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1994 Gold Coast Sun, by Valerie Jones


From the outside it looks like a large corrugated iron shed, but to the couple who played a large part in its construction, the Molendinar headquarters of the Gold Coast Table Tennis Association is nothing short of palatial.

Barry and Agnes Herbertson, who almost single-handedly managed to raise more than $80,000 towards the $150,000 cost of the building, feel this way because they remember the associations previous homes so vividly.

"In one hall where we used to play, the roof had so many holes in it we'd get pigeon droppings on the tables.

"We'd have to rush to cover them with plastic if it started raining," said Barry.

He and his wife, Agnes, have been stalwarts of the association for more than 25 years.


At one time, association members played in the Labrador state school community hall. Barry and Agnes, and other members had to wheel the tables cross country from the storage sheds before and after every meet.

It took the club 20 years and countless raffles, garage sales and other fundraises to finally get their table tennis Taj Mahal built.

The rest of the money was made up by an interest-free loan from the former Albert Shire which also provided the site near the Molendinar tip, and a bank loan.

And although it can be hot in summer and cold in winter, Barry and Agnes just give a wry smile when people who have never played at their previous venues, complain.

"Compared to what we had to put up with over the years, this is wonderful," said Agnes.

"There are six championship tables permanently set up with umpiring chairs, scoreboards and

partitions to stop players' balls encroaching on other courts," she said.

"There is tiered seating for 30 people and standard seating for a further 70.

"In time, the association hopes to have tiered seating for 90 people.

"There are also toilet and shower facilities," she said.

The new centre opened in 1994 — nearly 30 years after table tennis became formalised on the Coast.                       
Barry working on wall

The Gold Coast Table Tennis Association started in 1967 thanks to the enterprising spirit of three keen players, Sam Binstead, Don Newcombe and Frank Hampson.

The playing arrangement in those days was quite novel.

Everyone would meet at Sam's place, the teams were selected and they would go off to a variety of homes and garages where they would play their matches.

The results were then returned to Sam for collation.

In time, the Brisbane Table Tennis Club sold four tables to the Gold Coast club for $100 which were paid off at $5 a week.

A hall was hired in Frank Street, Labrador, to house them.

Barry, 63, and Agnes, 69, joined the club around that time and said their almost constant involvement ever since — often as much as 20 or 30 hours a week — has kept them young.

For Barry, who was told when he was a child he would not live beyond young adulthood because of a chronic, debilitating bronchial disease, the sport has literally been a lifesaver.

"I lived on a farm and because of my health I missed most of my schooling," he said.

"I started playing table tennis at 16 when my youngest brother took up the sport," he said.

"He had no-one to practise with so I used to play against him in the apple shed.

"He started by beating me 2, then I began getting scores of 13 or 14 and he said I should play in competition."

Barry said table tennis was an excellent sport for all ages and fitness levels, and over the years the club has had members as young as eight and as old as 92.

"It's not too strenuous, but it can be if you want it to be," he said.

At present, the association had 90 members and there was room for many more.

"We can take all ages and all standards," said Agnes, who has only recently given up her other sports of tennis and bush walking.

She and Barry — both life members of the association — were very touched and proud when the council had decided to name the street leading to the club Herbertson Drive in their honour of their long contribution to the club.

"We will probably carry on until we drop," he said.

Barry & Agnes Herbertson

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