BRENTWOOD & DISTRICT TABLE TENNIS LEAGUE
50 YEARS OF TABLE TENNIS.
1945 - 1948: During the after years of the Second World War with "rationing" and clothing coupons still in force the outlook was one of austerity.Bomb damage throughout with the country being repaired while members of the Armed Forces were returning from active duty to their families.
The change in the climate and attitude of the whole country was evident, Clement Attlee replaced Winston Churchill and about this time the demand for entertainment became a number one priority. Aligned with all the demands being made was SPORT. The International Football Team went back into action, the idols of the day Stanley Mathews, Nat Lofthouse (who became known as the "Lion of Vienna"), Tom Finney, Frank Swift, Billy Wright, all top stars in their own right and who could put a value on them in today's market. In the world of Table Tennis, a young Johnny Leach made his mark in becoming World Singles Champion - not once but twice. The Essex man became the "Benchmark" for all players to follow.
During 1948 Table Tennis became as popular as football and it was around this time that a group of enthusiasts gathered around a dining room table and decided to form a local league, the Billericay and District Table Tennis League was born and much later became known as the Brentwood and District Table Tennis League. These were heady days when most enthusiasts played with the ever-popular Barna bat, a short pimple brown covering with no sponge. Technology was not long in coming into the sport, but in those early days long pimpled Grass was a skill of the future although there had been one or two attempts to make it popular with one of the Bergmann blades, long on one side while the other side had short pimples, both blue in colour and I suppose the forerunner of today's combination bat and still no sponge.
Church halls and the YMCA were popular venues for practice and competition and Youth Clubs quickly bought tables, which were put to constant use. Woolworth's sold a complete home use set with the old celluloid balls and it seemed in those early days that nearly everyone had started to play on the dining room table with sand paper bat coverings and still no sponge. It would seem that at one stage everyone wanted to play table tennis with the sport enjoying and vying with football for the number one spot for popularity. Vast arenas were hired for exhibition matches to be played around the country, usually between Leach, Barna and Varna. The skill of these three caught the imagination of the whole country especially when they returned the ball from distance from seemingly impossible shots from their opponents. Johnny Leach is still an active man, he fulfills his duties as President of the Essex County Table Tennis Association and as the sports elegant ambassador he is President of the England Table Tennis Association making every effort to develop table tennis.
1948 - 1949: The First Season. And in the beginning there was John Spooner and Alan Lovell both still, in 1998, active players and registered with the Hutton Table Tennis Club. On Thursday morning 12th March 1998 I went to John Spooner's house to interview him and tap his memories of the League in its early years. His charming wife Beryl served coffee while talked into my "Voice Recorder"; I sat and enjoyed coffee and biscuits as John went back to 1945 when he first became involved, when before the present Co-operative Store was built in Hutton, cottages occupied the ground, where John's grandfather lived. On Tuesday evenings John dutifully went to carry out some duties next to the Village Hall where the local Home Guard used to have a social evening. One of John's friends Len Thompson used to invite John into the hall to have a game of table tennis before the Home Guard unit arrived and this usually lasted from 7.15pm until 8.00pm - this happened for about 12 months after which the members of the Home Guard accepted John into their group and John went in and played against them.
During 1947/1948 letters were sent out from Jim Bromley of Billericay suggesting the formation of a local table tennis league. At the Village Hall they had around a dozen members and formed a team comprising of Dougal Sharpe, Albert Eales, Len Thompson and a Shenfield man by the name of Maulden, Harry Smith and John Spooner himself. The League was formed in 1948 when they began by playing a "single game" only, the standard was not what it is in today's modern game, but John recalls the tremendous fun they had with their best player being George Dillon-guy who would have been the number one player in the League before the days of Sidney Beard. So the beginning of the League came into being with teams such as the Conservatives who used to play at a venue in Billericay High Street. The Liberals (one of the founders of their club was a Mrs. C. Love who still appears in the handbook as a Life Vice President) who played at St. Andrews Hospital. The team at Stock had a venue where visitors had to pass through a farmyard to be welcomed by a Mr. Lucas who in later years became Chairman of the League. At Crays Hill not far from the Shepherd & Dog public house there used to be premises that in the 1990's were once a Motorist Shop and later an Antique Furniture Shop and here in the late 1940's a table used to be put up and matches were played. In Hutton there was also a team where John Pidgeon an exceptionally good player was the leading member of the club and along with his father and sisters formed the nucleus of the team. Casting his mind back deeply John Spooner recalled a team called Bentley where Jack Overall was the leading man to beat (the Editors memories of Jack was that he was a left handed defensive player with the odd flash attack and it was against Jack that he played his first game of Expedite). Jack became Veterans Singles Champion during the 1968/1969 season. Further down the Ongar Road, known as "The Straight Mile" is where Estrics had their premises, the Billericay British Legion who used to play in the Rose Hall in Chapel Street which is still used extensively for functions other than table tennis, a team from Runwell also played in the League. All of the aforementioned teams were founder members of the then Billericay & District Table Tennis League.
While talking John showed me two medals, which he won during the first season of competition when his team became First Division Champions, they also won the team Knock Out cup that made John and his team the first Double Champions. John is very proud of his medals and so he should be, they are both cast in silver with the hallmarks stamped on to prove it. Douglas Sharpe and Albert Eagles obtained and constructed the "Nissan Hut" behind the Hutton Parish Hall and who among the older generation of the league's members could forget playing in that hut. Taking two steps back on defence, players had to watch they were not flying out of the back door - John recalls many a happy night playing games in the hut until late at night.
During the late 1970's early 1980's the hut collapsed with some of their more sprightly members on the roof carrying out repairs, it never rose again. After those first few seasons, more teams entered the league as other players became aware of the existence of a table tennis league within the local area; John recalls Mayflower and Bardswell along with St.Faiths for whom Alan Lovell played. Alan during those early years used to play with his wooden bat to good effect in that along with one of his partners they progressed into the Men's Doubles Semi Final. Even today, when allowed Alan still plays with his original bat and will be remembered well from his times with St. Faiths where it was always a well known fact that visiting players were treated to buffet style refreshments during an interval in play which tended to give the initiative to St.Faiths due to the amount of buffet consumed. John has only played for one club throughout his entire table tennis career and that would be the one formed during the first season - Hutton - first known as Hutton Social Club. They fielded three teams and Cecil Wright, who lived on the Mount, formed one of the teams.
Recalling Sydney Beard, who played in the same team as his daughter, John remarked how difficult it was to beat him. Sydney went on to become a representative on the Essex County Committee. John can tell anyone who asks that the very first "Closed Championships" of the league were held at St. Andrew's Hospital and along with the Conservatives took it in turns to stage the Championships and Finals. Towards the end of our interview I asked John what had given him most pleasure during his time as a table tennis player connected with the league and, without hesitation, he replied "The companionship of meeting all different players, the expansion of the league, playing in the various venues (some very primitive, some freezing cold), but at the end of the day having great fun going to play the matches, enjoying the evening without hassle".
I prompted John to recall that most gentleman of players Gene Ryan whom John had met some thirty years earlier when he first moved into the area - Gene quickly established himself as one of the leading players not only of the Hutton club but also of the league and John along with many of Gene's acquaintances were saddened at his passing at an early age - John mentioned the pleasure he got when playing in the same team as Gene Ryan who is remembered to this day by the award to the winning Men's Doubles combination in the yearly championships - the award in memory of a fine player is the "Gene Ryan Memorial Trophy". Throughout the whole course of my interview with John Spooner, what came across was the complete enjoyment and fun that he and his team experienced in playing their favourite sport, and although he cannot go back in time he does acknowledge that today's modern game has gone on apace with fitness and skill developed within the game to a very high level. A Souvenir Programme of Finals Night 1954 has been submitted by Alan Lovell, that well known ambidextrous player of the Hutton club who reached the Men's Singles Final only to be beaten by A. Goddard.
