Stan Clarke, well known and popular umpire and TTE Honorary Life Member, passed away on Saturday 16th September 2023 just days after his 87th birthday. (Main photo credit: Michael Loveder).
Stan was born in Bootle, Lancashire on 9th September 1936 and came to enjoy the pleasures and friendships of table tennis a little later than most, not becoming involved until 1967, when a work colleague and some of his relations formed a team to play in the Liverpool League. However, it wasn’t long before Stan became involved on the administrative side when he took over his first role, as club secretary, two years later. A position he held for the next 22 years.
It was during this time Stan took his ETTA Level 2 coaching badge and also his county umpire exam before qualifying as a Diploma 1 Star Coach and a couple of years later gaining his Coaching Diploma 2 Star award. Sometime later, in 1996, Stan became a Tutor Assessor and later still an ETTA Level 4 Coach. Stan took on the role of senior coach at the North West Centre of Excellence at Bolton, then at the Merseyside Centre of Excellence.
For many though, it as an umpire that Stan is best known. He gained his County Umpires badge in 1984 and his National Umpires badge in 1987. He then went on to become an International Umpire in 1990 and earnt his coveted International Blue Badge, number 221, on 3rd December 2009. Stan umpired far and wide, not only in this country but also at some of the most prestigious international events – World Championships in Manchester in 1997, European Championships, Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002, Paralympics in London 2012, ITTF Men’s World Cup Liverpool in 2012, European Cup, Schools International and English Opens. On the domestic front he was an ever-present face at everything from Local League to National Championships.
From club to national level, Stan was heavily involved in numerous committees from those early days in 1969 and still held many posts at the time of his death. He was Secretary of the Wavertree Labour Table Tennis Club until 2021. Stan held numerous roles on the Liverpool Table Tennis League Committee from the mid-1970s for some 25 years before resigning on a matter of principal. He later rejoined the committee after the death of his good friend, Ken Armson in 2000. Positions he held included Chairman, Deputy Chairman.
Not content with belonging and being involved in just one league, Stan was also Chairman and President of the Southport Table Tennis League.
Stan was on Lancashire County Table Tennis Association Executive Committee from 1984 when he was first co-opted having been persuaded by the late Stuart Sneyd to join and within a year, he was appointed non-playing captain for the Lancashire senior teams and continued for over 25 years. Other positions held were Coaching Officer/Secretary 1986-91, Development Officer in 1991, Press Officer 1992-95, Deputy Chairman 1998-2000, National Councillor 2000-17, Chairman 2000-17, Vice-President, Honorary Life Member in 2021 and President in 2021. It was while he was Press Officer that Stan regularly wrote Lancashire County Notes in Table Tennis News and further wrote County Championship reports from 1977-2005.
For most, the involvement at club, league and county level would fill sufficient time, along with umpiring and coaching duties. For Stan though, he continued contributing to table tennis at national level as well. He was on various ETTA/TTE committees including the Regional Development Committee as Chairman from 1987-98 and Secretary from 1989-90, National Co-ordinating Committee Member 1987-89, County Championships Committee Member from 1994-98, Press Officer 1998-2002, Publicity Officer 2019 until his death, Chairman 2002-05 and 2017 until his death, National Umpires & Referees Committee Umpires Qualification Panel 1996-97 and Umpires Selection Panel 2001-05, Trade Committee Member 2002-06 and Chairman 2006-16 and Veterans National League Organiser 2008-18.
One final string to Stan’s bow was being a Committee Member of the Association of English Table Tennis Umpires (AETTU) from its inception in 2005 until his death. He also played in their annual tournaments and won the Over 70s category in 2013 and with Lynda Reid was the Open Doubles runner-up that year too.
Stan was rightly honoured with some of the highest accolades that the ETTA/TTE can award. He was presented with the Ivor Montagu Award in 2008, became a Vice-President in 2010 and an Honorary Life Member in 2017.
What a wonderful record of a wonderful man who served table tennis so well and who was highly respected throughout the table tennis community.
Susie Venner: Liverpool player, TTE Vice-President and former Deputy Chairman and Board Member: “Up to the end of last season he (Stan) was still officiating at Liverpool Events and Cup Finals – always ensuring he was not only the all-round professional umpire, but the smartest dressed man in the room.
Stan was a colourful character with a wicked sense of humour and a no-nonsense style of delivering his message – which was always in the best interests of the sport. He spent decades of his life working as a volunteer for table tennis and without him – and many people like him – our sport would be a poorer place. I have known Stan since I was a junior, and like many, many people who enjoyed table tennis, will be grateful for the time, effort and commitment he gave to ensure others enjoyed the sport”.
Tom Purcell: Liverpool Management Committee Member and player, former TTE Board Member, International Blue Badge umpire: “Stan has been involved in the Liverpool League for approximately 60 years. He was well known throughout the region and the country for his involvement in the game at many levels and he was respected for his knowledge and experience. It was Stan who got me involved in umpiring and I’ve worked with him at many tournaments. He was a very good, close friend who will be sadly missed”.
David Edwards: International Blue Badge Umpire: “I always got on well with Stan and had many good conversations with him. He was a very direct man and it was clear he loved his table tennis. He will be sadly missed”.
Kevin Dolder: “Stan the man two decades of playing for Lancashire county and Liverpool town. He was the guy who would pick me up from my door at silly o’clock in the morning with the rest of the team. In my corner the entire weekend and then drop me back off Sunday night time. Never let you down and was the do it man for Merseyside and Lancashire table tennis. Even when I defected to Cheshire when I started coaching at Halton he never held it against me. Always with a handshake that broke my bones in my hand and a sarcastic comment to match it, made you instantly feel at ease in his presence. Last time I saw Stan was at the Liverpool closed championships where he stayed right till the end. Unfortunately he was too ill to make finals night. Little did I know that was the last time I’d see him. All I can say is thankyou so much for the decades of support and hopefully if you meet Sue up there, then you can maybe have a knock and get a TT club started in heaven RIP Captain Stan”
David Noden: “Thanks for the memories Stan, your inimitable sense of humour and all the work you put in to enable us to enjoy ….. you’ll be truly missed“
Dave Harvey: “Really sad news. Stan was Mr Table Tennis himself and his extremely long support of our sport was legendary and was known by so many of us. Sincere condolences to family and friends.A stanch supporter of our sport. Gone but never forgotten. RIP to a lovely man. You’ll always be remembered fondly. Rest Well Gent x“
Our sincerest condolences go to Stan’s wife, Wendy, and all the family.