AMSA Championships Adelaide

The Australian Masters Squash Championships 

Adelaide   South Australia    September 2012


A Personal View….. from John Forrest


Following a full day driving a busload of elderly ladies on a shopping expedition, I embark upon an expedition of my own, to Adelaidesome 1250 kms due west. My immediate goal is Narrandera where I will stop overnight. Although travelling alone, I am not alone in heading for the South Australian capital to compete in this my 18th consecutive AMSA Championships. There are another 34 ACT entrants heading there, along with 431 from the other States. After packing (literally) my small sports coupe with my own gear I now have to find room for Sue Parker’s and Lynda Hancock’s which I have been conned into taking. As Sue’s gear contains enough shoes to adequately stock an FSW warehouse and I find my headlights would do credit to an anti-aircraft battery!

The journey does not begin well. I have not travelled more than 5 kms when I am punted up the rear by, of all things, a taxi, driven by….yes…a very polite man fromBangladesh! I give him a black (ha) look but, as the damage is insignificant, I decide to be magnanimous and do my bit for racial harmony! I head off due west on a cloudless day… into the setting sun. As it sinks lower it becomes very difficult to drive and I note that dozens of other more sensible (or senile?) citizens have pulled over. I plough on! A full moon, directly behind in the east, compounds the problem but it is a stunning and beautiful phenomenon not often encountered.

I depart Narrandera on another stunning, cloudless day. It’s the first day of spring and, far more importantly, my 67th birthday. Crossing the Hay plains, the tedium of driving this desolate stretch of theSturt Hwy. is enlivened by the numerous crows, kites and the occasional wedge-tail feasting on last night’s road-kill. This makes me hungry and I duck into Hay for a Maccas. Hay doesn’t have one! I settle for a bacon and egg roll in a café, whose ambience is compromised by the plastic flowers on my table which stand, not in a vase…. but in a roll of paper towel! My journey is frequently interrupted by….well what seems like at least 67 SMS’s wishing me Happy Birthday. I might be exaggerating of course… but at least…..7?

I arrive inAdelaideand head for Glenelg. Though still a palindrome, this beachside suburb is much changed from when I resided there in the early seventies. It’s now all high-rise and Sue Parker redeems herself with a well chosen and well appointed apartment block near the ocean, where most of us will stay. I have one complaint. My apartment sports a TV which even The Flintstones would eschew. I think it might even run on steam and in fact I never turn it on to find out! A lot ofSouth Australiais a bit behind the times…….including their web-site, where you can peruse all the results…. if you have a degree in IT….which I don’t!

The tournament will use four centres (of which more later) and we gather at the premier one,South Adelaide, to register. The place smells like badly run crematorium! We discover the centre was recently burgled, then set alight, with the loss of many items, including all the ACT promotional gear for 2013! Not a good start and I hope it will be the only ‘burglars’ I meet.

And so, after the Welcome Function, the Tournament begins. Of the ACT contingent, only 12 are in the Individual events. Our top men’s and women’s entrants are Brian Dunkley 60-64 Open and Clare Maunder 55-59 Open. With the greatest respect to the above (who would both cream me) it would have been good to see some of our ‘stars’ stepping up to the plate. Perhaps they will ‘Lob intoCanberraand Boast about It’ in 2013. On a similar note, the pink ‘promo’ shirts with the aforementioned logo are a very big hit. I have several offers, some hard to refuse, for the shirt off my back!

The Individuals is a case of ‘Take no Prisoners and Show no Mercy’ (or as Sue Parker was once heard to say, ‘Show no Prisoners and Take no Mercy’!). Brian Dunkley, Clare Maunder, Kareen Watt, Ron Smith, Richard Fry and Geoff Coggins all fall at the first hurdle and, after a brave start, Lynda Hancock, Sue Parker and I stumble and fall at the second.  Denis Mettam, Rhonda Fry and Debbie Sims are, however, made of sterner stuff and go onward and upward to become Australian (Divisional) Champions. AMSA Secretary Debbie Sims, competing in Div 4?!  (talk about influence in high places) manages to stagger through all her matches without dropping a game and my well meaning suggestion that she play left-handed, or perhaps even hold the racquet in her mouth, is met with a ‘Clare Glare’ of epic proportions.

So the ACT has the three above winners. Lynda Hancock is a Runner-Up, and Plates of various merit are collected by Geoff Coggins, Richard Fry and myself. Not too bad from a contingent of 12.

All the obligatory functions inAdelaideare to be held at the same venue! This seems a bit of a risk, but Morphettville Racecourse is just up the road from Glenelg and so quite handy for staggering home after a long hard night. At the Individuals dinner I simply don’t remember anything after about 10.30 when I embarked on a ‘tour of the room’ and had a drink at every table…..apparently?

The courts inAdelaideare good but the whole event lacks ‘atmosphere’. There seems to be no place where everyone can congregate and the catering is inadequate. The main complaint however is the blatantly obvious ‘segregation’ of events. All the top grades are held at the best venue,South Adelaide, while the ‘lower orders’ are consigned to the less prestigious centres. I consider all Masters players equal and the various grades should be spread between all centres, if only to enable ‘lower standard’ players to watch how it should be done! As this is my only real complaint of the tournament, and the error was substantially rectified for the Teams event, I don’t think we have much to complain about!

