Table Tennis: The Chesman and Winslow Years

a writing by Paul Butters

When Dave Wagstaff and Richard Wilson left my table tennis (ping pong) team in the early 2000s, I soon joined Parkside. The captain of the particular team I joined was Ken Chesman. Ken was a very enthusiastic, good all-round player. He had been captain for donkey’s years. When he was younger Ken was a good local footballer, amongst other things. They say that before he met his wife, he was very popular with the ladies too. He had been in Division Two of the Grimsby League for many seasons and at least once they had been promoted to Division One. Ken had an artificial hip, by the way.

Chesman, Winslow and Beamish

The other stalwart of this team was Trevor Winslow. Again he was a fine all-round sportsman. His footballing career in the RAF had been cut short by a serious knee injury. Ken was slim, but Trevor was even slimmer! They were both about 15 years older than me, yet no sign of middle age spread (unlike me with my beer belly). Trevor was a most awkward opponent! He specialised in taking the ball very early and angling it wide and low. Rather like our contemporary, Paul Watkinson, in a way. Unfortunately Trevor was much better in practice than in matches: in the latter he would often get too tense. Nevertheless he won a medal once in the “Divisionals” (Division Two) either as runner-up or winner.

The third player in this team was Roger Beamish. He was not slim! Roger was a security guard at a local store and again ex-RAF. Roger cut an imposing figure, so the thieves probably stayed away. To be honest he could be very bad tempered, and nearly throw his bat about in rage. (Once when playing him I upset him with some service or other and he threw the game with a ball-crashing tantrum, from a winning position)! He was the best player in the team, averaging about 50% in Division One. Roger used anti-loop on one side and played an effective spoiling game.

Terry Smith and NALGO

Sadly Roger had to pack in after a season, through gout. He just could not move any more. So Terry Smith joined us. To say that Terry was enthusiastic is rather an understatement. He was at the club most nights (along with Don Newton) and would often open the place and lock up. Terry did lots of coaching and mentoring. He also did lots of sailing with a big club in Lincolnshire (Covenham?). Like Roger, Terry used anti-loop on one side and played a spoiling, blocking game. He was ultra – competitive. Having two artificial hips did not stop him. What a bionic team (with Ken and him)!

In 2005-06 we were relegated. Ken and Trevor talked of packing in, but Terry got them to keep playing, and join the NALGO club! For me, this meant rejoining NALGO in fact.
Early season (2006-07) we started well in Division Three. That was in spite of me being off sick from both work and TT for about a month. Then we Drew a match! Terry was unhappy. Around then we played the Police and I won all my games but had a bit of a panic attack in one. Terry calmed me down and advised me. We left the club light on when we went, but Terry said that would be okay. That was the last time I spoke with him. The next day he died in a boating accident (as reported on TV).

Bob Want and The Championship

Terry was replaced by Bob Want. Bob was a bit younger than me. He was a very talented all-round attacker with an exquisite drop-shot, tricky spin serves and annoying high lob. Bob won the Third Division Individual Championship. We won all our remaining league matches to take the title by a mile. I went about 18 matches before losing and only lost 4 altogether. I missed out on a place in the Averages because I “only” played 39 matches instead of 40! In fact we each had high percentages. A great season.

The final season, with Kev Cooper

Bob always struggled with working shifts, and finally he gave up on the TT. When we rejoined Division Two, we got Kev Cooper in from Division One. Kev is roughly my age but surprisingly had suffered a heart attack the previous year. Another ex-footballer, Kev was again very slim and still as fit as a lop. He is a vicious attacking player with a booming forehand, and very competitive. We had a good season together and he kept us up. At this point I left for pastures new. Stewart Dean and Connie Moran came in (and latterly Ian Keightley).

Sadly Ken died of a recurrence of bladder cancer, and earlier this year Trevor passed away with prostate cancer. Trevor’s wife Val still plays however. I miss chatting with Trevor and Val at the Crow’s Nest pub, where Trevor’s wit was something to savour. Happy times.

Paul Butters

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