The league had at this stage been in existence for a number of seasons and in general with the rest of the country was growing in popularity. In 1954 there 36 teams divided into four divisions, One, Two, Three and Four and it was interesting to note that a certain P.College, the popular captain of Hockley, being one half of the winning Men's Doubles Final of 1949/1950, who was leaving shortly for Rhodesia and was determined to take a Billericay Table Tennis League medal with him.
He was followed soon after by teammate Norman Delahay and it is nice to know that our former players are scattered around the world with their mementoes of playing in our table tennis league. With the interview with John Spooner at an end, I allowed him to return to more quieter pursuits and tried to rekindle my own memories of the early years - a player I first came across playing for Graham Moon's team at Brentwood Youth Club was Roger Buckingham who was an extremely steady player who killed any loose balls that appeared during a game. In his early days he was a team mate of M.Reynolds when they both played for the Stock Club, the Press Secretary in those times was a B.Foxton who hailed from Western House, Western Road, Brentwood and it was his responsibility to formulate a programme for Finals Night and by the duration of this particular one - 1952 - he did a grand job, and it would seem that I follow in the footsteps of a long line of Press & Publicity Officer's who have entered weekly reports in the local newspapers of the time and I wonder if any of them have attempted to write the History of our league. At the commencement of the 1951/1952 season the "Ten Match Game System" was adopted, this introduced four or three points for a win, two points for a draw and one point for a losing team gaining three wins.
A further inspection of the programme showed that G.Dillon-Guy, one of the finalists, held the office of Treasurer at the start of the league with C.L.Wright being one of the Vice Presidents at the time, in fact it was that same C.L.Wright who presented the Girls Singles Trophy to the league to be competed for each season. Other names to remember, Peter Hays and Don Richards and it was interesting to note that a Men's Doubles combination of Spooner and Thompson reached the Quarter Finals but were beaten by the eventual winners Hays and Lucas. 1954.
I am indebted to Tom Alden who in turn is indebted to Laurie Tunbridge for supplying the following information - Laurie has a number of items of memorabilia and one which he treasures is a souvenir Programme of Finals Night of 1954, entrance to which was obtained by purchase of the programme, price 2 shillings in old currency (10p by todays). Extracts of the programme are printed for the reader to enjoy and extract as much information, which might be of interest.
Billericay & District Table Tennis League Affiliated to ETTA and ECTTA
Saturday 1st May 1954 at Billericay Women's Institute at 7.00pm
Entrance by programme - 2 shillings
VICE PRESIDENTS:- MRS.C.LAW. O.B.E.,J.P., A.T.WELLS, C.L.WRIGHT.
LIFE VICE PRESIDENTS: - J.R.BROMLEY, ESQ., R.SCARLL, ESQ,
CHAIRMAN:- A.LUCAS, Hope Farm, Mill Road, Stock. (Tel. Stock 228).
VICE CHAIRMAN:- S.G.BEARD, 40 Goodwood Avenue, Hutton. (Tel.Brentwood 617)
HON.SEC. and ETTA/ECTTA REP:- G.BARKER, Park House, Hutton Road.Shenfield.
HON.TREASURER:- A.A.B.SMITH, "SCILLONIA", Lion Lane,Billericay.
HON.TOURNAMENT SEC:- P.SAGROTT, 8 Kimpton Avenue, Brentwood.
HON.INTER-LGE SEC:- G.LUCAS, Hope Farm, Mill Road, Stock.(Stock 228)
HON.PRESS SEC:- J.SARGANT, "NEWHAVEN", Perry Street. Billericay
GENERAL COMMITTEE:- A.COLLINS, C.WOODS and above Officials.
MGMNT COMMITTEE:- Officials of the league and one representative from each club.
SELECTION COMM:- G.BARKER, S.G.BEARD, F.HOYSTEAD, C.LUCAS & A.LUCAS.
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS:- 6th Annual Championship Finals 1953/1954.
Event One:- Men's Singles Semi-Final:- J.Wheatley v W.Phipps 9/21, 21/19, 13/21.
Event Two:- Men's Singles Semi-Final:- M.Cullen v D.Richards 17/21, 10/21.
Event Three:- Veterans Final:- S.Beard v G.Dillon-Guy 21/15, 21/18.
Event Four:- Girls Junior Singles Final:- Miss.E.Wells v Miss. J. Harby 21/11, 21/9.
Event Five:- Boys Junior Singles Final:- B.Cole v T.Caldwell 21/13, 21/19.
Event Six:- Ladies Doubles Final:- Mrs. C.Love and Mrs. I. Peach v Miss. F. Head and Mrs. H. Bass 19/21, 21/16, 21/12. Event Seven:- Men's Doubles Final:- D. Richard and L. Wernick v S.Beard and G.Dillon-Guy 21/11, 21/17, 21/17.
Event Eight:- Ladies Singles Final:- Miss.E.Wells v Miss.M.Finch 12/21, 21/9, Not known.
Event Nine:- Consolation Singles Final:- P.Wright v L.Tunbridge.
Event 10:- Mixed Doubles Final:- L.Wernick and Miss.E.Wells v D.Wright and Miss.J.Teele.
Event 11:- Men's Singles Final:- W.Phipps v D.Richards.
Stock Harvard Table Tennis Club loaned the table. It is unfortunate some scores were not listed and champions between 1953/1960 are unknown. The Chairman, A. Lucas, opened the evening with a short speech:
"Dear Friends, Let me as your Chairman congratulate you on the conclusion of yet another successful season. I wonder how many of us realise the effort that is necessary by a few "Willing Horses" to make this success possible. Let us offer our thanks to these splendid "Willing Few". As you know we were asked by Essex County Table Tennis Association to stage a Junior County Match for the first time in our history. But we were not daunted because we had those "Splendid Few". It is regrettable that so few of our members were at the match to hear County Officials praise the Billericay & District Table Tennis League on the excellent conditions provided. And now to our Finals Night - let me offer a warm welcome to our visitors and congratulate the players who have fought so hard to appear here tonight. May the net cords be few and the edge balls extinct." A.LUCAS.
The Secretary, G.Barker, sums up:
"This season has been the most successful during my three years of office. The support of my Officials and the perfect harmony in which we have carried out the League activities could not have made it otherwise. The first of a series of 'Get Together' evenings held at Stock was well supported and proved very popular and we shall continue these next season. Some very pleasant evenings were spent at the Inter League matches. I can recommend members to see some of these games as the table tennis reaches a very high standard. We staged a Junior County match at Hutton and those unfortunate enough to be absent truly missed a match that all table tennis players should have seen. Four Junior Internationals were playing:- Ray Dorking(Essex), Michael Maclaren, Terry Densham with Jill Rook(Surrey). The League Knock Out Cup Competition has again been very hard fought with honours going to Columbians for being the most consistent team throughout the season and completing a very wonderful double of League and Cup. I sincerely hope that the outcome of tonight's entertainment will not only gives you complete satisfaction, but that it will be a financial success for the League. If it is so, my Officials and I will feel that our efforts have not been in vain. Finally, I wish the players "Good Hunting" with a reminder that a good loser is often more popular than a winner. To the audience, the Management Committee are pleased to see you and may we see you again and again and again at our Annual Finals Nights." GORDON BARKER.
