Tributes paid to Kettering table tennis stalwart

Dennis Millman (left) being presented with his award for his 40 year service to the league from Clive Cross in 2011.
Dennis Millman (left) being presented with his award for his 40 year service to the league from Clive Cross in 2011.

Tributes have been paid to Kettering table tennis stalwart Dennis Millman, who has died aged 88.

Dennis, who was involved in the sport for 75 years, died peacefully on April 13.

He moved to Kettering in 1966 and played for Kettering Town Table Tennis Club for 50 years, with his last match in January 2016 at the age of 86.

It’s estimated he played at least 3,000 games and also held many roles in the Kettering and District Table Tennis League.

Friend and league secretary Ivor Jones said: “He was a gentleman of the ‘old school’, who always gave his best and saw the best in everyone.

“It was very rare to see or hear him criticise anyone. The most that he might do is raise an eye.

“Players have told me how kind and encouraging he was to them over the years as they came into the sport.”

Dennis, who was a school headteacher until the age of 60, won countless trophies in the league and at tournaments, mainly in the veterans category, as well as playing international tournaments.

He was also chairman of Kettering Town TTC for 52 years, chairman of the Kettering league for 40 years, a member of the cup committee for 42 years and league press secretary for 40 years as well as having county association roles.

He retired from his role of league chairman in 2010-11, as well as most of his other roles, but remained a life president.

Dennis never lost interest in table tennis and logged every result as well as preparing the weekly league report on his typewriter.

He delivered it to the Evening Telegraph offices and even when he was in hospital for cancer treatment, had scorecards taken to him so he didn’t miss a week.

He kept records of every game and was the go-to statistician, creating rankings lists up until the end of last season and having anecdotes about almost every player.

Ivor added: “I think it is fair to say that without him we may not now have a league, or certainly one that has thrived as it has.”

Dennis’ contribution to table tennis saw a league cup – the Millman Salver – named after him in recent years.

Friend and former team-mate Jim Chatburn said: “Although a great player he was also a great administrator and his knowledge, experties and enthusiasm will be missed.”

A minute’s applause was held at last week’s annual Kettering league closed tournament and a number of table tennis players attended his funeral in Kettering on May 2.

Some had travelled from as far as Gloucestershire and south Wales.

Dennis also enjoyed football as a keen Coventry City fan, even writing to then-manager Jimmy Hill to offer advice and receiving a reply.

He was also interested and good at rugby, cricket and tennis, for which he also wrote press reports.

Dennis maintained involvement in other interests such as dancing and gardening, but above all continued to find time to play a full part in his family with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That he was able to do this is testament to the great support he had from his wife.