2016/17 Club Reports
Read on to see what the clubs thought of the 2016/17 season. Missing reports should hopefully appear over the next few days!
EFA Trophy winners; Fancy Dress Fives
The Aldenham Fives Club (The Heath) had another busy and successful year with the highlight of our season being victory in the EFA Trophy – the second time in two years. Our Heath Tournament winners were Darshan Patel/Phil Lyndon and the Ladder Competition, held every six weeks, was as competitive as ever. In addition 2016 was the centenary of the Aldenham fives courts!
Having qualified from the opening rounds Aldenham brought along a powerful line-up to the finals day at Eton with Darshan Patel, Graham Pulsford, Rubel Mallik, Andrew Rennie, Josh Rose, Mark Blundell and Mike Hughes.
In the semi-final Aldenham were drawn against the highly experienced Old Wulfrunians. Our third pair of veterans Graham Pulsford & Mark Blundell completed a lengthy but comfortable 3-0 victory while second pair Josh Rose & Andrew Rennie, in a match lasting a good hour longer, completed a hard fought 3-1 victory to give the OAs an unassailable 2-0 match lead. The first pair match featuring Darshan Patel & Rubel Malik was a cracker with both Aldenham players forcing their ‘higher ranked’ opponents into errors and evening up the match at two games all. Eager to pursue a 3-2 victory, our pair was disappointed when our team captain agreed terms with the opposition to halve their match and preserve their energy for the final.
Semi Final: Old Aldenhamians 2.5 Old Wulfrunians 0.5.
Aldenham went into the final against Oxford University with subtle changes to the line-up in second and third pairs. Andrew Rennie & Mike Hughes at second pair were superb and sailed through 3-0 in short time. Josh Rose & Graham Pulsford at third pair won 3-0 shortly afterwards with Josh Rose showing great attacking fives and control of the court. Attention then moved to the first pair. Darshan Patel & Rubel Mallik lost the first game 14-12 as their semi-final morning exertions initially caught up with them but they regrouped and steadily took the game to the opposition to claim a fine victory.
Final: Old Aldenhamians 3 Oxford University 0
The club’s annual Heath Tournament was staged in June with an excellent turnout of club players and invited guests. Each match is 25 minutes and the pair with the highest number of points is the winner. This year’s final was between Darshan Patel & Phil Lyndon and Nirav Patel & Neil Margerison.
The four players produced some ‘sumptuous’ fives and the large crowd were particularly appreciative of some fine retrieving shots from well out of court by the left handed Patel cousins Darshan and Nirav. Neil Magerison added his trademark control and precision while Phil Lyndon added both spin and his ‘predictable’ unpredictability. The scores edged upward but without any significant advantage and with a last minute flourish Nirav pulled the score to parity at 9-9 and for the first time ever the Jim Fredenham Trophy was being played for on sudden death point.
As the crowd settled down Darshan quickly returned Nirav’s cut and after a short top step rally Darshan forced an error from his opponent to claim both the point and the trophy. The traditional BBQ followed!
The Aldenham Ladder
The ladder is played every six weeks and is particularly popular as we retire afterwards to the Akash Indian restaurant to feast and generally make merry. The winner is awarded the Phil Marsh Trophy which they retain until the next ladder competition. This year there were multiple winners in a very competitive year – double winners include Chris Austin and Rubel Malik with four other one-time winners.
Fives court centenary
Aldenham School celebrated the centenary of the fives courts in October. The courts have produced many fine players over the years including national champions and the historic landmark was marked with two fixtures.
In late September the school took on the Heath, a collection of players dominated by OAs. The Heath maintained their dominance to win each match down to fifth pair. It was always going to be a struggle against seasoned veterans who play each week. Advice was dished out alongside some pizza to end a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all concerned.
A second fixture against the Eton Fives Association was a more successful occasion in terms of results and equally enjoyable on the night.
The two fixtures were a wonderful way to celebrate Fives at Aldenham which continues to go from strength to strength. Let’s hope the next 100 years brings even more success than the previous century.
Fancy Dress Fives
The theme this year for our annual Christmas time event was people or things beginning with the letter C (for Christmas).
Chris Austin as Cleo won the Mars Bar for the best costume but Chef Carl Rennie would have won had he come to the pub. His costume was great plus he managed to play the whole evening wearing oven gloves…and did remarkably well.
“Our enthusiastic players will continue to turn out every Tuesday evening over the summer. Players from other clubs are very welcome to join us,” says club secretary Phil Lyndon.
Silver Salver winners
The Brigands continued to attract locals to the fives courts at Charterhouse School. We meet on a Wednesday night from 7.00pm and fill about 3 courts from September to April each year. Fives is followed by a meal or a drink at the Stag at Eashing, Surrey.
Matches were played against Charterhouse School twice a year and will be played on a more regular basis next season. Unfortunately our other school opponents, Cranleigh School, were unable to field a team this season and are looking for a fives playing master in charge.