The Press Secretary J.Sargent's notes:
"During the past season the League has entered teams representing the Juniors, Men's and the Veterans in the Essex Championships and those who follow the results will be only too aware that from the point of view of winning games. None of these have been very successful but it is better to "have a go" than to sit back and criticize others. As a small league we do well and as long as we play the game in a sporting spirit no one will complain. There are several players nearly up to league standard and a little more practice may well bring them League Honours. In the meantime, "Congratulations" to those who have played in our teams - they have never given up and have won individual games now and then, "Well Done" ….. Libbie Wells, Margaret Finch, Connie Love, Irene Peach, Don Richards, John Wheatley, Bill Phipps, Lionel Wernick, David Wright, Gerry Wake, Sydney Beard, George Dillon-Guy, Gordon Barker, Stan Caldwell, Dougal Sharpe, Tommy Caldwell, Brian Clow, Brian Cole, Brian Lambert, Brian Eve and Laurie Tunbridge and an extra "Well Done" to Libbie Wells who played for Essex Juniors against Surrey in March. I would like to express the League's appreciation of the interest shown in our activities by the local Press, they certainly do us proud, as well as being of interest to the general public. Publicity must stimulate the league and spur us all on to greater efforts in our game of table tennis."JIM SARGANT INTRODUCING THE PLAYERS.
BILL PHIPPS (Runwell Y.C.) - Last Years League Champion, Bill is a great defensive player who has boundless energy and never gives up, many will remember his terrific performance in last seasons final when he beat Peter Lucas (Colombians) in the fifth game.
DON RICHARDS (Columbians) - Well known as the League's number one player Don was at one time Junior Champion of Shropshire. He is in Division One this year and has a spectacular forehand drive like a whip-lash…supports the Wolves.
JOHN WHEATLEY (Columbians) - Another member of the brilliant Columbians team, John is equally at home attacking or defending. His speciality is a viscous backhand flick. He has played regularly for the League and is well known for his witty remarks usually made at the wrong time.
MICHAEL CULLEN (Park Avenue) - Mike is the "Dark Horse" of the competition, among his victims in earlier rounds was Lionel Wernick. He was Junior Champion last year and may make the League team next year if he maintains his improved play.
SYDNEY BEARD (Hutton Social) - The League's Vice Chairman and a leading light behind the scenes. Knows the rules of table tennis inside out and back to front. There are few players in the league who can better Sydney over three games; he is a member of the Veterans team.
GEORGE DILLON-GUY (Hutton Social) - Another member of this Hutton team of unorthodox players, George has the uncanny knack of "getting everything back" and like Sydney is also a member of the Veterans team.
LIBBIE WELLS, MISS, (Mayflower) - Libbie started the season playing for the Juniors but her brilliant play gained her a place in the Senior side. Unbeaten in Junior matches Libbie was selected to play for Essex Juniors against Surrey at Hutton in March and it was bad luck that her opponent should be the redoubtable Jill Rook, England's regular Number Two girl. It was a brave try however and a great honour for the League to produce a County player.
JOAN HARBY,MISS, (Stock) - Joan has not played in the Billericay League this season but was beaten finalist in last years girls Tournament. She has been playing for Marconi's in the Chelmsford League and is showing great improvement. Threatens to play for Stock next season, Joan may surprise Libbie Wells and win her first league tournament tonight. Was beaten in the final of the Chelmsford League's Girls singles a month or two back.
BRIAN COLE (Mayflower) - A welcome return to his true form ensures Brian a place in the Finals. A regular member of the Junior Leagues team last season, he lost his position at the beginning of this year. Seems to lack match temperament (I doubt that anyone who has played Brian recently in the Premier in the 1990's will agree with the last sentence. Editor).
TOMMY CALDWELL (Runwell Y.C.) - On the Boys side has been the most consistent performer in the Junior team playing at Number One. Tommy is still at school and with the help of his father and members of his club should be a top class player in a few years.
LIONEL WERNICK (Columbians) - This bespectacled left-hander, like Don Richards is a Midlander and of course a Wolves fan. Has a brilliant defence and good attack. Is very fond of the drop shot - perhaps too fond at times. Has played for the League.
MARGARET FINCH,MISS, (Runwell Y.C.) - In this, her first season in the Billericay League, Margaret has played regularly for the League. An excellent stroke player and a great trier. DAVID WRIGHT ( Park Avenue) - One of a well-known table tennis family of which there are four Wright's registered for Park Avenue. Dave has played for the League and is famed for his forehand drive and his well-known war cry "Shootin".
JANET TEELE,MISS, (Park Avenue) - A little known player in her first Finals night, Janet has played regularly for Park Avenue B in Division Three. One of several girls in the League who have been educated at Brentwood County High School - apparently a ground for table tennis players.
CONNIE LOVE,MRS, (St. Andrews) - Mrs. Love is no stranger to Finals Night, winner of the Ladies Doubles with Miss Irene Dawson (now Mrs.Peach) in the last two seasons. She has also been successful in the Ladies Singles and the Mixed Doubles - Connie has played for the League many times.
IRENE PEACH,MRS, (St.Andrews) - Another greathearted player who has represented the League on many occasions. Winner of the Ladies Doubles with her club mate Mrs.Love in the last two seasons. Many of us still find it difficult to think of Irene as Mrs. Peach instead of Miss. Lawson.
FREDA HEAD,MISS, (Hutton Y.P.C.) - Another great trier who never gives up, Freda believes in giving the ball plenty of sidespin. A very sporting player.
HELEN BASS,MRS, (League) A well known local player who now plays in the Chelmsford League where she has won many games. (The name of Helen Bass appears in the Chelmsford Honours list as far back as 1938/1939 when she won the Ladies Doubles following this with successes in 1952 and 1953 in the same competition. She also won the Ladies singles in 1949/1950 - Editor).
LEAGUE CLUBS & SECRETARIES.
BILLERICAY BRITISH LEGION:- - Division Two - Rose Hall, Chapel Street.Billericay. Sec:- J.Monk, 16A Crays View, Billericay.
COLUMBIANS:- Division One - Catholic Church Hall, Billericay. Sec:-M.Lyons, Curragh Chase, Rayleigh Road, Billericay.
GASLIGHT:- Division Two - Gas Works, Laindon Road, Billericay. Sec:- C.Brundish, 34 School Road. Billericay. HUTTON SOCIAL:- Division One & Two - Parish Hall, Nr. Chequers Pub. Hutton. Sec:- A.Heales, 23 Goodwood Avenue. Hutton.
HUTTON WAYFARERS:- Division Three - As Hutton Social. Sec:- A.Lovell, Alkadas, Cedar Road, Hutton.
HUTTON YOUNG PEOPLES:- Division One & Two - As Hutton Social. Sec:- C.F.G.Wake, 70 North |Road Avenue. Brentwood. MAYFLOWER:- Division Two - Mayflower Hall, Chapel Street. Billericay. Sec:- A.Berry, Lake View, Stock Road. Billericay. PARK AVENUE:- Division One & Three - As Hutton Social. Sec:- D.B.Wright,Henleaze, Hanging Hill Lane. Hutton.
RAMSDEN HEATH YMCA:- Division Two & Three - Red Triangle Club, Mill Lane, Ramsden Heath, Sec:- R.G.Woods, F.Luckin-Smiths Stores, Ramsden Heath.
RUNWELL YOUTH CENTRE:- Divisions Two & Three - Church End Lane, Runwell. Sec:- S.T.Caldwell, 34 Rettendon View, Highcliffe Road, Wickford.
ST.ANDREWSHOSPITAL:- Divisions One & Three - St. Andrews Hospital, Billericay. Sec:- Mrs. I. Peach, The Hospital, Stock Road. Billericay.
STOCK HARVARD:- Division One & Three - Rectory Hall, High Street. Stock. Sec:- V.Elliott, Roseville, Mill Road. Stock. WICKFORD:- Division One - Hawthornes, Belmont Avenue, Wickford. Sec:- K.Rowe, Hawthornes, Belmont Avenue. Wickford.
