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Shot and a Ghost: a year in the brutal world of professional squash [Kindle Edition]

James Willstrop , Rod Gilmour
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

James Willstrop is one of the world’s leading squash players and one of the sport’s most complex and cerebral characters.

Brought up in Pontefract, UK, he is anything but the archetypal Yorkshireman - a poetry-loving vegetarian with a love of musicals, Morrissey, Oscar Wilde and Philip Larkin.

Fiercely competitive yet renowned for his sportsmanship, he became the world number one in January 2012 despite being accused by many of being ‘too nice’ to be a winner.

At the age of 28 James has just written his first book - a diary style account from January 2010 to February 2011 - which provides a fascinating insight into the life and pressures of an international athlete competing in a sport that takes him all over the world.

As critical of himself as of others, he talks openly about his close relationship with his father and coach, Malcolm; the devastating death of his mother, Lesley; and his fierce and often acrimonious rivalry with fellow Yorkshireman and former world number one Nick Matthew.

His account of sometimes brutal training sessions reveal the pain and dedication necessary to compete at the top of one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports.

Acclaim for ‘A Shot and a Ghost’:

"There aren't many sports book that I read and feel the sportsman himself jumps off the pages. James' book shows the stresses of top level sport on and off the court. A great read."
Matt Pinsent, BBC Sport and four times Olympic gold medalist

"Willstrop is a very different sort of British sporting hero: a militant vegetarian, lover of musicals, obsessive-compulsive with a constant need to wash his hands and a man who had been coached from childhood by his father. Yet he is also one of Britain's finest ever racket sports players and in this fascinating autobiography, he reveals his journey from the cold municipal courts of Pontefract, through crippling injury and personal despair to the world
No 1 ranking in squash. A sportsman who deserves greater publicity than he gets"
Patrick Kidd, The Times


Product Description

From the Back Cover

Funny, sad and uplifting, Shot and a Ghost is the story of one extraordinary year in the life of top squash player James Willstrop.

In a unique insight, Willstrop pulls no punches on the demands of being one of England's top squash players: the globe-trotting, the loneliness and the tremendous highs and lows.

A must for any sports fan, Willstrop reveals his inner-most thoughts as he attempts to progress from a medal-laden junior career to winning the sport's greatest prizes.

He talks candidly about playing world-class sport as a vegan, his off-court relationships with his girlfriend and father, the rigorous training and the problems he faced carrying on after the death of his mother from cancer.

About the Author

James Willstrop was born in Norfolk in 1983 before moving to Yorkshire. He is a former world junior champion, became world No 1 in the January 2012 rankings and has won over 80 caps for England. He writes a regular column for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Rod Gilmour is a sports journalist at The Daily Telegraph. He has written on squash since 2008 and will relish the day when the IOC vote the sport onto the Olympic programme.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 460 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072OMOPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #101,919 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 11-3 to Willstrop 26 May 2012
Format:Paperback
One of the great things about professional squash is its accessibility. Even from my own lowly club squash position I have met and interacted with many of the people in the book. Squash currently has none of the standoffishness which big money would bring to the sport, and it removes the barriers between the professionals and the mere mortals. This makes a book like this much more interesting for the average player than a book, for example, about a celebrity football player would for a club football player.

Willstrop writes openly and sincerely about the life of a professional squash player, and he doesn't write at all badly. It's been a while since I was this engrossed in a book. That said, if I were to be overly critical, I have a couple of niggles. When you're slumped on the sofa with a packet of crisps, the in-depth descriptions of the various physical jerks and shot-by-shot replays of major matches are a little tiring and a tadette tedious. I would also have appreciated more mention and understanding of the rôle played by the referees - the players think they have it tough! They don't have to put up with the petulent hissy-fits that players of every level who have never read the rules put the referees through! But that's understandable - I'm a referee ...

