Anahilt Table Tennis club begin their celebrations for 60 years of the club
Anahilt Table Tennis Club launched their 60th anniversary year celebrations at their Scout Hall base affectionately known as the ‘hut’ recently.
The club was started by Joshua Toombs in October 1953 to give the young people of Anahilt something to do on winter nights and to this day Josh still runs the club with that same enthusiasm.
He said, “It’s difficult to believe its 60 years. The hall we have now was built in 1979 but it all started in a Nissan hut and we had a salamander heater to try to heat the place powered by old engine oil but the wind just blew through the corrugated iron walls. Initially the team didn’t fair too well but then a coach called Johnny Tyndall came on board and things started to change almost immediately.”
After initial successes in the East Down Churches league, the club went on to win multiple Belfast and District Premier League titles.
British championships and All Ireland club titles but the icing on the cake came when, in the early 1980’s, Anahilt represented Ireland in the European club cup of champions in Austria after defeating Leinster league champions Glenalbyn in a play-off. The titles keep coming with the club winning both the East Down Churches and Lecale Senior leagues in recent years.
Many international players including Alistair Cairns, Roy Copes, Tom Heasley, Jimmy Hamill, Stewart Reilly, Jack Cash, Jimmy Wilson, Jimmy Robinson, Wallace Mahaffy and Tom Donnelly have their names written in Anahilt folklore but the one player who will always be synonymous with the club is the legendary Freddie Brown who has competed at the Ballycrune Crossroads venue for an incredible 56 years.
With his superb all round game Freddie was almost unbeatable winning numerous titles and also represented Ulster on many occasions. The Beattie family from the village also played a huge role in the clubs history.
However, Anahilt is not resting on past glories with combination bat specialist Ossie Copes now coaching the next generation of players. A youth team compete in both the East Down and Belfast leagues. These players are showing great promise and its only matter of time before they claim a title.
At the launch club spokesman John McFaul who captained Anahilt’s top team to a respectable 3rd place in the Belfast Premier league last season said, “We have a lot planned to celebrate this milestone. We are organising a number of challenge matches against teams throughout Northern Ireland with both the modern day sandwich bats and the same bats players would have used 60 years ago with sandpaper covering.”
John added, “We are also holding a social night for all players who have represented the club next month and we are looking to organise an anniversary tournament in the near future. The year will then finish with a charity bbq.”
The club will continue to fly the flag for the sport of table tennis in the borough and new members are always welcome.