Fair Oak Squash & Racketball Club

Welcome to our Summer newsletter! Hopefully a few things of interest for all of our members? Right here goes..

Sport England Bid
Finally we have submitted our bid for lottery funding after almost 2 years work from when we first decided to go for it. Our small bid team have been Paul Bright co-ordinating and working with Andy Tyler, Natalie Morant, Stew Chandler and Dave Moore. The work involved to complete this was far beyond what we initially thought and involved working with Eastleigh Council, Fair Oak Parish, England Squash and a specialist sports club architect.  We have had to produce extensive evidence to meet a long list of criteria and backing this up with strategic documents, financial reports, background info and you name it!  We are confident that the bid was finally as good as we could have got it. 

So what happens now?  The bid will be considered amongst the thousands of other bids and fingers crossed we may be shortlisted where we think Sport England will want to visit the club. This will not happen until mid September. We think we have a strong case for funding to allow us to develop our club much further and thereby secure our future for years to come. 

We want our club to have a wider appeal to local residents and harder to reach groups and to increase sport participation in Fair Oak over the next 15-20 years. We will of course notify you as soon as we know anything more. What are we planning to do if successful? We have drawn up plans for improvements including a new entrance, lobby and office bigger ladies changing room, larger fitness room, new kitchen, decorating, new flooring in corridors etc. In other words a completely refurbished club with better facilities.

Whatever happens this process has certainly given us some focus as to where we want the club to aim for and how we would like it to develop. It is now a matter of fingers crossed!

Club Gym
After a few initial set backs with the running machine the improved gym seems to be working well now. We added a nice set of Kettlebells, fitball and stretch mats for players to warm up with. There are instructional posters being prepared to help out with these exercises. We want to further develop this room as previously explained and the timetable for that will depend on success or otherwise with our lottery bid.

Squash Teams Update - From Dave B
This has been a fantastic season for Fair Oak squash and thanks and a huge well done goes to all our players who have represented the club this year. It's been a real success and as always, they have done themselves proud and maintained the on court etiquette and professionalism that is expected of all Hampshire league players.

Genuine thanks also to our magnificent sponsor Nigel Lush and all the team captains Matthew Merriman, Tom Merriman / Graham King, Nigel Lush, James Wadley / Danny Quigley. Without these people who give up their cash, time and energies in supporting and organising the teams, we wouldn't be the club we are – well done and a massive thanks for all your help and support.

The Men's teams have performed fantastically this year with our newly promoted 1st team winning 8 of their 16 matches and finishing 6th in the top Hampshire Premiership league. This is a fantastic result for Fair Oak having maintained a very respectable position within this highly competitive and very strong league. 

This season has brought some of the best squash Fair Oak has seen in years and if you haven't experienced the atmosphere of a home night, this is strongly recommended. The standard of squash is fantastic often with world class players representing both teams. This together with support from various club members behind the bar and the renowned Fair Oak raffle has led to several away teams openly praising our club and the positive support this is bringing back to the game of squash.

What a fantastic season our men's 2nd team have had finishing top of their division with a clear 23 points. Losing only one match since December 2014, the team have powered their way to the top earning promotion into Division 2. Next season will therefore be more of a challenge but with some of our Premiership players potentially being available, the team can only go from strength to strength and who knows, may well start to dominate this new league as well.

The 3rd team also had a fantastic season finishing in a very respectable 3rd place loosing only two of their eight 2nd half matches. This together with the successes of our other men's teams demonstrates the fortunate position we've been in where squad numbers and (lack of) injuries have enabled us to field strong and consistent teams.

Lets hope this continues - we still need to include more of our ever improving juniors and the debate is open as to whether we need to re-introduce an additional team to the ranks...

Our old boys also did our club proud spurned on no doubt by their younger counterparts. Vets 1 narrowly missed out on winning their league although did finish on the same number of points as Petersfield who sneaked the top spot via winning more matches. They also got to the final of the Hampshire cup but unfortunately lost to the Premiership runners up, Winchester Vets 1.

Vets 2 and 3 also had fantastic seasons with the 2nd team winning 14 of their 17 matches and comfortably winning their league by a 14-point margin and the 3rd team winning 12 of their 16 matches and finishing runners up to Lee Vets 2. The cup trend continued with a cup final clash between our vets 2nd and 3rd teams. What a match this was with the 2nd team coming out on top with a 2-1 win and the cup/league double safely in the bag.

