2013/14 Club Reports
Read on to find out the clubs' views on the 2013/14 season...
The Aldenham EFA Trophy team; Fancy Dress Fives; The Rennie brothers relax...
...and celebrate winning the London Festival; The Ladder winners
The Aldenham Fives Club had another busy and successful year with a ladder competition run every six weeks and our first entries into the Barber Cup and EFA Trophy for many years.
The ladder is played every six weeks and is particularly popular with four courts regularly filled. Josh Rose is proud of winning more ladders than anyone else despite being only an occasional player. Other winners included Graham Pulsford, Chris Austin and Chris Cernushi.
Each winner is awarded the new Phil Marsh Trophy which they retain until the next ladder competition. Fittingly this is a silver tankard which we know Phil would have appreciated.
Our return to the Barber Cup was brief but enjoyed by the players. OAs Josh Rose and Carl Rennie (1st pair); Rubel Malik and Andrew Rennie (2nd pair); and Darshan and Nirav Patel (3rd pair) battled hard but were beaten 1-2 overall by the eventual winners, St Olave’s.
Our first entry into the EFA Trophy ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat in the semi final against Oxford University This is a squad event and we came through the six qualifying rounds in impressive style; a clear indication of the depth of quality in the Aldenham ranks. The performances of the youngsters, the Rennie brothers and Darshan Patel, were particularly encouraging and these players will provide a solid core of quality players for future years. Note: Rubel and Chris – you no longer qualify as youngsters.
With further fixtures against the Brigands, Lancing Old Boys, North Oxford, Eton and the Jesters, there was plenty to keep Aldenham’s players busy.
“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.
Midlands Winners Andrew Joyce and Ali Leighton; EFA Young Player of the Year Andrew Joyce; Division 1 champions
U25 Winners Andrew Joyce and Jeremy O'Neill; It's all too much for Dossi; Mixed Runners-Up Ant Theodossi and Emily Mann
The OBEFC enjoyed a very successful 2013-14 season.
The league one side, led by George Campbell, took back the title with notable performances from OB's Jeremy O'Neill, Ali Leighton and Dave Smith along the way.
The league two side also performed very well and continued to offer school boys great exposure to the adult game.
OB's were involved in all the major tournaments throughout the year - a real sign of the enthusiasm within the club. Performances of note were Ali Leighton and Andrew Joyce's win at the Midlands; and Jeremy O'Neill and Andrew Joyce triumphing at the Under 25's.
It is of great importance the efforts of all the staff at the school are recognised in the resurgence of Berkhamstedian Fives. Ant Theodossi, George Campbell and Doug Foster do a fantastic job getting fixtures, practices and tournaments organised.
Exciting times lie ahead for Berkhamsted as three new courts are built at the school under the leadership of Mark Steed, a great advocate of the game.
With Ryan Perrie now joining the staff and recent leavers moving into London, 2014-15 should prove another successful year for the club.
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 against Cranleigh School at Cranleigh on the first Tuesday of each month, thus maintaining our close links with both schools.
Other friendly matches are against Aldenham Club, North Oxford and the Old Carthusians. The Bourne Trophy is our internal end of season competition. It attracted 24 players and the winner this year was Ronald Pattison gaining maximum points to overcome all competition. The end of season dinner was also a big success with about 35 players, wives and girlfriends.
Our club is essentially a group of local players with a Wednesday club night and we play friendly fives. All standards and ages are welcome. Club secretary is Rod Smart (Tel 07818 818941, email rodbsmart at hotmail.com).
Cambridge courts being opened; Cambridge Past v Present; Robert Wilson and Jamie Abbott in action
Universities and U21 champions; Varsity Match squad
The 2013-14 season has been one of great change for CUEFC. The three new courts in the sports centre have made a huge impact. We are now able to accommodate everyone who wants to play on a given evening, promoting greater integration within the club and making it far easier for members to attend regular practices. Until now the team has had to make the two and a half hour journey to Eton most weekends, at the expense of £20 per player and most of a Saturday during the busy Cambridge term. This season five fixtures have been held in Cambridge, resulting in far wider participation among members of the club.
