Finals Night at the Police Club
The following welcome message from the Finals Night program.
Although the league programme has been completed, a number of additional important events have still to be settled, none more so, than tonight's Fawley Construction, Liverpool Closed Championships. Since the first 'Closed', in the inaugural 1926/27 season, a further seventy five championships' have been staged and although I can only remember as far back as the 65/66 event, they have all to me, been special occasions. Listed elsewhere, you will see the great names who have won titles' in what, is probably, the oldest local league tournament in the country. Both the ETTA and the Liverpool League, were formed in 1926 and from Mr. J.R.Bather in 1927, up to current champions' Keith Williams and Clare Peers, I'm sure were all proud to have earned the title of Liverpool Closed champion. Keith has nine singles titles to his name and since he isn't one for records, I did recently remind him, that one more, would put him level with former England international Ron Rumjahn.
Clare on the other hand, won the ladies' title in 1995/96 and 96/97 under her maiden name of Newns, one more success would place her level with Norah Norrish, Judy Crafter, Brenda Buoey and Paula French, with only Eileen Mansell ahead of them, on six.
However, those sports, and table tennis is one, not generally covered by the media, must do all they can to promote local leagues' and tournaments. Between the 1930's and the 60's, players' turned out in great numbers for the Merseyside Open and the 'Closed', but this is not happening today. Most tournaments, have been affected, with numerous reasons offered as to why interest has dwindled . Since those days, many factors in our general life style, have contributed to this. The star names will still enter while the lesser lights', with fewer opportunity to progress through a couple of rounds, have lost interest, with the thrill of being in the draw, no longer existing.
That being said, the Liverpool Closed, has continued, the only exceptions being in 1928/29 and 1939/40. With premises becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain, inevitably, League finances are affected. In the past, when the tournament was staged during the week, a school or club room could be used. With sport centres' now having to be used, the League has been very fortunate to enjoy financial assistance from Fawley Construction, their first involvement being in 1989. Bill Fawley was unable to join us a year ago, but I'm delighted that Bill, the League's President, and his wife Vivienne, together with fellow company director Leo Crone and his wife Carol, will be present tonight. Either Bill or Leo has attended every 'closed' since their first and in that time, have witnessed seven different men's singles winners and eight different ladies' winners'. Bill played in the 1952/53 Merseyside Open, when his doubles partner, Geoff Pullar, won the junior singles title, at the Philharmonic Hall. Of local interest, former Liverpool Lord Mayor, Eddie Clein, was in the junior singles and is the only current Liverpool League player in the event that year, although Bill Harris and Jim Clewett played in the men's singles. I wonder if Bill remembers attending the finals when admission to the Phil' was 2/6d, 3/6d, 6/- and a box holding 6, was 36/-.
But I have digressed. Tonight is all about not only those taking part in the 'Closed' but those of us, who will only ever be a spectator. My next comment is one churned out at every such event but is necessary. To all who have helped in any way to make tonight possible, and there are too many to name, on behalf of the League, I say, most sincerely, thank you, especially all who helped to lift tables and surrounds, both on and off the van and return them to Fairfield on Sunday night. It would be remiss of me, if I failed to name but a few. Referee, Ken Armson MBE. Does that stand for Merseyside's Best Events', (he is also the inspiration behind the Merseyside Open), together with Faith Moore, who does more than some of us Committee Members. She carries out tasks that many don't realise exist. Ken has spent weeks, hours and sleepless nights, to put together this tournament, even when there was a distinct possibility, it may not be played. One shouldn't have to cajole or persuade players' to enter their championships, but he did, and tonight, you shall see the result of his efforts. Tournament Organiser, Arthur Garnett, has the job of arranging tables, umpires, refreshments, venue and numerous other responsibilities. The Merseyside Police Athletic Association, has again provided these excellent surroundings for the conclusion of our Championships, and for that we thank you. Ken, I am certain, will in his own inimitable style, tonight comment on this together with other important aspects of the event. Lastly, I thank Dick Johnson and the City Council Sport Development Department, for their continued and valued support together with Fawley Construction, who, for the seventeenth year in succession, has generously sponsored this famous event.
I am certain you shall, as usual, leave with fond memories of tonight's action, and on behalf of the Management Committee, I wish you a pleasant evening and a safe journey home.
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