Racketball Update
Racketball continues to thrive at Fair Oak with more and more players taking up the big blue ball game.

Three Fair Oak teams competed in the Hampshire Winter League. Our 1st Team, Fair Oak Pharaohs captained by Stew Chandler had a disappointing season finishing in the bottom third of Division One. On paper we have arguably some of the best players in the league, but player availability is key to success, which we have suffered from last season unfortunately.  

Our second team, Fair Oak Racketeers captained by Dilip Chakrabarti did not fair much better coming bottom of Division One however there was better news regarding our third Team Fair Oak Funsters captained by Natalie Morant whose team came second in Division Two.  I believe these results are also due to the fact that the standard of play in The Hampshire Leagues is improving.  Thank you to all our racketball players who represented the teams over the winter season.

The committee have been asked to re-introduce racketball leagues. Stew Chandler will have a bit more time on his hands in the autumn to manage this. He will be looking to have this up and running after The Steve Hayball Challenge.  In the meantime a Racketball Summer League is being organised at present with about 7 players in each of three leagues, matches to be played over a 3-4 month summer period. There's a few to get off the mark yet, so come on! This includes Chris Wright who entered after saying that hell would freeze over before he started playing!

The club continues to be the preferred venue for Hampshire Racketball Tournaments, players across the county really enjoy the club atmosphere, the playing quality of the courts and lay out of the club itself, its something we can all be proud of. 

Saturday 15th August - Final of the Hampshire Racketball Summer Cup being held at FOS&RC with FO Racketeers in the final V Abshot Amateurs and FO Funsters are playing Ringwood Rednecks in the plate final. Please drop by to support our teams.

Thinking of buying a new RB racket? We get asked quite a lot which is the best one to buy? Of course it is a matter of personal choice, but the racket favoured by many players of all standards including the British Champion Tim Vail is the Pointfore RB 450 long handle. If you want to try one out ask Dave Moore who will be happy to let you try one. They can be bought HERE or locally from The Racquet Centre at Portswood. Ollie Turner from Notts has done a review HERE bless him! Proof that if anyone points a camera at you with any chance it is going on You Tube then think very carefully!!

Maintenance and Improvements
We have a few issues to deal with in recent months and we are slowly getting through them. Most pressing is the front wall of court 3. We have been patching this up whilst investigating possible damp, however we are now making arrangements to have the wall replaced and all 3 courts cleaned. This will need to be done at times to least cause any disruption. There is always something that needs sorting and we will be discussing how we can manage maintenance more effectively for next year.

There are some other big projects in the pipe line including replacing the existing court lights with LED strips lights and also upgrading the heating system, both will come at a tidy price, however we are in talks with the local council to see if we can get energy saving grants. Now that would be nice!

The fence surrounding the club car park is being replaced to match the wrought iron fencing seen in Campbell Way. We have asked the Council to hold off while we discuss with the Village Hall about the possibility of having a linked car park to deal with busy nights when our car park is at capacity. Watch this space on that.

Club Bar
Would you believe it is now over 2 years since we opened up our refurbished bar!? It has been a great success for our club and continues to generate vital additional income for our club. From members feedback I have a stock list which seems to please even the most critical drinker. Even Russ Baker has a smile on his face whilst drinking his fave German discount special lager. I did have some complaints about the chocolate selection, mainly from a certain Natalie, so I have now put in a nice box of treats in the fridge that most will recognise. Our savoury snack choice has also entered the premier league as well! 

There are few things still in the pipeline for improving the bar area still further but you will have to wait and see about that. For those who don't use it please always feel welcome to come on up for a drink if it is open, which is most weekday nights. We now have squash and racketball balls available at £2 and some grips at £1.50.

New Club Logo
A while ago we asked members for ideas on a new club logo. This is needed to reflect our club as a squash and racketball club and will help us to more effectively market ourselves. We didn't get any designs from members so Andy Tyler and I have been playing around with designs and have come up with the below front runners. If you have any preference then let us know.



We need something simple and which will appear clear on posters, web pages, T shirts etc. We may tweak these a bit more or come up with something different but in the absence of anything else one of these should be suitable.

