Veterans 2017: Old'uns but Good'uns

Graham Pulsford reports:

02/05/17: The Veterans Competition continues to be a great finale to the fives season and is a pleasing opportunity to spend an afternoon playing fives and meeting up with friends and foes alike. This year was particularly competitive with many individual games lasting beyond the hour mark; there would be aches and pains aplenty the next day!

Newcomers welcomed included Nik Williams, Gideon Osen, Richard Marwood and Robie Uniacke. It was great to welcome back Richard Tyler – this year without his characteristic all-encompassing lycra sportswear! Missing was Freddie ‘the fixer’ Rowe, apparently renewing his Machiavellian roots in Italy, but he has promised to be back with his Westway crew next year.

The result of the three Veterans finals were:

Open Competition for the MJS-J Cup

Mike Hughes & Grant Williams beat Sid Simmons & Chris Austin

The MJS-J Cup was a marathon with close games from start to finish. There was some great fives from every pair with a wonderful cross section of styles and shot selection on view from players with real quality – Nick Shaw, Sid Simmons, Richard Tyler, Jamie Fleming, David Jones, Mark Yates, Marco Rimini, Alex Knight and Gareth Hoskins to name just a few (Spencer – you just missed the cut!).

The crucial games in the early rounds saw Mike Hughes & Grant Williams ease past Jamie Fleming & Gareth Hoskins and Nick Shaw & Spencer Chapman nudge past Richard Tyler & Rez Malik. There was no capitulation by any pair and most games were on court for over 30 minutes. In a tight Wulfrunian head to head Chris Austin & Sid Simmons beat Mark Yates & David Jones 15-12 before the latter narrowly lost to 15-13 to Mike Hughes & Grant Williams in a close and prolonged semi-final.

The final was a rematch of last year with Mike Hughes & Grant Williams against Chris Austin & Sid Simmons. It was close all the way with the two left handers Grant and Chris vying for top court supremacy, Sid in ‘volley mode’ and Mike as efficient in shot selection as ever. At 12-12 the match could have gone either way. The older pair were literally dead on their feet and Mike looked exhausted. But Grant and Mike have done this before; the last three points were won in a flurry of quick rallies and the result 15-13 to the current champions. Probably their best win in the veterans and the assembled crowd applauded heartily at the presentation of the Cup. Their eighth win – a truly magnificent achievement.

Do not feel too sorry for Chris & Sid – they will be back to compete next year.

Over 50s Competition for the Chris Cup(s)

Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford beat Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd

The final was won narrowly by Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford against the evergreen Chis Davies & Chris Lloyd; the latter competing in their fifth successive final. Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd took an early 6-1 lead but were pegged back by some long energy sapping rallies to 12-12. As in the Open final a burst of quick points and the 2016 winners retained their trophy 15-12.

Third and fourth place were taken by Phil Lyndon & Paul Kendall and Andrew White & Robie Uniacke.

History was made in the match between Nik Williams & Gideon Osen and Pete Scholey & Graham Pulsford when the equivalent of the ‘video referee’ was used for the first time in fives (to the writer’s knowledge). The game was being recorded by Miss Osen and one lengthy rally that included a series of potential lets was replayed for all competitors to view!! The outcome was, naturally enough, a let!

Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup

Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries beat Neil Margerison & Richard Dennis

The Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup was won 15-8 by Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries who had enough experience to out think and outplay the combined intellect of Neil Margerison & Richard Dennis. The final was timed at just under 70 minutes – which must have acted against Neil ‘Robocop’ Margerison who had more heavy duty knee supports than it can be safe for a man to wear.

Tony Walters & Alex Aldous took third place – in fine form both on court and in general conversation! Alex was voted ‘Best Dressed Competitor’ by a clear margin – exuding a degree of sartorial elegance which today’s youngsters can never match.

David Cooper & Stefan Nowinski and Martin Powell & Rod Smart all added to the day and played to the very end. David Cooper, at 77, may well be the oldest veteran to play in this competition!

Many thanks to those who helped make the day enjoyable by playing or coming to watch, to Mike Hughes and Eton College as hosts.

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

Note: - 2018 is the 34th Veterans Competition – the more pairs the merrier!

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