Anyone for more tennis?

July 13, 2017 no comments

With Murray and Konta out it’s up to us to keep British interest in tennis alive until the end of the week. So, after casting a hawk-like eye over our newspaper microfilm collection last week we thought we’d see what our online resources served up.

The British Newspaper Archive is available to all Stockton Borough Library members. It’s a treasure trove of history with millions of pages of local and national newspapers made digital and searchable. News articles, family notices, letters, obituaries and advertisements are all available, opening a fascinating window on the past.

That being said the pre-Dewar Cup history of tennis in the region is a little… sparse. Maxwell’s were getting very excited about their flannel trousers in 1914:

Norton Lawn Tennis club handed over £10 and 10 shillings to their men’s champion in 1884:

But Fred Perry didn’t visit the region to take on Bunny Austin in an exhibition match at Ropner Park in the 1930s so tennis headlines were a bit thin on the ground. However, we were undeterred and rallied our forces to uncover an intriguing snippet from the Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Monday 22 August 1887:

A classic case of a newspaper story asking more questions than it answers. Was there a thriving black market in 1887 for stolen tennis outfits? Was this an attempt to take advantage of a now kit-less local tennis superstar? Or was it a case of a desperate novice turning to crime in an ill-fated attempt to make the big tournament? Sadly the only the grand slam for Mr. Tierney was that of a cell door. (And that’s the last tennis pun of the year. We promise.)

However, one bonus of this sorry tale is that it gives us an excuse to post a picture of a rather magnificent 19th Century tennis player courtesy of the McCord Museum.

Now there’s a pair of flannels Maxwell’s would be proud of.

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