Market Harborough Cricket Club Squash Section opened in April 1974. In the early 70s the cricket club committee decided that it wanted to increase its revenue, as cricket was becoming more and more expensive. At the time squash was becoming very popular, and cricketers Colin Reeves and David Kirby, who were playing squash elsewhere, suggested building a squash club. A small committee of David Kirby, Colin Reeves and David Berry, with Les Tobin as chair, was formed to consider the idea. The cost of development was £40,568. Members of the Cricket Club raised approximately £9,000 and the balance of the money came from a Sports Council Grant, a loan from Midland Bank guaranteed by members of the Cricket Club and supporters, The National Playing Fields Association and the Watney Mann Brewery. There were three courts built, plus changing rooms and bar. The bar opened in October 1974. The squash building was built by local builders Smiths. They had never built squash courts before, but the courts are still in good condition after many years continuous use, compared with many courts.
The first chair of the squash section committee was Alan Marshall. The committee comprised team captains and members elected to run the social activities of the club. There was a part time paid administrator who was Jasmine Key, and her husband Maurice Key ran the bar. There was much pressure on courts and often there were people playing until 11 or 11.30 at night. The bar stayed open too. Courts could be booked by telephoning the office after 9am two weeks in advance. Many people spent many hours trying to get through for the popular court times.
The membership was closed at 330 and there was a waiting list. Squash was a very popular game, though new to many people. The club ran teams of men, ladies and juniors in the Leicestershire leagues. The Market Harborough club was famous for its good food after team matches, provided by members, in particular Sheila Bosworth. There was no kitchen, though, just a hot plate and sink. For 2 years in succession the club won the Leicestershire league hospitality trophy.
In the 1970s we ran a mother and baby squash session on Tuesday mornings. The babies were looked after in the bar area while mothers played. It was a very social and active session.
The men's team had a squash trip to Yorkshire where they played in York and Heaton, Bradford, and had a good time. Some of the ladies played a team squash match in Bandol, south of France. The junior team won the Leicestershire cup for two years in succession 1985-6 and 1986-7. The players were Mark Turner, Graham Burdon, Jason Brooke, Jonathan Peak and Mark Christison and they were coached by David Peak, Phil Spittle, Brian Shipston and others.
There were many social activities. There was a Christmas party for children and families held in the bar area. There was an annual dinner dance, held at places such as The Hunting Lodge, Cottingham, or The Elizabethan, Welford. Every finals night there was food served and the place was full of members. There was a Race Night held, too.
Thanks to Hilary Hearnshaw for this recollection of the past, together with Judith and Richard Burden and Les Tobin.
If any other members have memories or photos from the Clubs past - let us know.