HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION
Originally Compiled by the late John Freeman
Updated by the late John Freeman 25 June 2013
Records prior to 1966-67 are very sketchy or non existent. This history has been compiled mainly from personal records held by the late President, John Freeman and from handbooks of affiliated Leagues.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ASSOCIATION AND CONSTITUTION
The Association was founded in 1949. The officers for the first year 1949-50 were: Chairman Capt. J R Moore, Secretary K E Eggington, Treasurer K E Eggington, and ETTA Rep Ken J Stanley.
The Association was originally named Berkshire Table Tennis Association. The name was officially changed in 1969 to Royal County of Berkshire Table Tennis Association.
The Association originally consisted of four affiliated Local Leagues viz. Didcot (founded 1949), Maidenhead (founded 1947), Newbury (founded 1934) and Reading (founded 1924). Bracknell was founded in 1956. Following changes to administrative county boundaries in 1974, Didcot later changed its affiliation to Oxfordshire but under ETTA Rules Slough elected to remain in the table tennis county of Buckinghamshire. There are now four affiliated Local Leagues.
Before the Association was founded in 1949, Reading ran Mens and Ladies Singles Championships for all towns in Berkshire. Mens Doubles, Ladies Doubles Mixed Doubles and Junior Singles started in 1951-52. Since then other events have been added and some discontinued or not run.
Until 1973-74 the Towns staged the Closed Championships each year in turn although not all towns always exercised this privilege. From 1974-75 the Association itself has staged the Championships when held.
BERKSHIRE LEAGUE COMPETITION
It is not known when this competition first started but in the years before 1978-79 the Towns competed on a home and away basis over the necessary number of weekends. As from 1978-79 the competition has been run on one or two days where all Towns play one another in a number of events. Points are awarded for team places in each division and the Town scoring the most points wins the large hall marked silver cup donated by Barbara Peisley awarded "to commemorate her feat in winning the Daily Mirror National Junior Championship in 1956-57".
The Association has had the following successes in the ETTA County Championships:-
Senior Team: Winners Southern Division 1953-54, 1955-56 and 1971-72.
Senior First Team: Winners Division 2 West 1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77. At the Promotion Challenge Matches held on 30 April-1 May 1997 the team finished in first position to gain a place in the Premier Division for the first time in 1977-78. Winners Division 2 West 1979-80 and 1980-81 and at the Promotion Challenge Matches the team finished in first place and were again promoted to the Premier Division. In 1981-82 ended the season in third place in the Premier Division the highest place ever achieved at the time. Winners Division 2B 1983-84 and automatically promoted to the Premier Division for 1984-85. Winners Premier Division 1995-96 for the first time in the history of the Association. Winners Division 1B 2005-06 and automatically promoted to the Premier Division. Winners Division 1B 2008-09 and automatically promoted to the Premier Division for 2009-10.
Senior Second Team: Winners Division 3 West 1977-78. Winners Division 2D 1991-92.
Junior First Team: Winners Junior West Division 1973-74. At the Promotion Challenge Matches the team finished second to Lancashire to secure a place in the Junior Premier Division in 1974-75. Winners Junior Division 1B 1990-91 and promoted to the Junior Premier Division for 1991-92. Having been relegated, Winners Junior Division 1 1992-93 and promoted to the Junior Premier Division for 1993-94 and in that year Winners Junior Premier Division for the first time in the history of the Association. Winners Junior Division 2D 1996-97. Winners Junior Division 2B 1999-00. Winners Junior Division 2D 2009/10. Winners Junior Division 1B 2010-11 and promoted to Junior Premier Division for 2011-12.
Veterans First Team: Winners Veterans Division 2B 1982-83 and promoted to Veterans Premier Division for 1983-84. Winners Veterans Division 2C 1988-89. Winners Veterans Division 1B 2010-11 and promoted to Veterans Premier Division for 2011-12.
Veterans Second Team: Winners Veterans Division 3B 1984-85.
