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Champion Wolverhampton works table tennis team from the 1960s

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 09, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • The 1962-63 team

  • John A Smith Ltd table tennis team, 1960-61

  • Bernard Francis with the 1963-64 team

  • Left: John A. Smith table tennis first team, 1960-61 W&DTT League Division IV champions: Peter Vickers, Brian Caroll, Cliff Ward and Bernard Francis

  • John A. Smith Ltd prize presentation at the Black Horse Hotel, Wolverhampton, March 8, 1964. Bernard Francis received the table tennis champion's trophy from Mrs F. Smith, with runner-up Roger Smith

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OVER the years we have published countless photographs of works sports teams, usually football or cricket and sometimes darts, snooker or fishing, but this is the first time we have had pictures of a table tennis team.

The pictures have been supplied to us by Bernard Francis of Walsall and they show him and his teammates at John A. Smith Ltd of Wolverhampton.

Bernard, 85, contacted the Bugle after an earlier mention of table tennis in the paper. In our December 12, 2013, edition Bugle reader John Thompson of Kingswinford wrote in with his memories of Wolverhampton businessman and keen sportsman, Mac McIlreath. John said he thought that Mac had once run a table tennis team in Wolverhampton in the 1960s. As Bernard has pointed out to us, this is something of a disservice to Mac as he was in fact chairman of the Wolverhampton and District Table Tennis League. Bernard got to know Mac well during his own time as secretary of the league.

The W&DTTL was no small affair, with over 600 members and teams in 10 divisions, each with their own league and cup competitions. The team from John A. Smith Ltd competed in Division IV and were champions in 1960-61.

Bernard has supplied us with names for all the players in the pictures.

1960-61: back row, Arthur Haynes, Ernie Elson, Peter Vickers and Bernard Francis. Front row, Bill Davies, Tom Harding, Brian Caroll, Cliff Ward.

1960-61 first team: left to right, Peter Vickers, Brian Caroll, Cliff Ward and Bernard Francis.

1962-63: Back row, Bill Davies and Cliff Ward. Front, Bernard Francis and Peter Vickers.

1963-64: Back row, Bill Davies and Cliff Ward. Front, Bernard Francis and Ernie Elson.

What are your memories of the Wolverhampton and District Table Tennis League? Have you any pictures and memories of your own works sports team – it doesn't have to be table tennis – to share with readers? Contact editor@blackcountrybugle.co.uk, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath.

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