Game, Set, Match

June 28, 2017 no comments


As the world’s finest players gather for another two weeks of hope, anguish, elation and possibly some more anguish at Wimbledon, what better time to delve into our archives in search of some tennis history closer to home.  While Stockton-on-Tees might not be known as a magnet for world class international tennis stars, in the early 1970s top ranked professionals and grand slam winners did make their way to Billingham for the Dewar Cup.  Taking its name from its sponsor, Dewar’s Whiskey, this indoor tournament ran from 1965 to 1976 and attracted big names to the various venues on the circuit.  Here’s the programme from 1974, with Jimmy Connors, Virginia Wade and Ilie Nastase all competing on the hallowed indoor carpet of the Billingham Forum.


The ‘74 tournament proved to be an eventful one.  Our Evening Gazette microfilm collection revealed a shock first round exit for the seven times grand slam winner Nastase as the then world number one Jimmy Connors progressed from Billingham to the finals at the Royal Albert Hall.  And not many people have made that journey.


Plucky Brit Mark Cox put a hole in the roof which, in an unrelated incident, sprung a mid-match leak hampering Sue Mappin’s chances of victory in London.  In London, Connors controversially swore and gesticulated at the crowd, but thankfully no one blamed Billingham for him picking up some bad habits…

Our newspaper archive contains local papers from 1858 to the present, the majority of which are not available digitally.  If you would like to search our collection, for angry tennis players or indeed anything else, then head on over to the Reference Library.

Many thanks to Wendy Jameson for permission to use her programme, originally put online by the Sporting Memories Foundation.  For more information about tackling dementia, depression and loneliness through Sporting Memories go to:


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