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Never Too Old to Enjoy a Game of Table Tennis!

Published on: 27 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2024

By Steve Day

There comes a time when many of us say to ourselves, “Oh no! That’s it. I can’t do that anymore, I’m too old”.

Not so, say a team from Aftermath Table Tennis Club! 

Aftermath C table tennis team.

With an aggregate age of over 330 years, the C team from Aftermath TTC have just won their divisional cup and finished runners-up in Division Four of the Guildford Table Tennis League, Surrey’s largest league.

The average age of the four-person squad is 82.5 years and all having played the sport in a competitive sense for 50 years or more.

In the league, they finished second to a team from Woking, after losing only four games all season.

They were 10 points clear of the team in third place, Merrow H, who they went on to meet in the cup final.

Using their vast experience, they won the match comfortably conceding only one game in beating the team from Merrow, 5-1. This completed an amazing season for the Aftermath team, whose captain is David Thomas.

The youngest member of the team is Frank Roberts. He has been playing since his early teens and at one stage played in the Guildford Premier Division.

Anyone who has played Frank knows that he never gives up and his resilience was put to the test in full during a recent battle with cancer.

Despite having to take time out, he has come back as enthusiastic as ever and is determined to enjoy the game to its fullest. 

He explains: “Coming back to play has helped my mood and has improved my stamina even more this season. I play competitively once a week and also practise weekly at a local U3A, where I’m a member.”

For those that don’t know, U3A stands for the ‘University’ of the Third Age, an international movement whose aims are the education and stimulation of mainly retired members of a community.

They provide activities of all kinds and are run on a local basis for those in their third ‘age’ of life.

In Guildford they play table tennis on a Wednesday evening at Christ’s College in Larch Avenue, Bellfields,  where they share the venue with the Guildford League. All standards are welcome.

The other members of the team are Margaret Thornton who is in her 80s, and John Setterfield who will be 91 later this year.

Margaret, the oldest woman playing in the Guildford league, also plays in the Aldershot league.

Margaret Thornton pictured at the 2024 Western Masters Tournament when she won an over 75s event.

You might think that’s enough for somebody of Margaret’s age, but no, she also plays regularly at weekends in nationally run veterans tournaments. In fact, she won an over 75s event at the recent Western Masters Tournament.

David Thomas started playing when he was in his teens, although back then it was mainly in youth clubs.

He then progressed to playing competitively in his work’s team, as back in the 1970s and 80s many local league teams were from work-based clubs. David has been playing for the Aftermath club for a number of years.

The final member of the squad is the nonagenarian, John Setterfield, who can remember when England were one of the world’s leading table tennis nations and the world champion was Johnny Leach from Dagenham, Essex.

Needless to say, he has played competitively for a very long time, the last 37 years for Aftermath.

John said: “ A couple of years ago we had five players in our squad and to ensure I didn’t miss a week’s table tennis, I signed to play for Ash Table Tennis Club in the Aldershot league, as well.”

Over recent years several studies have concluded that playing table tennis, whatever the standard, can help both your physical and mental health.

The team are keen to stress the benefits of playing table tennis, in your senior years. They say: “It keeps you fit in body and mind.”

Click here for the website of the Guildford Table Tennis League.

Click here for the website of Guildford U3A.

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