Invented Sports – Episode 47 – Squarsh

Have you and your mates ever made up a game or activity? Did it catch on or was it merely a fleeting pastime? What follows is not a cock and bull story, but it is close to being one.

The Elizabeth Squash Centre was handily placed to our high school. The mid-70s PE regimen of quarry runs, 5-a-side soccer and bean bag tossing gave way to more enlightened options as we progressed through the grades, so we were all up for a weekly dose of squash when it was offered.

The squash itself was enjoyable enough (predictably, I was the crappest out of Dunny, Neil, Bucko, Hammo and me), but apart from singles, doubles or wall brandy, there wasn’t much variety.

Since we had the place to ourselves for those Wednesday arvos and were regarded as trustworthy (it’s all relative), there was no-one to suppress our youthful sense of silliness and reserves of energy.

To set the scene, the shower block in the Squash Centre was an open bank of four showers in a recess with hard walls at each end, maybe four metres across. This field of steams became the venue for the newly-invented pursuit of Squarsh.

solution Shower Block-Wall and Floor Repair
Where It All Began(?)

Squarsh (which may in fact be a name made up just for this article) was not a race or even a time trial but a test of endurance.

It required the competitor to

a) Lather their buttocks
b) Line up, backstroke-start style at one end of the shower recess
c) Push off the wall
d) Slide towards the other end on their behind
e) Reach the other end
f) Push off the wall
g) Etc

There were only two rules

1) No hands, feet OK
2) One competitor at a time please

The winner was the lad who completed the most laps of the shower recess before succumbing to the forces of friction by being stranded mid block.

It soon became apparent that they had been sold a pup in the shower floor tile department, as the tiny tessellated tiling felt like a cheese grater once the lathering ran out. Innovative use of the last minute swivel helped Dunny achieve the BOG in the bog award for his 3.75 lap effort.

It was a moot point as to whether the showers being on or off helped or hindered. This was never fully resolved.

As the weeks progressed, we tried to turn the event into a medley, but the other lads found that the face down strokes caused considerable undercarriage unease. Not sure why, but I didn’t have the same problem, maybe it was a technique thing.

Any attempts to broaden the uptake of this sport were thwarted by its limited spectator appeal. We toyed with the idea of asking the Elizabeth Swimming Centre to drain its Olympic-sized pool, which would have opened up the possibility of eight lanes of 50m Squarsh sprinting, starting at the shallow end. We would have sought sponsorship from Centrals; they could have had naming rights, after their recent acquisition from Hawthorn – the Chiron, no wait, the Gene Pool.

Sadly, our weeks of PE lessons at the Squash Centre came to a close, but at least we finished up safe in the knowledge that the sport of Squash (if not Squarsh) itself would flourish throughout the cities and suburbs of the world for the rest of our lives.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Bloody funny! being a bit younger than you Swish, my (sorry) story concerning the Elizabeth Squash Centre helped while the boring hours of school holidays – calling them up and ordering orange AND lemon.

  2. Swish- “undercarriage unease” is a dreadful affliction. No known cure.

    Great yarn. Unsupervised boys are the most creative group.

    We played bike brandy for a while, but of course if you missed the target, they rode off before you could get the ball, and were already a couple streets away. When you were ready to resume the attack it was a lonely experience. It was too dispiriting to be “it” so the game died a natural death. Mercifully, as the afternoon I had the ball, and could locate nobody, was among the worst thirty minutes of my life,

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Rabs. I have an interesting anecdote about the feisty Mr C, but best kept out of these pages.

    Mickey, tennis balls could be worse than tennis elbow.

  4. You should write a book about this stuff Swish.

  5. Swish- agree with JTH. A collected yarns set in Elizabeth- school tales, Holdens, CDFC, “the centre” etc all with the backdrop of the youngish, growing satellite city. You’ve got plenty of material. I’d read it.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    What, and give up showbiz?

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Swish.

    There’s an Almanac darts tournament, maybe there should be an Almanac squarsh tournament.

  8. Growing up in the undeveloped suburb of Morley on Perth’s then bushland fringe,there were plenty of things up to which you could get – away from disapproving eyes
    My favourite was an unnamed sport/activity/death wish which involved riding an old pushbike down a corduroy log ramp,standing up for speed purposes and to avoid any undercarriage uncertainties and launching into space above a sand quarry with a precipitous face. You then abandoned the bike in midair in order to land on said sand cliff in such a way as to not fill your face with the dark gray sand or to break your neck on the long tumble to the bottom.The bike had a long rope attached which you had to avoid as you rode,as you flew or landed,which was used to retrieve said machine.
    As a combination of skill ,thrill and avoidance of injury it was hard to beat.
    Sadly an older sister of one of my mates,curious as to why he came back from a day with his friends so utterly filthy,followed him one day and dobbed on us all.The ramp was dismantled,the bike confiscated and we were banned from such dangerous activities.This led to the formation of the corrugated iron canoe club that sailed on the fresh water swamps that are now covered by the northern suburbs of Perth,but that’s quite another story

  9. Sorry Mickey R, but having grown up in the ‘Beff too I’m at a loss at the is place you call “The Centre”. Maybe you mean the Lisbeff Town Cenna?

  10. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Very amusing great stuff , Swish love your ability to tell a story from your youth

  11. Well yes Rabid Dog. As the yoof say, “My bad.”

    Fremont Park and Carisbrooke Reserve would surely host their own chapters.

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