The integration of the courts within the sports centre, with its own marketing team, has already resulted in awareness and interest that would not otherwise have been possible. Eton Fives in Cambridge has been the subject of five articles in local and student papers this year, often in connection with the sports centre. A city club has already been established and is seeking to grow further in the near future.
Results have been positive; the Blues won the Varsity Match 3-0 and the first pair won the Universities and Under 21s tournaments. The 6-0 loss in the ladies' Varsity Match does not reflect the great improvement made by much of the squad, including the first pair, who reached the final of the Universities tournament. Indeed, just getting out twelve players was a considerable achievement given that only two of those had played at school. Of the thirty or more players we had on court this year, around half had hardly played before coming to Cambridge. This bodes well for the future success of the club and the growth of the sport itself.
Cambridge University Ladies
The CULEFC think tank; Varsity Match squad
No report received
We are happy to report on another enjoyable year for Jesters Eton Fives. The quality and quantity of Jesters Fives continues to improve. In particular the depth of the club today is the best that I have been able to report on. I would like to thank those of you who continue to support the club and Ronald Pattison in particular being instrumental in expanding the appeal of the brand of fives that we are able to provide. The club has also been successful in the majority of outings and this is always helpful; but most importantly the games have been a pleasure to organise and participate in. Our challenge now it to continue in the same vein and to increase the amount of games outside of London.
The Jesters have for many years run successful weekends at Cambridgeto coincide with overseas tours. Now that Eton Fives is so splendidly represented at Cambridge, after all these years, we do hope that we can play our part in this element of the Jesters offering as well. The date for this year is 5-7 September. This season we did not mount a continental challenge, but in the coming season we hope that we can return to France/Switzerland in the name of good (jesterly) fives and good fun.
Ronald Pattison & Alex Illingworth
Lancing Old Boys
Will Betts and Juliet Browning in pensive mood at the Mixed; Jamie Betts winning the Plate for Bath at the Universities tournament
The 2013/2014 season has been a successful one for the club.
Our top team, consisting mainly of Division 1 standard players, reached the semi-final of the Barber Cup in which we put out a strong team, including Jamie Betts, travelling all the way up from the West Country. We lost 0-3 to the eventual and habitual winners, the Old Olavians who put out a very strong side against us. We are gradually getting more strength in depth amongst our top players and, if we can welcome back two or three younger players into regular appearances for the club, we will become even more of a force. George Campbell was amongst the top seeds in the Kinnaird Cup and reached the semi-final.
The Division 3 and friendlies went well and we have been fortunate to have a loyal core group of players, ably organised by Lucy Bell who has done a great job getting sides out this season.
Our mid-table position in Division 3 was fine: our main objective is to get sides out that enjoy the game.We believe very firmly in friendly fives and any potential new recruit, whether a Lancing ex-pupil or not, will be guaranteed games. It has been pleasing to welcome back one or two players, for example Tom Record, who has spent many years in Scotland before returning to London and enthusiastically taking up the game again.
A very positive development has been the creation of a Sussex-based club, ably organised by Matthew Beard, which has played several times mid-week at Lancing College. It has been an opportunity for some pupils to play some home games and we have attracted one or two local players who otherwise would have not had the chance to continue playing. If any fives player from any club, living in the Sussex area, would like to join this group please contact me and I will put him or her in contact with our organiser in Sussex.
Players from the Newbury club on their new courts
Newbury Eton Fives Club was newly formed this season and is based at the new courts at Saint Bartholomew’s School. It has been a challenge to establish a brand new club in an area which lacks Fives “pedigree” but it would be safe to say that we have been successful in our mission.
Every member of the club has been a beginner to the sport this year and the standard of play has been constantly improving and there are some really talented players emerging. Even more positively - the youngest players are ten and the oldest sixteen; this is very much a club building for the future.
We have seen a huge uptake of numbers this summer and the enthusiasm has been unmatched. Our next challenge is to attract more adult players to the game, thus making this a genuine family club.
