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G.O.A.T: The Contenders 1960-1979 - Part One

Over the coming weeks, we’re giving you the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we take a look at the achievements and legacy of some of the most recognised names ever to take to a squash court.

Last week we looked at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts before 1960 in part one of our public vote.

Vote for the greatest players from the pre-1960s.

We’ve now moved on to cover the era spanning between 1960-1979 and will highlight the achievements of several different players to have competed during that era before we ask you to determine the top players in a public vote at the end of the week.

Jonah Barrington

Nationality: Irish
British Open Title Wins: 6
British Open Final Defeats: 0

The man who changed the face of squash, Jonah Barrington is a pioneer and visionary who brought about the birth of professionalism in the sport and his impact and legacy lives on to this day, over 45 years since he lifted his last British Open title.

Barrington was squash’s first full-time player at a time when there was no real professional tour to speak of and no television coverage, but he was a one-man driving force that dragged the sport from obscurity into mainstream consciousness.

A university drop-out, Barrington went through an epiphany in his mid-twenties and, under the tutelage of legendary coach Nasrullah Khan, began his path towards international stardom.

Barrington captured his maiden British Open title at the age of 25 in 1967 – becoming the first Brit to win it since 1938 – and won the iconic tournament five more times over the next six years, beating his great rival Geoff Hunt in two of the finals.

In 1973, Barrington set up the Professional Players’ Association – which laid the groundwork for the modern-day Professional Squash Association – and chaired the association for eight years, during which time playing numbers, sponsorship opportunities and television coverage increased significantly.

Barrington’s influence on the game is unparalleled; he invented the ‘ghosting’ training method that is widely used by today’s players and his desire to improve was unflinching.

Such was his incredible energy levels and mental fortitude, Barrington won many of his matches by outlasting his opponents and his physical approach and consistent hitting to the back helped to create huge pressure on his opponents.

Barrington remained amongst the world’s top 10 until he was 40.

Since hanging up his racket, Barrington served as President of the Squash Rackets Association for several years and has also mentored current World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

Geoff Hunt

Nationality: Australian
World Championship Title Wins: 4
World Championship Final Defeats: 1
British Open Title Wins: 8
British Open Final Defeats: 2

The most prolific Australian male of all time, Geoff Hunt enjoyed a captivating rivalry with Jonah Barrington in the nascent stages of his career before going on to cement himself as one of the greatest players ever to play the sport, with four World Championship titles and eight British Open wins capping a lengthy list of honours for the man from Melbourne.

Hunt began playing squash at the age of 12 and quickly made a name for himself as one to watch as he took the honours at the 1967 World Amateur Championships before his 21st birthday while he would win that tournament twice more over the next four years.

He then broke through on the professional stage with a British Open final win over compatriot Cam Namcarrow, winning 3-0, before final defeats to Barrington in 1970 and 1972 – the latter seeing Barrington recover from a 9-0 first game loss – saw him miss out on lifting the prestigious title for a second time.

He reached the final once again in 1974 where an injury to Mo Yasin handed him his second British Open crown and he dominated the tournament between 1976-1981 as he captured six successive titles at the sport’s longest-running tournament – putting him second on the list of all-time winners.

Hunt also has the distinction of winning squash’s first ever World Championship in 1976. That 3-2 win over Pakistan’s Mohibullah Khan kicked off a run that saw him claim a trio of World Championships in succession, with Khan’s compatriot, Qamar Zaman, falling in two of the finals.

Hunt captured his last World Championship crown in 1980 at the age of 33 – again beating Zaman – and he signed off from the sport’s biggest tournament with a final defeat to Pakistani legend Jahangir Khan the following year.

In addition to being inducted into the Australian Sport Hall of Fame, Hunt has also been rewarded for his services to squash, receiving an MBE, while he has progressed into coaching since hanging up his racket.

Hunt is currently Head Coach at the Aspire sports academy in Qatar, which has produced World No.33 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.

Heather McKay

Nationality: Australian
World Championship Title Wins: 1
World Championship Final Defeats: 0
British Open Title Wins: 16
British Open Final Defeats: 0

Heather McKay was one of the most unstoppable forces squash – and sport as a whole – has ever seen, with the irrepressible Australian losing just two matches in an extraordinary career which saw her lift a record 16 British Open titles in a row, while she was also the winner of the first ever women’s World Championships.

McKay’s two defeats came first in 1960 – to Yvonne West in the New South Wales Championship and in 1962 – to Fran Marshall in the Scottish Open final – with Marshall later saying that McKay, speaking in the changing room afterwards, vowed no one would ever beat her again.

And she stayed true to her word, going 19 years without defeat in competitive squash until her retirement in 1981. Despite standing at just five feet six inches and having a habit of chain-smoking, McKay’s physicality and hard-hitting ability enabled her to power past most her opponents, while she developed her racket skills considerably as her dominance grew.

The year of her defeat to Marshall, McKay embarked on an unprecedented run that saw her topple all before her as she avenged that Scottish Open defeat to Marshall by defeating the Englishwoman to capture her maiden British Open title.

Incredibly, McKay never lost a single game in the 16 British Open finals she won – dropping just 7 points per match on average – and she overcame compatriot Bev Johnson without losing a solitary point in the 1968 final.

Her final British Open appearances came at the 1977 edition – where she overcame Barbara Wall – and she returned to the court for the inaugural Women’s World Championship in 1979 where, at the age of 38, she dispatched England’s Sue Cogswell.

McKay’s book, Heather McKay’s Complete Book of Squash, was published later that year while she was also recognised with an Order of Australia (AM) to go with her Member of the British Empire (MBE) from 10 years earlier.

McKay was also talented at field hockey – where she was a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team – and racquetball, where she won multiple honours.

Sue King
Nationality: Australian
British Open Title Wins: 1
British Open Final Defeats: 1

Sue King enjoyed a distinguished career that saw her claim a British Open title and captain her country at the first Women’s World Teams Championships.

King was involved with the sport from an early age – her father built the Moorfield Squash Centre in Sydney – but she initially stayed away from actually playing the sport and instead swept the courts for pocket money.

A challenge from a patron during Christmas drinks at the club led to King picking up a racket for the first time at the age of 13 and from that moment she embarked on a run to the upper echelons of the sport.

King won her first major title at the age of 18 as she won both the New South Wales and Australian Junior Opens and she added the Australian Amateur Championship to her collection in 1975 and 1976 to become the first woman to win both the national junior and senior tournaments.

King was beaten by McKay in the British Open final in the latter of those two years but came back in 1978 as she overcame fellow Aussie Vicki Cardwell to capture the iconic title.

She has had a lengthy involvement with US Squash – hosting many tours from the US to Australia and vice-versa – while she was awarded the Order of Australia in 1999.

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