Derek Tyler, man of many roles

Derek Tyler (left) with wife, Josine at Table Tennis England’s 100 Club Dinner in 2007 (Photo: Diane Webb)

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The most senior Vice President of Table Tennis England, it is with great sadness that the death of Derek Tyler is announced.

Born in Hastings on Saturday 10th December 1921, he passed away on Thursday 30th March 2017; he was 95 years old.

Derek Tyler assumed many roles in his career, notably in the field of officiating; he umpired at the World Championships in 1957 in London and two decades later in 1977 in Birmingham.

Later from 1981 to 2000 he worked closely alongside Colin Clemett, the Chair of the ITTF Rules Committee. He was an assessor for international umpires, attending World Championships in that capacity.

Present at World Championships; also in an official capacity he attended many European Championships, Europe Top 12 tournaments and European Youth Championships, whilst also fulfilling vital roles at such prestigious events as the Commonwealth Championships and English Open.

Domestically he was elected Vice President of the English Table Tennis Association in 1976. Locally he held the office of Vice President of the Sussex County Table Tennis Association in addition to at various times in his career, amongst other roles, being President, Chair and Honorary General Secretary of the Hastings Table Tennis Association.

However, above all else, there is one achievement that stands out in my mind more than any other; the Sussex Open. He was the organiser of the tournament for a period of 18 years, from 1957 and 1975; a fact of which he was immensely proud.

Throughout England, county and local associations host open tournaments, they have changed in format over the years but under the direction of Derek Tyler, nothing before or since ever matched the Sussex Open.

Always staged in the White Rock Pavilion on the Hastings seafront facing the English Channel, early October being the traditional date; the venue possessed a special atmosphere, that of a theatre where the players were the actors, the officials the choreographers.

On no occasion was the status of the tournament more underlined than in 1967 when an all men’s singles final saw Jaroslav Stanek beat Vladimir Miko to claim the title and England’s Mary Wright overcame Marta Luzova to secure the women’s singles crown.

At the time, representing what was then known as Czechoslovakia, Jaroslav Stanek, Vladimir Miko and Marta Luzova were amongst the very top names not only in Europe, also in the world. Notable names but there was a very special player in that group of guests; the name was Ivan Andreadis; a man whom Derek Tyler regarded as a special friend for some 45 years.

Hailed by many of the era to be the greatest player never to be World champion, Ivan Andreadis did enjoy success in the White Rock Pavilion; he won the veteran men’s singles title beating Ron Etheridge from the nearby county of Kent in the final.

However, it was not until 1989 that I met Derek Tyler; he had married Josine Juliens and had moved to live in northern Belgium.

The occasion was the Belgian Youth Open staged in Namur; it was my first appearance as coach for an England Team. Derek Tyler approached me, introduced himself and immediately a friendship was struck; the 1967 Sussex Open broke the ice.

He recommended that I should bring players to the August tournaments in Ostend and Wenduine on the northern Belgian coast; I complied and for many years I would meet Derek and Josine in Ostend to reflect on times past and the direction for the future.

A mine of information, Derek Tyler had a family history in the sport; his father had been a player of pedigree. He possessed a medal inscribed “Ping Pong Champion – YMCA 1910”, the tournament having been won using a wooden racket with undulating lines having been gouged out in order to impart more spin on the ball.

Such was the fascinating information Derek Tyler bestowed; a kind caring gentleman, sincere, high integrity and a man who thought of others. Always since our meeting in Namur, there was a Christmas card; always wishing me well, always encouraging.

Our condolences to his wife Josine and family; Derek Tyler, a true table tennis man, is sadly missed.