Tributes paid to John Riley

by Brian Croasdale

John Riley, who has died, was one of Matlock’s great table tennis players.

Throughout his career he was always a keen, charismatic competitor who was prepared to out defend an opponent no matter how long it took.

I remember playing with John years ago and his shots were phenomenal. He had the ability to play a drop shot from way back, a shot that won him many points. Still using the hard Barna bat he was a throw back to the early days of table tennis.

John had recently lost his wife and was a regular at the Grouse pub in Darley Dale where I used to see him every Friday.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and details of his funeral arrangements at St. Helens can be found elsewhere in this paper.

On to happier news and our World Transplant Champion Melissa Slaney flew out to Gothenburg in Sweden to defend the World Title she won in Australia.

News of her progress will be available through this column next week - crunch time will be noon on Wednesday the 22nd. We all wish her well.

It was also pleasing to hear that at last the Derbyshire T.T.A. has joined the rest of the county by having their first ever website.

Run by my friend Ian Jones from Chesterfield, there will be a link to the Matlock website for all to view the news at county level.

Most table tennis players train for table tennis by playing table tennis. Suddenly the Cromford Club and the Whitworth Academy becomes the centre of attention as the Summer League season gets under way this week.

For the next 13 to 14 weeks the places will be buzzing every Wednesday and Friday repectfully as 14 teams at each venue fight it out to be crowned the Summer League champions.

At Cromford the Burtons combination and holders of the title are in action again but they will have to be on their toes this season as newcomers Keith Bradshaw and the new Derbyshire champion Jake Meikle have also entered.

Whitworth feature Warren Slaney, the National League player and part of the Rowsley 08 championship side.

Last year’s winners George Knowles and myself have split to allow George to play with the Division Three’s up and coming Gabrial Hodgkinson.

So it’s back in the groove for our players. I think this summer will rewrite the book for our members as no one can fault their enthusiasm.