Other friendly matches are held at Eton against Aldenham Club, Windsor & Eton and North Oxford and end with a meal afterward down the High Street. The Silver Salver and the Bourne Trophy are our internal end of season competitions which were well attended and are reported on separately. The end of season dinner at the Stag was also a big success with about 30 players, wives and girlfriends.
The Silver Salver, January
This competition, now in its 2nd year saw 16 players entering, all vying to be crowned the best in the club. After the chaff of the knockout stages had been thrown to the four winds, the wheat played an entertaining final game. Martin Powell and Andrew White played with gusto and guile to come through victorious against Ronald Pattison and Alex Knight 12-8.
The Richard Bourne Trophy, March
This is our club handicap competition, which uniquely ends with a single winner. This year Grant Smith was the well-deserved winner, a southpaw with a devastating cut, and powerful back court play. Alex Knight was the runner up and Alex Abrahams came third.
The Chroniclers are steadily building in numbers with several new adult members emerging from the Squash Club all of whom have taken a shine to Eton Fives. We also now have two new ‘established’ players re-uniting with the game after many year’s absence; an Old Etonian and an Old Cholmeleian, which takes our numbers up to 12. We can now form a reasonably strong side should any visiting teams wish to come to Cambridge.
We aim to form a mini league with Ipswich and the Monday night Uppingham/Oakham Club.
During term time, we mix with the CUEFC players and often have 3 courts full.
Men's Varsity Match squad; Mixed Universities plate winners; CUEFC at Repton; Women's Varsity Match squad
No report received yet
I think it would be hard to say that last season was the most successful in terms of win ratios, but it probably involved more apres-fives than ever. Ronald and myself are very grateful for the participation in the game and in any off court activities. The courts at Westminster continue to grow as the heart of the club’s games. Indeed we are increasing again the number of matches there for the coming year. To my mind this constitutes progress, but it should not be at the expense of other centres. As such we continue to invite suggestions for new games outside of London. In particular we are keen to continue to support the marvellous new Cambridge courts. Nick Preston has been instrumental in building this up and we hope in particular that Jesters will support either or both of the Jesters ventures on Sept 9th and the Nov 4th. The former provides an opportunity to show Canadian Jesters our fine game, and importantly an opportunity to mix and drink with fellow Jesters from different codes. Finally a word of thanks, we continue to enjoy running this amazing club but can not do it without your support. Jesters Eton Fives is designed to be enjoyed and I hope that is being delivered. We have room for more players of all standards so, as ever, please do not hesitate to apply for matches.
Alex Illingworth & Ronald Pattison
Players at the 2016 Lancing Tournament; Lancing Tournament finalists; 2017 Ladies runner-up Ashley Lumbard; Play on the Lancing courts
Lancing’s Eton fives community is alive and well in Sussex and London, with plenty of fives being played and strong links being maintained with the school.
Most recently pupil teams have taken part in the National Championships at Eton with the first pair of Harry and Ed making the final of the plate. This is a real achievement as they beat several school teams where fives is a major sport.
League fives (in all 3 Divisions) continues to be played by OLs in London; most notably the OLs beat the Old Citizens 2-1 at Highgate in February, with Nigel Cox and Alex Abrahams winning 3-2 after a marathon battle. Nigel continues to inspire us all, especially as there is at least a 50 year difference between him and Alex. How many other sports can claim to have pairs of such age differential ? No wonder there are some that state that Eton fives is the best court game in the world.
While at Lancing, the Tuesday night club thrives with sessions most weeks involving pupils, OLs and local fives players. The club is a broad church and all are welcome to come along, whatever standard; there are a range of ages and skill levels from nationally ranked players to complete beginners. Good games played in the right spirit abound. The club is linked closely to the school and the master in charge of fives, Nat Payne, who does a brilliant job. Dr Betts has recently come out of retirement and adds an additional layer of enthusiasm to the evenings.
Note for your diaries: Eton Fives Weekend at Lancing on 2 and 3rd September; a highly successful event was held last year and this year’s one promises to be bigger and better. All standards of players are very welcome. There is a dinner in the cricket pavilion on Saturday night. Contact Matthew Beard if you are interested. Limited places still available for this 4 court venue.
Three Code Challenge Squad and winner; EFA Trophy teams; Ladies Champions
Black Cup runners-up; Over 50s winners; Aberconway Cup plate winners; NOEFC at Charterhouse
It's been a breathlessly busy season for North Oxford, with a team in each division of the league for the first time and over fifty matches played in total. The club was founded on the back of regular Monday club nights at Summer Fields school. At the start of the year, these were looking to be slightly under threat, with numbers down as previous regulars moved away from the Oxford area. By the end of the season, however, Monday nights have undergone something of a resurgence with "new blood" appearing in the welcome form of Simon Cass, Dharmin Naik, Sarah Greasley, Jake Ryde, Anna Platz, Francesca Knight, Faye Kerr, Joe DaCosta and a rejuvenated Jon Staley to play alongside the old guard of Gareth Hoskins, Andy Bishop, Chris Lloyd, Stefan Nowinski, Spencer Chapman, Martin Fiennes and the Turnbull family. With plenty of others putting in the odd appearance and the summer addition of Oxford students Noah Caplin and Jacob Greenhouse, the supply line of North Oxford talent looks to be firmly back on track. As always we are extremely grateful to Summer Fields for allowing us to use the courts there.
