2012 EFA Awards: The Nominees
For the first time ever, the EFA Dinner on May 12th (click HERE for details) will see the presentation of the EFA Awards for the following categories: Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and Special Contribution to Fives.
***VOTING IS NOW CLOSED***
Simply read on to see the list of nominees in each category and then email Gareth Hoskins directly or by clicking HERE with your choice of the winner in each category. Each registered Fivesonline user is allowed one vote and the winners will be announced at the EFA Dinner. Entries close on Saturday May 5th 2012.
Player of the Year
In his first season since leaving Cambridge, this has been a breakthrough year for Laurie. He has played a leading role in the Old Westminsters Division 1 team, with some terrific first pair results against tough opposition. Laurie started the season by winning the Under 25 tournament with Andrew Joyce, partnered Ed Rose to the semi-finals of the London Tournament and reached the final of the Turnbull Trophy with James Alster.
After sweeping the board in the 2010/11 season, Seb has had another outstanding year: Winner of the London, Northern and Kinnaird tournaments in partnership with Tom Dunbar; winner of the Midland tournament with St.Olave's schoolboy Chris Self; part of the all-conquering Old Olavian Barber Cup team; winner of the Mixed with his sister Charlotta and winner of the inaugural ranking tournament back in September.
Tom is still not yet 30 and has already won a remarkable eight Kinnaird titles with three different partners. Thie year he partnered Seb Cooley to win all three major titles - the London, Northern and Kinnaird - and was the outstanding player on court for the majority of the Kinnaird final. He has also led the Old Harrovian challenge in Division 1.
The top end of the Ladies game has been the preserve of a very select group of players for the last few years but this season has seen Karen break into that group as one of the very best players in the ladies game. Still in only her third full season of Fives since taking the game up at university, Karen partnered Emily Scoones to win the Under 25 tournament back in September and then to reach the semi-finals of the Ladies Championships where they saw off the formidable challenge of Eve Smith-Bingham and Aimee Paul before pushing Charlotta Cooley and Marianne Rees all the way. Karen has also impressed in the men's game as part of the North Oxford team that reached the final of the EFA Trophy and who are poised to win Division 2.
Although not an OM himself, Sunil's nomination is a reflection of the rise of the Old Millhillian Fives club in the last two or three years. Sunil has been a key player as they have quickly established themselves as a Division 1 team as well as making an inportant contribution to the second team staying in the top half of Division 2. Sunil also partnered Joe Coakley to the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup, becoming the first ever old boy of QE Barnet to achieve this feat.
Young Player of the Year (Under 21)
Already an Open winner in the 2011 National Schools' Championships, Jack has followed that success with another outstanding season, partnering Henry Lewis to win another Open title for Shrewsbury School, having already won the Under 21 title and led the school team to win the Williams Cup.
Henry has been the other half of this year's dominant schoolboy senior pair, winning the Under 21 championships, the Open competition at the National Schools' Championships and being part of the Shrewsbury team that won the Williams Cup.
It is easy to forget that Highgate's Eve Smith-Bingham is still only an Under 13, such have been her achievements in recent years. This year she partnered Aimee Paul to wins in the Under 15 and Open competitions at the National Schools' Championships as well as making an impact at senior level, winning the Under 21s and reaching the quarter-finals of the Ladies Championships. Eve also won the Schools' Mixed title for Highgate with Freddie Mills.
Highgate are renowned for producing some fantastic Fives players at the younger age groups, but even by their standards, Ingimar is pretty special. Still in the Under 12 age group, Ingimar this year won the treble of Under 12s, Prep Schools and Under 14s, where he was the outstanding player in the final despite being the youngest by a distance.
One of the big stories of this year's National Schools' Championships was the emergence of Ipswich School as serious challengers in some of the younger age groups. Isaac partnered Sam Christopher to win the Under 15 title and become the first ever Ipswich winners of any competition at the National Schools' Championships. This was all the more remarkable as the final came the day after Isaac had played 16 games in reaching the third round of the Under 16 competition plus a five game Under 15 semi-final. Isaac also partnered Nick Bunyan to victory in the 2012 Graves Cup at Ipswich.
This has been a breakthough year for Robert; a product of RGS High Wycombe and the Windsor & Eton club, Robert has excelled in his first year at Cambridge, playing at first pair in the Varsity Match as a freshman and partnering Rory Griffiths to win the Universities tournament. Robert has also made an impression playing for the Old Westminsters in Division 1.
Team of the Year
The names on the teamsheet may be familiar, but as a team this has been Berkhamsted's first season in Division 1 and it has been an unqualified success. The team has been based around the Berkhamsted staff Doug Foster, George Campbell and Ant Theodossi plus old boys Jeremy O'Neill, Andrew Joyce and Charles Holroyd and guest Ryan Perrie and they have swept all before them this season, with nine wins out of nine so far and the Division 1 title won by a distance. Campbell also won the Turnbull Trophy for Berkhamsted with Ali Leighton.
In 2010/11 the Old Millhilllians won Division 2 and gained promotion to the top flight. This year they have performed with distinction in Division 1, establishing themselves in mid table, and have also maintained a second team in the top half of Division 2 as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Barber Cup. The team are young and improving and also got two pairs - Vishal Bhimjiyani & Justin Lefort and Joe Coakley & Sunil Tailor - into the quarter-finals of the Kinnaird Cup.
