The Birth of Illawarra Table Tennis

The Birth of Illawarra Table Tennis


It cannot be overstated the contribution of our long standing, and sadly deceased life member, Tony Arts, who undertook to maintain and update our clubs long history. Each year, Tony would gather the competition results and add to his files. This and subsequent articles are dedicated to the memory of Tony. These articles are basically extracted from the original documents to give readers a snapshot of 70 years of Table Tennis

The Beginnings

The sustained interest in table tennis shown at Lysaghts had borne results.  The sport had grown from a few enthusiasts and one table to the temporary acquisition of portion of the Galvanised bathroom and four first class tables.  Each lunch hour at least thirty players used the tables.  The Lysaght Club had two “B” grade and one ,”A” grade team in the competition “A” and “B” had so far met with indifferent success, but the ”B2” team was the only undefeated team in the five rounds completed. R Harley, R Clarke, R Brown, R Coller and
G Barton and a newcomer L Ryan comprised this team.  Much was expected of Lance Ryan who had played first grade table tennis in Queensland.

The Club

At a meeting held in Thorne’s Building on Wednesday 26 February 1947 six clubs viz Woonona, Thirroul , CRM., AIS Administrative, Wollongong Tennis Club and Lysaghts gathered to discuss the possibility of forming an association to control table tennis in and around Wollongong.

After a lengthy discussion they were convinced that sufficient South Coast Clubs and players were available to successfully conduct two competitions.  Don Pallier and Anthony Tobin were elected Chairman and Honorary Secretary respectively and the following resolutions were carried:

(1) A & B midweek competition be conducted, starting if possible by the end of March. Entries closed on 17 March.

(2) Teams consist of four players, nomination fee 2/- per team.

(3) Ron Denham elected delegate to the Protestant Churches Sports Association was to acquaint these teams of the proposed competition. 

(4) Competition matches to be played weekly.

  1. A knockout tournament for A and B grade to be run on 19 March at Lysaghts Recreation Room.  Entries taken by Anthony Tobin, phone Port Kembla 260.

The Exhibition

The enthusiasm of members of the newly formed table club situated at Helensburgh Workers’ Club building, led an exhibition being given there on Friday 21 January by some first grade Illawarra players.

An interesting angle was the appearance of two Lithuanian players who worked in the vicinity.  These had proved too good for the locals and a large crowd attended the night to see how they would fare against the visitors.  Keith Pepper and Terry Orvard played the importations, who were known as “Gus the Ghost” and ” Herb”.  The match between these players resulted in a high class table tennis show, but to the astonishment of the locals, the mystery men were defeated.  In addition to these matches, games were played against a team of six of the locals, who, although generally proficient at the game could not handle spin.  S McGeachie was the only “Burghite” to register a win in defeating Sid Burkett.

An exhibition was held at the end of May at the Kiama Presbyterian Hall.  Some one hundred people saw Keith Baker, Merrick Coates, Ron Woollett and Keith Pepper in action.  Keith Baker gave a short talk at the end of the night on the principles of the game.  It was hoped to form a Kiama Association.

Visitors and local players

It would appear that the Illawarra was visted by three world champion players in 1950 but I cannot see any description of that. Be good to do that now!

The Treasurer

You may be pleased to know that back in the beginnings the club had a treasurer with tact!! (click on the images to see detail)

to be continued