The Geelong Table Tennis Centre in Church Street opened in 1977, a year after I retired from my not-so-glorious teenage career in the old centre, once a picture theatre, on the corner of Autumn and Pakington streets. My visit to the ‘new’ centre last weekend was, not surprisingly, a serious dose of nostalgia, especially the honour boards and trophy cabinets, with many familiar names from long ago.
Robert Rockefeller was a dynamo, a tornado, a whirlwind. He could barely see over the table when he started as a primary school kid, but the ball came back at you like a rocket. Many an older player underestimated the youngster and paid a heavy price.
The Campbells were table tennis royalty in Geelong in the late 1960s and 1970s. Sharon’s brother Craig was a top player too. Their father Clyde was a coach by the time I started. He and his mate Clarrie Bates would say to the earnest juniors, “Just get the ball back. Just get it back and let your opponent make a mistake.”
If, God forbid, there’s ever a fire at the GTTC, the mini-table atop the trophy cabinet will be first thing saved.
If these scoreboards were available in the 1970s I might not have had to worry about getting the teenage stutters, especially when the scores got to 14 or 15 or 16 or 17. Nowadays games only go to 11 anyway!