The NOEFC league season has been challenging - 34 matches is a lot - but ultimately successful and very rewarding. After two seasons bumping along at the bottom of Division 1, we finally found the formula to make a breakthrough and finish third with 9 wins and 24 points. In truth the formula was pretty simple - bring in the expertise of superstar Seb Cooley for half a dozen games, add in appearances from the young, eager and deep talent pool at Oxford University (James Piggot, Tom Kirkby, Barnaby Harrison, Will Ponsonby, Arthur Wellesley and Sam Oppenheimer all played at least one match), throw in the reliable old guard of Pete Scholey, Graham Pulsford, Chris Austin and Gareth Hoskins and finish off with the maturing Carl Rennie, the returning Robert Wilson and the underrated Phil Roper - surely the most improved player in the league? - and there you have it. Highlights of the season were the unbeaten first pair performances of the outstanding Cooley/Piggot combination, especially their double over the formidable Berkhamstedians, 3-0 away wins against the Olavians and the Cholms, a first pair win for Grandad Graham against the Salopians (thanks, Seb!) and a debut top flight win for Karen Hird. Oh and apparently Spencer took a game off Tom Dunbar in the Barber Cup; anyone who would like to be talked through this event point by point should contact Spencer, who will be only too happy to recount the tale. Again.
The second division season was a bit more stop start and title hopes were probably scuppered early on with a penalty point conceded against the Westminsters after a bizarre wardrobe/cat feeding/Grandad's back incident. Nevertheless, a strong finish in a tight division meant we ended up in second place and maintained the tradition of ridiculously long first pair matches against the Millhillians, this year's effort ending just after 11pm in a 14-12 fifth game win for Austin & Rennie, much to the dismay of Mrs Plummer, whose son was out far too late on a school night as a result. The new addition this year was the third team in Division 3, led by the club president, and Bishop's Buccaneers performed with distinction, allowing a wider variety of players to experience the friendly yet competitive Fives that is unique to the third division. Another third place finish meant that we finished the season with teams in the top three in each division - a tremendous achievement, to which can be added another semi-final appearance in the EFA Trophy and a nailbitingly narrow defeat to our University neighbours.
We at North Oxford also like to sample Fives life beyond the league and this year was no exception. Friendly fixtures were played far and wide - Iffley Road, Cambridge, Friston Place, Charterhouse, Ludgrove, Marlborough, Rugby and Winchester all got a visit this year - and a huge number of players turned out in at least one match for us against someone, somewhere. The Three Code Challenge was also back due to popular demand for its third outing, with 16 players once again tackling Rugby Fives at Rugby, Eton Fives at Eton and Winchester Fives at Winchester all in the same day. Special rules were devised to stop Seb winning - not being allowed to hit the buttress at Eton, being fined points for leaving his coat in Rugby and just generally not being allowed to win in the event of all else failing - and in the end it was our youngest participant Francesca Turnbull who added her name to those of Andy Bishop and Ralph Morgan on the Three Code roll of honour. Indeed, the North Oxford women as a group had another fine season, with Karen Hird winning yet another ladies title - this time beating NOEFC occasionals Emily Scoones and Ashley Lumbard in the final - and the team of Karen, Francesca, Harriet Asquith, Rosie Scott, Mandie Barnes and Izzy Watts narrowly failing to overturn the mighty Highgate in the final of the Black Cup once again. Next year...
Division 1 action on and off court; Derek Whitehead trophy winners
It has been another busy and successful season for the Old Berkhamstedians with a good showing in the Barber Cup, strong performances in League 1 & 2 and huge numbers of Old Boys and Girls stepping on court across the season at various events.
The season again started with the Derek Whitehead Trophy, now in its second year, and it was pleasing to see an increase in both number of entries to the competition itself as well as spectators on the day. This year’s competition was won by honorary Berkhamstedian Phil Roper paired up with Prep school player Sam Matthews. The larger entry also meant we introduced a Plate competition, which was claimed by recent leaver Lucie Bultitude paired with Year 8 Bethan Miles. Again, we are hoping to build on this event each year to keep the already strong links between the school and the Old Berkhamstedians.
The Midlands Tournament always provides a good platform to help build ties with OB clubs, allowing stronger players to pair up with recent leavers in a fun but competitive atmosphere of Fives. Last year, Coach Doug Foster paired up with Charles Holroyd and made the quarter-finals. This year it was his twin brother James Holroyd, new MiC at Uppingham, who took on the mantle paired up with coach, Ryan Perrie. He did one better than his sibling, reaching the semis before losing out 1 – 2 in three close sets.