The club has also benefited from coaching sessions and support from John Reynolds, Seb Cooley, Abhishek Battacharya and Gareth Hoskins. My thanks to them.
The club will continue to grow and we have plans to set up friendly fixtures and tournaments in the future. Members of the Fives community are always welcome to come along and play at the courts - our young guns are raring to go and would benefit from the experience.
Finally, I must thank Paul Bowden for his sterling work this year in helping me set up the club and for his help in running the sessions and coaching every week. It really wouldn’t happen without him – the award at the EFA dinner was more than deserved.
Division 2 winners; Black Cup runners-up; EFA Team of the Year; EFA Trophy squad
Kinnaird festival winners Carl Rennie & Alex Yusaf; Karen Hird & Gareth Hoskins play Winchester Fives; Vets winner Gareth Hoskins; Ladies champion Karen Hird
The 2013/14 season has been another enjoyable and successful one for North Oxford. Nearly 50 players represented the club over the course of the season in a wide variety of fixtures, from the competitive arenas of Division 2 and the EFA Trophy to friendly fixtures the length and breadth of the Fives-playing country.
Monday evening numbers at Summer Fields have been consistently good, with both courts regularly filled; we entered two teams into the EFA Trophy this year for the first time in a while, which was pleasing, played a 6 pair fixture against Highgate School and had so many players wanting to play in a fixture at Eton in November that we simultaneously put out 3 pairs against the Etonians and 4 against Windsor & Eton. These are all encouraging indications of the strength in depth of the club, whose players have ventured to play fixtures this year from Wolverhampton to Orpington and at most points in between.
The competitive highlights of the year have been the Division 2 campaign and the Richard Black Cup. The North Oxford ladies have been a growing force in the club for the past couple of seasons, and we entered a team into the Black Cup for the first time this year; Karen Hird, Rosie Scott, Harriet Asquith, Mandie Barnes, Wendy Carling and Francesca Turnbull did the club proud, beating all comers until coming up against defending champions Highgate School in the final. The girls also made a key contribution to our success in winning Division 2 for the third successive year; the policy at the start of the season was that one of the girls should play in every league fixture. This quickly became two and by the end of the season was up to three. The standards achieved in these matches by Karen Hird, Izzy Watts, Harriet Asquith and Mandie Barnes were terrific; by the end of the season, the girls had made 18 league appearances between them with 15 of them resulting in wins – an outstanding record. Next season will see us make a first attempt at playing in Division 1, whilst retaining a second team in Division 2.
There were several individual successes for North Oxford players around the circuit – Karen Hird successfully defended her ladies title and Gareth Hoskins celebrated becoming a veteran by winning the MJS-J Trophy with Old Harrovian Jamie Fleming. Gareth and Karen also teamed up to reach the quarter-finals of the Midland Tournament, the final of the Northern Festival and come third in the National Winchester Fives mixed doubles. Izzy Watts won the Universities title and led Oxford University to victory in the Varsity Match and Carl Rennie and Alex Yusaf teamed up to win the Kinnaird Festival. The season ended with the club receiving the EFA team of the year award at the end of season EFA dinner.
Elsewhere all of the old staples remain in place – the start of season curry, Christmas dinner, summer barbecue, the best cakes on the circuit (thanks, Karen!), the unusual courts fixture against the Old Eds (Newbury this year) and the cross-code match in Marlborough. This year’s addition to the calendar – in addition to January’s match in the mud at High Elms - is a fund-raising Fives marathon for Sports Relief with 12 club players aiming to play 12 matches in one day on 12 different sets of courts at the end of June. The all-year round nature of the club’s activities also continues, with Monday night Fives, two Aston House teams in the Westway Superleague and the occasional summer friendly.
As always we are indebted to Andy Bishop and Summer Fields school for allowing us the use of their courts. We also continue to benefit from a youthful injection of former SF pupils turning out for us. My thanks also go to everyone who has played for us this season and let’s hope for an even better season next time round.
