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Shot and a Ghost: A year in the brutal world of professional squash Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Rod Gilmour; 1st edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957139101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957139107
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 234,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amsterdamned on 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 By MattyBoyH on 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Loz on 31 Jan. 2012
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Weiran Zhang on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ax14shopper on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Danks on 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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Squash Rumours on 5 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
James Willstrop is one of those infuriating characters who, from afar, appears to cruise through life looking assured, confident, talented and ridiculously nice. Not my type at all, to be honest.
A bit like those robotic American collegiate golfers who all look, speak and play the same way. All sound bites and sugar. Yawn, yawn...bring me John Daly.
If I'm honest, that view of JW is based on the square route of bugger all. Never met the man, unlikely to do so. Seen him on the telly, watched him play on SquashTV, read a bit about him. That's enough. Great player, very pleasant...move on.
Enter Shot and a Ghost. Silly title, what's that all about? Well, actually, it's about quite a lot.
It's about a remarkable young man so complex, multi-layered and fragile of mind that a quick re-write of my take on him might be in order.
Turns out he is everything I admire and enjoy about sports stars, and people in general.
Bland, he ain't. Complex, interesting and insecure he most certainly is. As for honesty...this guy makes Abe Lincoln appear like a cheap car salesman from South London.
He is a driven man, no doubting that. The book will take you inside the mind of an incredibly gifted squash player who prepares and trains as hard and meticulously as any athlete on earth. Footballers fit? Do me a favour.
You are not left guessing what Willstrop thinks of his rivals. He certainly doesn't hide behind half-truths and PR speak when assessing World No.1 and arch foe Nick Matthew. There's respect, but delivered with gritty honesty laced with plenty of attitude.
His relationship with Malcolm Willstrop, father, coach, mentor and hero is revealing and engrossing.
Read more ›
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