including the 1966 England
football team. What a day that was!
The next few years I was a little patchy and couldn’t quite get the
consistency of my best friend and rival peter Marshall. We were
always a barometer for each other right through the juniors and by
1991 he was world no2 and had usurped me from the England no1
position. I was doing ok but not well enough and felt I needed to
catch up. I did some extra training leading up to the Dutch open at
the end of 91 and managed to pull off the biggest win of my career
beating Jansher Khan 3-0.
It was one of those days where I didn’t
need to think, everything was flowing and I basically played a
blinder. This should push me up the rankings I thought when I win
this event ... don’t count your chickens another voice said.
happens I won my quarters and lost to underrated Finnish player Sami
Eloporo in the semis. Still pushed me up though! It gave me
confidence but although I had more wins like this against top
players like Rodney martin and Chris Robertson I just couldn’t do it
I consider the breakthrough to be
when I moved to Nottingham from Harrogate in 1994. I was regularly
training with marsh, newly improved Alex Gough and Hadrian Stiff,
Jason Nicolle and others. You couldn’t go wrong really when you had
such a varied but quality group of players to train with daily. It
was also very good socially but we left most of that to Goughy and
By 1995 I was starting to feel almost invincible and was really up
for it. I had a tournament win in France beating old foe hilly and
then a really big win that summer beating Brett Martin 3-2 (for the
first time) and Del Harris in the final.
These results finally
pushed me into the top ten where I hoped to properly challenge Jansher and Marsh. Unfortunately, just as I was up there,
suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome and had to take a lot of
time off. He was never really the same after that (although he did
reach the semis of the world open from quals in 1997 and win the
nationals in 2000 – unbelievable achievements considering!) and we
never continued the rivalry I was hoping for.
WORLD TEAM CHAMPIONS
At the end of 1995 the England team were in Cairo for the world
teams and without marsh it was going to be tough. We still had
myself, Del Harris, Chris Walker and rookie Mark Chaloner and a
great chance of winning for the first time. We had the mighty
Pakistan in the final – first match del hammered Sara Johan Khan –
Del was on fire. Next on Jansher beat me 3-0 – Jansher was on fire
but it was my first loss of the week. It was all on chip Chaloner to
win the world teams and beat the very tough Mir Zaman Gul.
on fire and even finished off the match with a backhand reverse
angle flick from the back to make England world champions for the
first time. We all ran on to the court to congratulate him and just
started hugging each other. This was the proudest moment of our
lives and it was great to be able to share it with your mates and I
will never forget it.
THE WORST DAY
Not long after that day I was diagnosed with testicular cancer which
was the worst day of my life. in the words of Ronan Keating life
really was a roller coaster!
I don’t really want to go into that too
much as there was a lot written at the time but I got through the
surgery and the chemo and within five months was back on the
circuit. Don’t ask me how!
THE BEST YEARS
The next six years were probably the best of my career as we picked
up another world teams in 97, I was British champion in 98, won the
U.S. Open in 99 and reached a career high ranking of 3 in 2000.
They were both very proud moments and I remember being close to
tears especially after beating both Nicol and Power in the U.S. Open
as they were 1 and 2 in the world at the time and both matches were
Around the time of Sep 11th I had my ankle in plaster after surgery
and obviously had a bit of time off.
It took me a long time to come
back – much longer than cancer – in fact I started dropping really
swiftly and found myself in a lowly position of 45. A lot of new
young players were coming through at this time and I think I had
lost some motivation.
I got married in 2002, separated in 2003 and in the summer of 2004 I
just thought RIGHT LET’S DO SOME OLD SCHOOL TRAINING! Back on the
track doing 400s in all weather, in the gym, lots of work on court
etc and I thought let’s see how it goes.
CAN STILL DO IT
The English open of 2004
was my last proper high on the circuit when I came through quals and
beat Mark Chaloner, Nick Matthew and Pete Nicol before eventually
losing to Lee Beachill in the final.
My mum was there to see every
match which made me extra proud and spurred me on to a few more good
results in the autumn. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to push me
back into the top ten but it was really nice to know I could play at
that level again.
I started my coaching job at Heaton in June 2005 and I am really
enjoying it and looking forward to a successful future helping
others to improve their game. It has obviously not been an easy
decision to retire from PSA but I would like to stress that I will
still be around on the domestic circuit and
I am still available for
exhibitions and invitation events!! Actually I have been invited to
be master of ceremonies at the Windy City open in Chicago so see you
there! You won’t get rid of me that easily.
