Olavians Back On Top In The Barber
24/02/20: Having lost their title last year to the Old Harrovians, the Old Olavians regained the Alan Barber Cup in association with Advanta Wealth with a 2-1 win over last year's winners at Eton on Sunday.
After last year's blip - a shock quarter-final defeat at the hands of the Old Harrovians, who then went on to claim the trophy - normal service was resumed at Eton on Sunday as the Old Olavians regained the Alan Barber Cup. This was heir 19th win in the last 21 years and their 20th overall, moving them to within three of the all-time record of 23, held by the Old Cholmeleians.
The Harrovian side were missing Peter Dunbar, Oskar Denby and Qassi Gaba from last year's winning team and despite the presence in their ranks of Tom Dunbar, they came into the match as underdogs facing an Olavian team containing Seb Cooley, James Toop, Howard Wiseman, Tony Barker and the current school first pair of Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy and Isaac Jochim.
Barber Cup rules mean that the two schoolboys are not allowed to play together, meaning that Isaac was in at second pair with Seb and Prajeeth at third with Tony, while James & Howard took on Tom & Rahul Wijeratne at first pair. The Harrovian first pair put in a superb performance with Tom in dominant form and Rahul coping well with being on court with three hugely experienced Kinnaird Cup winners, keeping ahead in the first and third and racing through the second to record a straight games win. The strength in depth of the Olavian squad showed at second and third pair, with the two schoolboys playing good supporting roles and Seb and Tony able to control things against the Harrow second pair of Jamie Fleming & Fred Prickett and third pair of Ed Hewens & Ross Bryan. The Olavians won both in straight games to reclaim the trophy and re-establish themselves as the team to beat in the competition.
Old Olavians beat Old Harrovians 2-1 at Eton 23/02/20:
J.Toop & H.Wiseman lost to T.Dunbar & R.Wijeratne 0-3 (9-12, 1-12, 10-12)
S.Cooley & I.Jochim beat J.Fleming & F.Prickett 3-0 (12-4, 12-9, 12-1)
T.Barker & P.Sathiyamoorthy beat R.Bryan & E.Hewens 3-0 (12-5, 12-8, 12-0)
The Mark Williams view:
The 56th Alan Barber Cup Final was contested by the Old Harrovians and the Old Olavians at Eton on Sunday 23rd February.
The Olavians were without Matt Wiseman, but played Seb Cooley at second pair and Tony Barker at third pair; The Old Harrovians were depleted by family holidays at half term, and were especially missing Tom Dunbar and Oskar Denby; they included currently schoolboy Fred Prickett at seconnd pair.
In both second and third pairs the second game was close and competitive, but eventually won by the Olavians, and they won the other games convincingly, with their ‘star’ player taking control.
The first pair was very well matched, with Rahul Wijeratne being the youngest by approximately 15 years. The first game was a tense affair with Harrow establishing a lead and then St Olave’s catching up fast; the former eventually won 12-9 however.
Harrow ran away with the second game with St Olave’s making several unusual unforced errors.
In the third game, however, James Toop and Howard Wiseman took a substantial early lead 6-0; Tom Dunbar and Wijeratne countered and steadily caught up and stretched this to an 11-8 lead. In a tense period of play which took several hands, the Olavians pulled back to 11-10.
Wijeratne was being tested severely by St Olave’s and managed initially to hold his nerve and parry the offensive; he then found some killing shots of his own to win back the serve and play the winning stroke for a 3-0 win; Tom Dunbar wasn’t looking forward to a fifth!
It was very pleasing to see a talented young player making his mark on the final, but the Old Olavians won back the Barber Cup after last year’s blip for their 20th triumph overall; they still have the strongest squad in depth and quality when everyone is available.
Taking stock of the Competition over the years, the Alan Barber Cup has been won by:
Old Cholmeleians 23*
Old Olavians 20*
Old Edwardians 4
Old Salopians 3
Old Berkhamstedians 2
Old Etonians 2
Old Wulfrunians 1
Old Harrovians 1
*Both Clubs have recorded a 15 year consecutive run, and the Olavians have won 19 of the last 21.