End of an era but an exciting new beginning ...
Posted by James Roberts at 00:53, February 3 2013.
Taken from England Squash and Racketball
Every month for over 30 years, a member of staff at Friary Grange Leisure centre has posted up squash league tables on the noticeboard, and then at the end of the month once the matches had been played and scores marked up, had to undertake some arithmetic to establish rankings and sort new tables. Well, this is no more, thanks to Lichfield Squash Club, who over the past 9 months has been operating a successful online squash league.
Before the club was set up in March last year, Friary Grange Squash League represented the only organised competitive squash available to squash players across the city. In the heady days of the 1980s when squash was at its peak in terms of its profile, the League was a hive of activity, with over 25 divisions, and booking a court was like trying to obtain Glastonbury tickets. However, with squash fading somewhat into obscurity, the League had steadily declined to the point where today only 5 divisions remain, with only 3 staying reasonably active.
This steady decline in organised competitive squash was one of the main motivations for the club being set up last year and indeed, since then, the club has gone from strength to strength, with an online league of 5 active divisions, as well as a series of regular events, coaching sessions and trips to watch professional squash. Indeed, the majority of the Friary players had already joined the club and a merger of the two leagues to one covering the city at both venues (King Edward VI and Friary Grange) seemed the logical next step.
This merger has now taken place, with the first combined league starting on 1st February, running until 17th March. This has led to the addition of many new players into the Club league, which now numbers 8 divisions of 6 players. The league consists of 2 Premier Divisions, where the 'point a rally' (PAR) scoring to 11 points as used by the professional game will be used for the first time, and 6 Standard Divisions which will retain the traditional 'hand in hand out' scoring system. The top 2 players from each division will be promoted at the end of each league, with the bottom 2 relegated. As an added incentive, prizes will be awarded by the club to each division winner at the end of each monthly league.
The league operates via the Club's website at www.lichfieldsquash.co.uk using a plug in utility called In-Zone. Each player is provided with a log in profile and enters their scores via In-Zone, which then automatically ranks the players and carries out the reconfiguration at the end of each league period.
Club Chairman James Roberts commented "The online league has been the beating heart of our club since we formed in March last year and has proved very popular with our members. It was such a shame watching the slow demise of the old Friary League and in some ways, the Club has been contributing to this by providing an alternative format. We therefore decided it made sense to merge the two formats in order to provide all players across the city with the same opportunity to compete in a thriving league.
James continued "Our online system is very convenient and easy to use, plus fully automates the whole administration of the leagues, with players able to arrange their games and enter their scores online and league rankings being updated as scores are entered. The addition of the new players will undoubtedly increase the competitiveness of the new league and we hope will provide us with a stronger platform from which we can continue to increase squash participation in Lichfield in the way we have since March last year."
The Club has also just set up a squash ladder system to provide an additional platform through which members can play competitive squash, without the need to play a set number of games over a given period. It is hoped in particular that beginners and less experienced members will use this as an opportunity to gain an introduction to more competitive games in addition to their regular friendly matches.