WICKFORD YOUTH CENTRE:- County Secondary Modern School, Irvin Hill, Wickford. Sec:- B.Lambert, The Quest, Station Avenue. Wickford
1953/1954 FINAL LEAGUE TABLES.
DIVISION ONE TEAM
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points
Columbians 14 12 1 1 100 40 44
Park AvenueA 14 9 2 3 97 43 42
Hutton Social A 14 9 4 1 96 44 42
Hutton YPC A 14 6 3 5 75 65 31
Wickford 14 5 1 8 56 84 18
Stock A 14 2 1 11 54 86 18
St. AndrewsA 14 2 2 10 43 97 14
Stock B 14 2 2 10 47 93 13
DIVISION TWO TEAM
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points
Runwell YC A 12 10 2 0 93 27 41
Hutton YPC B 12 9 2 1 92 28 40
Mayflower 12 5 2 5 63 57 24
Hutton Social B 12 4 3 5 59 61 23
Gaslight 12 4 3 5 51 69 19
Ramsden YMCA A 12 3 1 8 37 83 13
Billericay British Legion 12 0 1 11 25 95 8
DIVISION THREE TEAM
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points
Hutton Wayfarers 14 14 0 0 113 27 54
Runwell YC B 14 11 1 2 101 39 42
Wickford YC 14 9 2 3 95 45 40
Park Avenue B 14 6 1 7 68 72 26
Stock C 14 5 1 8 59 81 24
Ramsden YMCA B 14 5 0 9 53 87 20
Ramsden YMCA C 14 2 3 9 49 91 19
St.Andrews B 14 0 0 14 22 118 3
(The Editor) - I was then pointed in the direction of Harry Spraggs by one of the League's 1960's stars Fred Lockwood, who said to me that " Harry keeps a lot of handbooks, get in touch with him" but how do you trace a player from years gone by when his address has changed quite a few times. After numerous enquiries, Sue Gower gave me information from which I was able to trace his movements and I eventually managed to talk to him on the telephone, Harry sent me six handbooks 1958/59, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1964/65 and 1967/68 - and having extracted news and information from then I returned them to Harry, together with thanks from the league and I. Perusing the handbooks can give a look into the past, none more so than the end of the 1950's and into the 60's and it is interesting to note the change in the League's make-up and the changes in Committee.
For those of us who are fortunate to be able to remember these years, we can also recall the persons involved in keeping the League operating, none more so than the hard working Honorable Secretaries. During the early formative years and up until season 1960/61 one G.Wenham of North Road, Brentwood, held this post. From then until season 1964/65 J.W.Bleasby of Hanging Hill Lane took on the task until during the Annual General Meeting of 1966 John Morgan (he of the thunderous backhand) became a popular choice. After the early years, changes on the Committee were frequent, Mrs. E. Lucas was President until Sidney Beard took over in 1960 and it remains a fact that Sydney was instrumental in guiding the League in one capacity or another until he retired and took his family back to Scotland.
It cannot be under estimated the impact of his work to keep the League on course and Sydney was a doyen of and for the League at Local and County level for many years. Chairman during the early years was Mr. E. Lucas, the husband of the then President and it was also noted that Jim Sargant the Publicity Officer was fortunate to have an assistant in a Miss S.Woodgate of Stock - why an assistant was needed is not clear but it is probably due to the fact that there was more to report in those days and of course there was no such thing as a Word Processor to lighten the load, only typewriters, and presumably Miss Woodgate was the typist.
The following season the Publicity Officer's Assistant was no longer listed - was Miss Woodgate married by this time or had Jim Sargant learned to type. Mr. E. Lucas later was elected as President in place of his wife who had been elevated to a Life Vice President position along with her good friend Mrs. I. Peach and if we look at today's list of Life Vice Presidents we find these two ladies are still listed along with other stalwarts of the League's inception, these being G.Wenham, Gordon Barker, A.Berry, Jim Bromley, and Len Boon - where are they now.
A Junior Coaching Committee was set up for the 1959/1960 season and those involved were Miss. J. Medley, Sydney Beard, E.H.Ryan and G.Wenham, this Committee was brought into being due to the fact that the Juniors of those days were making their mark in the County Matches. Moving on to the handbook of yesterday, they were introduced to give the Rules and Guidance from the Committee to all members and it is indeed interesting to note that the inside cover of the handbook was used to bring the attention of the players to the law governing the rackets and their coverings and were printed so that the confusion within the sport could be rectified.
'FOR THE GUIDANCE OF MEMBERS OF THE LEAGUE - E.T.T.A. LAW 4 NOW READS - The racket may be of any size, shape or weight. Its surface shall be dark coloured and non-reflecting. The blade shall be of wood, continuous, of even thickness, flat and rigid. If the blade is covered on either side, this covering may be of (a) plain ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outward of a total thickness of not more than 2mm or (b) of "sandwich" consisting of a layer of cellular rubber surfaced by plain, ordinary pimpled rubber - turned outwards or inwards - in which case the total thickness of covering of either side shall not be more than 4mm.
DEFINITION: - For the purpose of Law 4, plain, ordinary pimpled rubber shall be defined as follows: - A single covering with pimples evenly distributed not fewer than 10 or more than 50 to the square centimetre (60-330 to the square inch) of rubber which whether natural or synthetic, is non-cellular and of which the total thickness includes the height of the pimples and adhesives.
NOW - whether Law 4 cleared matters up is open to conjecture, but today's players count amongst their equipment Carbon Fibre Blades, Speed Glue, Clean Glue, Tacky Rubbers, Grass as well as the original Barna Bat, and are matters any clearer with the up to date laws.
Today Peter Saunders who is the 1990's man responsible for the interpretation of rules and their updating would in those far away days have had a field day ensuring that the rules were in such order that there was no room for doubt. Our recent handbook contains the framework of the rules, which were abided by many years ago and while the subject is still with us let us compare yesterday's rules with those of today.
1) NAME & CONSTITUTION:-
A) The League shall be called THE BILLERICAY & DISTRICT TABLE TENNIS LEAGUE and the Clubs of which it is constituted shall be affiliated through the League to the ETTA and ECTTA.
TODAYS RULES see a name change to BRENTWOOD & DISTRICT TABLE TENNIS LEAGUE and also allows a name change to that of a sponsors, should one be available.
B) In order to be eligible for admission to the League all clubs must have its headquarters within reasonable distance of Billericay (NOW Brentwood) and must have a table complying as far as possible with the ETTA rules, together with reasonable lighting and runback NOTE: Reasonable latitude will be allowed in the interpretation of this condition, but the table must conform to standard measurement.
2) OFFICIALS: The Officials of the League shall be - President, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Publicity Secretary, Honorary Tournaments Secretary (who shall be elected at the Annual General Meeting,, TODAY we have added a Social Secretary, Coaching Officer, Development Officer and ECTTA representative, three elected Club Representatives and also an Emergency Committee and in place of the Honorary Match Secretary position, we now have nine individuals each being responsible for the arrangements of one team only -in other words dividing the headache to meet today's needs.
3) MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE:
A) The conduct and control of the League shall be vested in the Management Committee, which shall consist of the Officers of the League, and one representative appointed at the start of the season by each affiliated club. Five members shall form a quorum and this Committee shall have power to augment its Constitution by co-opting additional members if necessary.
B) The Management Committee shall have the power to legislate with regard to any disputes between individuals, and clubs belonging to the League and shall have the power to expel any player or club found guilty of flagrant breaches of the Rules of the League. NOW ADDED: In accordance with the principles of natural justice a player or club aggrieved by such a decision may appeal to the ETTA.