A slight disappointment was the turn out of the Old Girls for both the Richard Black Cup and the Ladies Championships this year. Recent leaver Lucie Bultitude led the way in the Black Cup, however, taking charge of a young, but talented Berkhamsted School Girls team. Despite losing most of their matches it was a real bonus for the school girls to see Old Girls of the club still playing and competing in the game after they leave school.
Another superb result was the huge 10 pair entry into the Graham Turnbull Trophy. Again, this is another fantastic competition to help build strong links with school and club Fives and it was wonderful to see pupils competing all the way down from Year 7 to Year 13. Of the ten Berkhamsted pairs, four of them made the last 16 and our top pairing of Coach George Campbell and stellar school player Charlie Nicholls made it all the way to the final before losing out in a tight first set which could have gone either way.
In the Barber Cup Old Berkhamstedians had another great run through to the quarter-finals, showing that last year’s performance was certainly not a fluke and they are a force to be reckoned with in the future. They had another tough first round draw, but squeezed past the Old Cholmeleians with a 2 – 1 win pitting them against the Old Stoics, who unfortunately had to concede all three pairs allowing Berkhamsted passage through to the semi-final stages for the second year running. Here they came up against a tough looking Old Salopian side and despite not being at full strength, our 1st and 2nd pairs fought to the bitter end, but finished losing 1 – 3. This year the OBs have claimed the 3rd seed position and are looking for an upset to make that elusive final.
In the adult League, although we did not reach the dizzying heights of last season, Old Berkhamstedians managed to finish at a very respectable 2nd place in Division 1 and 4th in Division 2. League 1 was a close run all the way with the Old Harrovians and we were pipped right at the end by a single point. A very pleasing sign of the strength and depth of the club was our ability to ensure we rotated our top players regularly to allow OBs the opportunity to play some top level fives along with our senior pupils. In League 2 it was really pleasing to see the huge numbers of Old Boys and Girls taking part with a large squad of players rotating round across the season mixing as well as mixing in with senior school players and guesting Old Berkhamstedians.
Across the season 37 Old Boys and Girls have represented the club. This is an impressive statistic and one which seems to grow each year. The model we have built upon is certainly working and we are very proud to be one of the few schools breaking the mould when we hear the statistics of ‘poor pull through’ of players from school into the adult game, from which many other clubs and schools seem to suffer.
The Old Berkhamstedian club is moving in a new direction for the 2017-18 season. It has always been the dream that once the club has been built up, its organisation can be handed over to the Old Boys and Girls. Next year will see the beginning of this as Andrew Joyce takes over the reins with the League 1 side. He has already shown the capability with his fine organisation of the Barber Cup team, and with the school support behind him we hope the club will continue to flourish to a point where within the next few years we can field three full teams across all Leagues as well as Old Berkhamstedian representation in all the major Fives calendar events.
We continue to be the most popular and successful Old Berkhamstedian Sport and are thriving, so we look forward with eagerness to the 2017-2018 season.
Ladies Finalist Emily Scoones; OCs at the Mixed; Universities Mixed winner Aroop Bhattacharya; OCs v The School
Aberconway & Veterans Champion Grant Williams; OCs in action
The 2016/17 season has borne further witness to the Old Cholmeleians' continuing resurgence. No doubt spurred on by a lowly finish the previous season in Division 1 - perhaps only subconsciously - the club was keen to establish itself more firmly and put any doubts behind them, taking the decision to enter teams in both first and second divisions. After a slightly inauspicious start, and a less than helpful schedule of games in quick succession (thanks to expert planning from the club secretary), the teams began to find their rhythm enabling them to secure several victories on the way to top table finishes in each division.
Outside of league fives, it was great to see multiple OC entries and a host of positive performances in the London, Graham Turnbull, Kinnaird, Ladies, Mixed and Universities Mixed tournaments. Familiar names cropped up yet again at the QF stages of the Kinnaird and London (Joe Marks and Dave Mew) as well as new ground being broken with Aroop Battacharya winning the Mixed Unis, a SF appearance for Jonny Ho in the Kinnaird, and a hard fought challenge in the Ladies Final for Emily Scoones. The OCs are hoping to relive their Summer League successes of 2015 during the current off-season.
Overall this season has been another momentum builder, as the club has received new members in the form of university students, recent graduates and wiser, experienced faces alike. Mixing the returners and newbies with more hardened-hand players has allowed everyone to gain experience at a variety of levels and encouraged tremendous improvement throughout the whole squad. No doubt indebted to the tireless work of Highgate School sports coach Dave Mew, it's also been evident that integration of school players into both league teams has begun to bridge the gap for current pupils to experience and take some ownership of OC fives. Two end of season honours have been awarded within the club this year. The first goes to honorary Old Cholm Ralph Morgan whose mettle and poise gets him the golden glove for best win ratio. The second is presented to stalwart Tom Lethbridge for his ability to extend every match and stay on court longer than any other OC league player to threaten the light-timers of Highgate each week. The club very much ends the season in high spirits and looks ahead to September. We would like to thank the whole team for their commitment and enthusiasm throughout this season.
