Helter skelters to squash rackets

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SUNNY Vale will be remembered for a number of different reasons.

There will be those who will still be able to remember the carnival atmosphere with the amusements, fair ground rides, boating lakes and, of course, the children’s concert party members who used to appear every weekend on the wooden stage of the Alfresco Theatre.

Then there will be another generation that will remember the go-kart racing which was followed by stock cars in the 1960s and into the very early 1970s.

The thrills and spills that entertained a different type of audience, with the large crowds who attended which encouraged the owners of the time Bert and Alice Myers that it could be enough to revive the old place back to its earlier good fortunes. But it was not to be and Bert and his wife finally sold out.

Not long after the stock cars left Suny Vale had a welcome revival revival for the new owners – a squash club.

It was during the 1970s and then into the 1980s, long before the gyms and fitness centres became popular, the best way to keep fit was at a squash club.

But with the growth of alternative activities and the lack of TV coverage the game didn’t really take off as it had been hoped. In 1987 three per cent of young people over 16 played squash but by 2002 that figure had slipped to just one per cent.

After a successful time with the teams at Sunny Vale the decline in support eventually began to bite.

In this photograph taken in March 1984 members of the Sunny Vale second team were celebrating top spot in Division Three of the Calderdale Metro Squash League with a 100 per cent record winning all 22 matches and a massive 142 points and conceding only 12. This was a real bounce for the team having been relegated the year before.

The team was led by Garry Hope, who won all his matches, and Gordon Denham, who was unbeaten after coming in for Terry Webb. But the success was a real team effort, the first.