The Beatles came to New Zealand in 1964 a fortnight before the Whangarei Tennis and Squash Club opened three new squash courts at clubrooms built in Tarewa Rd for 13,742 ($27,484).

More 1960s music was played in the building last weekend when the squash club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The club's immediate past president and reunion chairman, Alan Bee, said the golden jubilee drew only about 30 people so festivities had been scaled back.

"It was more like an informal club night. A few of the boys put a band together, we ate finger food and enjoyed the occasion," he said.


The "boys" - Malcolm Edwards on guitar, Bondi Cotton vocals and others on drums and saxophone - played tunes which would have been on the radio when the squash club was formed a half-century ago with the late Ted Eliott (Whangarei Mayor 1977-83) as president and Arthur Jones as secretary.

The main event of the evening was the presentation of life memberships to Ross Vickers and Karen Dykseul.

Mr Jones, now 84, had a major role in Whangarei becoming the 21st centre in New Zealand to set up courts for the then new and booming sport of squash.

He took the men's title and Neti Traill was top woman in the first championships played on the new courts in 1964.

Mr Jones held the title for three years and served 10 years as secretary, plus two as president. He was the first life member of the Northland District Squash Association, granted in 1979.

"I was 37 when I last won a title and I haven't played squash seriously since I had a hip replacement some time ago."

Mr Jones is still club patron and last year presented 50th championship trophies to Max Trimble and Abbie Palmer when he attended celebrations with the other living life members - John and Barbara Anderson, Judy Hill and Peter Gearing.

In November the Whangarei Squash Club was declared Whangarei District Sports Club of the Year and Northland Sports Club of the Year.

And it was a golden moment in December when then president Mr Bee accepted a trophy at an Auckland ceremony after the club was announced as New Zealand Squash Club of the Year.

Former world squash champion Dame Susan Devoy is expected today at the Northland open championships at the Tarewa Rd courts. She will be supporting her son Josh Oakley who, along with Max Trimble, is vying for a place in the national junior team to compete at the world championships.