My Career in the Grimsby Table Tennis League 'Early Years' (1982-1990)

a writing by Paul Butters

My career in the Grimsby, England (U.K.) Table Tennis League spans 34 years. Most matches are now played at Clee Sports Hall, which usually runs about 6 or 7 fixtures per night. There were over 20 venues back in the day.

When I first joined the league in autumn 1982 (having moved here from Doncaster), we had four man\woman teams arranged in eight divisions plus a “Premier Division”. The league had in fact been cut by a division. There were 2 Schools Divisions and a Girl’s Division. Plus a 2 division summer league. No venues were listed then, but the following year there were twenty two! Matches were divided into two “draws”, so you only played half of the opposing team as an individual.

The NALGO club played at 76 a Pasture Street, an old run-down building later converted into flats. For the record, our then office manager Don Newton invited me to play for NALGO D in Division 6. Our squad: Roy (Captain) and Maureen Lincoln, Dave Gregory (deceased), reserve Diane Lord (Roy’s daughter) and others. We finished 4th so Dave and I were promoted to a new NALGO D in Division 5.

At that time Dave Skerratt (from Scunthorpe) had won the Grimsby Men’s Singles twice in a row and G Sharpe was long reigning Ladies’ Champion having depose Connie Moran in c. 1979. (Pete Taylor won the Men’s in 1978).

For 83-84, the late Don Keightley (father of Ian) was captain and we added Roy Lee. We went undefeated and won the title. Connie Moran took back her Ladies’ title and kept it for many years. Matt Sheader took the Men’s and again monopolised it most years for a very long time. Brian Allison won it now and then I recall. As for the doubles.... Need I say?

The following year (84-85) I became captain of NALGO D as NALGO moved to the former Yarra Road Post Office, Cleethorpes. Terry Reddington (a Job Centre boss) was added. Then youngsters Andy Bruford and Will Jenner joined. We finished 5th in division 4. Yarra Road was quite spacious if ancient.

85-86: we became NALGO B in Division 3. We added Mike Braithwaite and used Ian Keightley but finished 8th. Andy and Will decided their priorities lay elsewhere.

Suddenly things happened fast. Clee Council joined the NALGO fold, and I effectively joined Clee Council. Richard Wilson was captain and Dave Wagstaff their star player. (He’ll love me saying that!).

For 1986-87 the league adopted 3 player teams. We were called NALGO B and we finished 3rd in Division 3, narrowly missing promotion. The Yarra was still our home.

87-88: most of NALGO were called “Longchamps” and played at the now Littlefield Lane Club. We were “NALGO Longchamps A”, stayed at The Yarra and we won Division 3.

88-89: I became captain of NALGO A as the whole of NALGO occupied The Yarra. We finished 3rd in Division 2. Another promotion “close miss”.

89-90: NALGO club moved to Grimsby Tennis Club on College Street, we remained NALGO A but moved to Knoll Street, Cleethorpes. Suffice to say Knoll Street was called “The Goldfish Bowl”! The league still had 20 venues incidentally. We won Division 2 for the first time.

Actually this article is longer than I expected. Have dredged up shoals of facts. Richard, Dave and I won a number of titles until about 2002 when first Dave, then Richard retired. But that’s another story.

(C) Paul Butters 26\10\2010. Edited\Amended 1\1\2016.

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