C) This Committee shall endeavor to meet once in every month during the playing season.
D) This Committee shall have the power to elect its own sub-committees deemed necessary at their first meeting after the Annual General Meeting. (The following E,F and G sub paragraphs have been ADDED as circumstances have demanded).
E) This Committee shall have the power to inspect a Clubs venue at any time.
F) All matters not covered by the League Rules shall be referred to the Management Committee whose decision will be final.
G) An Emergency Committee shall be empowered to act on behalf of the Management Committee in the event of a decision being required between Management Committee meetings. The Emergency Committee shall consist of Chairman, Vice Chairman, together with two members elected from the League Clubs at the Annual General Meeting and who are not Officials of the League. In addition the General Secretary shall be a member of the Emergency Committee in a non-voting capacity.
4) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING:
A) The end of the Financial Year shall be the 30th April each year, and the Annual Gen.Meeting held within the next 14 days (NOW 31 days).
B) Special General Meetings may be called -
1) At the request of the Management Committee or
2) By an application in writing to the Hon.Gen.Secretary signed by one third of the Clubs comprising the League or by 3) At the request of the Annual General Meeting.
C) Fourteen days notice must be given of the time, place and reasons for holding an Annual General Meeting (this now includes proposed rule changes) and shall be sent by the Secretary to all Club Secretaries to enable them to inform all registered players eligible to attend the meeting - any number of members from each club may attend but only one delegate from each club shall have voting power, (NOW ADDED) any club not represented at the Annual General Meeting shall be liable to a fine of £5.00.
D) Any proposed alterations or additions to rules or regulations must be submitted in writing to reach the Hon.Gen.Secretary by 31st March.
E) Every decision of every Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting shall be final and conclusive and binding on all Clubs and registered members as being the voice of the whole League.
Sub paragraph F) has (NOW) been deleted from the original concept of Rules but are printed for information only - Clubs failing to attend the Annual General Meeting shall be deemed non-affiliated and will be subject to non-acceptance by the League Management Committee under rule 7(e). Re-affiliation to the League will only be accepted at the Annual General Meeting. It is interesting to note that as years progressed, sub-paragraph (F) became obsolete due to the League recognizing that Clubs are sometimes late in registering or for other reasons which allows consideration for late acceptances provided there are vacancies within the Divisions applied for.
A) All clubs shall pay an annual subscription, which shall consist of a basic fee plus the current ETTA and ECTTA fees and the basic fee will be 12 shillings and six pence for the first team entered from any one Club and 7 shillings and 6 pence for the second and subsequent team. TODAY - the basic fee shall be an amount decided at the Annual General Meeting and all fees are to be paid at the time of application for membership. Fees will be returned to any club not gaining admission. The League will be responsible for the affiliation of Clubs into the ETTA and ECTTA. The basic fee will include entry to the Handicap Knock Out Cup.
B) All applications for membership of the League must be made in writing to the Hon.Gen.Secretary on or before the 16th July each year (Today - all entries must be made in writing to the Divisional Secretary on or before 31st May each year together with team entries.
6) REGISTRATION OF PLAYERS:
A) Any players registered in writing with the Publicity Secretary (NOW Divisional Secretary) with full name and address and accompanied by a fee of 3 shillings NOW the amount is decided at the Annual General Meeting and includes the cost of a current handbook Those so registered shall be allowed to play in League and Cup matches. There be no limit to the number of players registered for each Club, but only bona-fide members can be registered. No member can be registered for more than one Club in a season except under Rule 7. The player concerned signifying approval of registration must sign the player's card.
B) Players must be registered in writing with the Publicity Secretary (NOW Divisional Secretary) at least 3 days (NOW 7 days) before playing in a match. No fresh registrations will be accepted after 31st December (NOW 15th January) except in exceptional circumstances and on terms and conditions laid down by the Committee for each individual application.
C) All Clubs shall register players for each team in the League before the commencement of the season, with at least one reserve per club to be registered even though that team may be the only one entered for that Club. Players cannot play for any team other than that which they are registered for, with the exception that a player may play for a higher ranked team than that which he/she is registered for, but on the third such appearance he/she automatically becomes a member of the higher ranked team, and in no circumstances may that player return to the original lower ranked team. In special circumstances a player may be re-instated to his/her original team by the Management Committee. Appearances in the Handicap Cup also count in assessing the eligibility of a player and any team playing an unregistered player, or contravening any rule shall have the offending games awarded to the opposing team. In those cases where a Club has more than one team in a Division, the second or lower team shall be classed as of lower ranking. NOW all Clubs shall submit a ranking list in duplicate before the season commences, for the approval by the Management Committee, who shall have the right to amend such lists when they consider that a Club is seeking an unfair advantage - one copy being returned to the Club approved by the Divisional Secretary. Clubs must give seven days notice in writing of any proposed amendment to the ranking order and no Club may submit more than one revised ranking list per calendar month - this ranking list must be available to the captain of each opposing team throughout the season.
D) Ranking must be in order of merit throughout the clubs however, players must be allocated to the various teams entered by the Club with a limit of six registered players per Premier Division team, or specified as reserves. Such reserves must be below the playing strength of t the lowest team.
E) Players cannot play in the League, Knock-Out Cup or Handicap Team Knock-Out Cup.
F) Competitions for any team other than the team for which they are registered, with the exception that a player may play for a higher ranked team or teams than the one for which he/she is registered in any of the competitions, but on the fourth such appearance, counting matches played in all competitions, he/she automatically becomes a member of the team for which the fourth match is played. In no circumstances may a player play for a lower ranked team without permission of the Management Committee. In special circumstances the Management Committee may reinstate a player to his/her original team.
A New Rule completely in that - No player shall transfer from one club to another during the playing season without permission of the Management Committee. Any player desiring such transfer shall submit to the Divisional Secretary a written transfer request, signed by him/her and countersigned by the Secretaries of the two clubs involved, together with a fresh registration fee. A player shall not be eligible to play for his/her new club until at least three days from the granting of the transfer request. No transfer request will be accepted after 15th January except in exceptional circumstances.
8) CONDITIONS OF PLAY:
A) Teams in all Divisions of the League shall consist of four players (NOW THREE). The team captains shall fill in their scorecards and exchange them prior to the match commencing. Each team shall play 10 ties - the best of 3 games. Order of play shall be Home 4, 3, 1, 2, Away 3, 4, 1, 2, with No 4 v 3, No 3 v 4, No 2 v 1, No 2 Doubles pair v No 2 Doubles pair, No 1 Doubles pair v No 1 Doubles pair, No 4 v 4, No 3 v 3, No 2 v 2, No 1 v 1. NOW - the teams consist of three players, the match to consist of nine singles and one doubles. The order of play being - Home team first - A v Y, C v X, B v Z, C v Y, A v Z, Doubles, B vX, C v Z, B v Y and A v X. The ties played to a finish and four points are awarded for each match with a team winning 10-0, 9-1 or 8-2 being awarded 4 points and the losers none. A win of 7-3 or 6-4 receiving three points and the losers one, and a drawn match at 5-5 both teams receive two points. The scoring arrangements NOW are that a team is awarded one point for each game won - a 10-0 win gaining 10 points.