Festive Fives; Old v Young; OCs in Zurich; OCs & Swiss tourists
Tour of Warminster, Downside and Nelson
This was the season our longstanding Thursday-evening knockabouts became one of the best-attended weekly fives events in the country. Thanks to Ralph Morgan’s stewardship of our long-standing Highgate practice night, the resurgence of the Old Cholmeleians and Dave Mew’s arrival at Highgate School, the eight courts are frequently full of players from a variety of clubs.
Some half a dozen boys from the City of London School have helped to swell the numbers – although our bid to donate three courts to CLS was becalmed by the news that the current head will soon be leaving the school.
The strength our younger players was emphasized by the (Queen Victoria Street) Youngies besting the (Victoria Embankment) Oldies for the first time in our annual internecine clash; our Barber Cup team was also dominated for the first time by those who have learned the game without home courts (which we lost in the mid-1980s).
We’ve just held our best-ever-attended Adams Cup, our end-of-season in-house trophy, for which we’ve competed since the late 1920s. It attracted more than 30 players.
Last summer, we had two trips to see our friends in Switzerland and in return this spring we welcomed a dozen players from Geneva and Zurich to a weekend of fives at Eton and Highgate.
Our now-traditional Christmas knockabout and lunch drew dozens of festive fives-players.
We’ve just held a fascinating tour of weird courts in the West Country and South Wales, helping to re-establish versions of fives in Warminster, Downside and Nelson.
Next season sees our 125th anniversary.
Universities Champions OEs James Piggott & Tom Kirkby; an all-Etonian U21 final; EFA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Martin Powell
The Old Etonians saw a strong start to the year, setting the pace early in Division 2. Five victories on the bounce in September and October gave us real hope of topping the division come the end of the season. In addition to the league form, overcoming Division 1 opponents in the Alan Barber Cup and finishing second in the Richard Barber Cup added to a superb first half of the season for the men in light blue. These heights could not be maintained, however, with star players heading back to university and injuries plaguing our most reliable turn outs. The Old Etonian season coughed and spluttered its way through to May, unable to even cobble together sides of late. With strength and depth waiting in the ranks at universities, the OE fives scene looks bright in the not too distant future - alas this season was still one or two seasons too soon for that potential to be realised throughout the season.
Kinnaird & London champion Tom Dunbar; The Old Harrovians in league action; Team of the Year Award winners
The highlight of our season was an unexpected Division 1 League championship. After challenging recent seasons this success was all the more surprising but was built around strong performances and wonderful commitment from Nick Shaw, Jamie Fleming, Tom Dunbar and Richard Tyler (our faithful Old Edwardian), vital support from Ed Hewens and Alex Poole and excellent performances from three schoolboys Rahul Wijeratne, Henry Collins and Oskar Denby. Tom remained undefeated at first pair and the Fleming/Tyler combination were a tough pair to compete against and invariably played better the longer the matches went. Nick Shaw played consistently well throughout the season and put on a marvellous display on very slippery courts against the Old Salopians.
It was also very good to see Tom increase his Kinnaird run of victories. In the Barber Cup we were soundly beaten by the Old Olavians in the semi-final. We are hoping to mount challenges next year but we will need to keep hold of our highly promising school leavers.
OI 30th Anniversary tournament winners; Kinnaird Pepperpot winners; Graves Cup finalists; Dossi Dish winners
Over 60s winners; Northern Tournament Festival Plate winners
No report received yet
London Tournament Plate winners; OMs in Division 1 action
This was a difficult season for the OMs. The club remains in good shape overall, being able to field a league side in both divisions 1 and 2 but there were too many dropped pairs for either of the league teams to ever mount a challenge at the top of the table.
The number of active players has dwindled in recent years with us having lost, for a variety of reasons, Justin le Fort, Joe Coakley, Will Hughes, Ed Winfield, Jamie Adler and James Mason, as well as the Salopians that we had on loan, Ed Taylor and Rex Worth. There has also been limited success in recruiting university returners in recent years so it was encouraging to see Alex Holmes becoming a mainstay of our division 2 side in his first year back from university, and it is hoped that in the coming season we will be able to re-recruit some more players in their early twenties, namely Gareth Kong and Ralph Levy. The club has suffered in recent years from the sheer volume of league fixtures making it harder to organise successful club nights. The recent successes of the OMs were based on our club nights, allowing players regular practice, and offering a gentle way back into the game for those who had not played for some time. This is something that the committee is keen to address, and plans are afoot for a regular series of club nights in the 2017-18 season.