The Old Olavians may have taken a step back from the league this year to give some of their younger players some experience, but they are still clearly the pre-eminent club side in the game, with an astonishing ninth successive win in the Barber Cup and seven of the top ten players in the current ranking list. The Old Olavians ladies also added the Black Cup to the trophy cabinet.
Oxford University Ladies
Oxford University Ladies have had a terrific year. Having been in the shadows of the Cambridge team in recent seasons, the Oxford girls turned the tables convincingly this year with a resounding 6-0 Varsity Match whitewash. The Oxford team also impressed both in numbers of players and quality of Fives in the Black Cup, Under 21s and University tournaments. Well led by Alice Walker, one of the most impressive things is that about 50% of the squad did not play any Fives at school and have picked up the game since coming to Oxford.
Shrewsbury School Fives has been on the up for a number of seasons but this year was full of success even by their standards. Over 90 Shrewsbury pairs took part in the National Schools' Championships across the age groups and they were rewarded by having two pairs in the final of the Open, a rare feat and the first time it has been achieved by Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury pairs also won the boys Under 14 and girls Under 17 beginners competitions to prove that the conveyor belt of new talent is running smoothly.
Coach of the Year
Following a distinguished (and ongoing) playing career, Peter Boughton took over the reins of the Fives at Ipswich School five years ago and has produced a group of young players who are rewriting the record books for Ipswich School Fives. Before 2012, Ipswich School had never had a pair get beyond a semi-final in any competition at the National Schools' Championships; this year an Ipswich pair reached the final of the Under 14s and another won the Under 15 competition and Peter - along with his assistant Tony Stubbs - must take a huge amount of credit for this achievement.
Seb Cooley/Grant Williams
Shrewsbury School are the dominant force in senior school Fives at the moment. In coaching terms it is very much a team effort but the two men at the forefront of the on court coaching are Grant Williams and Seb Cooley, who have produced huge numbers of players and strength in depth at the top end that swa the top two senior pairs both reach the final of the National Schools' Championships this year.
Rydal Penrhos school in Colwyn Bay is rather out on a limb geographically in the Fives world, but their players have been making their mark this season, with Rydal pairs reaching the quarter-finals of the Under 13 and Under 14 competitions the standout achievement. Much of this has been down to the coaching of young Old Salopian George Thomason, who has built on the work of his predecessor Abhishek Bhattacharya to create a thriving Fives centre on the North Wales coast.
Howard is of course the doyen of Fives coaches, but this year in his capacity as Master in Charge of St.Olave's School he revived memories of the golden era of Olavian school Fives (the Wiseman (M), Toop, Cooley etc generation) by producing two pairs who both reached the semi-finals of the Open tournament at the National Schools' Championships, only being denied a finalist by the excellence of the Shrewsbury pairs.
Mark's achievements as coach of Wolverhampton Grammar and Wrekin College would probably be enough on their own to earn him a nomination for this award. In addition he has led the Fives Federation's coaching scheme to the point where the first ever Level 2 Fives coaching course has now been delivered (by Mark of course!) with more to come over the coming months with the Level 1 course due to follow shortly. This has been one of the most exciting developments in the Fives world in recent years and Mark should take a lot of the credit.
Special Contribution to Fives
The rise and rise of Shrewsbury School Fives in recent years has been masterminded by Master-in-Charge Andy Barnard, whose enthusiasm, drive and organisational genius have underpinned the school's on court success. As he passes on the M-i-C baton next season, this nomination is a fitting reward for his contribution.
Paul is one of the unsung heroes of the game. In his role as Director of the EFA with responsibility for school Fives, Paul puts in a huge amount of work - not to mention racking up the miles - as he visits school after school during the course of the season, This season alone has seen him make trips to North Wales to visit Rydal School and Cumbria to see St.Bees. He is also an integral part of the team who help Mark Williams administer the National Schools' Championships.
Setting up the Fives coaching qualification has required a huge amount of work behind the scenes and a large amount of this has been undertaken by Jeff. A familiar face on the Fives circuit as Nigel Cox's wife and host to many a Grillon Fives tour, the Fives world owes Jeff a huge debt of gratitude for her hard work and expertise dealing with the likes of 1st4Sport and cutting a swathe through the red tape and techno-speak involved in bringing the coaching qualification to fruition.
Peter is another figure very familiar to those in the Fives world but many may not be aware of the full extent of his involvement in the game. Peter's various roles include helping to run the National Schools' Championships, coaching at Bryanston, taking over this year as Secretary of the Eton Fives Charitable Trust, looking after the EFA's archives and co-authoring "A History of Eton Fives", due to be published this autumn.
Another well known face on the Fives circuit, Ronald does a huge amount for Fives. He has been secretary of the Old Carthusians seemingly for ever and has become increasingly involved in the Jesters, culminating in his nomination as Jester of the Year recently. Ronald is also single-handedly leading the EFA's move towards obtaining charitable status.
Chris is retiring as Master-in-Charge of Fives at Bryanston this year, having done the job for the best part of 35 years. His commitment to the game is such that although he is retiring from teaching he is still intending to remain involved with coaching the game at the school. Bryanston can be a hard place to run Fives due to the distances involved in travelling to fixtures against any other schools, but this didn't stop Chris bringing 6 senior pairs to this year's National Schools' Championships, the best of whom were playing to a very high standard indeed.