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     Tickhill Boys' Club and Table Tennis


Hedley Higgins remembers table tennis at Tickhill Boys Club

Tickhill Boys Club was located in Bride Church Lane. If one walks down Bride Church Lane from Castlegate the Lane takes a 90° turn to the left, at the Church gates. The Club was situated about 30 to 40 yards down the Lane on the left hand side, St Mary’s Church being on the right. The Club opened in the mid 1930s and a stove (coke burning) and an outside toilet were installed. Very soon a wooden hut was added to the original barn, making the whole a T-shaped building. The hut was also heated by a coke stove. The Rawson family provided the barn for Tickhill Junior Unionist and Conservative Club. However, the political side of the name was never used, nor was it enforced in any shape or form, but the family reserved the right to sell the building and the land, should the club cease to function. 

Sometime in the late 1930s I became a member and I remember that the Davies family, brothers Alf and Reg were prominent in the running of the Club. Two more brothers, Derek and Eddie Preece were also involved. A Jacques Table Tennis Table had been purchased for the club after the English Table Tennis Championship (the price of £14 rings in my memory). Playing table tennis was always the chief interest of Club members, although darts, draughts and chess were also played. Alf Davies had one night per week devoted to boxing, when a small ring was erected in the barn. 

The 1939-45 War put an end to the Club being used for Tickhill Boys. I feel that occasional functions were held, in the club premises, but I do not know who paid the bills. The onset of war saw Tickhill Library sandbagged to minimise the effect of shattering glass during air raids. Members of the A.R.P. manned the Library 24 hrs per day and the building was ready to be used for air raid casualties. Sometime after D-Day the Library was available once more for functions. It was then that Tickhill Youth Club, for boys and girls, was established under the leadership of Mr Edwin Robinson, Councillor Fred Thompson and others. It was probably here that we honed our table tennis skills. 

In October 1950 Tickhill Boys Club entered the Doncaster and District Table Tennis Association League III and finished the season as champions, winning every match. A red pennant was presented to the Club at the end of the season. Team members were Michael Alexandra, Alan Grindle and myself. Our wives served refreshments during the intervals. For this purpose we eventually purchased a paraffin stove for £2/10/- from Whinfrey’s Central Store. Paraffin for the 1951-52 season cost 3/8d. The 1951-52 season saw the Club winning all its 20 matches and gaining promotion to Division I. A second team, which competed in Div IIIB was started. A green pennant was presented to the Club at the end of 1952.  

The highlight of the 1951-52 season was a match, played in Tickhill Library, between ourselves, the League leaders, and Finningley RAF, who held second spot. I believe we charged 6d for adults and 3d for school children to watch and we made £1/16/- on the night, as well as being victorious. The biggest source of income came from Mr Edwin Robinson, who at the end of the evening came up to me and said, ‘To whom do I make out a cheque Hedley?’ I was a bit taken back by surprise and thought of the Club owners. I therefore replied: ‘Tickhill Junior Unionist and Conservative Club’ to which Mr Robinson, who was a devoted Socialist said, ‘I won’t make out a cheque to them, who else can you suggest?’ My reply was: ‘Hedley Higgins’, to which he generously paid £5 in my name. During 1952-53 a Junior team was entered in the Maltby Youth League. They played very well to finish the season in 2nd place, the ‘B’ team ended the season bottom in the Doncaster League and the ‘A’ team finished 4th from the top in the Doncaster League Div I. 

Hedley points out that the team continued to be called Tickhill Boys Club even though its members by the 1950s were well past boyhood. Hedley has kindly donated the two pennants and account books to the Society’s Archive.


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