HAROLD MALABAR (10.1936-02.2021)
Dad was born in Cairns Street, off Princes Avenue, Liverpool 8 in October 1936. His father had a Dairy and Grocery shop in Upper Warwick Street and made his own ice cream. His grandmother bought his Mum and Dad a house on Childwall Road and he moved there when he was 3. When he was 5 his father was called into the RAF and he went to Maghull to live with his Dad’s parents. While in Maghull he started school at 5 and had his first taste of sport which was a football trial for the school team. He was devastated when he didn’t get into the team. He moved back to Childwall
and at 10 years of age he started at Northway School. The first year he was there he got into the football team at centre forward for one game and then ended up in goal for the rest of the season. The following season he was made captain and played centre half. They got to two finals and played one at Everton’s ground and the other at Liverpool’s ground. He was also captain of the cricket, baseball and athletics teams and won all the finals in the city. The same year he passed the scholarship and went to Liverpool Institute. He hated the work at the school but loved the football. He played in the U13’s and U14’s and then the junior shield team at U15. After that he played in the 1st XI for 3 years. They got to the final of the Senior Grammar Schools at Everton’s ground and beat Waterloo Grammar School 4-0. In the semi-final a teacher told him it was obvious his brains were in his feet! He represented Merseyside Grammar Schools, Lancashire Grammar Schools and England Grammar Schools at Oxford University.
He started playing tennis at the age of 13 and played at Calderstones, Thingwall and Hightown. At 15 he played his first match in Lancashire Men’s team – the youngest ever to play until Stanley Matthews Jnr beat his record by playing at 14. He went on to win junior titles for the following three years at Upton, Manchester Northern, West Kirby and Hightown, culminating in winning the Lancashire Junior Singles and Doubles championship. Those final three years he played each season at Junior Wimbledon.
Finally, after junior tennis, he left school and went into the RAF. While in the RAF he represented them at football and signed for a team called March Town which is near Ely in Cambridgeshire. They played in the Eastern Counties League and played against teams like Arsenal A and Spurs A. They got through all the preliminary rounds of the FA Cup and played against Brentford in the 1st round. They lost 4-0 but it was huge excitement for the town. Unfortunately, Dad suffered a lot of disc problems with his back and after 6 months in hospital he was invalided out of the RAF as a corporal. Once back on civvy street he went to Broadgreen Hospital and had his sciatic nerve stretched while
under anaesthetic. This was a huge help, although his back was never 100% again. Once reasonably fit again he went to the University as a clerk for 1 year and from there went to Jacobs Biscuit Factory eventually becoming an Office Manager in the IBM Computer Dept. After 15 years he sensed he was going to be made redundant, so applied to take the Pro Tennis Coaches course. Following a fortnight course at Lilleshall in Shropshire, he passed the written, Individual and group exams, and became a Pro Tennis Coach. With that qualification he handed in his notice at Jacobs
and started full-time tennis coaching. He used to do one week courses at clubs all over Lancashire and ended up going to 3 schools every day. Eventually, he was appointed LTA North West Regional Coach and was responsible for all the best U16 players in Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man. This became his life, tennis coaching at clubs, schools and selected players for NW Regional Coaching every weekend throughout the winter.
He produced 4 British No. 1 tennis champions, 1 Junior Wimbledon champion and 3 Wimbledon players – Shirley Anne Siddall, Alex Niepel and Barry Cowan (who got within 2 points of beating Pete Sampras). He also produced over 60 national junior players which included his 2 sons, David and Ian.
In 1979 he got his huge breakthrough in tennis coaching by being appointed National Coach for Jordan in the Middle East. He got onto a short list with 2 Americans and had to go and meet Jordanian representatives in London. He did 2 hours of coaching at the Vanderbilt tennis centre where Princess Diana used to play, and then went to a hotel for an interview. After the interview he asked how long he would have to wait for the result of his interview and they said, ‘no time at all after the coaching you have just done, the job is yours’. Within 4 weeks he was flying out to Amman
in Jordan. The first thing he had to do was play an exhibition match against Jordan’s No. 1 player in a one set match. From then on he coached 10 hours per day, 7 days a week. He was then chauffeured back to his private suite in the Queens Palace Hotel. After he had been there about a month, he received an invitation to go to the Royal Palace to meet HM Queen Nour. She asked if he would like to coach her husband, HM King Hussein and ended up coaching him 3 times a week at the Palace. After his lessons he was given a 7-course silver service meal and was then chauffeured
back to his hotel. While coaching at the Palace he was invited to coach King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece while they were staying in Jordan. Whilst there, he appeared on their TV national news doing a coaching session. Before leaving Jordan he was given a Longines watch with the Royal crown on it. Only so many were commissioned for outstanding achievement in the country.
Dad couldn’t remember exactly how old he was when he approached East Wavertree to be their Head Coach. He was accepted and enjoyed many happy years working there part-time, mainly at weekends. He also coached many of the members at the indoor court at Huyton College through the winter months.
He was awarded the Harold Glover Trophy in 2008 by the Liverpool Tennis Group for making a significant contribution to tennis and was regarded as one of the country’s outstanding tennis coaches.
Eventually, he gave up all his schools and outside coaching and for the last few years just worked at East Wavertree at weekends. It was on his way home from East Wavertree that he had one of his many mini strokes. After several months away from the club he went back and carried on coaching, but after one last episode he suffered extensive brain damage, lost all balance and had double vision. That was the end of his career, but he still enjoyed going back and seeing everybody at East Wavertree from time to time where he became an honorary member of the club.
Approximately 25 years ago he also helped form the Merseyside Veteran Tennis Association which he was very proud of and still enjoyed being involved with up until very recently. Dad still enjoyed watching all of the major tennis events on TV, as well as his beloved LFC. It was great that he was able to see them win the league once again before his passing.
Written by Harold’s daughter Jane, on behalf of his family.