I first met Connie in 1982, he had virtually stopped playing by then so I came to know him via the thirst medium. I’ve heard many, many stories over the years about how Connie ran Larkhall and of the countless waifs and strays he inspired!
I only ever saw him once playing at his best, but we’ve been friends since that first tipple together and I can truly say that as a person Connie has always been an inspiration to me.
I started at school. I was a mid range player there but when my dad took me to an adult club I struggled to win even a point.
playing ping pong
Sadly my young coaching experience was not as good as some. I went once got some good coaching (I was happy at the time) and was keen to go back. When I arrived I was quizzed by the same person who coached me the week before who seemed to not know who I was. He basically accused me of lying and said I should not be there as I was not good enough. When I finally convinced him to check his register he saw my name and then perhaps through embarrassment he ignored me for the rest of the session.
He apologised at the end but as I was 12 at the time the damage was done. I never went back.
I stuck with the game though, an adult team took me on and I spent my 1st season in Division 8 and did not win a match. Next year I think I may have won a couple but I remained keen to play and something must have clicked because in season 3 I found myself unbeaten at the half way point. I ended up losing a few but the team got promoted and I have not looked back since. So I am pretty much self taught through watching others and playing matches.
My Playmate Steven
I first played table tennis whilst on a camping holiday in Scotland when I was about 12/13. I played against my dad who had played the game a little bit when he was stationed in Greece and Egypt towards the end of WW2. When we returned from our camping trip, we found out there was a table at a nearby social club (St. Brendans), and so I went down there to play. There was one lad there who said he played at a club and gave me the details. I went home and told my parents and they rang up the leisure centre where the club was based. My mum rang up the centre to enquire and they said that there was no table tennis club operating from there! I spoke to the lad who had told me about the club and he said there definitely was. After a bit more conversation, it transpired that his dad (who played for the club) and my mum worked for the same company and so my mum asked his dad for more details. The following week my dad went with me to the club and the rest, as they say, is history. I have now been playing for about 25 years, with only 2 years away from the game as I recovered from a very serious accident.
As for who inspired me, I have to say it was my dad. Despite being an “old” dad (he was 48 when I was born), he always had the time and energy to take me to the club, or play against me on our kitchen table. There was a time when money was very tight as he had lost his job and we had to sell our car. Despite being nearly at retirement age, he would come with me as we walked the 4 mile round trip to the club. When he got a new job and bought another car, he would be the one that would drive our junior players to matches. I don’t think he missed a match I played in throughout my junior years, and carried on watching me play local league football until I was into my mid 20’s. Even now, as he nears his 90th birthday, he endeavours to watch his Grandson play cricket and football as much as he can, and his Granddaughter acting/singing and dancing as much as possible.
Forget all the modern world celebrities and hero-worshipping. MY DAD=MY HERO
A mention must also go to my mum, who did likewise for my 2 sisters when it came to their dancing, and continues to follow her Grandchildren as much as possible.