After a weekend of R&R for the ‘dirty dozen’, we are joined by the bulk of the ACT squad who arrive for the Teams. The format is 3 person Teams, preferably of mixed sex in 22 divisions and featuring a clever points system which ensures that every point in every game is counted to decide the winner of the match. There are no ‘dead rubbers’ and a team can lose 2 rubbers from 3 and yet still win the match! (Food for thought for our own ACT competition!)  This in fact happens in my own team on day one. Scotty and I lose narrowly but Porker flogs her opponent and we have our first win on the board! Better still, our opponents are unaware of the scoring system and think they have won…..Suffer!!

The above win takes place at the Viva Health and Fitness Centre, once, in my opinion, the best squash courts inAustralia…KidmanPark. This centre used to boast 14 courts but is now reduced to four, two of which double as a crèche. We play our matches to the accompaniment of screaming kids and the smell of pooey nappies, thankfully ameliorated by the occasional spray of Glen 20! InAdelaide, as in most cities, squash is struggling…..

During the week we attend another function at Morphettville Racecourse. The Wrinkleys Revue. In between courses at this dinner-dance, the various States and Territories are expected put on an act. These range from rude to crude and are not to everyone’s taste but they serve to amuse and to ‘bond’ and can be very funny. The ACT act is the finale´ and is simply superb. It’s a satirical political sketch with a huge cast in which Alan Martin looms large as Kevin Rudd. Brian Dunkley is a dead ringer for Paul Keating. Mike Hogan a passable Bob Hawke (even though he had his ‘silver bodgie’ wig on back to front!) and Wayne Bell a creditable Tony Abbot in his well filled out red ‘Speedo’s. They are all eclipsed however by Karreen Watt’s stunning performance as Julia. I had no idea Karreen has such a long nose….or such a huge arse! As the ACT’s sole act for several years I know that many rehearsals for 2013 will be needed to top this one. Well doneCanberra!

At the end of the week the ACT win 2 of the 10 Divisions contested. So, well done Martin Shannon, Julie Medway and David Baussmann in Div 7 and Tania Hancock, Vicki Caban and Lynda Hancock in Div 10. Tania pulls up lame with a strained fetlock but the team has already won….thankfully!

We also have 2 Runners-Up. Debbie Sims, Jenny Moylan and Rhonda Fry in Div 19 and Linda Barich, Ron Bates and Elaine Boxall (a ring-in from Tassie) in Div 21.

And well done too Alan Brownlee’s wife Rochelle (aka Thumbs)  who is flung in the deep-end when she maidfully offers to play for Tasmaniain Div 22. … her first ever squash match, and in borrowed shoes…to boot!

Once again we gather at the racecourse for the Teams Dinner where Brian Dunkley and Richard Fry receive their 10 year participation awards and AMSA Treasurer, Garry Irwin from NSW is made a Life Member of AMSA. In these days of throwing Life Memberships around like so much confetti, this one is well deserved.

After much dancing and drinking we say our farewells and make vague, hopeful or firm promises to all meet up again next year.

And so back toCanberra. I drive through the superb scenery of the Adelaide Hills, along the Chain of Ponds Road, with the gearbox and steering wheel in constant use and, after an hour of driving, I can still seeAdelaidebehind me! All this changes however as I crest the last rise and see the vast plain of the mightyMurraybasin stretching endlessly before me. The radio, set onAdelaide’s best station 102.3, blasts out as I drive along the now arrow straight road to the aptly named Walker Flat where I take ‘The Ferry Across the Murray’. I am the only car on this yesteryear punt and the gnarled old ferryman seems slightly sinister. I’m glad we are crossing theMurrayand not theStyx!

On (and on!) toward Berri where 102.3 finally fades to be replaced by Classic FM and a live coverage of this years Last Night of The Proms from the Royal Albert Hall. I sing ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ at the top of my voice. Yes, you can take the man out ofEnglandbut you can’t takeEnglandout of the man! On through Renmark with its splendid art-deco hotel, reputed to have the longest bar in the southern hemisphere. Mind you, as 4/5’s of humanity live (and drink!) in the northern hemisphere, this is not much to boast about.

Lunch in Loxton, winner of so manyTidyTownawards the place is positively antiseptic with its topiary enhanced shrubs gracing its two streets and adorning its single roundabout.

I plan to make Hay (ha) but just outside Balranald I have confrontation with a suicidal kangaroo who has decided that the 3.5 million acres of surrounding mallee scrub are boring and he wants to play in the street!. As I swerve violently to miss Mr Roo, I have a vision of Porkers 18 pairs of shoes (now supplemented by several cook-books) being mixed with minced roo and me somewhere in all the mix….. A shoe-roo pomelette? I decide to stop for the evening in the above one horse town. Balranald might indeed have one horse, but it lacks any restaurants other than the RSL… which is Chinese for God’s sake….and I would give anything for lamb cutlets…..

In the morning I cross the Murrumbidgeeand head out across the Hay plains. My progress is interrupted somewhat by the 500+ head of cattle which are being driven along this ‘long paddock’. It is a designated ‘stock route’ or course and for over 5 klm I thread my way through the herd. Sad, but much more romantic than going to the abattoir in a fleet of trucks! I am driving due east now with the sun directly behind me and I watch with some maliciousness the oncoming motorists with visors down and sunnies on. On through Junee, Cootamundra, Harden and Yass and into Canberra where I divest my poor old coupe´ of its load of other peoples shoes, books and squash gear before heading home. I finally roll up the drive at Traleewith 3475 klm added to the odometer…every one with a story to tell.  

Next year the AMSA Championships will be held inCanberra. I know only too well it is no easy task to organise and, it is very easy to criticize the other States’ efforts….. (and indeed your own!) Your participation in 2013 would be a great start……….your next chance will be in 2020 and you may not be here! So… there instead!