When Tony Ross died two years ago his family passed on a considerable number of his negatives, over 80 films, which were duly scanned. Identification of many of the photographs has proved challenging to say the least.

However, following a recent visit to Milton Keynes I came across the Laurie Landry Cup which was donated for the Junior English Open Mixed Doubles champions. I recognised it as one of the trophies being presented in one of the images in a set of photos. This established the event and led to the year also being identified.

The Junior English Open had first appeared in the calendar in its own right, as opposed to events being part of the English Open, in 1956 in Herne Bay, Kent. From 1973 the tournament had been held in Worthing and sponsored by Worthing Borough Council and so was titled the Worthing Junior International Table Tennis Championships during this time.

The 1979 championships on 12-13 May saw over 200 players participating, a considerable number were from England but they also arrived from across the European continent – from Austria, Denmark, Federal Germany, France, Ireland, Israel, Norway, Scotland, Wales and Yugoslavia, so a real mix. The referee was Len Pilditch, with Les Smith his Deputy, and Harvey Webb was the Organiser with Mike Watts as his Assistant.

There were seven events in all: Junior Boys’ and Girls’ Team, Junior Boys’ and Girls Singles’, Junior and Boys’ Doubles and Junior Mixed Doubles. At this time a junior was under 17.

The No 1 seed in the Boys’ Singles was B Veren of Yugoslavia and F Farout of France was the No 2. In the Girls’ Singles the No 1 spot went to England’s top player, Mandy Smith, with Miraj Cadez of Yugoslavia at No 2.  

The tournament was not only a great success but a great success for the young England players who won three gold medals and at least two silver. The star performer was Mandy Smith (later Sainsbury) who won the Junior Girls’ Singles title with victory over Mandy Reeves in the final in a very tight match 20, -20, 14, Miraj Cadez was a semi-finalist.

Captained by Susan Lisle, Smith with Alison Gordon (later Broe) won the Girls’ Team event and Gordon won a second gold medal with Graham Sandley in the Junior Mixed Doubles to hold aloft the Laurie Landry Cup. Colin Wilson was an England silver medallist, losing 18, 15 to Yugoslav Stefan Kovac in the Junior Boys’ Singles final. Reeves received another silver medal for the England squad in the Junior Girls’ Singles.

The winners of the other events were France I in the Junior Boys’ Team event, Morten Dolleris and Michael Daugard of Denmark in the Junior Boys’ Doubles, Corinne Germain and Pascale Bibaut of France in the Junior Girls’ Doubles. Due to limited reporting in Table Tennis News, little is known about other results and medallists. 

Several of the England Junior players went on to successful senior international careers including Alison Gordon, Mandy Smith, Colin Wilson and Graham Sandley. Many of the next generation of England senior players also participated with names such as Nicky Mason, Carl Prean, Skylet Andrew, John Souter, David Barr, Philip Bradbury, Joy Grundy, Sarah Sandley, Jackie Bellinger, Lisa Bellinger and Sally Midgley taking part.

If you can help fill in the blanks on other results, scores or help identify photographs it would be much appreciated. I can be contacted on [email protected]

All photos by Tony Ross, missing names denoted by ‘x’.

Mandy Smith in action
David Hill (Mayor of Worthing Borough Council) and Mandy Smith
Tom Blunn, Graham Sandley, x, Alison Gordon, XD Winners.
Mandy Smith, Alison Gordon, Susan Lisle.
Colin Wilson
Mandy Reeves
Mandy Smith and Susan Lisle
Don Parker
JGD Winners Corinne Germain & Pascale Bibaut, France (but which is which?)
JBS Winner Stefan Kovac, Yugoslavia, Tom Blunn.
JB Team Winners, France. From left: Pascal Besnier, François Farout, Jean-Claude Aernout, coach Gérard Leroy (thanks to Jon Bayliss for providing these names).