BRIEF HISTORY OF GROVE PARK
The story of Grove Park from it's foundation in 1970 to the present day.
See some of the titles which teams from Grove Park have won since it's foundation.
FIRST TEAM RECORDS
A record of how the teams have faired in the leagues over the years.
Including Grove Park Newsletters between 1980-87 and various old photo etc.
|| In The Beginning | The Heydays | The Modern Era | Success In New Millennium ||
IN THE BEGINNING
Squash first came to Grove Park in the late sixties. It came about as a result of an amalgamation of Manchester Rugby Club and Cheadle Hulme Cricket Club, on the 1st September 1967, to secure both their futures. The clubs had both had a long and successful history dating back to the nineteenth century.
In fact Manchester Rugby Club is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world, founded in 1860 as Manchester Football Club (though curiously it has only ever played rugby), it played an important role in the formation of the game, supplying both administrators and players. In the first ever international match, England v Scotland, at Edinburgh in 1871, four of the England XV came from Manchester.
(You can learn more about the history of Manchester Rugby Club on their website)
The former grounds of the two clubs were sold to purchase 22 acres of fallow field on the edge of Cheadle Hulme and by 1970 had been transformed in to Grove Park. The move to Grove Park saw the introduction of both squash and badminton.
The Grove Park Squash Club started with just two courts, the current number 2 and 3 courts. Membership was oversubscribed almost immediately, and it was not long, due to the success, that the building of two further courts was sanctioned. These courts, now numbers 4 and 5, were completed during 1974. With the excellent facilities now offered at Grove Park, the increased membership for the new courts was taken up at once.
Although comparatively still a young club the playing standard for both men and women had reached a high standard. Indeed, in 1974 the first of many league titles were claimed when the 1st and 2nd teams (pictured above) won the 3 South East and 4 South East leagues respectively. The number of club teams increased and the internal league system began to flourish. It was not long before the squash facilities expanded again.
In 1977 two further courts were added, the number 1 glass backed show court and number 6 court. Number 6 court is dual purpose in that it has the capability of being turned into a 150 seat auditorium for watching top class squash on court number 1. This novel seating system is regularly used to watch men's first team matches and has been used for super league matches and rounds of major tournaments. It was around this time the membership peaked at a staggering 720 members (not including a large junior section), the maximum allowed by the SRA for 6 courts.
THE MODERN ERA
Many smaller improvements have since been made to the facilities, however in 1997 a commitment was made to fully refurnish one of the courts every year for the next 5 years. That commitment has resulted in the new coloured walls for courts number 1, 5 and in the summer of 2001 court number 4.
Somethings though have stayed the same over the years at Grove Park, most notably Graham Gilbert who was a founder member of the club and was once a regular member of the first team (see photographic proof above). Always wearing his Green Flash pumps he has been playing (and throwing his racquet) regularly ever since. However, as yet there are no plans to refurnish him in the summer (unless of course we get some lottery funding.)
Along with squash in general the total number of members has reduced considerably since the heydays of the seventies and early eighties. However the strength of the teams has steadily increased, adding three new teams during the nineties. We can now boast eleven men's teams and are represented in every division of the North West Counties Squash League, including two teams in each of the 2nd and 3rd divisions and three in the 4th and 5th. The first team has been in Division One for many years and has regularly finished in the top few places, but has yet to win the championship. The lower teams have won their leagues and divisions on numerous occasions over the years.
The ladies team has been a long standing member of the Cheshire Ladies 1st division, winning the league on numerous occasions in the early eighties. After gradually losing teams in the nineties they have recently added a second team and have aspirations to continue their resurgence by adding a third.
SUCCESS IN NEW MILLENNIUM
2001 saw great success for Grove Park as they almost made a clean sweep of the Cheshire County competitions with success in the individual as well as team events. All three of our teams made it to the finals of the Cheshire Cup and came home with both the men's and the ladies' trophies in the main events. The Cheshire Challenge team came runner-up in the event for Division 3 players and below. It was the fifth time Grove Park had won the Men's Cheshire Cup and the first time for the Ladies team. To round off a fantastic year, long standing members Patrick Foster and Susan Dalrymple won the Cheshire County Closed Championships in the senior Men's and Ladies' events respectively.
In 2002 the Ladies team retained the Cheshire Cup and the Men's second team won the NWCSL Division 2 but declined the chance of joining the first team in the top division.
2003 saw the First Team desperately, just miss out on their first NWCSL Division One title. It came down to the very last match of the season against their title rivals, The Northern. After a hard fought match in front of a packed crowd Grove Park came out 3-2 winners, but despite being level on points Northern awarded the Title on count back.
The Cheshire Cup was regained in 2005 after losing in the final, in two consecutive years previous. The third team comfortably won Grove Park's twenty second league title (3 South East) and subsequently went on to win the overall Division 3 Championship for the first time in Grove Park history.