A short History of the Southend & District Table Tennis League

The Southend & District Table Tennis League (SDTTL) was formed in 1927.

Its first President was local sports icon, Arthur Ducat, who represented England at both Football and Cricket and was also a fine Table Tennis player. The new league had 7 teams, each team comprised of 6 players playing one game each, a total of 6 matches, with the first League Champions being Naval & Military.

  Initially our League only included teams from the Borough of Southend, but as time went on, the scope was extended to teams from the Districts of Rochford and Castlepoint and from 2000 onwards, teams from outside these areas.

  Over the years, Southend has had many fine Men players and to name but a few we remember: Harry Garrett and Bill McCave in the 40s, Wally Hall and Hugh Molloy in the 50s, Mike Watts and Ray Eley in the 60s, Andrew Bawden and Stuart Gibbs in the 70s, Steve Tilson in the 80s, Cris Sladden and Ryan Savill in the 90s and Tony Halling and Kevin Caldon in the 2000s.

We have also had many fine lady players and we recall Winnie Dakin in the 40s and 50s, Maureen Pemberton and Brenda Jones in the 60s, Linda Hales (Henwood), Linda Budd and Marilyn Bawden (Thacker) in the 70s, Julie Askem in the 80s, Sabine Libeck in the 90s and Cathy Eakin, Linda Attridge and Nicola Syderenko in the 2000s.

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of strong Junior Clubs, the Hullbridge Sports Association, Rawreth Juniors, TT-on-sea @ David Lloyds, Canvey and Legra. These clubs are making a huge difference to the number of players playing in our League and for the first time in many years, our membership is growing, up from 300 a few years ago to over 400. We are very proud of the achievements of these Clubs' juniors and clearly they are producing the stars of the future.

Southend has always been run by a superb Committee which has been the envy of other Leagues and past key members that are recalled are Ron Aldwich, Harry Gaunt, Peter Edwards, Kath Peer (our President for over 35 years), Mike Taylor, Peter Ballard, Sheila Green, Dave and Ruth Green and Brench and Shirley Moon and there were many others.

  A special mention is made of Mike Watts, who many consider was the person who made the most post war impact on local Table Tennis. Mike arrived in the 60s as a top player and an energetic Committee Member. Mike won our Men's Singles title and represented both Southend and Essex. It was however off the table that Mike made such an impact, being the motivating force behind many coaching schemes in the area, plus organising the Southend Open. Mike was also instrumental in bringing to Southend, Essex and England matches. Mike was behind many other things at Southend and was our General Secretary from 1965 to 1973 and our Chairman from 1973 to 1976. Mike then moved upwards to become General Secretary of the ETTA where he organised many top events including the 1998 World Championships. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2002 but he will always be remembered by his many friends and colleagues not only in Southend but throughout the whole country. In 2003, Mike's wife, Hilda presented to the Southend & District Table Tennis League the Mike Watts Award, to be awarded annually to a person, persons or club for the Development of Table Tennis.

  Southend continue to have a very strong Committee and we strive to be remembered in a similar way to our illustrious predecessors. Over the past 15 years we have seen a massive effort put in by Jayne Johnson, our General Secretary, who is involved in everything the Southend League does (Jayne is also the Secretary of the Essex County Table Tennis Association and was for many years, Secretary of the Hullbridge Sports Association Table Tennis Club); also Janet Finch our Results Secretary for the past 10 years, aided by hubby Bob Shingleton-Smith, Andrew Halling who designed our Web Site and ran it for some 10 great years: Lou Hopkins our Treasurer, Essex Representative and Summer League Secretary and others Paul Reed, Ray Farmer and never forgetting the late and much loved, Brian Cooper who did so much to encourage others in our beloved sport. 

We have also been so fortunate to have the support of Stuart Gibbs, our President, the former England Number 2, who represented England from Junior to Veteran level: Stuart winning our Men's Singles in 4 separate decades and arguably the best player ever to play in Southend: Stuart is continually coaching juniors and seniors in the art of our sport and is always looking to contribute in any way he can to the enjoyment of Table Tennis.

Another former Southend Champion (twice), who has been a major help to our juniors is George Reeves, who has put much back into local Table Tennis and this year was awarded the coveted Mike Watts Award for Development in Table Tennis.

Finally we have had some excellent clubs over the years and it would be wrong to single out a few, as they have all played their part, as have their players in making the Southend & District Table Tennis League (SDTTL) one of the best in the UK, as was said this year by the English Table Tennis Association Chairman, Alex Murdoch to me at the ETTA AGM.

  And looking to the future, new stars are arriving as Players and on our Committee, none less than the massive effort, our new Web Site Guru, Berti Makolli has put in, together with Jayne Johnson, in turning our League into a “Paperless World” with our great Web Site, a massive thank you to both of you.

Well that's a thumbnail sketch of the history of SDTTL and our apologies go out to those who have done much in the past on and off the table who have not been mentioned, but are so much appreciated.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 17 years as the Chairman of the Southend & District Table Tennis League (SDTTL) and thank so many friends for making my time in this role, so fulfilling and above all, fun. I make a special mention of Jayne Johnson, our General Secretary, who has made my life easy as a Chairman, by always supporting me on all Committee areas and by doing so much work in the running of the fabulous Southend & District Table Tennis League.

Thank you all

Ken Field, 9th October 2010

Chairman of the Southend & District Table Tennis League (SDTTL); Chairman of the Essex County Table Tennis Association (ECTTA); Chairman of the Essex Schools Table Tennis Association (ESTTA) & Chairman of the Rawreth Table Tennis Club (RTTC)

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