Table Tennis England was recently contacted by Paula Dorrell, who had found a collection of her late father’s table tennis memorabilia. Her father, Dennis Ingrey, was one of the first qualified National Umpires (NU) way back in 1956.

Dennis was one of the first cohort of 19 who were examined but only 10 passed that first exam, so it was a well-earned qualification. Dennis was awarded badge number five – probably as his surname was the fifth alphabetically.

Dennis Ingrey umpiring at a local match

The County Umpire scheme having already been introduced in 1950, being a guinea pig for the first NU exam brought problems as there was nothing previously to base judgments on. A written test paper was introduced and counties were invited to nominate suitable candidates.

The candidates were then interviewed and George White, top umpire and referee and Member of the National Umpires & Referees Committee (NURC), acted as a stern inquisitor to ensure the candidates could cope with a stressful situation and searching questions.

There was also a practical test where three top players played out situations where an interpretation of the rules was required. It was not surprising that only 10 of the 19 candidates passed.

Dennis had been umpiring for several years before becoming qualified and he officiated at numerous events both national and international, including World Championships in February 1948 and again in April 1954, many English Opens and also the Stoke Mandeville Games. His last event was the international championships in the Netherlands in 1972. A very illustrious career.

World Championships programme 1954, with signatures of top players

Umpires in those days had long hours and his record book at the 1954 World Championships showed he had start times of 9.45am on the first day, a Monday, and the rest of the week he was there for 8.45am – six full days. Dennis was given a complimentary ticket for the 7pm session on Friday 9th April, usual price 4/-. In those days umpires had to meet their own expenses, so any benefits were welcome.

Dennis’ handbook and ticket

Dennis started playing table tennis as a youngster and won a collection of medals in the Welwyn Garden City & Hatfield and the St Albans Leagues in the 1950s and 1960s. He also received a delightfully inscribed medal from the North Herts Youth League “Under-18s League Cup Linesman 1962.”

Dennis kept in touch with table tennis when he retired from officiating and attended the ETTA NURC 50th anniversary dinner in Birmingham in 2000, one of only two of the original 10 who were able to attend, the other being Colin Clemett who remembers Dennis well as they officiated together on several occasions.

Table tennis wasn’t the only sport Dennis was a top official in, he was a county football referee for several years and a national umpire for cricket and used to teach cricket law at Lord’s. There can’t be many who achieved high status in three sports.

Dennis died in 2017 aged 89. We thank Paula for the generous donation of her father’s memorabilia which includes several English Open and World Championships programmes, a number with signatures from world-class players, his medals, a number of photos, his umpire’s certificate and his 1954 World Championships record book with tickets.

The World Championships items will be on display at the National Championships in Nottingham in the archive display area, so if you are there come along and have a look at these and other memorabilia as well as a photographic display from 98 years of World Championships.

Can you help with identifying any of the people in Dennis’s photos, a selection of which are below? The only person, apart from Dennis, who is known is Judy Williams, who went on to become a national champion and senior international.

If you have any information, I can be contacted at [email protected]

Photo 1: Dennis Ingrey with Judy Williams
Photo 2: x, Dennis Ingrey, x, Judy Williams, x, x
Photo 3: Judy Williams on the far right
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