Subscriptions Due Soon!
It is fast coming to the end of the financial year for us and that means of course that annual subs will be due at the end of August. We have kept them the same price again to help our members. Please try to get them in before the expiry date of Sept 1st. Late payments will mean keys are going to be de-activated. We now accept electronic bank transfer which is very easy and quick as well as 3 post dated cheques. More details will be coming from Andy Tyler about all that soon.

Cleaning Up Our Act
Frances our cleaner has been working hard to keep the club as clean as poss, but we have always suffered somewhat when our cleaner goes away on holiday. Well, now we have rota in place where committee members cover this work each day (yes including the loo's!) so thanks to everybody that tried extra hard to keep a lid on mess during this period. We have treated ourselves to some new bins around the place as well! Very swish. 

Are You Warming Up Correctly?
We all have our own routines, but listen to what Nick Matthew has to say about how he does it. Skipping ropes will be sold from the bar shortly! Click HERE

Trick Shots?
Now we all have probably seen Nigel Lush and his very deceptive drop shots catching out even the best readers of the game, but have a look at this double fake shot performed by James Wilstrop v Ramy Ashour. If any Fair Oak player manages this shot (witnessed by 2 people) they will get a superb prize of a free pint of lager or Diet Coke plus a bonus Snickers bar. Go practice! 
Click HERE to see how its done.

Quiz Bite
Monty Python made a quote reference to squash in one of their classic sketches many years ago. Anyone know what it was? Without cheating by Googling it! This will test if anybody reads down this far! First person to tell the Editor when he's in the bar will get a drink bought for them. Generous chap as always. :-)

Club AGM
Our club AGM was held on 23rd June in the bar with a good turn out from members pulled in no doubt by the offer of a free drink and a sausage roll. A number of issues were discussed and voted on including the election of the Junior Organiser after two candidates put themselves forward for the role. If you want to know more see below.

Awards went to Nigel Sanders for Club Person of the Year for selfless effort to juniors over the years. Squash player of the year went to Kyle Finch for outstanding performance throughout the season and Racketball player of the year went to Bob Broadbridge for his effort and reliability in representing Fair Oak RB teams. A full AGM report has been circulated by Email but if you missed it please click HERE.

New Committee Roles
At the AGM Colin Codrai stood down as Chairman after 9 years in the seat and Dave Moore was duly elected to take over in this role. Paul Finch was elected as the Junior Organiser for 2015/16. Our committee looks substantially different to that of 4 years ago, smaller in numbers but nonetheless very keen to push forward with improvements and changes to make our club better for all of us. If you have any suggestions or comments please email these to fairoaksquash@gmail.com or just speak to any committee member.

Junior Report
Brooke Goes from Strength to Strength!


Fair Oak junior member Brooke Williams is climbing the ladder of squash success as is now one of Hampshire's best junior girl squash players. Currently ranked 2 in Hampshire U15 and 32 in the UK, Brooke has aspirations of getting to the top of the ladies game. In May Brooke won the Winchester Open U15 event. Brooke has come a long way since she started playing through her coaching with Brian Ward and now being coached by Tim Vail at Lee-On-Solent.  We will be closely watching Brookes progress and will be reporting on how well she develops. 

Under 11 County Success!
Congratulations to Alex Broadbridge, Morgan Hooper- Robinson and Joe Purr who were all selected to play for the newly created Hampshire Under 11 team. This team have played in the National U11 fun event organised by ESR and in the Four Counties U11 match that is now an annual event. Well done to you three!

Fair Oak juniors will also be involved in the Hampshire Grand Prix events this summer. This tournament which includes both the Conners and Falcon Cup has proved to be a very successful event particularly for our juniors who have made up a big part of the numbers participating. Full update on that in the next newsletter. More information available from Brian Ward. bpward@hotmail.co.uk

Saturday Junior Training
This has now finished for the school holidays and will resume on 5th September in the new format with Paul and his team. There will be some junior team training sessions being held during the holiday period along with some free junior practice sessions as well which will be circulated. There is a lot of development work ongoing to re-build this club activity and more news on this will follow. If you would like more information about the Saturday sessions or the junior section in general at Fair Oak please email Paul Finch paullfinch@hotmail.co.uk

Tournament News - From Andy Codders
Squash Club Championships 

Friday 22nd May saw the conclusion of the club championships, generously sponsored by Technifibre again, and fantastically supported by yourselves. 3 weeks of clashes culminated in 4 incredible matches:

Stuart Delmege and Dilip Chakrabarti kicked off the evening in the Plate final; Dilip has been known to drop his energy levels to 120% at times when he is tired, but even his strength was not enough to live with the human-dynamo that is Stuart. Stuart looked strong from start to finish and whilst Dilip has a surge in the 3rd, it was Stuart’s night, wining 3-0.