THANKS TO ALL
I would like to give a big thanks to all the coaches I have been
involved with, and they are – Malcolm Willstrop, David
Pearson, Jonah Barrington.
I would also like to thank my Dad Ian for all the carting
around he did when I was a junior and for being my manager later on.
I really wouldn’t have achieved so much if it wasn’t for you.
Thank you mum for always being supportive and just being a
And finally thanks to all the great friends I have made from this
fantastic sport – you know who you are.
December 2006, Saudi Arabia
Simon was born in Oakham, Rutland, on 10th August 1972.
He's always been lively, cheeky and inquisitive, to such an extent
that sometimes we had to ask him to "please be quiet for five
minutes!" (probably, on occasions, in not quite such a polite way).
I think Simon enjoyed school mostly. He also had a fascination with
pencils and erasers - so much so that he stuffed his school trousers
with them and brought them home. Without parental control we could
have had a kleptomaniac in the house. One other time that sticks in
my mind was when he filled his sock with grandad's pennies that we
used for Newmarket at Christmas time. We all decided to go for a
walk after a big roast and Simon hobbled around without complaint. I
decided to check him out, and to everyone's amusement we found the
cause - it was very difficult not to laugh!
Simon's best friend at infant
school was called Geoffrey Butterfield. One day after school he told
me that Geoffrey was going on a beza. It turned out that Geoffrey's
family were going to Ibiza!
He also has a very soft side.
Again, aged around 7 we acquired a kitten from the RSPCA. He was
very taken with this ball of fluff but sadly it had cat flu and
didn't survive the night. He was inconsolable ...
Simon was as keen as
mustard to get onto the squash courts - so much so that he dragged
his father Ian out of bed to practice before school! His father had
been a county tennis player and had transferred over to squash very
The fact that Pontefract Squash Club was on our doorstep
made it far more convenient than travelling over to Halifax to get a
good game of tennis so squash became the sporting interest in our
Another little story that amused
us all at the time was when Simon, aged around7/8, received a
football strip and boots for Christmas. When I went to say goodnight
I found him in bed with his full kit and boots, he couldn't bear to
part with them!
As Simon improved rapidly (I was only able to beat him until he was
around 9, I think!), his father took him all over England to various
tournaments, and he achieved many top results.
One disappointing match for us,
but especially for Simon, was way back in 1982/83 when he played
Susan Devoy in Marlow. She was the women's world number one and
Simon was about12/13. He had the skills to win but probably didn't
have the head at the time - I really only remember that he was so
disappointed to lose.
At school his reports suggested that he kept his class amused, which
was not always amusing for his teacher, but fortunately, on the
whole, he came out with decent results.
School and tournaments did clash, I'm afraid, but his teacher was
helpful and he managed to do well in his GCSEs ...
Simon became World Junior Champion in Paderborn, Germany, and
England also won the team title. All the mums and dads attended,
travelling there by coach.
He called his sister and I in
Nottingham during the night so we knew he had won - we were so
Mamut English Open, Sheffield -
this was the best squash I have ever seen Simon play. He beat
Chaloner, Matthew and Nicol to get to the final where sadly he lost
to Lee Beachill. Nevertheless, his play was stunning.
Parky's birthday Gallery
In his later professional years
when overseas I have not been able to watch him play until recently
when opportunities have arisen. I have been able to be a spectator
in the splendid Grand Central Station, New York, in Budapest where
he met up with his dad again, and most recently in Vancouver BC
where it was wonderful to see him play at the same time as his
sister Emma, who was playing in a parallel tournament.
Simon's career has been
outstanding, and as him mum I feel delighted that he has been so
successful in his chosen sport and that it has given him the
opportunity to travel the world and to develop his personality and
circle of friends. But most of all, after the challenge presented to
him in 1995 it is wonderful to have seen him regain his health and
to have an exciting personal and professional career to look forward
Although Simon is retiring from PSA tournaments, I am sure there are
many more exciting moments to come. I am truly proud of what he has
achieved - he has shown great strength both personally and
professionally. I often thank God that he does have that inner
strength, as so often in your life you get knocked badly and it's up
to the individual to sink or swim.
Simon swims ...