Long Live Lancing!

Richard Black reports:

11/09/17: This was the third weekend of fives which the Lancing Fives Club has organised at The College and it was by far and away the most successful and in a number of different ways.

We had a record turnout - 27 players on Saturday and 24 on Sunday of all different ages from 17- 75! Dividing the tournament into a main competition and a festival competition worked well as it allowed everyone to play the quantity and quality of fives that they wanted.

There was a heartening number of Lancing players under 30, including four recent leavers and a current pupil. We hope that they will continue to play in the adult game, which will give the Club the continuity it needs to flourish.

Several of the Golden Oldies made a welcome reappearance after several years absence from the fives scene, notably Tim Monckton and Nigel Wheeler, both of whom gave us clear reminders of their playing quality.

It was a positive indication of the vitality of the Sussex-based club. This has been a great development over the last few years under the devoted guidance and organisation of Matthew Beard and the help of The College in allowing us to use the courts.

We were delighted to welcome nine playing guests who were keen enough to make the journey down the M23 to play. Lancing fives is not a forgotten part of the fives spectrum at all! Two of our guests - Gareth Hoskins and Gwydion Wiseman - carried off the new and beautiful stained glass Ladywell Trophy, created and handmade by Catherine Black.

It was not just the fives that was great, it was the feeling of a Lancing fives community that was so positive. Everyone was just pleased to be back at The College and playing.

The pre-organised tournament on Saturday resulted in many close matches and a full day’s fives. The more informal arrangement on Sunday was a good contrast with informal fours being organised by Gareth Hoskins, the tournament maestro of the EFA.

The dinner on Saturday evening was held at The Ardington Hotel, Worthing, run by Simon ( OL) and Richard Margaroli. They pushed the boat out for us – a top-class meal in a private dining room with friendly, attentive service, what more could we ask? The players were joined by a number of distinguished guests including Andrew Farquharson, Chairman of the OL Club and Nick Evans, Sports co-ordinator of the OL Club. The Lancing Fives club owes a great debt of gratitude to the OL Club who give us considerable financial support during the season (this allows us to pay travel expenses for young people who have a long way to travel to matches) and who made a generous financial contribution to the cost of the dinner.

We were delighted that David Austin, governor of Lancing College, could join us and also our longstanding friends Dale (Chairman of the Eton Fives Charitable Trust) and Krystyna Vargas (the first ever ladies Eton fives champion).

What made the weekend special was the atmosphere in which new friendships were created and old ones renewed. One of the great things about fives is that it is a friendly, sociable game – perhaps the fairplay etiquette on court has something to do with this. It was a chance for OLs and their guests to meet up and enjoy each others’ company, not an easy thing to achieve during the year when we all live and work in different places.

A lion’s share of the thanks must go to Matthew Beard, tournament organiser and master of the spreadsheet and sophisticated planning computer-based programmes which exceed any that I have seen in the history of the club. Everything went like clockwork and all organised with a light touch.

Rob Cooper did us proud on the popular court-side refreshments for the two days.

Many thanks to The Headmaster of The College for allowing us to use the courts and facilities and to Hannah Betts for helping us to make the arrangements.

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