Sam Little & Jonny Ho at the Kinnaird; the Bhattacharya brothers take a medical time out...and celebrate winning the London Plate
Aroop Bhattacharya representing Liverpool University; Grant Williams and Emily Scoones in Zuoz
No report received
The Old Cits in Zuoz
The Adams Cup; Adams Cup winners
The OCEFC's 121st season – records show that the OCEFC was founded in 1893 – has seen a total of about 55 people travel on trips abroad, play in our two internal trophies, represent us in our two league teams and come along to our Thursday practices at Highgate.
We visited the mountains of Switzerland in the autumn, to help the Zuozers celebrate the 50th anniversary of their courts in Zurich. Geoff Bates, David Cooper, Gordon Stringer and David White returned to the courts where they had played in the 1950s and 1960s. Mark George Jacobs, Rachel Douek, Ralph Morgan, Pete Chen and John Reynolds tagged along to join a party of about 50 from all over the world play fives on the courts of the Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz. Six of us travel to Geneva for a weekend's fives in June.
Our Thursday evening practices have been busy - often running to three courts. We continue to attract players from around the fives circuit, including a growing number of women.
Some of those Thursday players are from the school: perhaps half a dozen CLS boys have come along over the course of the year, including Harrison Jones, Jonah Taylor, CLS captain Jivan Navani, Henry Davidson, and Jacob Greenhouse, the last four of whom are pictured in that order, in OCEFC colours, at the national schools' championships at Eton, in which the middle two won a plate. The school's coach, Matt Wiseman, deserves our heartfelt thanks for all his help and encouragement.
Sam Packer starred in the first pair for the Oxford Peppers as they beat Cambridge Penguins 3-0.
Some 18 of us dressed up for a season-celebrating supper at the Royal Society of Medicine in Wimpole Street, acccess courtesy club medic Stephen Mullin.
The Wood Plate, with which 16 of us opened the season, was won by Mark Stockton and Sam Packer, who beat Bobby Friedman and guest Pete Chen in the final.
Some 22 players are due to take part in the season's finale, the Adam's Cup.
Peter Scholey wins the Over 50s
The Old Edwardians have had another disappointingly quiet year. While remaining out of the League, the small core of the club did manage to put out a team for the first round of the Barber Cup, but got no further. Elsewhere, injuries and travel schedules took their toll and we managed only a poor showing at the year’s tournaments, although the season ended with Peter Scholey winning the Over 50s title at the Veterans. All in all, there’s only one way to go from here. If there are any lost Old Eds out there, do get in touch: your involvement is need to help restore the club to its former glory!
The Edgbaston Saturday morning Fives club has met sporadically and is always on the lookout for new members.
The Emanuels play in the Barber Cup
The Old Emanuels once again entered the Barber Cup, achieving a first round victory against former champions the Old Edwardians before going out in the second round to eventual runners-up the Old Salopians. Anthony Theodossi was part of the Berkhamsted team that won Division 1 and Gina Vugutrna reached the semi-finals of the Universities tournament.
There was a good turnout of Old Emanuel Fives players at the end of season dinner, which was held at the school for the first time ever.
Over 60s winners Tim Best and Anthony Wagg; Universities and U21 champion Jamie Abbott
No report received
London, Northern and Kinnaird champion Tom Dunbar; Veterans winner Jamie Fleming
A season of healthy consolidation for the OH Fives club. League matches were very well supported and it was especially pleasing to see recent leavers Alex Poole, Tom Faber and Geordie Bowes Lyon supporting the older guard comprising of Nick Shaw, Ross Bryan, Jamie Fleming and Tom Dunbar.
The biggest challenge facing any Fives Club is keeping tabs on boys when they are at university and it was a shame that the 2013 Schools winners went to university in Edinburghand Montreal respectively. It was pleasing, however, to see three Sixth Formers Sam Curtis Green, Tom Nevile and Tom Skinner play regularly for the Old Harrovians. It was very good encouraging also that we entered the Richard Barber Cup. A series of unfortunate and one off circumstances meant that we were unable to get a side for the Barber semi final. We have not been lucky in this competition recently as the previous year a freak injury in the final to Will Jones meant that we had to concede the deciding pair when the match was finely balanced.
