I was shocked to receive the sad news of Alan’s passing. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I spent the evening with him and Alan Whittaker in the Ripley Club bar following the Division 2 singles Finals Night. Alan had just lost the final to Alan Whittaker by 4 games to 1. We talked all thing table tennis - past, present and future. He was contemplating the possibility of playing Division1 table tennis again, his team Racquets D were closing in on the title. As it happened, they went on to win the league with Sarah Jackson, Linda Simpson, Alan Whittaker and Alan himself proving to be a formidable second division side. His last match was against their close rivals KCC A, they won the match and secured the title, Alan winning one of his three matches. His final game was against Colin Bateman, sadly for Alan, losing this, three games to nil.
I’ve looked back through my records and Alan seems to have made his debut in HTTA back in 1990/91 when he played for Knaresborough Social B in Division 2 alongside Brian Graham and G Turner. He ended the season winning the divisional averages with a 90% success rate.
The team were promoted to Division 1 in 1993/94, becoming Knaresborough Social A in the process.
In 1994/95 Alan joined Oatlands A with Justin Ellis and Graham Burnham in Division 1, he stayed with the team for 19 further years when he took a break for a year. 19 years playing for the same team is a remarkable achievement, especially with the conditions players contend with in the hard winter months at Oatlands - many players turn up with hats and gloves to try and keep warm!
In 2013 Alan came back into league table tennis, again joining Justin and this time with George Chan and Sarah Jackson at Harrogate Racquets, playing for Racquets B in the first division. Alan stayed with Racquets until his sad passing and had 6 enjoyable seasons at the Club, culminating in winning this year’s Division 2 title.
I personally have had many tough games against Alan over the years and I’m sure many players, like myself, will have experienced his attitude to playing each and every point. He didn’t like to lose a point, a game or a match! He played hard but fair and won more than he lost – even this year ending with a 78% average.
Another sad loss for HTTA – a player giving 28 years to Harrogate league table tennis across only three teams.