In all honesty I can't imagine that people who have not played squash would enjoy this book - most of it would not mean much to them, from the title onwards. But if you play squash chances are you'll enjoy this. Good job James!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any squash or true sports fan. 8 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a read and insight into the professional game at the highest level. Despite being a pretty handy player in my youth and growing up with some of the names mentioned in this book it really is a gripping and refreshing read. The honesty and true feelings laid bare are a credit to a top English sportsman whi is still plying his trade. Not only do you feel his joy, pain and sorrow you are willing him on by the end of the book and only disappointed that it's finished. Buy it, learn about and support someone who should be a well known and respected national hero. Simple.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In-depth and no holds barred 23 Feb. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a fantastic snap-shot account of the life of Willstrop on maybe his most erratic season on tour, I highly recommend reading this if you're interested in reading about all the aspects of the sport, from the day-to-day slog of training to playing in the World Open finals.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare and engrossing insight 31 Jan. 2012
By Loz
Format:Kindle Edition
This biography/diary offers a rare and insightful look at life on and off the court as well as shedding some light on the emotions before, during and after a match. The fact that James is still very much at the top of his games means that you can connect what you read to what you may have just seen! There are many areas covered including the trials and tribulations of keeping fit & healthy (makes me wince just reading about it) as well as having to face up to your nemesis! A cracking and fascinating read Squash fan or not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts of a great champion in the squash world 5 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a squash player myself and seen James play many times in tournaments around the world, this was a unique opportunity to understand what he goes through, at each event, the physical and mental preparation, the heavy demands on the body, the injuries, but what I felt was very touching was the disappointments in the losses and more importantly the sadness of the man after losing his mother to cancer, something which I am also familiar with.
What you are left with is a stunning athlete, a decent human being, a good man intelligent and very likable character.
I loved the book so much it is one I will read over and over again to remind me that life is tough and you do the best you can whatever life throws at you.
Thank you James I am inspired by you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally... 26 Mar. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a big squash fan I have been waiting for a well written autobiog for a long time. This was a great read, very similar to a year in the centre by BoD, but much more engrossing. Willstrop's writing is accessible and the timeline is well structured through flashbacks to key time points in his life.
I couldn't help wanting a bit more on tactics against players and the development of his unique playing style, but I suppose it's not a coaching manual.
Most enjoyable was reading about those matches that I had watched on psalive, especially Canary W '10, and the world open final, where you get a shocking insight into how his mind and body were working at the time of play.
The "brutal" description is bang on, mentally and physically. Really hope this gains more publicity for a fantastic sport! Sequel please!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read 31 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A year in the Brutal life of a squash player, No holding back here and a real insight into the life of an elite athlete, the ups and downs, warts and all. I was surprised in places how frank and honest James has been with his own state of mind and thoughts and was thoroughly gripped. I would highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest recollection of a year in squash 6 Sept. 2012
By Chris H
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Felt like a really honest and open account of a year as a top squash professional. No thought or feeling is left out. My only gripe would be that it doesn't cover 2011 - 2012 when Willstrop was winning plenty of titles... talk about unlucky timing on when to write the book! Well worth a read for any squash fan.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like sports books or just squash you will like this
If you like sports books or just squash you will like this. I have played squash and so enjoyed it more for that reason.
Published 3 months ago by ashley pascoe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 4 months ago by margaret phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read for any squash player and something more valuable than most sport biographies.
Published 5 months ago by Mac D
4.0 out of 5 stars injuries and good times, personal highs and lows
I have known James since he was born and watched his career closely, together with the support he has had from Malcolm. Read more
Published 7 months ago by deejay
5.0 out of 5 stars sqaush
love squash love this book as intense as the game, guy is really different for a great champion very vunerable
Published 15 months ago by Pr Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldmine for sports psychologists
My knowledge of squash goes no further than playing three or four games a year. I certainly don't know what nicking or ghosting is. But it doesn't really matter. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Sport Nut
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly eye-opening
Had read this in the hope that it would prove to be inspirational for my 13 yo son, and it will be. Just wish that self-doubt and focus on ailments had played less of a major part... Read more
Published 20 months ago by SBD
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
i am an avid squash player and have met james willstrop on a couple of occasions.I was inspired by his dedication to the sport and how he portrays himself as a role model to any up... Read more
Published 20 months ago by JOHN MCCARTAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Enjoyed the book a lot and enjoyed the honesty with which James discusses the sport and his personal performance. Was actually a bit disappointed when I finished reading it. Read more
Published 22 months ago by DH
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I enjoyed reading this book. Willstrop gives a fair account of himself, both strengths and weaknesses are explored and the world of a squash pro is revealed a little.
Published 23 months ago by DoubleDot
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