B) No match should be arranged to start later than 7.45 pm - NOW all matches should commence at 7.45 pm or earlier if indicated against club particulars and play should be continuous. Players not being present shall be deemed absentees, and the team short of the regulation number of players shall forfeit the full number of ties the absentees would have played. When play can no longer be continuous, absent players shall forfeit the games and the match shall be deemed to be over. 8) Either team shall have the power to call on the opposing team to start the match at 7.45 pm. If two players of the team are in attendance at 7.45 pm they shall be allowed to play their ties and the other players shall be allowed until 8.15 pm. In the event of all four players not being present at 8.15 pm the players then present shall be ranked in their correct order starting from 1 and finishing 1, 2, 3, 4 according to the number present. Unless mutually agreed by both captains, any ties previously played, not in accordance with this playing order shall be ruled out and replayed in revised order. Players not being present shall be deemed absentees and the team (s) short of the regulation number of players shall forfeit the full number of ties the absentees would have played.
C) All matches must be played on the date fixed in the fixture list. Any team not fulfilling its engagement without giving 7 days notice to both their opponents and the League Secretary (NOW Divisional Secretary), of a good and sufficient reason shall forfeit games and points to their opponents - Note - inability to field a club's strongest team does not constitute a valid reason - NOW TODAY - No match may be postponed by agreement between teams without permission by the Divisional Secretary. All matches that are not completed due to power failure must be replayed, unless mutually agreed by both Captains. Except where otherwise agreed by both Captains, a fixture should generally be completed on one table. Where a match has not been completed by the time a Home Club must vacate its premises and the Club has adjacent premises satisfying the requirement of Rule 1 (b) the match shall be completed the same evening at the adjacent premises unless agreed otherwise by both Captains. The team requesting the postponement of a match is responsible (at all times) for informing the Divisional Secretary. Either team providing they give 7 days notice to their opponents and the Divisional Secretary may postpone matches, which fall on a statutory Bank Holiday or New Years Eve.
D) Both teams must forward a signed result card to the League Publicity Secretary within 48 hours of the match being played. Should no result card be received from either team by first post on Monday following the match, the match will be declared a 5 - 5 draw and points awarded accordingly - NOW TODAY - the home team must forward both signed result cards (one for each team) to the Divisional Secretary. Should no result card be received within 10 days of the match date, the match may be awarded to the away team and the Management Committee shall be empowered to declare void the whole season's results of a team habitually contravening this rule. Any team not fulfilling a fixture will be required to explain the reasons to the Management Committee, who if not satisfied shall be empowered to impose a fine not exceeding £5.00.
E) At the end of the season, if possible, the two bottom teams in each Division shall be relegated to the next Division and the top two teams in each Division shall be promoted to the next. Vacancies occasioned by withdrawals at the end of the season may be filled before the commencement of the next season from new Clubs or by promotion from the lower Divisions at the discretion of the Management Committee, with priority given to relegated clubs in the Divisions where the vacancies exist - NOW TODAY - no club shall have more than four teams per Division and any team withdrawing from the League, once the season has started cannot be refunded any part of their fees, and their complete record will be deleted . NEW CONDITION - where two or more teams have an equal number of points at the end of a season, qualify either for promotion or relegation, the team with the most number of wins shall be placed above the others. Only if the record of wins and draws are equal shall account of games difference then be taken into account. In the event of an extra Division being formed the Management Committee reserves the right to amend this Rule or any other affected by this occurrence.
A player must wear dark coloured clothing on the upper part of the body and rubber soled Shoes while playing in any match or competition controlled by the League - NOW DELETED - on the upper part of the body.
In all approved matches, the balls used must be an approved by the ETTA.
RULES ADDED TODAY - the surface of one side of the racket shall be red and the other side black, whether or not both sides are used for striking the ball, in accordance with ITTF Regulation 126.96.36.199.3. All surfaces of the racket used for striking ball shall be covered with rubber. The ETTA rule R regarding the adhesives used will apply. A copy of the regulations will be supplied to all Club Secretaries prior to the start of the season. In any special circumstances the Management Committee is empowered to rule on racket surfaces i9n the best interests of the League.
All trophies competed for shall be held for one year and the winners must give a written guarantee as to their safe custody and must return them on request to the Hon. General Secretary - NOW TODAY - the return of the trophies is now the responsibility of a person nominated by the Management Committee.
13) INTER-LEAGUE REPRESENTATIVE MATCHES:
A Selection Committee of five members shall be elected annually to select all Inter League representative teams and they shall make recommendations to the Management Committee as to the award of League Badges - NOW TODAY - Inter League Representative teams shall be selected by the relevant match secretary and/or Management Committee and a player having played three matches for a team shall be awarded a League Badge. A player substituting for another player who is appearing for the League or County is entitled to claim exception for their appearance from the proviso of Rule 6 (e). In the modern book of today's Rules there have been two main additions - both MEMORIAL AWARDS And dedicated to former servants of the BILLERICAY/BRENTWOOD TABLE TENNIS LEAGUE.
In awarding trophies to deserving persons, the first is the FRED FOSTER MEMORIAL AWARD and reads as follows:- The award which shall be known as the FRED FOSTER MEMORIAL AWARD, may be made annually at the Management Committee discretion, in recognition of service to Table Tennis in the Brentwood & District Table Tennis League. The Management Committee will make the decision after considering any nominations from member Clubs or individuals affiliated to the League. Nominations may be made in writing giving details of the candidate and reasons for nomination. Nominations must be received by 1st March each year. Winners to date are:- 1992 J.MORGAN 1993 T.KNIGHT. 1994 T.ALLDEN. 1995 R.PAINTER. 1996 J.COOK. 1997 W.WALL. 1998 T.CARTER. The aforementioned Fred Foster Award is in honour and memory of a man who, as Chairman served the League and set the standard for others to follow.
The second award is the GRAHAM MOON MEMORIAL AWARD and perpetuates the memory of a man who became known as Mr. Table Tennis of the Brentwood League. He brought into being the Brentwood Youth Table Tennis Centre and was its "Arch Patriarch", "Mentor and Coach" until the day he died. Graham was one of the Sports Gentlemen and a fine President of the Brentwood League. A man who was respected by the County and by all those who knew him and I personally lost a great friend and was pleased to see this trophy perpetuate his memory in that the award is made annually to the junior player being under 17 years of age on the 30th June prior to the commencement of the season, and being with the highest league average throughout the season with a qualification of 50% turnout (in league matches only). Graham would have been pleased that in his memory the award is made to one of the future generation of players of our sport. WINNERS:- 1997 P.LUCAS. 1998 P.ASHWORTH.
A GOOD SERVICE:- This section in today's handbook was not deemed important enough to warrant a place in the handbooks of yesteryear but as we all know, a service in the modern game is either a winner or one in which the one's opponent is let into the game from the onset. Because of the complexity of the equipment, racket coverings, and the fitness and ability of today's player to disguise services, then it was not before time that the Law of Service was set out in the Handbook so that all registered players of the League are left in no doubt as to the requirements of "A Good Service". Service shall begin with the ball resting on the palm of the free hand, which shall be stationary, open and flat, with the fingers together and the thumb free. The free hand while in contact with the ball in service, shall at all times be above the level of the playing surface. The server shall than project the ball near vertically upwards by hand only and without imparting spin so that it rises at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand (NOTE: The 16cm does not relate to the distance travelled by the ball but to the vertical measurement between the plane in which the ball was projected by the free hand and the highest plane it reaches before struck by the racket). As the ball is then descending from the height of its trajectory, the server shall strike it so that it first touches his own court and then, passing directly over the net or around or under the projection of the net and its supports outside the table, touches the receiver's court. The server's free hand must be behind his end line, or an imaginary extension of that line, from the start of the service until he strikes the ball. At the moment of impact of the racket on the ball in service, the ball shall be behind the end line of the server's court or an imaginary extension thereof. It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire can see that he complies with the requirements of a good service.