It was a remarkable season for our leading player, Tom Dunbar, who recovered from a minor stroke in December to win the Kinnaird Cup with his Olavian partner, Seb Cooley.
We are hoping to introduce some Sunday mornings next year when all OHs are invited to Harrowand the Fives is followed by lunch.
The Graves Cup; The OI old guard; Steve Burnell and Louise Rymell, plate runners-up at the Mixed
Richard Barber Cup team; Over 50s winner Peter Boughton; Kinnaird Festival winner Alex Yusaf
Another season where the Ipswichians were strong when able to turn out a full side. Whilst trying to reduce Will Gibbons's win ratio by playing him at 1st pair this had the unintended effect of improving his game significantly with Dave Leach and Will providing a very solid 2nd division first pair.
The usual antics abounded from the rest of the year from the OIs with Cooley and Blackmore narrowly edging out Gibbons and Hird in the first game of the final of the Graves Cup with a comfortable second game win. The plate went to Scholey Snr. and Barker. Full tournament report is still online.
A large contingent of school and old boys ended up at the Northerns with Leach and Gibbons making it through to the quarter finals, going out to the 4th seeds but making up for it by winning a grudge match against Fletcher and Fletcher (same time next year boys....in training already!). In the Festival there was a real showing with the semi-finals having 3 of 4 pairs with Ipswichians (Burnell & Gregory, Boughton & Stubbs and Hoskins & Hird). Unfortuntely no silverware was won with Hoskins narrowly missing out in the final. Notable mentions to Stubbs for being later than possible with what was probably the largest contingent of players outside of Shrewsbury and for Peter Boughton for finding the largest curry table in Shrewsbury which may have had something to do with the slightly less impressive performances on the Sunday.
A far lesser contingent for the Kinnaird although Alex Yusaf managed to get a respectable result winning the Festival A with Carl Rennie. However the trophies for the year were won by the “wiser” contingent with Gareth Hoskins taking home the Veterans Open with Jaime Fleming and Peter Boughton teaming up with Pete Scholey to bag the over 50s.
Sure a good year is on the cards next year. Here's to Barber Cup glory!?
Peter Boughton writes:
The school currently has some very promising Eton fives players and this is in no small measure due to the support and encouragement they receive from OI players.
In the Richard Barber Cup old boys Gareth Hoskins, Tom Fletcher and David Leach paired with pupils Isaac Wagland, Arthur Patten and Cameron Lyle in this three-pair team event. All the matches played were of a very high standard, with every point keenly contested which made for some long matches. Ipswich just missed out on a semi-final place by a single point, but came back to win The Plate Competition. An excellent day’s fives and Isaac, Arthur and Cameron gained valuable experience playing with adults against strong opponents.
In the Graham Turnbull Trophy at Eton in November (pairs of pupils with former pupils but no teams) Isaac Wagland (Yr 12) and Gareth Hoskins (OI) played tremendously to reach the quarter-finals, only succumbing to three-time (and current) national champion, Seb Cooley and his Olavian partner. Arthur Patten (Yr 11) and Tom Fletcher (OI) were very unlucky not to qualify from their group after losing two matches 11-12 but they went on to win the Plate Competition in true Ipswichian style - still a great achievement at this level. Sam Clark (Yr 11) paired up with school coach, Tony Stubbs and they just missed out on making it an all Ipswich Plate Final.
Isaac and Gareth had a pretty amazing tournament. They played really well against a strong Shrewsbury pair, losing 11-12 having been 2-7 and 6-10 down. Having got a taste for a comeback they then won their last 16 match against a pair from Berkhamsted 15-14 from being 4-14 down. “Definitely one of the strangest games I've ever played in!” proclaimed Gareth. “We were comfortably second best then suddenly hit a few good match point cuts, they made a couple of mistakes, we hit a couple of ledges and it all turned round. Isaac played really well, with lots of intelligent fives and his usual tenacity and never-say-die attitude.” All round a most enjoyable day and an excellent Ipswichian performance.
