It’s farewell to MC Alan Thatcher

Final shout-out tonight as MC Alan Thatcher retires from Canary Wharf

After 20 incredible years at Canary Wharf, I will be hanging up the microphone after tonight’s final.

Following two bouts of Covid, I need to take a long break to sort out some health issues.

Tonight is sure to be an emotional occasion as we bring the curtain down on two decades of staging a tournament that has evolved into one of the world’s finest. With an Irish sponsor, and the final taking place on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s sure to be a celebration to remember.

I’ve even bought a new emerald green tie to wear on court.

I will walk away with so many special moments stored in my memory bank after 20 years of interviewing the world’s greatest squash stars on court in this magnificent East Wintergarden venue.

Down the years we have welcomed more than 60,000 spectators to Canary Wharf with sell-out crowds for most of those 20 editions.

Last night I was delighted to bump into an old friend who has made it here for the very first time.

Aussie ace Ricki Hill, now a jumbo jet pilot, featured in one of my first squash promotions around 40 years ago.

When Fosters Lager launched in the UK, I immediately offered them the chance to sponsor an England v Australia Test Series and Hilly teamed up with the great Chris Dittmar to play at six clubs in Hampshire on consecutive nights (winning every one of their matches against Portsmouth’s Bryan Patterson, the late John Le Lievre and his brother Richard, from Guernsey, and Martin Shaw, the Fair Oak No.1).

I was delighted to team up with Tim Garner, Peter Nicol and Angus Kirkland when the opportunity arose to launch the Canary Wharf Classic and we are indebted to the enormous workload undertaken each year by Tim to mastermind every aspect of the logistics with such finesse and forensic detail.

For my part, my interviewing style is to dig a little deeper with my questions to encourage players to deliver both knowledgeable and entertaining responses for the live audience at the venue and a worldwide army of viewers on SquashTV.

I know the crowds enjoy those special moments when players respond to the atmosphere and the occasion, and our chats turn into something special.

The great champions often become gifted speakers and we are fortunate that the vast majority of squash players are intelligent and articulate human beings, often blessed with a warm sense of humour.

I want to thank Tim for putting up with my ADHD for the past 20 years, and all the players who have joined me on the mic.

After tonight it’s Hand Out from me.