The Clacton & District League’s most senior Vice-President, Brian Baines, died final week, only a few weeks after celebrating his ninetieth birthday.
As a participant, supporter and official, Brian had been related to the Clacton & District Desk Tennis League for over 70 years, the one individual nonetheless linked with the League who may hint his desk tennis heritage again to the post-war period of the early Nineteen Fifties.
It was a lifetime of dedication to native desk tennis, but with none nice fuss or ostentation. However that was Brian’s means. Quiet, mild, modest. His loyalty and repair to the League was recognised in 1993 when he was awarded the Bob Phillips Trophy for providers to the League, and he was additional honoured in 2001 when he was made a Vice-President of the League, a place he held till his demise.
When Brian began enjoying League desk tennis, circumstances have been so totally different from now. He would inform of enjoying in away matches when, at a time of few personal motor vehicles, gamers would journey by bus within the early night from Clacton to Walton for League matches – and return on the final bus dwelling when the match had completed.
Brian would by no means declare to have been a desk tennis participant within the classical fashion, however he was a reliable performer on the desk who may maintain his personal in Division One with out ever hitting the heights. He was a gentle participant, compact in fashion, decided in defence with the occasional burst of aggression. He was definitely neither flashy nor overtly aggressive in his play, however that solely mirrored his reserved and modest nature.
As a result of Brian’s hyperlinks with the League return thus far, data for that point are both incomplete or now not in existence. However, for quite a lot of years within the Sixties and Seventies, at a time when there have been 4 or 5 divisions, Brian performed for the GPO Membership (or Publish Workplace as they later turned) the place he received trophies alongside common team-mates Terry Walker and Ron Ridgeon. It was solely within the mid-Nineteen Eighties that he transferred to the Brotherhood Membership, the place he stayed for the remainder of his desk tennis profession.
For quite a lot of these years, Brian see-sawed between the highest two divisions, and the data present he was a Division Two winner in 1969, 1975, 1981 and 1986, and a runner-up in 1965, 1979, 1984 and 1991. Nonetheless, it is perhaps the trophy in 1991 which gave him most satisfaction in that it was achieved as a three-man crew alongside his good pal, Barry Howe, and his son, Paul, who additionally performed within the League for a number of seasons.
All through his profession, Brian hardly ever achieved success outdoors the League, though 1994 was one thing of an exception, when he received the Handicap Singles Trophy for the primary and solely time and, with Brian Rowlen and Sylvia Meakin, completed as a runner-up within the Senior Mixture Match.
As time glided by, Brian stepped down a division, now see-sawing between Divisions Two and Three, however he nonetheless had his successes. A Division Three winner in 1999 and 2002 and, after lastly transferring completely down into Division Three as late as 2009, he was nonetheless ok to win a Division Three runners-up medal in 2014, aged 81 and nonetheless averaging over 60%.
However that solely emphasised how dedicated Brian was to his desk tennis. Whereas some gamers can be deterred by shedding to gamers who, years earlier than, they’d have simply overwhelmed, Brian most popular simply to ‘keep on enjoying’. In some seasons in the direction of the top in Division Two, he received solely a handful of matches, however he was all the time there for his crew, all the time encouraging his team-mates, and all the time with a pleasant smile on his face.
Brian hung up his bat after the 2014/15 season. Whether or not within the highest or lowest divisions, his enthusiasm for the game by no means waned, even on the finish of his enjoying profession when his mobility was restricted and he typically discovered it bodily troublesome.
When he stopped enjoying, Brian loved coming to tournaments and the Brotherhood Membership as a spectator and supporter every time he may, despite the fact that he struggled at occasions to take action. Ultimately, even that turned an excessive amount of, and it upset him that he may now not come.
However beneath all of the data and statistics is one indisputable fact. Brian was a genuinely good man. Quiet, reserved, neither boastful nor pushy, he was an eminently likeable individual, and he was well-respected among the many desk tennis neighborhood. Certainly, he was a kind of uncommon folks you sometimes come throughout in life about whom no-one has a nasty phrase to say.
We ship our deepest sympathy to Joan and her household, our ideas are with you all. Relaxation in peace, Brian. A real gentleman.