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Jamie Maddox on Squash Stories, playing the game and Facebook

In 2010, Jamie Maddox decided to create a Facebook group, Squash Stories and since its inception, it now has 16,000 members and counting.

Jamie played as a professional, dabbled in coaching and now has a son who is a squash player himself.

Sportageous caught up with Jamie to talk about his passion project, Squash Stories, the future of Squash and more.

Jamie Maddox in action.
Jamie Maddox in action in his youth. Source: Supplied

Zushan Hashmi: Tell me a little bit about your squash background?

I didn’t start playing until 21 so I had a lot of ground to make up to be able to compete with the pro-level guys but in the end, I managed to play in the British Open on the show court at lambs in London which was a dream come true as I’d been a fan but never thought I’d get to play at that level, on that court, in that competition!

I was self-taught up until I had some sessions with John Le Lievre at the Village Hyde which at the time was one of the top Squash clubs in England. He refined my technique and made me think about the game in a different way.

I’ve been the club champion at all four clubs. I’ve played at and coached to a high level so I’m very happy with what I achieved as a player and coach coming into the game so late.

How about life away from squash?

I’m married with a son who is a talented Squash player and the Mrs. isn’t bad either! I make a living as a professional photographer shooting mainly property and lifestyle in the Manchester area and beyond.

I love music and attempt to play some of my favourite stuff on guitar but I’m pretty bad really.

When and why did you create the group Squash Stories (SS)?

I created Squash Stories around ten years ago just to tell a few humourous tales of my time playing Squash but didn’t think it would become as big as it is in a million years.

I will never please everybody of course but if I can get along with the vast majority then I know I must be doing things okay.

Is it now the most comprehensive squash group on Facebook?

Yes by far. There are a few others but their membership has been inflated by the admins by just adding people without their permission to get the numbers up which is a false economy and a sad way of going about things.

Not only does Squash Stories have a huge amount of legendary players and coaches it also has an active core of members who post very regularly which is unique to Squash Stories.

Did you ever expect it to become the success that it has?

No but I quickly realised that I had the right formula for making it a success. It needed someone who was/is enthusiastic enough about the game and its history to put the work in.

Squash Stories
Squash Stories. Source: Supplied

Someone who is still star struck when a legend joins the group but also knows enough about the game to talk on a level with them. I hope I’ve gained the respect of these people.

Most have seen me operate the group over a fairly long time and seen how I’ve handled quite a few ‘situations’ along the way.

I will never please everybody of course but if I can get along with the vast majority then I know I must be doing things okay.

READ: How to get your Squash fix during the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic

What does it require your end to manage the group regularly?

Just to keep a close and frequent eye on the posts and who’s joining and so on. I think my main strength is sussing people out. I can usually tell pretty quickly if there is a false profile or a troll at large so it runs smoothly most of the time.

A forum like SS only works well if there are people with different views to keep it healthy. A sanitised forum that only includes my pet ideals would be a disaster.

One of the very special aspects of Squash Stories is that it isn’t about selling anything or pushing a certain product. This gives me and my opinions far more clout as people know I’m being honest and not in someone’s back-pocket and for me that counts for an awful lot.

Is there anyone from the squash world who isn’t in the group?

We have some incredible legends for sure including the current World number one Mohamed Elshorbagy, but yes there are one or two squash people who aren’t in the group yet.

If there was one thing you could do differently what would it be?

Nothing. I’m very happy with all my decisions so far. The proof of the pudding is that the group continues to grow, I enjoy doing it and that is still very much the case.

It is obviously a passion project but has it ever enabled any monetisation opportunities?

Well, of course  but for the sake of selling some T-shirts with the SS logo on and making a few quid I feel the integrity of the group and my input would be devalued.

One of the very special aspects of SS is that it isn’t about selling anything or pushing a certain product. This gives me and my opinions far more clout as people know I’m being honest and not in someone’s back-pocket and for me that counts for an awful lot.

Again one of the reasons SS has grown so big and is so well-liked is that it isn’t about selling anything. It is purely for the love of Squash.

Jamie Maddox smiles.
Jamie Maddox. Source: Supplied

What in your opinion does squash need to do to grow outside of its community?

In this country (the UK) we need someone high-up in government to see and appreciate the health benefits of Squash and to then subsidise the sport instead of it being seen as a less-profitable use of space and give it the respect it deserves.

Also if TV exposure was more prominent the interest would grow. I’m not talking about the odd match. I mean proper regular exposure with features on the players, so that when the matches start the viewers know about who they are watching.

The big question that I cannot answer is how do these two things get to happen!

And how about particularly, but not limited to, the social media space?

I’m not sure what you mean, but if you mean the power of SS outside of Facebook then watch this space. Something very special could be on the cards when all the madness is over!


You can follow Jamie Maddox on Instagram.
Follow Squash Stories on Facebook here.
For more Squash related content, visit Sportageous.
The curation of this article was supported by Kinza Tahir. You can follow her here on Twitter.

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