The Story of Thongsbridge Tennis and Fitness

Chapter Five – Goodbye to the grass!

1966 –  The introduction of new members into the men’s team makes them champions of Division V, and even better the ladies’ team are runners-up in Division II, thus earning them a place in the prestigious First Division. 

1967 – a second ladies team is formed; they finish second in their division, winning six of their eight matches, and gain immediate promotion.   The men’s team again plays well and ties for first place with a play-off for the cup against Fenay Bridge.

1968 – fund raising continues with the formation of a 200 club.  Each member of this is to pay five shillings per month for twelve months.  At the end of each month there is to be a draw for two prizes of five pounds and at the end of the sixth month, and again at the end of the 12 months, there is to be an additional draw for a prize of £100.  After considerable efforts by members of the committee, in particular Mrs Brenda Braithwaite, a total of 185 participants are included in the draw, a net profit over the year of £235!

A second men’s team is formed.  However there are considerable problems in finishing matches, especially where there are only two courts available.  This is compounded because matches are the best of three sets.  In a hard fought match players have to return perhaps on one or two more evenings before a result can be declared.

Does this issue sound familiar?!

Despite this, such is the enthusiasm for tennis that at the end of the season the club arranges a Summer Knockout Competition, inviting all the clubs in the Huddersfield League to participate.  Sixteen of the twenty-three clubs participate and the final is played on September 14th between Longley ‘A’ and Rastrick ‘A’, Longley winning by four matches to one.

At the club’s AGM in November 1968, Barry Hobson proposes to the meeting that ‘events in the Huddersfield league shall consist of two short sets only and if each pair win one set the match shall be halved.

Should a tie be halved at four and a half matches to each team, the result shall be calculated on total games scored’.  This motion is carried and is sent for discussion to the Huddersfield League committee.

It is decided at that AGM that the Golden Jubilee, [supposing the foundation of the club as 1919] of the club should be commemorated in 1969 by a special dinner, though no mention of the founding date is found.   This is held at Rogerthorpe Manor and is reported in the secretary’s news letter of April as being ‘quite well supported and very enjoyable’.

The committee is again exploring the possibilities of more courts.  Two basic requirements need satisfying.  The club needs more land to the north of the then current courts and also has to be certain that the costs can be covered.   A loan from the Central Council for Physical Recreation is discussed and an application form sent for.

The motion to the Huddersfield league AGM provokes much argument and is defeated by nine votes to six.  However a letter from the league secretary to the club says that the league will support our application for a grant.   As a precaution against bad weather affecting playing conditions, the secretary that year, Mrs Dorothy Thornton, arranges for matches to be played on the courts at Holmfirth Secondary School and Honley Grammar School, if our courts are not fit.

The ‘200 club’ raises a sum of £180 to swell the club’s funds and other fund-raising activities are being suggested, such as a ‘Good as New Shop’.  In the midst of all this activity, at the committee meeting on May 8th, Mrs Meg Bush produces a small bombshell.  She says that a number of the club members are not happy about replacing the grass courts with two hard courts.  She has noted that, in Wooldale, a Mr Frank Booth owns four shale courts which are out of use.  The treasurer says that if grant application is not successful serious consideration should be given to a possible change of venue for Thongsbridge tennis club.

In order to help the club with the cost of the balls the men’s first team volunteers to pay 2/6d per away match instead of the agreed 1/-.

The Presidents Day tournament that year enjoys perfect weather.  Mrs Yates (nee Gilling) provides food for 53 members but, to spoil all the fun, the club receives a letter from the Council complaining about access to the Elsan!  As a result, ashes, from Hepworth Engineering, have to be spread on the path the following Sunday morning instead of men’s team practice.

1969 – The AGM in November is held at the Royal Oak (which closes in 2005).  The Treasurer reports that the club has assets of £776.  Peter Thornton, the Chairman, says that a new lease has been arranged but that, despite all efforts to get a Government grant, nothing is forthcoming.

It is suggested that the club seek a loan of approximately £1000 from the LTA.  The sum of £450 is offered from guarantors at that meeting and a list of names is suggested of other members likely to help.

The generosity and commitment of members has clearly been a feature of the club for many years!

1970 – the full total is reached by February.  The borrowing involves a repayment of £170 per year.  At long last the firm En Tout Cas are contacted and so, more than half a century after the formation of Thongsbridge Lawn Tennis Club, it’s to be goodbye to the grass courts.  The news letter of May 1970 from the secretary, Mrs Dorothy Thornton announces the completion of two red shale courts.  There is to be a grand opening tournament with a buffet tea and white wine, price 6/- for adults and 3/- for children. Thursday night is to be designated as ‘Club night’.

And, almost half a century later, ‘Club night’ is still a feature of the club!     Ask Andy Christie for details.

Although there has been a net loss to the club in 1968 of £2-14-11, the subscription remains at £2 for adult members in 1969.

In 1970 this has to be raised to £3 (+ 50p joining fee) with £1 for juniors up to 18, the middle range of subs having been abolished.  In addition a coffee morning/evening raises £44, and a Good-as-New stall, run by Heather Hobson, Sheila Wagstaff and Dorothy Lindley on Holmfirth market on two memorable occasions, brings in £160

1971 – LTA repayments commence (£113-50) but, by now, the club is hitting winners in all directions.