Tracing Sunbury’s table tennis history

Terry La Grue (left) and Eric Crossley. (Damjan Janevski) 253515_01

By Oliver Lees

Terry La Grue is on a mission to piece together Sunbury’s table tennis history — and he needs your help.

Mr La Grue has been a fixture of the Sunbury and District Table Tennis Association for the better part of 40 years.

He joined the association in 1979 – just three years after it was founded – and served on the committee throughout ‘80s and ‘90s, before a car accident forced him to take a break from the sport.

Now fit again, Mr La Grue has returned to the game he loves, while also being handed another project that has been keeping him busy.

“The club has been asked by Table Tennis Victoria to compile a history, and seeing as I’m the longest serving member, I was asked by the current president to help out,” he said.

“I wasn’t keen in the first instance, but I’ve been getting excited about the project. Looking at all the history and remembering back.”

Working with his long term table tennis pal, Eric Crossley, Mr La Grue said they’ve been reminiscing over the phone in an attempt to get a clear snapshot of the club’s past.

“In the early days we were playing in houses, at colleges, in the changerooms at the football club, wherever we could find a space,” Mr La Grue said.

“I remember we used to play on a table made from tongue and groove boards. Sometimes you’d hit the join, and instead of coming at you they’d shoot out left and right.

“For a time we would play at the Rockback Fire Station with the firies. The rule was, if we were in the middle of a game and there was a fire, they won. It didn’t matter if we were up nine to one. ”

As much as he’s enjoyed reminiscing, Mr La Grue said he’s hit a dead end in his research.

Apart from a single newspaper clipping in 1978 and one document dated in 1983, the club’s historical documents from 1976 to 1984 are yet to be found.

“I know there are likely some people who may still be around the area who were involved, but I don’t have any phone contact with them,” he said.

“Eric and I are the last of the club’s ‘70s players. When we pass on then, there’ll be no one left.

Mr La Grue’s mission to retrace the past has come via the direction of Table Tennis Victoria (TTV).

TTV History Group project leader Bob Tuckett said the association has been racing to compile and compress the history of the sport for its upcoming 100 year anniversary.

Mr Tuckett has his own impressive table tennis resume, as he previously represented Australia for 14 years; coached the Australian Olympic side in 2000; and has since been added to the TTV Hall of Fame.

In 1975, Mr Tuckett pulled on the green and gold at the Commonwealth Championships in Melbourne, which was the first Australian sporting event to be broadcast in colour television.

Mr Tuckett said much like Mr La Grue, he’s enjoyed the process of reflecting on the sport that means so much to him.

“Suffice to say, table tennis has been a big part of my life,” he said.

“It has provided great enjoyment and many lifelong friends.”

TTV intends to publish its 100 year history as a coffee table book in July 2025.

If you have any relevant information on the Sunbury and District Table Tennis Association, contact: