Table Tennis Ulster is celebrating a special birthday on Sat 23 Nov 2013 during the Ulster Open Championships being held in Queens PE Centre, Belfast.  It will be 90 Years since two of the trophies being played for this year were first used. 

To mark the occasion, a number of historic Trophies are being re-introduced  to highlight this landmark, with the Men’s and Women’s Singles Cup which were first played for in 1923/24 season,   The two cups have significant  links to Belfast City Council, The Office of Lord Mayor, and  a Member of  Parliament. These cups were presented to Ulster Table Tennis when the sport was in its infancy, and were in use for almost half a century.  The Harcourt Challenge Cup and the Hospital Challenge Cup have now been refurbished and will be kept permanently on display as a reminder of the proud sporting heritage.

Table Tennis in Ulster was organising competitions including the Ulster Open some years before the formation of the International Table Tennis Federation in 1926, and 14 years before the formation of the Irish Table Tennis Association in 1937. Pioneering figures from the early days of Northern Ireland table tennis were instrumental in the formation of both of these organisations and set the foundations for the sport world wide.   

The Harcourt Cupfor Women’s Singles title was first presented to Mrs. H. Roberts, 1924-25, and used continuously for 43 years, being last won by Miss V Lambert 1965/65. The Cup was originally donated by Sir Robert Harcourt, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast and local politician. The Cup is being presented by Mr John Harcourt, the son of Sir Robert Harcourt.  a former Director of the F E Harcourt and Co, as well as a former member of the Belfast Corporation for 22 years, and founding member of the Railway Preservation Society. 

The Hospital Challenge Cup, for Men’s Singles, was presented by Thomas Somerset and first won by R. McCleery, 1923-24, and then used continuously for 43 years until to last won in 1965 by Dubliner Jimmy Langan. Sir Thomas Somerset DL was a major linen manufacturers, and Chairman of the Northern Counties Committee of the London, Midland and Scottish Railwayand a Unionist Member of Parliament.   Mr Mike Nesbitt MLA will present this Cup

Two former World Champions have picked up this trophy along with the Ulster Open title.   The legendary Victor Barna holder of 22 World Titles and Richard Bergman holder of 7 World Titles have both been winners of this event.    Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor will attend this event, as will a representative from the Ulster Unionist Party in view of the links to the two donors of the cups concerned.

 The Tyrell Cup for Men’s Doubles last won in 1962 by T. Caffrey and J. Matier will also be presented on this special occasion.  It will be presented by Irish table tennis legend Tommy Caffrey, the last recipient of this cup 51 years ago.

The McCullough Cupfor Women’s Doubles, last won in 1967/68 by Misses Joan Fitzsimons and Dorothy Taylor, will be presented by the Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Christopher Stalford.


Top athletes from across Ireland will take part in this event on Saturday and will be competing to have their names added to the long list of winners, and claim their place in the history of Ulster Table Tennis.  In doing so, they will be forging a link from the birth of the sport, right up to the present day.  Some may have their names inscribed onto the same cup which bears the names of two giants of the sport, and former World Champions.  Just how unique is that?!