Malcolm Willstrop week continues, with a look
at the players that Malcolm has brought on ... over many years ...
THE ECCENTRIC GENIUS
Does the group coaching really work then?
Well, the system produced Lee Beachill, James Willstrop and many many
Lauren Siddall (England U19); Kirsty McPhee (England U19), Neil
Cordell (under 15 international, very gifted, still small, he is the best
player in his age, he plays a bit like Lee, very similar sort of squash),
Rebecca Botwright, (she is the nicest girl on the planet, shes an
absolute delight of a girl, and she is a lovely player, she will be good)
James Earles (10, quite outstanding, he is going to be a top player) and
many many more
What is your ambition for your young players?
I try to help those kids to be decent people, to play honestly, to not
cheat, to behave properly, to respect referees. I always tell them not to
challenge the referee, even with their looks. Accept the decision, the man
(or the woman) will give you his decision, and thats all there is to it.
Dont be looking at him as if you know better because you dont.
All thats part of what I do. I dont just produce players, Im not into
that. I try to help them to be rounded people.
Who is the first squash player that you produced?
Let me tell you a story. I was in the staff room having a cup of tea one
day, and I saw two little boys kicking a rugby ball to each other, and
they were catching it every time. So I got someone to bring them to me, I
asked for their names, they were about 9 years old and I told them Right,
next Tuesday, I want you two on the squash court at 4 oclock.
one was Ian Robinson, who played for England 60 or more odd times, now on
the board of England Squash and the Director of Squash at Surrey
University. The other one, Peter Hall, was just as good as Ian, but he
didnt take it as seriously.
As a coach, what is your biggest achievement?
I supposed its turned out that Lee and James are two of the very best and
that they come now. But there is pleasure in all areas, producing young
kids, spotting young kids that are going to be good.
Also, on Monday
nights, I coach a quite ordinary group of adults, some of them are quite
I exercise the same sort of discipline, they just get on with
it, they dont talk. Two or three of them are quite average indeed,
theyve made headway, its enormously pleasing to see them enjoying the
game more because they can hit the ball better, because they come
regularly, and they listen to what I say.
I had players all my life so
Gawain Briars got to 4 in the world. That was
after I stopped coaching him, but he was well on his way to that. John
White and David Palmer came to stay with me.
Ive been in Whites corner
in Qatar when hes beaten Power twice so Im not a parochial person, and
Im not just an English thing, Im involved with a lot of players. Dean
Williams, the famous Australian, used to come and stay with me, he got to
2 in the world. My other son, Christy, was a top class player, he played
for England as well.
'Come here now' said the booming voice from the school staff room.
At the time this was like being summoned to the court of Saddam
I was Malcolm's original charge.
With his son Christy, and a visiting young Ian Robinson, we together
built up our reputations and our experiences ...
|THE COACHS LOT
As the coach, what is your biggest disappointment?
Its when people dont recognise what youve done for them. Well, the
coachs lot is not always the greatest because you dont get acknowledged.
I had a few deceptions over the years with some players that never
acknowledged that I coached them
Why is that, do you think?
There is a thing in life, the more you do for people, sometimes, it lends
to resentment, because they owe you too much. It doesnt bother me now
because you learn to get used to it. You learn that the more you do for
people, sometimes that backfires, and you learn that the things you give
to the sport, which may be original, people dont know about, so you get
to swallow quite a lot.
Malcolm in 3 words
But not everybody is like that ...
No, you have people like Lee
The first time he won the Nationals, he
dedicated his win to Lesley [James mother, who died from cancer in 2000],
and he did it in such a way that he made me cry.
It was heartbreaking. He
used to play doubles with her; they used to have a lot of fun together.
And thats the difference, Lee would never desert you. He is loyal, he
quietly acknowledges you, he doesnt go round saying it but you know that,
deep down, we are close.
Lee seems so different from James, doesnt he?
Yes, Lee is a quite conservative, slightly parochial, very cool person. He
is very content at home; he is not looking to break out.
When Lee gets his
squash perfect, which he can, he can produce a perfect type of squash;
hardly anybody can deal with him. He can produce a sort of control over
people that is quite bewitching, and they cant actually handle it when
Lee gets that right, which is quite often, as he is a very successful
When he gets control, he is very hard to get past. The players
would tell you that the best delayer of a shot in the world is Lee
Beachill, he holds the ball better than anybody else in the world, and its
Malcolm and Lesley at Pontefract
|LESLEY & JAMES
James is a flamboyant, extravert entertainer, a crowd conscious pleaser, a
performer. He is very ambitious, determined, with a deep rooted steel
Would you like to talk about his mother?
His mum died four years ago, and that was a sad thing. Lesley was a good
squash player, She was a lovely person. James is a nice kid and that comes
She was a great, quiet encouragement. She should have been there
when he won the World Junior Championship, because she deserved to be
there. She had a lot of strength. The way she got through her illness
would tell you that anyway. The day before she died, I asked her is there
anything youd like?. And with a smile on her face, she replied A hot
chocolate, knowing that I would have to go to the other side of the
hospital to get it.
At that stage, I would have run a hundred miles for
her, but that was just the devil in her, and she died the next morning.
She is missed very dearly, we both miss her, especially at the big events,
because she would be here, and thats when I find it hard, because I know
she would be in the crowd. She was immersed in good work, everybody liked
her, nearly four hundred people turned up at her funeral from all of
England. Jonah Barrington was there, they travelled three or four hundred
She was such a nice person who was doing good, who had to go too
early. Its just hard to accept, I mean, there are plenty of rotten people
. It never seems right.
Is it difficult to be the dad, the coach,
and the mum, all at the same time?
You know, I get a lot of strength from James, he is actually a very
sensible bloke, and I often go to him for advice. Its a two way
situation. He is my support, just as I may be his. He is a strong boy, and
he came through his mothers illness with a lot of strength.
So, it is not
just me doing everything, I get a big return from James. We were always a
close unit, but our relationship is now maybe even closer because of that. But
we dont live in each others pocket either, as he has got his own house,
his own life.
But we do a lot of things together, like going to London for
a Stereophonics concert. We make sure we do things together, despite our
own engagements. Sometimes we take people with us, but its our time
And on the coaching side of things?
There is no problem coaching him, he is a very hard working easy bloke to
get on with, I like him as a pal, and I dont have problems watching him.
I hope Im not biased in his favour, I think he is an outstanding player,
I always thought that, and thats not a biased view of a father, its a
squash professional coaching judgment. I always thought he was an
outstanding individual, I think he is, he has got something different. But
thats not a father talking.
Do you have other kids?
Yes, from my first marriage, I have a son, Christy, who played for
England, and two daughters, and James has a half brother,
who is England National Coach. David grew up with me as a small boy, as he
came and lived with us, he is my step son, we are very close. I used to
coach him even before his mum and I got together. He is another nice guy,
he looks like his mum.
"He coaches the young kids,
the adults, and I was part of that, like everyone else was. Ive
gone through the system like every other kid."
|"I dont particularly bask
in Lee or Jamess glory, Im just genuinely fond of them, and want to be
Photo of the Day:
England's U19s win the World Title,
Paderborn, Germany, 1990
Simon Parke & David Campion hold
the trophy, with Malcolm next to Jonah Barrington
James is kneeling at the front, Lee is in the very centre at the back,
just behind Lesley.
Malcolm told people that day that he had a junior who would one day win
the European U19 title.
Coming up on Day THREE:
Framboise talks to Pontefract owner Mick Todd,
and looks at Malcolm's base.
from August 2004