Table Tennis

TABLE TENNIS
A lifetime (almost) interest and activity.
As a young engineer with the Defence Force, an early lunch-time pastime soon became membership in a team entered in the Public Services Metropolitan Competition. We had enough space only for a lunchtime table ( in the corridor between but drafting tables in the Engineering Department), and also for security reasons, our home ground was on a rented table at Albert Park Table Tennis Stadium. It was a huge corrugated iron building, without heating or cooling, concrete flooring, (except for a “centre court”), providing extensive facilities for resident Clubs, those like ours without home ground facilities, and was the home of the Victorian Table Tennis Association, (VTTA), now called Table Tennis Victoria, (TTV).
This was in the early 1960’s, in lower grades, a lot of fun and good social experience. It was interesting that my team captain was actually my boss, a generation above me and a very competent player. We got along marvellously, at work and at “play” and remained friends even after he retired.
Now, 55 years later, I am reflecting on that part of my life which was certainly of importance, and in no small way.
A three month overseas business trip in 1966 and a resulting heavy work load, created a table tennis sport hiatus which was to last right through to the early 1980’s.
In the meantime, there was some involvement with tennis, when my children were growing and Barbara and I became foundation members of what became the Blackburn South Tennis Club. (Prime mover Norm Young).
Never anything but a social playing member, it was on the committe that I started a somewhat lengthy involvement in the admin side of both sports. Secretary for many years until the Club became very well established and became far more competition oriented than social.
[As an aside, in the admin experience arena, when my eldest boy joined Cubs/Scouts, of course I got “roped into” the Secretary position of the 6th Nunawading Scout Group committe for some years, until we built our own Hall and my sons grew past that activity.]
Strange, in a way, from the Tennis Club came my renewed involvement with Table Tennis. Anton was a keen junior tennis player at Blackburn South T.C. when he met up with another now long term friend John Routley playing TT on a table at the tennis club.
They started playing competition at the Highbury Road Church of Christ in Highbury Road, a small group run by Brian Hastings. Soon I became an E grade player together with John’s son and daughter. My best guess at exactly when, is 1983.
[I have mislaid the earliest score and fixture books that I kept, but will update this when they come to light.]
Along the way, Anton quickly reached A1 churches level and younger son David later followed in his foootsteps.
Slowly working my way up from an E grade leading player, (Spring 1986), to becoming sort of part-time B grade, my level has now settled to low C/highD in our Churches competition. Far too erratic to play competently at almost any level.
Achieved 75 seasons recognition as a player in 2008.
Nowadays, on as many Monday nights as possible, I enjoy social table tennis in Don Cheyne’s group at St.John’s venue. It once was at St.Ninians, an earlier Club playing a major part in the Association’s activities, generally providing the top players and teams. That tradition also continues at St.Johns.

Now to the serious part regarding administration 🙂
Club Administration:
The Highbury Road players were predominately non-church members and after a year or so we were asked to ‘move on’, culminating in the formation of a new club, ‘Blackburn South TTC’. We arranged to hire the Local Scout hall, accomodating 2 tables on 2 nights each week. At that stage Wolfgang Rauland assisted with the administration and we were there for a few years until the Scout committee asked for more rental, prompting another hall search and a successful move to the ‘Orchard Grove Primary School’ gymnasium, Holland Rd, Blackburn South. We then had space for 4 tables and only needed one night to cater for up to 8 teams.
(I was glad to get out of the Scout Hall after one night when we turned up to play and found the hall ‘full’ of tents hung up to dry.)
As the years rolled on, we gradually reduced in player numbers and eventually dropped to 3 teams. Coincidentally, the Eley Park Club was also experiencing a drop in membership. Their Coordinator, Helen Farrell, and I, with the members approval, arranged to amalgamate the Clubs and all play and be part of the EPTTC.
After Helen Farrells retirement I became the Eley Park Coordinator with finances being thankfully dealt with by Claudia Godtner, and much appreciated admin assistance from Fred Delisola.
Eventually it was time for a “stress relief” change. Eley Park is now admirably administered by Fred, Claudia, Gerard McCarthy, Grant Smith and, now retired from that committee, John Theunissen and Neville Young (now ESCTTA President).
Association Administration:
I do not recall which particular years years, but early on I joined the ESCTTA committee, first as a general member, then secretary (for 12 years I think), then a vice-president, and was awarded life membership in 1996.
Notable committee Presidents in my term on the committee were Ron Mealand and Laura Sheppee.
Secretary positions were also held by Wolfgang Rauland and Graham Leary. During all those years Barrie Epstein (St.Philips) was Treasurer, doing a great job and a great deal of other administration as well.
Laura and I coincidentally retired from the committee in ? [and it has never been the same since Hee, hee! 🙂 ] Even got our photo in the local paper.

Back in the 1980’s there were many more teams. several individual grades at each level, right down to E Grade. [Need to find that old fixture book]
As mentioned at the start, effectively a lifetime; of pleasure, sport and admin activities, significant friendships, social interactions and memories.

Just to throw in some opinion on player numbers and venues. The significant reduction in player numbers had several potential reasons, including the advent of increased alternative sports, increased education pressures, increased leisure activity opportunities, increasing demands on work responsibilities, and the greater need for couples to be both in the work force, all of which still exist.
Yet there are many vibrant table tennis centres dotted around the metropolitan and regional areas. Croydon District’s venue has increased in capacity over the last decades.
The metroplitan population is ever-increasing and has become strongly Asian in the Eastern areas. A recognized table tennis oriented (no pun intended), group.
It is disappointing that no dedicated table tennis facility is able to get any priority in the local Eastern councils’ fund applications to sports, apparently because the “big” sports have significantly greater ability to raise and use their own funds.

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