Basford Lawn Tennis Club

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Strike marred Basford tennis joy in 1926

BASFORD Lawn Tennis Club, who are celebrating the golden jubilee of their move to the present headquarters, can find few details now of their switch.

Unhappily, transfer to the new site at Basford Park coincided with the General Strike and not surprisingly even a sporting event of such importance went unrecorded by the newspapers.

Basford L.T.C. was, in fact, founded in 1883 on land at the rear of the Queen's Hotel, on the edge of Etruria marlholes.

There were two grass courts, which were later converted into red ash courts.

Officials serving the club were Edward Forshaw, William Forester and Herbert Heatley, the latter holding office for 40 years.

Early players of note were H. T. Heatley, Henstock Travey, E, H. Powell, E. and W. Forshaw, K. Pauer and later, A. P, Ford, C. E. Bullock, C. S. Varcoe. H. L. Steel and H. S. Greenwood, Mesdames Boddington and Heatley and the Misses Powell, Ford, Parkes and Forshaw.

The membership included an equal number of p[layers of both sexes and matches were played for many years against Stoke Villas, Florence, Macclesfield and others.

Mrs. Heatley, a Staffordshire and Cheshire county player, won the women's open singles at Congleton six times in succession, retaining two cups.

Mr. A. P, Ford, who was a member of the club for 50 years, taking part in matches and tournaments for almost all that time, captained Staffordshire for some years and later played for Cheshire, won the Ostend Challenge Cup three times in succession, thus retaining the cup, and the Congleton Challenge Cup nine times, but never outright.

In 1926, the club was transferred to Basford Park, with four hard green courts, later converted to red ash.

With a large membership, the club enjoyed a successful period up to the outbreak of war in 1939, and ladies' and men's teams winning the county inter-club competition, later known as the Joseph and Alsop Cups, on several occasions, and recorded some successes in the junior doubles competitions.

For nearly the whole period up to their deaths, Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Heatley served the club and were made Honorary Life Vice-Presidents of the Staffordshire Lawn Tennis Association.

One of the highlights of the Basford club's history came on May 11th, 1936 , when world champion Fred Perry played there in an exhibition match with H. W. Austin, a Davis Cup star.

This event was held to encourage tennis, in conjunction with the Staffordshire L.T.A., and to raise money for hospitals.

Other top players there included Kath Stammers, ranked with Dorothy Round as England No. 1, Nancy Lyle, Freda James, C. M. Jones and C. P. Hughes.

Mrs. Austin, formerly film star Phyllis Konstam, was present, together with Lord and Lady Harrowby and a host of other dignataries.

The Staffordshire Lawn Tennis League had recently been formed.

Basford are holding a celebration dinner-dance at the North Stafford Hotel on Saturday and hope many former members and friends will make it a reunion.

In charge of the social programme is Mr. Mike McCallion, of 9, Milehouse-lane, Newcastle (626084).

Club President is Mr. Alan Swann and the captains are Mrs. McCallion and Mr. Harry Johnson.

Evening Sentinel, 18 May 1976
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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