Another returner – somewhat longer in the tooth than Alex – was Oli Sander; back from Syria and quickly becoming someone the club couldn’t do without. Oli played in the vast majority fixtures, both division 1 and 2, forged a useful partnership both in the league and in tournaments with (lower sixth former) Charlie Plummer – a highlight being the set that they took off Mew and Tyler at the London – and has taken on multiple roles in the running of the club. A particular highlight was the club’s annual dinner that Oli organised at the Bleeding Heart restaurant in London. Oli secured a record attendance for the dinner (mainly by putting senior players on a three line whip to bring their wives), and it was a fitting way for the club to mark Steve Plummer’s 25th year as Master in Charge of Fives at Mill Hill. The club remains indebted to Steve for his efforts over the years, both in teaching boys the game, and also in ensuring their successful transition into the world of adult fives.
In terms of individual successes, Sunil Tailor (the new club captain) and Vishal Bhimjiyani again reached the quarter finals of both the London and Kinnaird tournaments, before succumbing to Brock & Houlden and Dunbar & Cooley respectively. This was only Sunil and Vishal’s second year playing together regularly at first pair for the OMs, and it is hoped that with more experience of playing together at the top level they will soon break into the top four of a major tournament. Further success was had by the school coach, Andrew Rennie, and upper sixth Hal Gibson at the Festival of the London tournament. Hal was delighted to win a tournament before leaving school, and Andrew was well practiced in fighting off allegations that he ought to be playing in the main tournament, having already won the festival twice previously.
Hopes are high for the 2017-18 season. The club has recruited some players who we hope will be at home in both division 1 and division 2, and is also hoping to introduce the game to some talented sportsmen who have shown an interest. These recruits, along with the university returners will hopefully bolster the squad to allow the section of strong teams and also to reduce the number of penalty points incurred.
Finally, the club needs to put on record its thanks to Ian Hutchinson, who has now left our playing ranks. Ian has led our division 1 side very capably for the last few years. The highlight was the division 1 championship victory in 2013, in which Ian was a leading light at first pair. But it is also worth noting that in recent seasons he has selflessly stepped down to play second pair, insisting that in order to move the club forward we needed Sunil and Vishal leading the way. He has been with the OMs for as long as most people can remember, and has been a stalwart of both schoolboy and old boy fives. We look forward to welcoming him back to the club’s annual dinner in February 2018.
James Hutcheson & Sunil Tailor
Northern Winners; Kinnaird & London Champions; Ladies Champions; Barber Cup winners
Richard Barber Cup winners; London Festival winners; Turnbull Trophy winners; Mixed champions
The main focus of the season was to win the Barber Cup and to develop the number of younger Old Olavians returning to the game after and during university. The Barber Cup campaign was a real success, and it was great to again welcome Tony Barker to the line-up in the final. Again, several 6th formers played an important part in getting us through some of the preliminary matches, securing their early career as part of the Old Olavian club.
The league teams were very successful. The joint forces of school and old boys won the third and second divisions, and the first Division proved to be an important training ground for many younger players who were new to this level of play.
Matthew Wiseman, Sebastian Cooley and James Toop continued to dominate the tournaments, with James winning the Northerns with Howard Wiseman.
The Saturday morning open club morning was a real success with numbers rising steadily. The fund-raising for the new "Southway" centre has continued to grow steadily, and it seems more than likely that four more indoor courts will be added by the start of the 2018-19 season. Over 150 people attended the fund-raising reunion in September, that also celebrated Howard's first 25 years as a Professional Fives coach.
A great season!
Howard Wiseman & Dominique Redmond
Barber Cup finalists; Aberconway Cup winners; Veterans Champions
Universities Mixed Winners; Universities Champions
2016-17 season was one of significant progress within the OS club. We successfully (ish) fielded two teams in league. The first year is always one of transition, however it has built a sense the club is opening up to cater for all abilities. The club feels bigger and more vibrant and most importantly the ingredients for success are bubbling away.
Notably, we had 8 Salopian players in the quarter finals of the Northerns, 1 Salopian (school boy) in the semi-finals of the Northern, 2 quarter finalists and 1 semi-finalist in the Kinnaird, finalist of the Alan Barber Cup, winners of the Aberconway Cup, winners of the Vets Cup, 3 women in the Varsity match, winners of the women's university tournament, one half of the mixed university winners & winner of the woman’s national schools’ tournament. So there is significant talent across all ages.
We even had Richard Barber, our leader, play at our end of season dinner on June 1st. I reckon that this may represent the largest span of ages of playing members in a season by any club.
The Salopians also have one of the strongest woman’s team on the circuit. They are all playing incredibly well at university and in the competitions. We had three Salopian Woman playing in the first pair of the varsity match, as well as Alice Brett bringing home the silverware in the Mixed University Championship. Our school first pair won the national tournament and we expect to be dominant in this area in the years to come.
Our end of Season event happened on June 1st which saw 16 Salopians play a Grant Williams special tournament before all going for dinner at the Bull. A great event to celebrate a successful season.
Finally, on behalf of all the OS and wider Fives community our thanks go to Rex Worth who stepped down as Club Sec at the beginning of this season. He remains club treasurer and integral part of the success of the OS this season.
