How an article in The Sun sparked a 40-year friendship between two table tennis clubs
PUBLISHED: 19:16 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 19:16 02 August 2019
It all started with a German table tennis club placing a notice in The Sun newspaper 40 years ago.
The team, from the town of Eislingen, near Stuttgart, asked whether an English team would be interested in an exchange trip and tournament.
The advert caught the eye of Bill and Yvonne Todd, who responded and agreed to welcome a 17-strong contingent to their table tennis club in Taverham.
Forty years later, the two teams are still making annual trips to each other's home countries to compete for a trophy.
This year's match - marking the 40th anniversary of the exchange - took place at Taverham village hall on Friday (August 2), and was won by the Norfolk contingent.
Mrs Todd, who now runs Foxwood Table Tennis Club and is vice president of the Taverham club, said: "The atmosphere is lovely, really and truly. No one takes it too seriously.
You may also want to watch:
"When they first came over all those years ago, all we ever did was play table tennis. Then we would sit in the garden and have plenty of beers and schnapps.
"Now they only play table tennis once and we take them out somewhere."
The original notice was placed in The Sun by Joachim Junger on January 4, 1979. He wanted to bring a party to England in May that year, with a return visit in the summer.
A follow-up article in the Chester Barnes column of the paper on November 8 that year noted how the German players had come over and that Mr and Mrs Todd were planning a return trip.
So far, the German club has visit 20 times, while the Norfolk side has made 21 trips - going over twice in one year.
Mrs Todd said: "There are some good friendships that have formed over the years. We have had a lot of them stay here, and I have eight staying this time."
She said the German side used to dominate the tournament, but now the Taverham and Foxwood clubs have won four out of the five previous competitions - including yesterday's match which finished 16-2.