At the Northern Tournament, Cameron Lyle and Arthur Patten and Sam Clark with Fergus McKay (all Yr 11) played superbly to win the main tournament and festival plate competitions respectively.
We decided this year to pitch senior pupils Isaac Wagland (Yr 12) and OI Sam Christopher, and Cameron and Arthur, into the main competition to ensure they were stretched as much as possible. An all Ipswichian plate final made for a brilliant finale to the weekend. Unfortunately time constraint meant the match had to be played over one extended game. Magnificent interceptions and composed play by Lyle, backed up by brilliant front court work by Patten pressurised Wagland and Christopher into some uncharacteristic mistakes, with Arthur and Cameron taking the title 15-9. A rematch must be on the cards.
Sam Clark and Fergus Mckay improved substantially over the weekend and showed great tenacity and composure coming back from 11-14 down to win 15-14 in one match. Their win in the Festival plate final over the far more experienced St Beghians pair will have done their confidence no end of good.
The OI v School match was looked forward to with expectation given the school’s historic victory the previous year. In the event neither side found it easy to put out a side but order was restored as the OIs won by 3 pairs to nil.
We have noted that the school has some promising junior girl players, two of whom (Under 13s Eloise Carter and Ellie Morgan) reached the semi-final of the Ladies Festival at Eton in March. We shall have to look to get the OI Ladies playing against the school.
A huge vote of thanks is due to Tony Stubbs for driving school teams to and from Eton etc as well as coaching and cajoling pupils onto court and we were delighted that ‘Stubbsy’ was nominated for the Eton Fives Association Coach of the Year Award.
Vishal Bhimjiyani & Justin Lefort and the Mason brothers in action at the Kinnaird
After the successes of last year, this was something of a disappointing year for the club. The loss of a number of our best players for a variety of work or injury related reasons meant that our Division One side was significantly weakened this year, compared to last, with a knock-on effect on our Division Two side. For the first time in many years, we struggled to get full sides out and incurred penalty points as a result. However, we don’t see this as a permanent downturn with a couple of players coming back from University next season and a good group of schoolboys who are available for selection. As ever, the club benefits from the very strong link with the school through Steve Plummer.
Richard Black Cup team; Ladies Champion Charlotta Cooley; Mixed winners Seb & Charlotta Cooley; James Toop & Matthew Wiseman in action
Alan Barber Cup winners; Richard Barber Cup winners; London, Northern and Kinnaird champion Seb Cooley; Olavians league fixture at Orpington
No report received
EFA Lifetime Achievement winner Rodney Knight
No report received
Aberconway winners Grant & Guy Williams; Kinnaird Pepperpot winners Chris Hughes and Tom Welti; Alan Barber Cup team; Richard Barber Cup squad
EFA Trophy winners; Alice Brett represents Liverpool University; Jack Flowers & Alice Walker, runners-up in the Universities Mixed for Oxford
We had a steady season in the league in terms of results but I am delighted with the depth of squad we have shown in the sides we have fielded. Over the season approximately 15 different Old Salopians have donned the gloves and I am particularly pleased with this as it is testament to the hard work myself and the committee have put into recruiting new members to the club and building the player base of OS Fives. With great help from Tom Gerrard, Peter Stewart, Ben Jones and Chris Hughes we have targeted school leavers and those coming out of university in order to make a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the club and the school and this effort is beginning to bear fruit.
Particular highlights were the Richard Barber Cup and the Graham Turnbull Trophy which both involve pairing OS with current Salopians. At both events Salopian attendance was excellent with 3 teams appearing in the Alan Barber Trophy which bodes well for the future and provides great opportunity to cement the bond between school and club.
Whilst we lost another Barber Cup final to the Olavians, this year had a very different vibe and the mood in the Salopian camp was one of real optimism and progress. We won a very close fought battle at 3rd pair and at 2nd pair, although the match slightly got away from them at the end, George Thomason and Henry Lewis really pushed a very strong in Olavian pair featuring Seb Cooley. The first game could genuinely have gone either way and, at the end of the final, looking at the respective ages of the 2 squads we really feel that the next decade will belong to the Salopians.
