2016 Veterans Tournament: Williams & Hughes Defy The March Of Time

Graham Pulsford reports:

26/04/16: Playing in the Veterans Competition is a great way to round off the fives season and a unique opportunity to spend an afternoon playing fives and meeting up with friends and rivals alike. This year was no exception and with a record entry the courts were close at full capacity.

The very healthy addition of newcomers included Mark Blundell, John Batting, Nick Preston, Stuart Watson, Tim Thurnham, Robert Scholey, Wendy Carling, Sid Simmons, Howard Wiseman, John Florey, Andrew White, and Pauli Markkanen. We also welcomed back Michael Millership, David Cooper, John Caudle and Freddie ‘the fixer’ Rowe with his Westway crew.

The tone of the afternoon was set by the mass photos taken by John Florey’s better half; supposedly The Telegraph’s top lady photographer. Amid general good humour the competition got under way.

Nearly four hours later the results of the three Veterans Tournament finals were as follows:

Open Competition for the MJS-J Cup

Mike Hughes & Grant Williams beat Sid Simmons & Chris Austin

The MJS-J Cup was fought over by eight well matched pairs with close games from start to finish. There was some magnificent fives from every pair and quality play was there for all to see. Watching some of the superlative play from Sid Simmons, Richard Tyler, Jamie Fleming, Mike Hughes and Mark Yates was both a privilege and exhausting. Add to this the skills and class of Howard Wiseman, Marco Rimini, Alex Knight, Grant Williams and Gareth Hoskins and you can feel the quality.

The crucial games in the early rounds saw Mark Yates & David Jones nudge past Howard Wiseman & Pauli Markkanen 15-14 and then Chris Austin & Sid Simmons oust 2015 Champions Jamie Fleming & Gareth Hoskins 15-10. These crucial results removed two potential finalists and the two group winners to go through to the final were Mike Hughes & Grant Williams and Chris Austin & Sid Simmons.

The final was a cracker. Mike Hughes & Grant Williams went 6-1 up; Chris Austin & Sid Simmons fought back to 6-6 and then moved 13-9 ahead. Mike & Grant dug in and clawed back to 13-13. And then two consecutive shots in quick succession clipped and rolled off the front step and Mike & Grant had won to claim their seventh Veterans win as a pair. Hearty congratulations; mentally is there a stronger pair to play against? Do not feel too sorry for Chris & Sid – they will be back next year.

Feel more sorry for Marco Rimini & John Saunders who, despite giving their all, lost their initial three games with scores of 12, 13 and 12.

Over 50s Competition for the Chris Cup(s)

Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford beat Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd

The entry for the Chris Cup(s) included a large number of new players and there was a combination of very friendly, friendly, competitive and very competitive games played thought the afternoon. The final was won in fine style by Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford with the latter producing increasingly clinical and scintillating fives as the day progressed. Their opponents, Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd, were only granted a short rest after a lengthy and nail biting 12-11 victory in an extended semi-final over the unlucky Bill Christie & Andrew Mitchell. This was probably draining enough, both physically and mentally, to make the final ‘a step too far’ for whoever won.

Other pairs to have success included Andrew Bishop & Andrew White, Paul Kendal & John Caudle, and Tim Thurnham & Robert Scholey. The smiliest pair was Wendy Carling & Stephen Kelly; their third game win producing only the second victory for a mixed pair in the 32 year history of Veterans fives. The ‘best dressed pair’ was John Batting & Keith Turnbull although ‘best hat’ went to John Florey.

Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup

Ronald Pattison & Neil Margerison beat Nigel Cox & Nick Bunyan

The Over 60’s Competition for the Walters Cup was won by Ronald Pattison & Neil Margerison who ground out a 15-14 victory in the deciding game of the group. This was a seesaw game of two contrasting styles; Nigel &Nick attacking the ball and looking for winners and Ronald & Neil fighting to return everything and patiently waiting for errors or ledges to work in their favour. It is worth recording that these four players were the last to leave the post competition ‘wind down’ in the Henry VI pub.(And many thanks to Nick for picking up a large tab).

Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries, David Cooper & Richard Black, Richard Dennis & Mark Blundell and Tony Walters & Michael Millership were all in fine form both on court and in general conversation!! This was a competitive group played in the ‘right way’.

Many thanks to all those who helped make the day enjoyable by playing or coming to watch.

Note: If you are over 40 you are eligible for these competitions

Note: 2017 is the 33rd Veterans Competition – the more pairs the merrier!


M S-J Open Competition

1 Mike Hughes & Grant Williams

2 Chris Austin & Sid Simmons

3. Jamie Fleming & Gareth Hoskins

Chris Cup (over 50s)

1 Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford

2 Chris Lloyd & Chris Davies

3 Bill Christie & Andrew Mitchell

Tony Walters Cup (over 60s)

1 Ronald Pattison & Neil Margerison

2 Nigel Cox & Nick Bunyan

3 Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries

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