Moray squash stalwart David Taylor has two goals in mind for 2021 as he sets his sights on getting Scottish Squash’s junior development programme up and running again in the area and competing at the European Masters in Edinburgh.
The 66 year-old, who was recognised for his services to squash by receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Scottish Squash annual awards evening in September, oversees the Going for Gold programme at Forres Squash Club and is keen to get the programme back on track after Covid-19 stopped it in its tracks.
Before the virus struck, Taylor was coaching up to 50 primary school kids a week.
He said: “Coaching is my real passion.
“I used to get on court seven days a week, helping coach and encouraging participation wherever I could in the likes of Elgin, Nairn, Inverness, Kinloss and Forres.
“I just love being involved in the sport and will continue to play and coach as long as I can.
“It’s a big part of my life and I’m extremely grateful to have made so many great friends through squash.”
The HISA honorary president remains a prominent player on the Masters circuit having captained and represented Scotland at various Home International Masters events.
He was due to captain Scotland’s over-65 men’s team at this year’s postponed Home Internationals but has now set his sights on competing at the European Masters Championships which take place in Edinburgh next June.
The Forres Squash Club chairman and coach added: “Having the 2021 European Masters in Scotland is a real bonus, especially given the current situation with the pandemic.
“I’ll set that as a big target in my own training, although I’m more determined to get the kids back on the Going for Gold programme and making up for lost time.”
Taylor has given his life to squad but he owes his love of the game to a chance encounter back in 1973.
Back then, the Forres teenager was a below average badminton player, an above average footballer and had not set foot on a squash court before.
Playing squash had not even crossed his mind before a meeting at Forres community centre saw him persuaded on to a court.
It was a moment Taylor believes changed his life.
He said: “I was just sitting having a coffee in the community centre when, before you know it, I was running around a squash court.
“A man’s playing partner had failed to turn up and so he was asking around to see if anyone could play squash.
“I told him I had never tried before, but probably could. So he got me on court and it took off from there.
“I never looked back. Within five weeks I was playing my first competitive match and, even though I lost 27-0, I was hooked on the sport.”
Fast forward to 2020 and David was recently a recipient of a lifetime achievement award and it is easy to see why.
He helped set-up a local squash team, eventually becoming their star performer in the Moray Firth League.
Within three years he was the North of Scotland men’s individual champion, a title he won a further six times and, in the 1980s, he helped Forres qualify for the National Leagues – the first northern club to do so.
Over the years he continued to play squash while turning out for Highland League football clubs including Lossiemouth, Caley and Forres Mechanics.
But it’s what he has achieved in helping grow squash in the north of Scotland which he’s most proud of.
He became chairman of the Highland and Islands Squash Association (HISA) at a young age with the ambition to increase squash participation in the region.
This ambition was achieved with the establishment of local squash leagues over the decades for juniors, women’s and men’s teams.