Next up were Mark Bangs and Dave Brierley in what many have come to regard as the unofficial club championship – the Over 35s. Though I struggle to type it, this was the strongest final pairing in many years, possibly in the history of the competition, and the size of the crowd echoed this sentiment. Dave looked his graceful self and hit tight shot after shot, but Mark was as hungry as we’d ever seen, chasing everything down and showing his bag of shots was just as full. Dave was marvellous, but Mark was on top and claimed the title.

There was no rest for the spectators as the statesmen of the club strutted onto the court for the Veterans’ Final. Current holder Russell Baker was up against to 2012/13 champion, his arch-rival and nemesis, Neil Piper. Russell went out all guns blazing, making it clear from the off that if Neil wanted the title he’d have to earn it. Neil rose to the challenge and held off Russ’ attack, ultimately winning.

The climax of the evening saw defending club champion, Kyle Finch take on George Stanford. Two awesome young players, both full of immense talent and flair, and yet so very different. George was on fire, hitting incredible widths and nicks. Kyle was as cool as ice, dominating the ‘T’ and applying pressure even when at full stretch. Sporting history is full of what-ifs, and this might not have been the finals pairing we predicted at the start of the season…but on the night it was difficult to imagine anyone pushing Kyle harder. Alas (for George) Kyle proved immovable and won out in a confident 3-0. A cracking final and conclusion to the tournament. Pic shows both players with a couple of clowns in the background photo bombing!

A special prize was awarded to Kian Whelan on the night too; Kian played brilliantly in his matches, but was also down watching/cheering nearly every night - even when he wasn’t playing, and training to be the best he can. This could not go unacknowledged.

Thanks go to all for entering. Trite as it sounds it is a literal truth; there would be no competitions without you. And a special thanks to the markers on final’s night (Natalie, John, Matt and Dave) who wilfully take on the responsibility.

Racketball – Presidents Cup (Handicap) 

Chris Ash celebrates winning the first point over Natalie Morant in the final the Presidents Cup. Such a gentleman that he is!
However once recovered from her injuries, Natalie took her revenge and triumphed over the man sponsored by Meccano.

The 2014/15 tournament season drew to a fun close with the Presidents’ Cup this month; the Presidents’ Cup is a racketball handicap competition and its growing popularity is reflected by the increasing numbers of competitors year-on-year. It is hard not to enjoy a game of racketball, and the handicapping ensures the club’s superstars and ever-hopefuls compete on an even footing. This year saw new members play old-dogs, fathers and sons battling for semi-final spots, and some super-close marathon matches that were tiring just to watch!

This season’s finalists in the plate competition (open to all those unfortunate – or wily enough – to lose their first round match) were Jon Woolgar and Andrew Codrai; Jon had sent club racketball champion Matt Merriman crashing out in the earlier rounds and must have smelt blood (or a title), coming into the match all guns blazing, but Andrew hung on in, reigning in the points difference and just edging ahead to win.

In the cup, club legend Chris Ash entered the arena with the delicate and whimsical Natalie Morant. Natalie is no stranger to finals, having contested (and won) last season’s Squash handicap plate. But Chris had the swagger of a man either brimming with confidence, pre-loaded with IPA, or with scaffolding barely holding his joints together. The points came in fits and starts, sometimes Natalie forging a lead, sometimes Chris making the running. But ultimately it was Natalie who was triumphant and claimed this season’s crown. Chris was keen to ensure those not present were aware he played with style, guile, flair and showmanship and that whilst his name won’t be the one etched on to the cup for all eternity, it was his example that will keep the youth coming and ultimately be the saviour of the sport. 

Social Stuff
A Ladies Night was held on May 9th, the first time we have tried this. Although only 9 attended it was still a good night and everybody enjoyed it. More will be planned this coming season and who knows if numbers grow it could be a regular club night feature!