The Uppingham 150th celebration; Nick Preston receives the Special Contribution to Fives award
The Old Uppinghamians EFC has re-emerged for the first time since 1992, a quarter of a century ago.
Over 100 OUs and guests attended the 163rd Anniversary of Fives at Uppingham in November with over 40 playing Fives during the day.
The new Headmaster welcomed the Fives Revival and became the first Headmaster since Uppingham's Founder Edward Thring in 1850 to play for the OUs in their first fixture against the School for many a year.
OUs have now appeared on court at Westway and Newbury and played were asked to feature Fives for the first time on the School’s Speech Day in May.
A second event at Uppingham is planned for November and is already virtually fully booked.
Westminster Cup finalists; U25 winners; OWs playing for Imperial; Westminster/Olavians in the Black Cup
In terms of league position, it was always going to be a difficult task to match last season, when the team, aided by ringers including Chris Hughes and Alex Illingworth, had finished second. This season has however been revolutionary (and very successful) in a different sense. For the first time in division 1, it was a case of “no ringers allowed”, as every single player fielded, in every match and in every pair, was an OW.
It is not simply that fact in itself which is notable, but that in these circumstances, and notwithstanding the absence of top player Ed Rose due to the strain of new parenthood, an exceptionally young team (with only two of the regular players over the age of 24) finished very creditably in exactly mid table.
The enthusiasm and commitment of the most recent generation has been a real highlight, and, although there have been some heavy defeats, there have also been some notable victories, including a 2-1 win against 3rd place finishers North Oxford and a superb 3-0 away win against Mill Hill, both of which featured terrific wins at second pair from Ismail Salim and Matthew Lewin.
The prospects for next season look extremely good, with Rose (hopefully) set to return and Cantabrigian Ben Merrett (who showed his evident class at first pair in the Varsity match alongside superstar Riki Houlden) set to play a more regular part, alongside the fast improving Sahil Shah, Kotka Lim and Will Capstick and the experience of Harry DeQuetteville.
The Second Team’s season was not quite as successful in terms of results, however we continue to see a good breadth of players and a lot of matches played (across Division II and friendlies). Thanks to William Illingworth, Alfred Jackson & Majid Mostafavi for their ongoing support arranging matches.
The cup ended in a frustrating defeat to a strong Etonian side, as poor pair management from the captain resulted in an all too comfortable win at first pair, whilst second and third pairs were lost (second only narrowly). A first round encounter with the Old Citizens in 2017 (for the right to play the seemingly unstoppable Olavians) promises to be a classic.
On the men’s side, it is perhaps encouraging that an undoubtedly successful return of three semi-finals out of three major tournaments for new pairing Laurie Brock and Riki Houlden (resulting in a second consecutive “Best Young Player” nomination for Houlden, who also reached the final of the Mixed) still contained room for improvement, with a chance of a final at the Northern missed, and a rather chastening defeat to Toop and Wiseman in their first Kinnaird semi-final. However, the platform for future seasons has been set.
On the ladies’ side, particular congratulations are due for rising star Elana Osen, who reached the quarter-finals of the Mixed (with Ant Theodossi) and the semi-final of the Ladies’ Championships (with Dom Redmond).
Laurie Brock & Freddie Krespi
Commentary from John Reynolds:
You could say that this season marks a coming-of-age for the OWEFC – it has passed two important landmarks.
For the first time, the club has had players in the semi-final of the Kinnaird. Laurie Brock (who also acts as an important organisational engine of the club) and Riki Houlden have scaled heights undreamed of just a few years ago.
And in the first division, the team was composed entirely of Westminsters (a feat possibly unique in the league) who were almost all under the age of 30. (Harry de Quetteville is the only exception.)
The retirement from league fives of Giles Coren mid-season also marks the end of the first generation of players who first represented the Old Westminsters in the first division back in 2010.
That team was mainly composed of Saul Albert, Giles Coren, Nick Fry, Mark Herring, John Reynolds and Ed Rose.
The Old Westminsters Fives Club had until that point been strictly a second-division outfit and the decision to field a top-level side as well was taken with some trepidation. Could the side compete, even with some players recruited from other clubs (Fry is a Cholmeleian, Herring a Berkhamstedian and Reynolds a Citizen). Would there ever be any new players from the school willing or able to play at that level?
We now know that the answers to both questions is an emphatic 'yes'. The Westminsters are now established as a first-division side, without the need for outside reinforcements.
There have been many reasons for this success - and the combination could act as a template for any club wishing to emulate them. The club has benefitted for many years from supportive masters-in-charge and an expert and charismatic coach (Matt Wiseman). It now has sides in the first and second leagues (to cater for a range of ambition) and also its own club cup, named after club stalwart Andrew Aitken (the well-attended staging of which at the beginning of every season helps to foster a sense of club identity).
Andrew would be proud of this season's achievements.
The Old Wulfs have had an interesting competitive season this year with some good performances and results, if not quite making it to silverware.
