08/10/2014 06:24 BST | Updated 05/12/2014 05:59 GMT

Around the Sport Scene in September

If readers have a spare hour and a half, they could do worse than to have a look at 'Marvellous', a one off drama aired on the BBC the week before last, with a central narrative involving a football club and a charismatic kit man.

Neil Baldwin, described as having 'learning difficulties', is about the most positive bloke on earth, and with the ultimate get-up-and-go attitude which at first seems plain delusional, he manoeuvres himself in to all sorts of places. He meets Tony Benn at Westminster, wangles a job at Keele University, and implausibly after a meeting with new boss Lou Macari outside Stoke City's ground, is offered the job of kit man.

It's a most unlikely story that no one with sporting interest will want to miss. Witty, moving and perfectly judged, Toby Jones' leading performance is as mesmerising as his midlands accent.


Friday before last I was invited, along with a group of Leeds Commonwealth Games medallists, by The Lord Mayor and all at the City Council to a reception at the Civic Hall. There were eight athletes, and we raised a toast to the city's resounding success, which I believe it was claimed stood us in a very healthy position in the medal table by the end. It was a nice touch to be able to celebrate this, and the occasion was given more clout of course when superstar TV celebrity Tanya Arnold joined proceedings. She was the only person there whose name was remembered by the photographer, who kept calling me Phil.

Each athlete it seemed was proud to represent Leeds and to be able to call the city a home.

It's been a memorable sporting summer, and whilst it could be hard to repeat, Leeds and the surrounding region can claim a gaggle of superb athletes who have the potential to repeat.


Shanghai in September was the last stop for me on the professional squash tour before hip surgery. The China Open was an upgraded event this time, and a new and untapped destination for the world squash tour. The women have had big events there before but this was new territory for the boys, and as soon as I saw this event come on to the calendar I was keen to play it.

China for whatever reason is not a big mover in squash, and so everyone is thrilled to see more extensive activity in Shanghai. Hopefully this can give the game a boost, and the squash communities here, fairly small as they are at present, can build some enthusiasm and interest.

If the setting was anything to go by then future inspiration shouldn't be hard to summon. Franco Amadei was in charge of the event, and he revealed his unbelievable vision to get to this stage. This vision, which first came to him a year or so ago, was to place the spectacular glass court on the 11th floor of the Peninsula Hotel, overlooking the vibrant Bund in the city. This staggering hotel was our home for the week and honestly all the players couldn't believe their luck. The Peninsula is gorgeous, and the hotel's sponsorship of this event has been greatly appreciated. The backdrop around the court was as good as it gets in squash; the view over Shanghai quite something and it stands in the same bracket as the great iconic venues the world over.

Happily for me I write this column having won the event, my first tournament win for a while. I played the final against my England compatriot Peter Barker and won 3-2 in nearly 100 minutes of tough play. The women's event was won in another five set final by Low Wee Wern from Malaysia, who beat Camille Serme from France.

A superb event in Shanghai, and here's to one or two more...