Club vs Club Challenge June 19th. A larger turnout than usual with 16 players attending this year. Now a regular fixture on the social calendar, it's growing in popularity. Lovely to have some non- team players joining in for the first time ever. A fast and furious evening, with plenty of short matches - but still with plenty of drinking time too! The final result not decided until the final round matches played (all players playing 4 matches). The winner, by a very small margin was Fair Oak - JUST! Phew. With Dave Brierley taking the honours in the individual tournament, closely followed by Neil Piper, Mark Bangs and Deklon Moule (Wykeham).

PSL Matches (attended by many FO members) have now finished - with Winchester finishing 5th in the southern league at the end of the season, and Duffield pipping St Georges Hill in the final. Of the 5 home nights for Winchester - 3 evenings - tickets were oversubscribed, once 7 of 8 places taken. If members are keen to repeat next year, then please let the committee know. These are excellent nights out.

Future Events..
Golf Day at East Horton is being planned by Matt Merriman for Saturday August 22nd, same day as one of the cycle rides below but hopefully not many will be tied between the two! Names to Matt M please if interested. We need at least 8 to make this work so please dust off those clubs! matthew_merriman@hotmail.co.uk

Summer Cycle Rides
Being planned are 2 rides this August. Firstly a family ride for stronger riders on Saturday 18th August and another family ride on both an easy route and a longer harder route for the more energetic riders on Saturday 22nd August. More details on that will be circulated. 

Any ideas for a social? We'll look at anything if it will get support! 

Club Nights
Senior Club nights will resume in September on the first Friday of every month. We will be advertising this night as an opportunity for potential new members to turn up and have a go, plus meet a few members. Family Club nights will be the third Friday unless otherwise stated. We want these nights to continue and to be well attended. Family club night has been a great success with sometimes around 30 adults and juniors joining in. Great stuff.

Exhibition Night
We are working on another exhibition night in the Autumn more on that to come soon hopefully..

Member Focus
Each issue we will feature one of our members so hopefully we can all get to know a little bit more about each other! This month to kick us off is our club Treasurer Paul Bright. He is away on holiday at the time of publishing so couldn't say no to this.

Paul spent 30 years working for Hampshire Police carrying out many different roles from a PC in Portsmouth and on the IOW, plus he worked as a Sgt in the New Forest and an Insp in Basingstoke ending up retiring as head of the Force Criminal Justice Department. He has had a few jobs since leaving the old bill, but currently works for Citizens Advice. Paul was a very good squash player when he was thin and young. He played in the National Express league, which is similar to the PSL now. Believe or not he was one of the quickest players around the court anyone had seen at the time. Now lives in Mortimers Lane in the village, he loves golf, cars, beer and food! He also loves watches (as can be seen in his picture) Don't start him off on that subject. Oh and of course racketball which he plays a very canny game these days. Often found behind our bar giving everyone a treat of his fave music. He also plays the drums as well!  ....Right who's next then?

Can You Help Market Our Club?
Effective marketing is going to be essential for our clubs future. We have a great opportunity to increase both junior and senior membership with over 600 new homes planned for our village in the next 2 years.  We will be embarking on a marketing plan soon to give us every chance of reaching the maximum number of people. If you can offer us any assistance in this please tell us. All hands on deck will be needed.

Did You Know...?
Jahangir Khan of Pakistan owns the longest streak of winning games with 555 straight squash matches from 1981-86. His unbeaten streak lasted five years and eight months and won him a place in the book of Guinness World Records. Khan's winning streak began when he was 17; he won the squash World Open five times during that stretch, from 1981-85, and added another title in 1988. In the modern game 10 straight wins would be viewed as quite impressive for a professional!

Got Anything to Include?
We would like anything of interest to be include here from our members! It could a funny story, general mickey take of a fellow member (in good taste of course) or any successes you or family members have had doing things outside our club. Just let us know with any pictures and we can include it. 

Thinking of a family bash to celebrate anything? Remember our bar can be used for such events. Email fairoaksquash@gmail.com and ask for details.

Next Newsletter will be in the Autumn at some point..

Any comments or complaints to Editor Dave M!

Spring Newsletter HERE if you missed that one.