Veterans Third Team: Winners Veterans Division 3A 1989-90. Winners Veterans Division 4B 2004-05.
Many Berkshire players have become full England Internationals. David Barr, Gareth Herbert, Jimmy Stokes, Andrew Syed, Matthew Syed (English National Mens Singles champion four times 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001. Commonwealth Mens Singles champion three times 1997, 2000, and 2001. Commonwealth Mens Singles bronze 1994), Terry Young, Alison Broe (nee Gordon) (over one hundred appearances for England. English National Womens Singles champion four times 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996. Commonwealth Womens Doubles bronze 1982 and 1991. Commonwealth Mixed Doubles gold 1985), Susan Collier, Judith Heaps, Mandy Sainsbury (nee Smith), Gemma Schwartz, Karen Witt (English Junior Open Girls Singles champion 1977. Commonwealth Womens Doubles gold 1977. English National Womens Singles champion 1982-83. Commonwealth Womens Singles champion and Womens Doubles bronze 1985. Commonwealth Womens Singles bronze 1989 and 1991).
On 9 November 1996 an 'all Berkshire' team, Gareth Herbert, Matthew Syed and Terry Young, represented England in a Mens International match against Slovakia played at Cippenham Table Tennis Centre.
ADMINISTRATION A large number of members have served on the County Committee since 1949. Special mention has to be made of a few who have given exceptional service to the County.
Harold Larcombe who died in 1983 was a Life Member. It is not known when Harold became a Life Member but he had been President for the last nine years and had been County Umpires Secretary for a very long time. Harold who was a County Umpire was Referee of the Closed Championships for many years.
John Freeman who died in 2018 was made a Life Member in 1980 has served on the County Committee for fifty-one continuous years since 1962-63 to 2012-2013. He was President for twenty-seven years, Chairman for a total of twelve years, General Secretary for three years, County Umpires Secretary for the last twenty-five years, and Trophy Secretary for three years. He is an International Umpire and a National Referee. He organised and was Referee of the Closed Championships from 1977-78 to 1989-90 and was Referee of the Berkshire League Competition for many years.
Robin Lockwood a County Umpire was made a Life member in 1989. He was President for one year, Chairman for eleven years, General Secretary for five years, Treasurer for two years, County Umpires Secretary for five years, Berkshire League Competition Secretary for seven years and Coaching Secretary for two years.
Brian Latham who died in 2005 was made a Life Member in 2003. Brian served on the County Committee for a total of thirty-five years, including Treasurer for fourteen years, Berkshire League Competition Secretary for ten years, Senior Match Secretary for fifteen years, Trophy Secretary for two years and Junior Match Secretary once. He was National Councillor for three years. In addition for many years he co-ordinated the County Championships fixture list for eight County teams, arranged the venues for all home matches and usually attended the County Championships 'AGM'. He organised the Berkshire Closed Championships twice and assisted at the control table on a number of occasions. In recognition of his service to Table Tennis in general, the English Table Tennis Association honoured him with the 'Maurice Goldstein Merit Award for devoted service to Table Tennis' in 2002. In 2005 he was awarded the 'Leslie Forrest Memorial Trophy' by the English Table Tennis Association in recognition of his great contribution to Table Tennis in the administration of the County Championships field.
Sylvia Bruton (Fellingham) who died in 2013 was made a Life Member in 2003. Sylvia served on the County Committee for a total of twenty-eight years, including General Secretary for a total of nineteen years, Minute Secretary for eleven years, Senior Match Secretary for eleven years, Berkshire League Competition Secretary for five years, Trophy Secretary for two years, and Junior Match Secretary once. In addition she organised the senior events of the Berkshire Closed Championships eleven times
Allan Bruton was made a Life Member in 2011. Allan was Chairman for four years, Coaching Secretary for four years, and Veteran Match Secretary for eleven years. He was National Councillor for four years. He is a County Umpire and has been Assistant Organiser and/or Referee of the Closed Championships for eleven years.