Fish Hoek Squash Club will host a cocktail evening for all past and present members, tomorrow, Friday May 13, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Celebrations will continue on Saturday May 14 with exhibition matches followed by a dinner dance.
“We want to celebrate the evolution of the club and all the members who have made it possible and contributed to help keep the club above water. It is an evening where people can catch up with old friends, renew old memories and make new ones,” said the club’s chairwoman, Vanessa Christensen.
The club was the brainchild of Howard Wood and Geoff Jones, who roped in Frank Guthrie and Tim Clampett, and a meeting was held in September 1970, with about 100 interested parties, at the old library in Beach Road.
According to a March 1979 newspaper clipping from the archives of the Fish Hoek Valley Museum, a man at the meeting said the club would be a “white elephant” when Mr Wood said: “We’ll be playing squash by the end of this year.”
Mr Wood became the club’s president, Mr Guthrie the chairman, and Mr Clampett the secretary. Terry Allen was treasurer and there were four additional committee members, Peter Von Maltitz, Clive Duffell, Bill Radloff and Geoff Jones.
By May 1971, the club had 70 interested members and the committee conducted an extensive study into the viability of squash courts.
The committee’s findings were submitted, together with a letter of motivation and projected budget, to the Fish Hoek council, which agreed to lend the club R16 000 for the first two courts, which are now courts three and four.
According to Mr Guthrie, the tender was awarded to Fish Hoek resident Hudson Cooper.
The courts were opened to members for play on December 22, 1971, but the club was officially opened on January 21, 1972, by councillor Morthland Cronwright.
At the inauguration, members were treated to a showcase of squash with four of the top players in the province – then Springbok Keith Coppin and Derek Becker, Woody Kaizer, and Ian Dowdswell.
Mr Guthrie said the game was “of a high standard and most entertaining”, and the committee agreed that Mr Coppin be made an honorary member of the club, a title he holds to this day.
In those early days, Mr Guthrie said, beers and cool drinks were kept in a bottle fridge with a latch and lock. The price per item was written on a sheet stuck onto the fridge and only members were given keys. Inside the fridge, he said, was a money box and members would help themselves and made sure their drinks were paid for.
“There was never a shortage of funds. In fact, there was always more money in the box than the drinks that had been taken.”
A further two courts, now courts two and five, with an entertainment area and bar, were later added which enabled the club to provide a venue for tournaments hosted by the Western Province Squash Association.
Funding was part of the “club’s life”, and the club was home to many social functions and Sunday “braais”.
Mr Guthrie said casino evenings were held there and the courts would sport blackjack, poker, and roulette tables.
For several years, Fish Hoek resident and former director of Tuna Marine Brian Cohen sponsored the prestigious pre-season Tuna Marine squash tournament for the leading provincial men, women, and veterans at Fish Hoek Squash Club. The names of the players were drawn from a hat to determine the order of play.
“It’s a very long time ago, but I remember it well, and it was a great pleasure for me to sponsor the club and work with my very dear friend Frank Guthrie who has now retired. I wish them well for the next half-century,” Mr Cohen said.
Mr Guthrie served four non-consecutive terms as chairman and said he was proud of how far the club had come.
The club now has 340 members of all ages. Ms Christensen said more than 80 of them had joined in the past year.
Visit fhsc.co.za for more information about the club.