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Something Old, Something New!

As everyone knows table tennis is a game for people of any age. Look at our club for example; we have at our coaching session Archie Mason, our youngest member, who is only 9 years old, and our oldest member is Don Gibson who celebrated his 85th birthday at the Club this year and is still playing each week (see News Stories 160714). Even though they are at opposite ends of the age scale, both are keen players. Our President Billy Clayton seems to have been playing for an eternity, but does anyone know how long table tennis has been about?

Before I start, did any of us know that the Liverpool and District Table Tennis League, to which our club is affiliated, is one of the oldest leagues in the country having been founded in 1926? And no, not by any of our members, and that is even older than Don or Billy!

Table tennis was actually invented by an Englishman known as David Foster back in 1890. He saw how lawn tennis was played and how successful it was proving to be and wanted to have a smaller game version for the table. Only one example of the original game is now available to be seen and that's in the ITTF museum, way out in Shanghai, having been moved there from Switzerland. At the time there were many board and table games available which included card games, dice games and also tiddlywinks, along with other games.

Initially the game of table tennis had strung rackets; a 30mm cloth covered rubber ball or a cork ball and a small wooden perimeter fence and side nets to catch the balls. And in 1891 the net was invented by a female named Emma Barker, but due to the type of ball the game became inadequate so in 1900 the celluloid ball was invented and the game took off. And the result is the game is still very popular today, being played by men and women, the young and not so young!

So there we have it, and now we know more about its origin we can all carry on playing and enjoying the game. And if you are still awake after reading this then well done, my efforts have not been in vain! Oh, and if you are ever in Shanghai and happen to visit the museum please let us know about it...all additions and comments to blogs are welcome and can be made through Facebook. Thank you!

Oldest Club member, Don Gibson, celebrating his 85th birthday at marine and playing table tennis in July 2016

Youngest Club Member Archie Mason, centre, surrounded by his two brothers, Finn to his left and Euan - nearly 13 - to his right. Picture courtesy of Dad Ian Mason.

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