LEAGUE CLOSED CHAMPIONSHIP RULES:
Editor's Comments:- The League programme is designed so that competition in all categories is as complete for teams and individuals as is possible. Divisional Titles and Cups are all very well, but singles and doubles play can be as exciting as the Divisional programme. So that the season is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, Finals Night used to be towards the end of the season, however, today's requirement of players who play in more than one League find it advisable that the Finals are played while players are available and on form so a set of Model Rules were brought into being to accommodate Closed Championship play.
A) All players registered and having played in at least four matches before 1st December, NOW - 15th January shall be eligible to compete. Inter-League representative matches for the Brentwood League to count as Club matches played N.B. This ruling does not apply to players ranked below team strength of there Club's lowest team.
B) Members of different Clubs may play in partnership in all doubles events.
C) The competition shall be conducted on the Knockout or Group principle, all games being the "best of three" including the finals.
D) The commencement of play in these competitions will 7.30 pm and any players who have not reported to the Referee by 8.15 pm WILL BE SCRATCHED - NOW TODAY - the commencement of play in these competitions will be notified and any player not reporting to the Referee within 15 minutes of playing time MAY BE SCRATCHED.
E) Events in the championships are:- Men's, Ladies' and Mixed Doubles, July 1st to be the date for age limits, Veterans 40 or over, Boys and Girls under 17, Intermediate under 21. NOW ADDED are Junior's and Handicap Singles.
F) The Hon. Tournament Secretary shall have the discretion to waive entry qualification in respect of the events in the Junior Individual Championships. It is interesting to note that according to the 1967 - 1968 Handbook, Finals Night was to be held at Ilford Ltd, Woodman Road on 24th February 1968 where the entrance fee for the various events in "Old Currency" was - Singles = 3 shillings, Men's Doubles= 2 shillings and six pence, Ladies Doubles = 2 shillings, Veterans Singles = 3 shillings Boys Singles and Mixed Doubles = 2 shillings - in today's currency the dearest entrance fee of 3 shillings would equate to 15p. NOW TODAY - entry to all competitions is FREE.
KNOCKOUT COMPETITION RULES:
A) A fresh draw shall be made at the conclusion of each round - NOW TODAY - there shall be three Knock-Out Cups for which teams will be eligible as follows:
1. For Premier Division Teams.
2. For First and Second Division Teams.
3. For Third Division Teams.
Which as you will agree, makes life easier all round the Divisions.
F) Certain weeks will be allocated to this competition and the home clubs normal playing night shall be deemed the match night but this date must be confirmed to the visiting team. NOW TODAY an entry fee of 50p to all clubs affiliated to the League.
G) Rules 7 (b) 7 (d) and 9 shall apply. Failure to comply with Rule 7 (d) shall result in automatic disqualification. NOW TODAY - Rules 8 (b) and 8 (c) of the League shall apply with failure to comply with Rule 8 (c) shall result in automatic disqualification.
H) The date of the final of this competition shall be decided at the Annual General Meeting prior to the Commencement of the season and winners and runners-up medals will be awarded by the League. HANDICAP TEAM KNOCKOUT COMPETITION:- The above competition was open to all teams paying an entry fee of 2 shillings and six pence 25p in decimal currency and teams were drawn into groups of three or four depending upon the number of entries with Rule 6 © applying. Where teams of two or more finish on level points the team having the best games average shall be the winners. NOW TODAY - Teams shall consist of three players and when entering more than one team must play in order of strength - instead of groups the competition proceeds on a straight Knockout basis.
The final is played in a neutral venue unless agreed otherwise by the teams on a mutual basis. Each individual player is given a handicap based on their previous season's average obtained and ends are changed in the third game when the player commencing on the lowest score reaches 10 or the player commencing with the highest score reaches halfway between his handicap and 21 - refer to the League Handbook to obtain the various Divisions handicaps. During the 1967-1968 season the make-up of the League was by the following:- Bardswell - Sec. R.Carter. Billericay CC - Sec.B.G.Cole. Billericay Recreational - Sec. C.Paine. Brentwood Gas - Sec. K.G.James. Brentwood Y.C. - Sec. W.G.Moon. Brentwood School - Sec. Q.Ford. Brookfield TTC - Sec. J.W.Bleasby. Crays Hill TTC - Sec. C.Drake. Estric - Sec. D.J.Dean. Hutton TTC - Sec. F.W.Douglas. Ingatestone - Sec. J.Morgan. Incidentals - Sec. R.F.Waters. Old Brentwood - Sec. M.Fraser. Rotary Hoes S. & S.C. - Sec. L.T.Boon. Runwell Hospital - Sec. R.Smith. Selo - Sec. G.K.Lafferty. St. Andrews Hospital - Sec. R.Pollard* St. Joseph's - Sec. F.Foster.** St. Faith's Hospital - Sec. A.Lovell*** St. John's - Sec. D. Platt**** South Weald - Sec. W.Wilford Wickford - Sec.
* St. Andrew's Hospital has now been demolished to make way for a housing project. The famous Burns Unit has been transferred to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford during 1998/1999.
**Fred Foster a former Chairman of the League.
***Who can forget the huge banquets provided during intervals by Alan Lovell.
***Dave Platt, a former Publicity Officer of the League and Restricted Singles Champion of of Division Two in 1971/1972.
Clubs using school premises had a time limit of around 9.30 pm to 10.00 pm and so needed to start their matches on time. In a report submitted by Keith Stephens of the Cranston Park Table Tennis Club, it would appear that not only was Keith in his younger days a fine all round table tennis player but he was also a formidable tennis player who along with Roy Williams of Billericay Catholic Table Tennis Club were the Men's Doubles pairing their opponents had to beat. Side by side with the following report is also a report on the Finals of the Brentwood Hard Court Tennis Championships held at the Selo Tennis Club. Now we all remember Selo through their Table Tennis Club, situated in Woodman Road where the Closed Championships and Finals used to be held before that venue was sold and demolished to make way for housing. According to the report, Keith and Roy defended their Men's Title by the defensive lobbing of the holders against the net attack of club colleagues John Tucker and C.Rippon who could not put away enough winners so Stephens and Williams ran out winners by two sets to one 10-8, 6-8, 6-2. Keith also featured in the Singles Final attempting to repeat his win in the previous year's Final but on this occasion he came up against Ian Moss of Mountnessing who was a volley and smash merchant and although this Final went to three Keith was unable to retain his title losing 8-6,3-6,6-2. Keith's report featured in the ARGUS of 18th September 1969.
The opening week of the 1969/1970 season saw the headlines in the local press :- "Hutton topple old rivals" - The Billericay & District Table Tennis League got under way last week with a new look four Divisions of 12 clubs instead of 5 sections of 10. Old Premier Division rivals Hutton A and Bardswell A clashed in an exciting opening tussle. Both clubs have lost some star players but Peter Morris taking the Fred Lockwood spot won both games to help Hutton to a 7-3 victory. Rotary Hoes A swamped St. John's A 8-2 with Terry Eayres in great form winning both games for the Saints. St. Joseph's A made a good start beating Billericay C.C. B 7-3 with John Darling accounting for Brian Cole and Bill Murray. Billericay C.C. A took both doubles to beat Brentwood Gas 6-4 while Brentwood Y.C. A and St. Faiths battled out the first and only draw. In the Second Division Brentwood Y.C. B were too good for Selo A only losing one game. Rotary Hoes C having the same success against Incidentals. Bardswell B went down 3-7 to Hutton C and Estric A won a close match against the Youth Centre C. Third Division South Weald A beat two man Ingatestone B 10-0- John Randall won a game playing at number four but then had to forfeit because a two man team must play at numbers one/two. Billericay C scored with a 9-1 victory over Billericay Constitutional A.
