1999/00 Keeling Cup: The Tony Hughes Memorial

Malcolm Keeling reports:

This year's tournament was named 'The Tony Hughes Memorial' and dedicated to the most enthusiastic supporter of the Individual Challenge and quite probably of Eton Fives as well. In over forty rounds (all played in London area) over seven years, Tony never missed one!

His enthusiasm was instrumental in starting the original concept of the event and indeed in keeping it going on occasions over the years. It was unanimously agreed by the players that the 2000 tournament should be a fund raising event for charity in Tony's memory.

This year, as there were more than eight entry applications, we had a pool of ten players. This meant there could be five rounds with each player sitting out one round and a final sixth round eliminating the two lowest places after round five.

The ten players were:- J.Halstead, J.Pinner, R.Mason, E.Wass, S.Cooley, P.Marshall, K.Rudman, E.Taylor, M.Hughes and C.Cooley, who replaced R.Tyler (withdrew injured after round one).

The Tony Hughes Memorial

We decided to play the six rounds between January and March and to use November 14th for a special fives day at Eton as part of the fund raising for the Tony Hughes Memorial. We were able to run four sociable matches before adjourning to the Watermans Arms. We had seventeen players who were keen to turn up to support the day and perform in Tony's memory. Donations were invited and gratefully received from all, both on this occasion and throughout the rest of the season. I am delighted to say that by the time of the finals on the 26th March we had collected a total of £800, which was presented to and accepted by Gill Hughes on behalf of St.Johns Ambulance after the matches at Tony's home courts at King Edward's School. Each player was awarded a certificate in acknowledgement of their fine efforts. Edgbaston was a fitting setting for the climax of the event and it was made all the more memorable by the attendance of Gordon Campbell, eight times Kinnaird champion with Tony, who made the effort after recent illness to come along in recognition of his friend and former long standing partner. We are very grateful to Gill for inviting us all back after the matches and providing us with drinks and an excellent buffet.

My sincere thanks go to all this year's Individual players for both their enthusiasm and support for this special event and also for their generosity.Grateful appreciation to all those who made donations to the fund....they were as follows:-

M.Blundell, C.Cooley, S.Cooley, G.Dunbar, D.Firth, C.Friend, J.Halstead, G.Howard, M.Hughes, M.Keeling, P.Marshall, R.Mason, B.Matthews, J.Pinner, K.Rudman, R.Rumsam, E.Taylor, R.Tyler, E.Wass, D.Whitehead.

The Tournament

Even with the luxury of in theory having two reserves for each round this year, we still had our fair share of problems with getting through every round with the correct playing line-up. It was good to have two new names in the ranks in the form of Seb and Chris Cooley. They both played some excellent fives and were in contention all the way through for top places. In fact one of the best games took place in round,with Seb playing with Julian Pinner and defeating Wass and Halstead 3-1, having lost the first 15-12. Unfortunately for him he was a sub in this round and to his dismay, the points he scored went to brother Chris!! Seb finished a very creditable fourth place at the end.

The early success was fleeting for Pinner, who then began a rapid descent down the ladder. Paul Marshall, who has been close to winning in the last two years, played with his usual intense competitiveness, but his game lacked the match-winning 'sting' this year, possibly due to not playing enough. Eddie Wass, defending his title for the second year, never really recovered from the above mentioned defeat in round two at Highgate...he did win three out his five games but that was only good enough for fifth place. His sidekick Jamie did considerably worse!! Karl Rudman and Mike Hughes both looked good at times but only managed one win each out of five. Karl played with Seb Cooley in the final round and were 2-0 up against Taylor and Marshall, but couldn't hold it together..they lost the next three with the fifth going to 13-11. Ed Taylor looked a better player this year...his play was more aggressive and showed more focus than last year. He was never out of the top four places and deservedly finished as this year's runner-up.

When Mason went into an early lead on the ladder, there was a sense of 'deja vu' from previous years, when the winning post has always finally got the better of Robin in this tournament. This year,things went somewhat differently... he led after round one and never left the top of the ladder, even despite losing the final round. I am delighted Robin has won in this rather special year. He is now the only player who has played in all eight Individual tournaments and I am grateful for all the effort and travelling he has regularly contributed.

Congratulations to this year's top three:-

1st Robin Mason................15.5 points

2nd Ed Taylor....................13 points

3rd Chris Cooley................13 points

The 'bet' was staged again this year with everyone sticking in a fiver at the start and attempting to predict the final top four placings. Nobody got anywhere close to getting it right and taking the pot .... the stake money was willingly donated to the charity fund!

Finally, my thanks to Eton, Highate, Aldenham and King Edward's for use of playing facilities and of course to everyone who took part and contributed in any way to this year's events.