The Barber Cup draw put us up against the Lancing Old Boys at Berkhamsted and despite not being able to field a 3rd pair, the Lancing team were just strong enough to take the other 2 matches in 3 sets each. It was great to see Tom Weston, one of the more recent school leavers making the long trip over for the game.
The EFA Trophy has been a struggle in qualifying for the last couple of seasons, but we managed to scrape through to finals day by the narrowest of margins this time around with the able assistance of a couple of Old Etonians (Andrew and Robie) and returning Wulfrunian Stuart Bickerton. Finals day saw us fall short in our semi-final against the eventual winners in a tight contest, but we're confident that we'll be challenging again soon enough!
The Veterans tournament was well supporting agan this year by the Wulfrunian contingent with Phil Bullock/Greg Hammond, Dave Jones/Mark Yates and Sid Simmons/Chris Austin in attendance for the 2nd year in succession. The latter 2 pairs nearly making it an all Wulfrunian final, but Grant & Mike had something to say about that and beat both pairs narrowly to clinch another title. As always....we'll be back next year!
Great appreciation again for Greg and Mark for facilitating the administrative side of the club and helping to organise the fixtures.
Socially, the Thursday night session is still going strong at Wolverhampton and anyone in the area is always welcome to contact us and pop down for a game. Our numbers have been helped recently by the renewed vigour of Olly Ross and Dave Jones who are ably supplementing the 'stalwarts' (Andy, Phil and Tony).
We're already looking forward to next season with renewed optimism!
Men's Varsity Match squad; Universities Champions; U21 finalists; EFA Trophy squad
Women's Varsity Match squad; Universities champions; Mixed Universities squad
The Oxford University Eton Fives Club enjoyed an almost perfect season this year both for the men’s and women’s teams. The season started as we intended to go on with winning pairs in the University Championships. Rosie Parr and Hannah Pritchard winning the women’s with James Piggot and Tom Kirkby winning the men’s.
The men’s team had further success in the U21s with Arthur Wellesley and Sam Oppenheimer being narrowly defeated in an all_Oxford final by Tom Kirkby and captain William Ponsonby, who somehow with a bit of graft and a great deal of luck managed to win the final in a very tight three games.
The pinnacle of the season was the Varsity Match which had not been won by the Oxford men for the last four years. With a strong desire to win we ended up clinical winners, taking all 6 pairs. The women’s team fared almost as well with The Blues clinching a 2-1 win.
As a team we couldn’t have had such an enjoyable season without the help of some generous people in the Fives World. The club would especially like to thank Gareth Hoskins for organising and running so many great tournaments, providing advice when needed as well as running the weekly coaching sessions for the women's team during term time.
Team Westway in action
Westway had another tilt at Division 1 this year. It was always going to be a slog but under the grit and determination of Darshan Patel and a great bunch of guys all fixtures were completed and a lot of experience gained. The next season promises to be one of further ambition and a few more steps along the road.
In Division 2 and 3 we put up our usual performances, clashing with the old enemies and brokering new alliances. We started a bit late but once into our stride gloved ourselves for having started off on the wrong foot. Thereby hangs a tale.
The Division 3 title was retained* and that was in no way down to the amount of alcohol offered to the opposition.
Numbers continue to build, both player wise and in those able to take on some of the administration. Running a club always involves tasks additional to that of playing and with everyone pitching in we help the club continue to develop. If the idea of playing under a motorway appeals then come along. With the lighting being upgraded and actual seats shortly to be installed its sure to be a hangout for the cognoscenti.
Also pleasing is the number of fives players we are introducing to Wallball. If you’ve never been Tuesday nights will never be the same.
*shared with St.Olave's 2
Windsor & Eton
WEFC have had another set of good performances, fitting in over 20 fixtures of one sort or another, and sending a sizeable contingent to the club’s favourite away venue, the Northern Tournament at Shrewsbury. We can also congratulate ourselves on managing to avoid any penalty points in our Division 3 League games, although we had one or two match results that were a little less than sparkling and as a consequence finished the season mid-table. Despite the occasional setbacks, the level of enthusiasm shown by the club membership remains high and we are looking ahead to the next season already.
The club can also pat itself on the back, as WEFC are now the proud parents of a ‘daughter club’ based at Royal Holloway College in Egham. A number of the students from the College were enticed to come and try the game, and with a passion for the game that is rarely seen amongst the ‘more mature’ fives community, they have now had their Eton Fives Society officially recognised by the University. Way to go FivesSoc! Unfortunately from their point of view, but from a very positive perspective for WEFC, until some kind wealthy donor builds courts at Egham, we expect our friends from Holloway to continue to join in the matches and practices at Eton, generally held on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. For more information please contact us at http://windsorfives.net.
The club has also recently made an emotional return to its ancestral watering hole, and can now usually be found in the Waterman’s Arms in Eton following any home events. New and old hands are welcome to join us both on court and in the pub afterwards, where all sins are forgiven and no lets are required!