A Short History of the Oldham and District Table Tennis League
The Oldham and District Table Tennis League was founded in 1932, its principle aim being to ensure the advancement of Table Tennis in Oldham and District, an object which is still to the fore today.
Although early records have disappeared in the mists of time, many exciting and interesting things have occurred over recent years.
One of the highlights of each season has always been the closed championships, the staging of these events having improved beyond all recognition since 1970, when they took place in a Dickensian type schoolroom at St Luke's School in Kempsey Street, Chadderton, a building demolished many years ago. In 1985, the venue was the palatial Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham and in that year, the competition was described in Table Tennis News as one of the best run tournaments in the country. In recent years, the league has made good use of the excellent Sports Centre in Oldham, and in addition to holding our own championships at this venue, the league has staged international matches, playing host to China and Canada, county matches, national tournaments and the English Closed Championships. It is hoped that in future good use will also be made of the newly refurbished Failsworth Sport Centre.
During seasons 1950-51, 51-52, 52-53, 86-87, 88-89 and 90-91 the Oldham junior team (Under 17) remained supreme in Lancashire and Cheshire League circles, even in competition with the big city sides of Manchester and Liverpool.
In 1984-85 the Oldham Men's Team won the 1st Division (top flight) Championship of the Lancashire and Cheshire League and the Norman Cook Memorial Trophy for the first time ever. The following season, Oldham became the first team in Lancashire to run a team in the prestigious British League and this was done successfully for six seasons, enabling twenty three players in all to participate at this highly competitive and well organised level.
The Oldham Ladies Team has always been well to the fore in the Lancashire and Cheshire League, having been runners-up on numerous occasions.
Arguably, the strongest department in the league is the Veteran Section for over 40's, with normally six or seven teams representing Oldham in the Lancashire and Cheshire League.
Ten Oldham Veterans performed in the World Veterans Championship in Manchester in june 1998 in various age groups, The Oldham Over 40 team gaining a creditable 13th position in the world ranking order.
The league coaching scheme for juniors has proved a tremendous success and has received high commendation from the E.T.T.A. in Hastings and many of our members over the years have become qualified coaches. Coaching takes place regularly at Shaw Community Centre and Failsworth Scool.
Since the formation of the Oldham and District Table Tennis League, numerous Oldham players have ranked highly in national ratings and many have achieved county honours at junior, senior and veteran level, while at least two of our representatives have gained international recognition.
At one period in the 1980's, Oldham boasted the youngest qualified E.T.T.A. umpire in the country. Oldham has had in the 1950's a double international at cricket and table tennis, the paraplegic champion of Great Britain, the British Universities doubles champion, the country's leading veteran in 1984 and three years later another person became the No. 1 veteran in Lancashire, having been formerly a Lacrosse International. In 2001, the Veteran Lady at over 60's Level, plays regularly for the Oldham Ladies' Team. In addition, four Oldham players have represented their country in games for the British Deaf Sports Council in Sofia and Rome.
Oldham has provided the treasurer of the E.T.T.A. who subsequently became the chairman, and later a person who rose dramatically from the ranks to become deputy chairman of the same organisation, and would surely by now have become the chairman had it not been for his nomadic business commitments.
In 1980-81, the Oldham League ran eight divisions - nearly 550 persons playing table tennis in the town and surrounding area. Although these has been a noticable decline in the number of poeple playing recently - in line with the national trend - the Oldham and District Table Tennis League is still regarded as being one of the strongest in Lancashire, both in terms of playing ability and organisation.
The quality of organisation is exemplified in the Annual Presentation Evening Dinner held in May, which is by general comment regarded as being one of the best in the country.
The League continues to flourish and much credit is due to the hard working and friendly members of the committee.