Last week I wrote about the first stage of the project to try to record all players who had played for England at senior level and the number of caps that had been awarded. There were several gaps which needed filling.

I had an incredible response and would particularly like to thank John Ruderham, Graham Trimming and my dear friend in Germany, Gunther Angenendt. As a result, a lot of gaps have been filled. Some new internationals have been discovered and so, 100 years on, acknowledgement can be made to them.

Perhaps the most important discovery was from Gunther Angenendt, who forwarded an article about the Triangular International in 1926 in Berlin between England, Germany and Hungary. As well as the Triangular International, the players also played in the German Open.  

More importantly, from a historical point of view, it was where the meeting was held to agree to set up an international federation. This was where the initiative to form the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was mooted and which led to the first official meeting, which was held in London in December 1926 during the first World Championships (originally titled the European Championships).

Below is the translation of the piece from Gunther and further text which gives more detail.

Text for photo of January 1926 England team v Germany and Hungary.

This memorable picture from the early days of table tennis has come a long way. It was recorded at the beginning of January 1926, a few days before the start of the international championships in Germany, when the English team arrived in Berlin.

The games started on January 13th, 165 participants took part in the men’s singles and 30 in the women’s singles. The photo appeared – and disappeared in the archive of the German tennis federation, because at that time table tennis was not only closely linked to tennis in terms of personnel, but also organisationally. Both had a common leadership and a common newspaper for more than two decades.

Dr Wilhelm Schomburk, who had meanwhile been President of the German Tennis Association for 27 years, discovered this among many old pictures and passed it on to the editors of the specialist newspaper “Tennis”. Wolfgang Lencer immediately noticed what a treasure we had rediscovered, and so after almost 25 years to the day we can present England’s team from that time. In the front row (from left) Ross, Liggings, Pope, Haddon (or should it be Haydon?) and Vennell, in the second row; the young Ivor Montagu, still President of the ITTF today.

. . . and from Gunther Angenendt:

It was in the time of 13th up to 17th January 1926 that an English team participated in the “Championships of Germany”. It was not the strongest English team, because at the same time the international match “Wales versus England” took place. The team leader was Mr Pope and the President of the TTA was with them, the young Ivor Montagu.

The players were Ross, Liggings, Haddon (may be Haydon) and Vennell (may be Vennelt). During the championships there were two international matches for the English team. They lost to Hungary 0-9 and to Germany 4-8. No detailed results available. In the singles, Pope was the best English, losing in the fourth round against Dr Pesci from Hungary -15, -16, -19.

After the tournament Montagu wrote a letter to the German Federation:
On behalf of the TTA I wish to thank the German Tischtennis Bund for its hospitality during the last few days. All of us have greatly enjoyed our visit and congratulate the German TTB on its enterprise in organising this International tournament. The discussions and encounters we have had this week are certain to advance the welfare of the game and can do nothing but good in encouraging understanding and friendly intercourse between the nations concerned.

I would further like to add that we of the English note with pleasure the strength and keenness of continental players. Some of them whom we have had the honour of meeting during the course of the tournament are players of the very highest class; and we sincerely trust that they will have such opportunity during the next few months as will enable them to familiarise themselves with English playing conditions, and thus produce their best form in London for the International competition next December.

Ivor Montagu

The article mentions George Ross, Mr Liggings, Mr Haddon (maybe a misprint for Haydon – not Adrian but could it possibly be his father who also played?) and Mr Vennell. The latter piece also refers to Bill Pope as playing. There is no mention whether Ivor Montagu did or not play, or indeed if all players played in both international matches.

In the table I have assumed that all except Ivor Montagu did. I have found a Mr E Vennell who was the Secretary of Unity House TTC, Euston Road, London NW1 in the London TTL, 2nd Division East, who was also Honorary Section Secretary of the City Section of the London TTL. There is a possibility this could be one and the same person.

Back to that meeting in Berlin. It arose as in 1925 Dr Georg Lehmann, Chairman of the German Association, had invited all the European countries in which it was known table tennis was played to attend a meeting to discuss future international co-operation. Most Executive Committee members of the English Association were initially against England taking part but Montagu and Pope were convinced that it was an opportunity that must not be missed, and they finally managed to secure approval to attend. Three English representatives attended George Ross, Ivor Montagu and Bill Pope.

At the meeting, it was agreed to set up a ‘provisional International Table Tennis Federation’ (ITTF) with the formal foundation to take place at a meeting held in conjunction with a European Team Championships in December 1926, later re-titled the first World Championships. The English representatives’ offer of London as the venue, subject to endorsement by their Association, was gratefully accepted.

The project to establish who has received an England cap and how many is ongoing. So, if you have any information, photos, scorecards, programmes, newspaper cuttings etc that would help, please get in touch. Contact [email protected]