Veterans Tournament 2018: Old Hands Win The Day

Graham Pulsford reports:

30/04/18: If you are over 40 and haven’t played and experienced the welcoming and generous atmosphere of the last major fives competition of the season then you should certainly give it a go in 2019.

This year was a particularly good advert for the over 40s game and possibly a nudge to Freddie Rowe that his thoughts of a ‘senior’ league are not too far-fetched. Particular thanks go to Al, Ed, Niifio, Guy and Chris, partly for bringing the average age down but mostly for making this year’s Open a feast of exciting and highly watchable fives. 

The result of the three Veterans finals were:

Open Competition for the MJS-J Cup

Mike Hughes & Marco Rimini beat Al Taylor & Ed Taylor (but not Guy Chapman & Niifio Addy!)

The round robin games between the final four pairs was exhibition fives of the first order. As an advert for quality fives with a wonderful mix of styles and shot selection one could not hope for a better demonstration. Thanks must go to all players for producing a truly memorable afternoon of fives.

To describe how Mike Hughes & Marco Rimini came out on top is not a straightforward task. They lost their first game 14-15 to the new Cholms pairing Guy Chapman & Niifio Addy while on the adjacent court Al Taylor & Ed Taylor edged past Chris Austin & Sid Simmons 15-12. Both games exceeded the hour mark.

The second-round robin game saw Mike Hughes & Marco Rimini recover from their early defeat to beat the Taylors 15-9. Marco returned almost every cut and Mike varied his shot selection to perfection. Meanwhile Chris Austin & Sid Simmons moved to 12-10 up against Guy Chapman & Niifio Addy and were pushing ahead for victory in another full bloodied encounter. And this was when events became complicated. Retrieving a full-length ball Sid slipped on the back step and twisted his ankle. He tried to continue but it was evident that he couldn’t put any weight on his ankle and the Wulfrunian pair were forced to concede their unfinished game to the Cholms and at the same time concede a walkover in their unplayed game with Mike Hughes & Marco Rimini.

The final match was Guy Chapman & Niifio Addy against Al Taylor & Ed Taylor with the former needing a win to become champions at first attempt. Possibly a little unsettled from Sid’s injury and then meeting the renewed vigour of Al Taylor & Ed Taylor (where does Ed get his energy from?) this game moved steadily away from the Cholms pair and a 12-7 victory reflects the brothers’ overall dominance.

Announcing the winner then became the organiser’s responsibility*. Had Sid & Chris been able to continue, there may well have been another name on the Cup but this year it was won by Mike Hughes & Marco Rimini (on all forms of countback) with both Guy Chapman & Niifio Addy and Al Taylor & Ed Taylor more than a little unlucky to also win two games but not get their hands on the MJS Cup.

For Mike Hughes this was his 10th win in this competition – I suggest ‘Legend’ rather than ‘Veteran’!

Do feel sorry for Sid – his ankle looked bad in the pub and he had booked his taxi back to Wolverhampton!

Over 50s Competition for the Chris Cup(s)

Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd beat Tim Thurnham &Mark Gywnne.

The final was won by Chris Davies & Chris Lloyd who were competing in their seventh successive final. Experience counted as first time finalists Tim Thurnham & Mark Gywnne showed their opponents too much respect and never managed to really push the North Oxford pair. The two Chris’s went through the gears and drew away to a 15-7 win which gave them their chance to drink from their own Cups for the first since 2013.

Third and fourth place were taken by Martin Powell & Andrew White and John Cooley & David McCahon respectively.

Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup

Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries beat Mark Blundell & Graham Pulsford

The Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup was won 15-14 by the holders Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries who managed to edge out firm favourites and ‘newcomers on the block’ Mark Blundell & Graham Pulsford in an absorbing contest. The holders cut well and played to a plan which saw them gain the lead and put pressure on their slightly younger opponents. After a steady claw back to 14-14 the youngsters had a chance to clinch the match, but the final shot was agonisingly low, and the experienced pair won through on the next hand. Hearty congratulations and no mention of the two dubious lets ‘at the death’!

Andrew Bishop & David Pemberton tied with Alex Aldous & Stefan Nowinski for third place with Ronald Pattison & Joseph Seelig, unlucky in getting a very tough draw, close behind.

James Caplin returned from extreme surgery and, with the assistance of a youthful Chris Griggs, managed to win his final game of the day.

Alex Aldous was again voted ‘Best Dressed Competitor’ – exuding a degree of sartorial elegance in fives clothing which today's youngsters (excluding veterans) would do well to follow. In memory only John Batting has come close to this level of excellence.

David Cooper, at 78, became 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 and to Martin Powell as EFA representative and collector of match fees.

Editor's Note: the organiser has "previous" in this area

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

Note: - 2019 is the 35th Veterans Competition – the more pairs the merrier!

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