Promoted Brentwood Y.C. D showed Estric B how they did it winning 8-2 and new team Hutton Community Association A got off to a good start beating weakened St.Johns B 8-2. Demoted Hutton E appear determined to get away from the bottom Division if their 8-2 win over Wickford is anything to go by. Two newcomers to the League - Hutton Community Association B and Warley Boys Brigade clashed in their first match with Hutton proving superior with a 10-0 win. Another newcomer also came to grief when Ingatestone Boys Brigade was unable to take a game off Selo C.
St. John's C won 7-3 against South Weald B while Billericay Constitutional B started well with a 9-1 win over Selo. There were no surprises in the Preliminary Round of the Knockout Cup but Roy Kenward and Peter Alexander turned in some good performances for St. Johns against their Premier opponents. Knockout Cup Preliminary Round Results. Rotary Hoes A v Estric A 9-0, Billericay CC A v HCA B 9-0, HCA A v Billericay Const. B 9-0, Selo v Brentwood YC A 2-7, St. Johns B v St. Faiths A 3-6, St. Johns C v Incidentals 3-6,. Premier Division Results. Hutton A v Bardswell A 7-3, Brentwood YC A v St. Faiths 5-5, St. Johns A v Rotary Hoes A 2-8, St. Josephs A v Billericay CC B 7-3, Brentwood Gas v Billericay CC A 4-6. First Division Results. Incidentals v Rotary Hoes C 1-9, Estric A v Brentwood YC C 6-4, Hutton D v St. Josephs B 7-3, Selo A v Brentwood YC B 1-9. Second Division Results. Ingatestone B v South Weald A 0-10, Bardswell C v Billericay Const A 9-1, Brentwood YC d v Estric B 2-8, Billericay CC C v Selo B 10-0, HCA A v St. Johns B 8-2. Third Division Results. Billericay Const B v Selo D 9-1, HCA B v Warley B 10-0 v Ingatestone BB v Selo C 0-10, St. Johns C v South Weald B 7-3. In 1968 a new club came into being and was called the Hutton Community Association Table Tennis Club.
This club was formed at the direct request of the Founder Chairman of the Association - Ben Walsh - Hutton Poplars being its first venue where two teams played. Bill Wall who had been a member of both Ingatestone and Selo Table Tennis Clubs was approached and in conjunction with Joe Bee they entered the local league. The original members apart from Bill and Joe were Ken Catton, Cyril Mitchell, Derek Hall, father and son George and Steve Murdoch, Pat Stone and John Mulley. Play commenced during the 1968/1969 season and joining the club soon after was Joe Duranti who played with a Woolworth bat acquired some years earlier. The object of the table tennis club was to support other sections of the enterprise to eventually gain recognition as a Community Association, among which was Ladies Keep Fit, Badminton, Junior Football to name a few. The club became known as the H.C.A until it closed down in the 1995/1996 season.
During those early years members paid a 5-shilling "match fee" and out of the seasons income a donation was given to the Association. The Committee of the Association worked hard and recognition of its aims were finally achieved when monies from various Sports bodies, Government and Local Councils enabled the building of the Hutton Community Association sited in Harrison Close on the edge of the Wash Playing Fields - so that its beginnings were not forgotten it was named Hutton Poplars after the site of its first inception.
Trying to fit a quart into a pint pot with all the sections wanting space within the new building was the job of the organizing Committee, with the table tennis section being relegated to the smaller room. Although good times were enjoyed by the club in League and Cup competitions it was the tightness of trying to operate four teams into an area which became hard to play in and at this stage one of the classrooms in the Bishops Hill Adult Centre was obtained and for the two seasons that table tennis was played there, Billericay will remember one of their visits very well. Bishops Hill dispensed tea and coffee from a machine, the taste of which defied description and Bill Wall was in those days a dab hand at home made beer and wine. It was during the visit of Billericay that Bill had provided a small keg of home made lager instead of the tea and coffee on offer. The teams that night for the visitors were John Gagg, John Parodi, Dave Carter and Tony Barber while the home team consisted of Bill Wall, Phil Hale, Joe Duranti and Mick Debenham. The match itself was a real ding-dong and readers will not be surprised to learn that the result was an honourable draw with both teams shaking hands and complimenting the lager.
Due to fees rising the teams made their way back to the Community Association players from the HCA A team formed the New Post Inn club and the B team moved to the Reading Rooms in Billericay High Street and became Billericay B, sadly the other two teams did not reform elsewhere and the League lost valuable teams. And so Hutton Community Association Table Tennis Club disappeared.
John Parodi of the Billericay Table Tennis Club provided a whole host of Facts & Figures along with statistics, and where would we be without them. It is the work of the statistician to interpret all facts and figures put before them and John Parodi provided the Editor with a whole stream, relating to the Billericay Club as far back as 1973 - unfortunately John does not have any earlier records so I have had to rely on other people's recollections and memorabilia. Billericay Table Tennis Club was formed under the name of Billericay Recreation and my personal memories of the players connected with Billericay Rec were of course Derek Gomm and Maureen Eayres - I am sure that both of the afore mentioned can go further back and Derek was, in his own right, a good player representing the League in the Essex Inter League Veterans competitions and playing constantly in the Premier Division. Maureen was one of those players who was hard to beat and play against and along with Terry Eayres they both supported and played in the League for various clubs.
To mention a few players of the 114 who have been connected with the club since 1973 one can recall George Pavitt 1981-1993, Ken Smith who played with an old Barna bat 1980-1988, Colin Marco 1976-1983 - Colin now plays regularly in the Basildon, Southend and Chelmsford Leagues and was also a former Chairman of the Southend League. A young Tony West 1983-1985 who as a junior showed plenty of promise. Dave Platt 1973-1975 - Dave won the Restricted Singles in the 1971/72 season and was also a former Publicity Officer for the League. Mick Ford who has played continuously in the league since he joined in 1951 . In more recent years George Reeves Senior and Junior with George Jnr fighting a debilitating illness for two years then making a comeback and playing exceptionally well in the top flight. The A and B teams of this club are well known and currently playing in the Premier Division are those "THREE MUSKETEERS" - Dave Carter, John Parodi and John Gagg and wherever you find one of the three the others are not far away especially where table tennis is concerned.
The same can be said of their B team of Colin Clements, Paul Mulley, John Dyson and Gordon Donaghue and anyone who has played against Gordon does not forget the experience easily. Gordon with his own brand of table tennis came to fame when playing in the National Championships of the England Veterans Tournament at Bracknell and playing in the First Round proper, he was drawn against Barry Johnson a former international player and ranked in the top ten - now Gordon was not aware of his opponents reputation and class when they faced each other. The first game to Gordon 22-20 with Johnson unable to read his returns, the second game was "nip and tuck" with the Billericay man keeping in touch with the man from Birmingham. At 18 points each, Johnson, trying desperately to get on level terms could not quite gain the necessary points and went down 21-18 giving Gordon the biggest scalp he is ever likely to take - when told that he had beaten a top international Gordon managed a slight smile of satisfaction and became a local legend overnight.
During the course of the 1980/1981 season it was muted that the League should change its name. At the time Fred Foster was the Chairman and although the proposal was steeped in intrigue the change was eventually made by an Emergency Committee Meeting and it would appear that the alteration hinged on a decision by the Brentwood Sports Council to make a donation of some £100.00 to the League, it then became known as the BRENTWOOD & DISTRICT TABLE TENNIS LEAGUE. Perhaps there is still somebody around in the League in 1980/81 who can remember the reasons but the name does not change the sport.
As the interviewer and producer of the original text, Bill Wall wishes to convey his sincere thanks to Harry Spraggs who loaned the handbooks from which so much information was gleaned - Harry played in three Knock-out Cup Finals with three different Clubs