No decent Club can operate properly without decent staff, and on the whole we have been fortunate in that respect. We’ll start with the managers over the years, then the coaches, then progress to the many staff members and contractors who have assisted in the operation of the club.
When the Club opened in in 1936, it was operated by a Board and a professional. Gerry Barnes was appointed as professional, and continued until 1939 when he enlisted. When the Club reopened in 1945, despite being injured, he was appointed as Manager and Professional, but he resigned on 14th May 1948. A B Barnes and W D McLaggan were jointly appointed on 1st September 1948. McLaggan remained as sole Manager until 1952, when he accepted an appointment in Canada. R N Giles succeeded McLaggan in October 1952, but resigned in August 1953. Alasdair Groundwater, formerly assistant professional, became Professional on his return from National Service in November 1953. Alasdair remained until December 1955, when he left to take up an appointment in Malaya. Jamal Din (a World-ranked player – contested the 1955-1959 British Open Squash Championships) replaced him in early 1956. The 1957 AR advises that Lieutenant-General Maczek had been hired as manager. Maczek was a notable Polish War hero – an account of some of his life is available here. Jamal Din and Maczek were replaced by Haydn Davies in 1959. Hadyn ruled with a strict code of conduct, while dispensing expert squash coaching. He retired back to Wales in 1975, and was replaced by Derek Dolphin, who had a similarly long tenure, retiring in 1997. Dave Thomas was hired, and brought a military presence to the Club, but left in 2001 to pursue his career in the Middle East. Ian Williams took over the reins, and was replaced on March 5th (no, not the Ides, although it felt a bit that way…) 2010 by the joint Club team of ‘AA and JJ’. JJ assumed individual control six months later, and at the time of this history has served the club for ten years.
The Rogues Gallery shown below is a timeline of Club Managers from 1945 until today, with a couple of omissions. Gerry Barnes, shown as manager from 1945, was Professional from the Club opening date in 1936 until 1939 when he enlisted. The gap between 1952 and 1957 was occupied by no fewer than four individuals, for whom no photographs seem to exist for any except General Maczek, who filled the five years with R M Giles, Alasdair Groundwater and Jamal Din.
In the very early days of the club, the post of professional and manager effectively was merged. Your Editor’s attempts to accurately establish the facts have been difficult, even Annual Reports statements sometimes muddying the waters. The following is our best attempt at a list of known squash professionals and coaches, concentrating on the principal coaches, not the assistants, who will be included elsewhere. The list is unbroken from 1936 to 1975, but for twenty plus years until Simon Boughton’s appointment as Sports Development Officer in 1998, a number of individuals filled the function, including Dorothy Sharp who was listed as commencing in 1981, but others were not regularly mentioned in Annual Reports, so a list of those names will be shown in the meantime
Other sports, e.g. tennis, table tennis and padel also have coaches, who will be listed elsewhere (in due course).
- Gerry Barnes 1936-1948 – resurrected the club after WWII
- W D (Douglas) McLaggan 1948-1952 – considered as a friend by DWD (Bill) Shaw, met him several times in the US in later years
- R N Giles 1952-1953
- Alasdair Groundwater 1953-1955
- Jamal Din 1955-1959 – World ranked – contested the 1955-59 British Open Championships, reaching the quarter final in 1956 and taking a game off Hashim Khan in the process
- Hadyn Davies 1959-1975 (also Club manager) – several of our older interviewees thought that he was the finest coach they had encountered. He was featured in the 1986 History
- Steven Sproule 1970’s
- Dorothy Sharp 1981 – 1985 She was featured in the 1986 History
- Tom Cain (died 1997)
- Simon Boughton 1988 – present day
The first reference to any Staff is in the 1954 Annual Report when E Elliot was appointed Club Steward. The 1955 Annual Report advises that Brian McCosh left to undergo his National Service (although his arrival was never advised). It’s only very occasionally that staff are mentioned by name, the 1973 Annual Report stating that former staff member Miss Bessie Bowler had died. She must have been some character to be awarded that accolade. Haydn Davies was similarly mentioned when he died in 1993, and Tom Cain in 1997..
In the context of staff (for the slideshow) we will include coaches, contractors and catering franchisees.
To hasten the progress of this page, the editorial team suggest that the hard-working staff of the past be awarded a slideshow (it just might be that some of the not-so-hard-workers don’t get a mention…) It’s actually a mix of bar and reception and office staff, coaches and the odd manager or two.