|Memories of Stock - Jim Sargant
|Stock Harvard Table
|School summer holidays in the years after the war
could become boring for the lads of Stock and several of us who had tried the
occasional 'pat ball' on living room tables had the idea of improving on this.
We improvised a table tennis table in the main buidling of Stock Garage. Two
sheets of plywood covered with aluminium (where did they come from ?), each
about 3ft wide x 6ft long, were positioned to make a table 10ft long x 3ft
wide. In the centre, the two sections were supported on a hydraulic jack, with
old oil drums under each end. So we learnt on a table which, compared with a
standard one, was too long, too narrow and certainly too low. There were often
up to ten of us playing and we formed leagues, each of us being known by the
name of his favourite football team. It was great when Chelmsford City beat
|Among these lads was Chris Lucas. His father, Alex,
was a reasonable player and encouraged us by forming a club. He built a table
of orthodox size and we met weekly in the Church Hall. That was the start of
Stock Harvard Table Tennis Club. Several of us began attending Billericay
League matches and we entered a team in Division 3 in the 1949-50 season. We
were very enthusiastic and used to to travel to away matches to support our
team. We finished that season as runners-up to Hockley and were promoted to
Division 2. The following year, we entered a B team (usually Roger Buckenham,
Chris Lucas, Maurice Elliott and Jim Sargant) in Division 3. Our two teams each
finished second and were promoted.
|The 1952-53 Billericay League finals night featured
an all-Stock Girls' Singles final, my sister Kath defeating Joan Harby. Both
had represented the League in the Essex County Junior Championships.
|The club flourished and we had a membership
comparable with those of the village cricket and football clubs. To maintain
interest, we had a performance ladder and arranged club championships. I still
have a rather battered cup from winning the men's doubles with Maurice Elliott
against Brian Cable and Laurie Tunbridge in the 1953-54 season. A club badge
was designed by Barry Elliott.
|We became more influential locally - standards of
play improving and several of becoming involved in the administration of the
Billericay & District Table Tennis League. As early as the 1951-52 season,
Alex Lucas was a member of the League Selection Committee. By 1954-55, we had
the following League officials - President : Mrs G. Johnson, Vice-President :
Mrs Edna Lucas, Chairman : Alex Lucas, Publicity Secretary : Jim Sargant,
Selection Committee members : Alex Lucas and Jim Sargant. We now had our A and
B teams in Division 1, a C team in Division 2 and a D team in Division 3. We
were the largest club in the League. At the League finals night, Laurie
Tunbridge and Pam Wood won the Boys' and Girls' singles respectively.
|Members of the club
at this time included :
|Alex, Edna, Chris & Ann
||Maurice & Barry Elliott
(ex German POW)
& wife Mary
|Doug & Laurie Hurrell
||Jim & Kath Sargant
||Peter Faulder (lived in
|Les & Roger Brooker
||Nick Debenham (lived in
|Jean Latty (lived in
||Derek (Dick) Fairweather
||Patsy Collins (lived in
|Bill Greenwood (lived in
||Hope I haven't forgotten
|Jean Latty and Patsy Collins came from East London to
play for us. Chris Lucas and Jim Sargant, with George Wenham from Hutton YPC
had met them at a coaching course run by England table tennis internationals
Jack & Elsie Carrington, at Skegness. We were getting like today's top
football teams, bringing in non-local players, although no money changed hands
|1956 saw more titles for Stock players at the League
finals night. Jean Latty won the Ladies' Singles, Ann Lucas the Girls' Singles
and Chris Lucas the Consolation Singles. The following year saw Jean Latty
retain the Ladies' Singles and win the Mixed Doubles with Morgan Reynolds.
|My triumph came in the Mixed Doubles in 1958, when
Winifred Willis (St. Andrews) and I beat my old mate Morgan Reynolds and
Winifred's sister Mary Peach. Again Stock were well represented in the Junior
events, Roger Brooker being the beaten Boys' Singles finalist, while Carole
Rawles defeated Sylvia Woodgate in an all-Stock Girls' Singles final.
|Being one of three main officials of the League
brought me into contact with more and more other players, notably a certain
Jean Medley of Hutton YPC. I eventually plucked up courage to ask her
out......and the rest, as they say is history.
|Back at Stock, we had become more aware of the
limitations of the Church Hall - the floor had a slight slope and there was
insufficient room for sustained defending. Alex Lucas and his family had moved
into Hope Farm in Mill Road and offered to provide the space if we could find a
suitable buidling to fill it. Occasionally I had been practising at the
Wickford Club which was in a nissen hut in the garden of a large house. Due to
ill-health, the owner had to give up playing and offered us the building
cheaply if we would dismantle and move it. So we acquired and erected our own
headquarters, enabling us to practice whenever we liked.
|We continued with four teams and the hut was used for
weekend coaching of young players from all over the League area.
|By now living at Wickford and with increasing work
and other commitments, I reluctantly forsook my beloved Stock HTTC and I hope
that someone will be able to complete the story.
|Moving to Hockley when Jean and I married in 1960
meant the effective end to our competitive table tennis activities. But the
game was to play a most important part in my life 21 years later. Recovering
very slowly from a life-threatening brain haemorrhage in 1981, I tried playing
again on a recently-acquired table in our garage. My balance was so bad that I
had to hold onto the table, but within a few weeks, the specialists at the
Royal London Hospital were amazed at my improvement, so much that they resolved
to recommend table tennis to others striving to regain balance facilities.
Apart from the many hours of enjoyment, those Stock table tennis times really
paid off !
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