Essex & England
1928 – 2016
A personal reflection from Stuart Gibbs.
I first recalled meeting Brian Brumwell as an 11 year old, when I was given a ticket to watch Essex County 1st team play against the great Middlesex side in 1958 and was fortunate to play with him in my 1st game for Essex which coincided with this being his last game for the county.
Brian was a remarkable sportsman who excelled at football and more notably at cricket, as Captain of the Wanstead Cricket Club, the premier side in Essex, where he won numerous trophies.
However, it is in his achievements and influence in Essex Table Tennis that I and many, many others will remember him for.
Brian played for England on a number of occasions and was ranked No.5 in the Country, not an easy feat when you had such great players to compete with, notably Johnny Leach, Richard Bergman, and Aubrey Simons, to name but a few.
During his time as a player, Brian was always ready to help and influence those youngsters making their way in the sport and he became Captain of the England Junior side in 1960. It was a year later that he insisted that the then ETTA include a precocious 14 year old in the England Junior Team to go to the European Junior Championships, as he had recognised the potential of this player. However, he was unable to persuade the powers that be and the request was not granted. As a result of that decision, on principle, Brian resigned from the captaincy. The following year, this young player became England No.1 senior at the age of 15. The player was Chester Barnes. This proved Brian’s uncanny ability to recognise natural talent when he saw it.
During his time coaching juniors Brian had considerable involvement in Ray Dorking becoming England No.1 junior, at the age of 15 and also helped establish the St Luke’s Table Tennis Club in an underprivileged area of East London, to such an extent that it was able to host England Junior International matches.
On his retirement from playing nationally, Brian became president of the Ilford and District Table Tennis League and was made a life member of Essex County Table Tennis Association.
In closing, how will we remember this great man?
He was ferociously competitive, a visionary that was responsible for the golden age of Essex table tennis, in the 1960′s, but more importantly, he was a true gentlemen, with a heart of gold.
May you rest in peace Brian and thank you so much for everything you have done.
President Essex Table Tennis Association