TIMES PAST

ALTERNATIVE VENUES UNDER CONSIDERATION

Matches in the DLP Adapted Bathrooms sponsored Isle of Man Table Tennis League will not be able to take place at the NSC until the flood damage has been remedied. We have been advised that the Secondary Hall is unlikely to be available until April at the earliest. A number of potential alternative options are under consideration. Once the IOMTTA has formulated a plan, information will be issued to the club secretaries and will be posted on our website and Facebook pages.

OLDEN TIMES

With all our investigations into alternative venues I was reminded about Jeff Bubb’s ‘A History of Table Tennis in the Isle of Man 1948-1994’ which was published back in 1995 when Bubb was chairman of the IOMTTA. It proved to be an interesting read and shown below are some extracts relating to some prominent players and where table tennis used to be played before the move to the NSC.

The first known organised club was formed at the Bay Hotel in Ramsey in December 1947. A match between the Ramsey Club, led by Bernard Swales, and Ramsey Youth Centre was the first to be recorded. The result was 10-0 to the Ramsey Club. Their second match resulted in a 7-3 win over the Marine Section of the RAF. LAC Buckley was the winner for the visitors and the home team included Swales and L Burt.

In that first season the Youth Club, RAF and the Mitre Hotel formed the opposition locally with the Central Hotel in Douglas being the only team outside of Ramsey. Under the captaincy of W Preston Central Hotel was the first team to beat the Ramsey Club by what is reported to have been ‘a decisive score’.

At the end of the 1947/48 season the Ramsey Open took place and subsequently this became the Island Championship. It was initially held at the Northern Youth Centre Ramsey. Ronnie Clough beat Arthur Brew 21/16, 21/9 in the final. The Ladies champion was Sheila Kinrade with Ella Radcliffe the runner-up. R Malone won the juniors. Bob Gregory and Sheila Kinrade took the mixed doubles title.

In 1949 the first island Championships were played in the Weslyn Hall in Ramsey. The winner was John Edwards who was the Scottish number one between 1946 and 1948. He beat Ronnie Clough 21/13, 21/10, 21/15. The Ramsey Courier reported on the final saying, ‘Spectators applauded time after time the wonderful defence of the loser (Clough) and indeed his whiplash forehands but the superior match temperament of Edwards led no doubt about the winner.’  They subsequently played an exhibition match in Kirk Michael in the old school.

Table tennis teams began to be formed across the island with Tommy Cashin and Leslie Lowe based in Lezayre. Flight Lieutenant Doby installed improved lighting in the team practice room at Jurby air station. Its use was strictly controlled but this only increased the list of airmen hopeful for selection. People in Kirk Michael were offered the chance to try the game and many took the opportunity. Peel Country Club was looked into as another venue with Ken Powell, Norman Gawne and Alan Palmer involved. In Douglas the four best and most used tables were located in Reece’s Billiard Saloon.

1951 was an important year as the first island league was formed. By 1968 Ramsey had four teams, Pulrose Youth Club and Westlakes Hotel had two and Rushen YC, Sunnyside Hotel and Howestrake Golf Club also competed. This was the era of Harold and Maureen Wilcock who dominated taking every possible title for many years.

By 1974 Grand Island won the first division. They were a spin-off from the Ramsey Club and they defeated Ronnie Clough’s new team, Wheel Bar, 6-4 in the final match of that season. The up a coming young star for Wheel Bar was Mark Johnson who won both the junior and senior titles two year earlier. Colin Brown, Mel Hoey and Bob Briercliffe represented the Coach and Horses and they each had considerable success over the following decades.

In 1975 Malcolm Kelly, Les Wilson, Dave Faragher and P Collister formed a strong Port Erin team who tried to end the northern teams’ domination. Wheel Bar disappeared and the Post Office, Laxey Social Centre and Laxey Travellers appeared. Douglas Bay were the first winners of Division Three with the Civil Service entering four team in that division.

The new school, QE2, in Peel was utilised for championships from 1979 onwards until the Ballakermeen sports hall was built. Once the slippery floor problems were solved Ballakermeen was regularly used for major tournaments from 1989 onwards. Local venues were increasingly used to play table tennis. Glen Maye were based in the Methodist Hall and Ronaldsway utilised their social club. Boundary Harriers played in the Memorial Hall while Union Mills and St John’s used their club houses.

Throughout the 1980’s the Education Department invested in new tables which were installed in most schools so these naturally became the base for many clubs. Port Erin continued playing at the Colby Level Hall and Peel were in the Marine Hall on the promenade. Douglas Bay continued at the Civil Defence HQ and Ramsey utilised the Presbyterian church. King William’s College with ex Lancaster cricketer Jack Bond were still the team to beat.

By 1994 there were four divisions and over 160 players registered for the 45 teams then playing at a multitude of venues across the island. The Nat West 2001 Island Games was the stimulus to extend the facilities at the National Sport Centre. With the new Secondary Hall providing a purpose built central location it was an obvious move and one that the IOMTTA has not regretted.

For the next few months we will have to revert to more localised venues but we will be back. On behalf of the IOMTTA we wish all those involved with the restoration work good luck and our compliments of the season.

MALCOLM LAMBERT

Author: via Isle Of Man Table Tennis Association
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