Fives Going Great Guns at Geelong

Martin Beaver reports:

05/12/18: 2018 has been a good year for Eton Fives at Geelong Grammar School.

In February we hosted a visit from Simon de Zoete, Chairman of the Old Etonian Fives club. It was exciting to learn of the wholehearted efforts to popularize the game in the U.K. and gave us a kick start to our year. Students were excited to see international visitors playing the game. It was heartening to hear that Simon had also visited Scotch College in Melbourne to discuss their plans to build a set of courts there. Hopefully we might soon have a local rival to play some inter-school games.

It is hard to talk about Eton Fives without talking about history. For many students, and other Geelong Grammar community members, the strange looking courts in the middle of the School remain an enigma. The first recorded games of “Scratch Fives” took place at GGS as early as 1875. Two ‘Fives’ courts were established at Corio in 1914. A Donation by a parent of 100 pounds received for the upgrade of one of the courts to be suitable for ‘Eton Fives’ arrived in 1943 and the court completed 10 years later in 1953. There are many courts in the U.K. but very few in the southern hemisphere; the courts at Geelong being the only ones in Australia and the southernmost in the world.

The popularity of the game at GGS has waxed and waned since the inception of the game here. Fives has once again operated as a co-curricular activity throughout this year. The annual House Tournament took place in the penultimate week of Term 4 2018 and saw the confluence of two eras of the game. Arthur Angliss (Perry House ’60)?, who was a medal winner in the sport during his senior School days, was able to attend the final games. The Corian of 1959 remembers Arthur’s prowess thus: “Fairfax and Tutton met Blazey and Angliss in the final of the senior competition. It was a very fast match, and resulted in a victory by two sets for Angliss and Blazey, who thus won the competition for the second year in a row.”

2018 saw, for the first time in history, a girl’s house (Elizabeth Murdoch) stand off against a boy’s house (Manifold). Jordan Sussich and Amelia Rule played Bobby Jamieson (School Captain) and Ben Beggs, after having one a set each in the semi-finals the week before. This year, they were not only playing for house pride but also the Arthur Angliss Challenge Cup. Arthur has very kindly donated a beautiful silver cup to become an annual award for the winning ‘Fives’ pair. The cup itself is as quirky as the game and itself has a fascinating history. The donor brought the cup with him to the match and a crowd of enthusiastic supporters from each of the two houses came to cheer on the competitors. Manifold took the first game and the second went to a nail-biting tie-break. Jamieson and Beggs were, finally, victorious.

The challenge cup promises to draw even more attention to the game, as will plans to upgrade the second of our two courts to ‘Eton’ standards, thanks to another generous benefactor, the late Hon. Frank Callaway.

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