With huge effort on the part of Grant Williams, we are hosting the inaugural Salopian Fives Festival on the weekend of 13/14th September at Eton which will see both current and old Salopians enjoy some great fives and great company
The Old Stoics brains trust off court and on...
No report received
OWs at the Varsity Match; Ed Rose & Laurie Brock at the Kinnaird; Midlands finalists Laurie Brock & Riki Houlden
The start to the season could hardly have been tougher, with consecutive matches against a strong Berkhamsted team. With the first game at Highgate having resulted in a 3-0 defeat the team were determined to make amends in the away leg. Sadly despite some close scorelines the team went down 2-1, although Sam Williams and James Alster played magnificently to win an epic 5 setter at third pair, doing especially well to recover from the disappointment of losing the fourth set to triumph 12-9 in the fifth.
In the next match away at Mill Hill, a lack of availability meant third pair had to be conceded but Ed Rose and Laurie Brock at first and Giles Coren and Alfred Jackson at second won comfortably to secure a 2-1 overall win.
The following match against the Olavians was probably the best result of the season; Alfred Jackson and Sam Williams' heroic fightback securing a brilliant 2-1 win against the Old Olavians. At first pair, Brock and Rose came up against both Wiseman brothers and despite trying hard were unable to avoid a straight sets defeat. However John Reynolds and Giles Coren dismantled the Olavian second pair for the loss of just five points. This left the outcome of the match resting on the third pair. Things were not looking good with Alfred and Sam two sets down. However, they dug in superbly and showed real determination to draw level and then, with the 10pmdeadline approaching, secure a spectacular 9-12, 4-12, 12-8, 12-6, 12-7 victory.
Frustration followed in the return match against the Millhillians. With Mill Hill having conceded third pair, and Alfred and James losing out at second, the result rested on Brock and Rose at first. The match was nip and tuck all the way, but unfortunately the two opening sets were narrowly lost (12-14, 11-12). The OWs fought back to win the third 12-10 and were tied at 6-6 in the fourth when the lights went out, meaning that the match was lost as the Millhillians were 2-1 up at the time, although obviously the match would have been won in five had time permitted!
The next matches against a strong Westway team (twice) and the Olavians away resulted in defeats (caused partly by conceded pairs), although Brock and Rose at first pair secured notable victories against Peter White and Dave Mew (3-0) and Guy Chapman and Peter Cohen (3-1).
Overall, whilst absences of key players have made the league season tough this year, the club has developed a number of high performing young players and appears well set up for success in the near future.
Westminsters have come extremely close to ultimate success in a number of tournaments this season. In the Under 25 championships, Laurie, playing with ex Cambridge partner Rob Desmond reached the final but lost out 2-1 to an inspired Andrew Joyce and Jeremy O’Neill to deny him his fourth title in the event. At the Universities Championships, last season’s star performer Riki Houlden, playing at second pair for Cambridgein only his first year there as an undergraduate, reached the semi final before losing out to Cambridge1. Meanwhile, Callum Brock, playing with his partner from Yorkdid fantastically to reach the final before ultimately losing out to the same pair.
Finally, at the Midland Championships, Riki and Laurie battled through a strong field to reach the final of a hugely competitive and well attended tournament, beating a certain Seb Cooley in the semi final along the way. Up against a strong Berkhamsted pair in the final they had their chance at 12-11 up in the first set, but sadly two poor errors from the senior player saw the set slip away 13-12. After that, despite fighting hard, they were unable to recover and lost the second set and the match.
Despite the disappointment of not having Westminsternames on these trophies, to have club members featuring in the closing stages of these tournaments is a fantastic sign of the way the club is heading.
Star Performer: Sam Williams
This season has seen Sam improve out of sight to become one of the fixtures in the first team; two fabulous five set wins in division one are testament to his determination as well as his ability, and with practice over the summer he has the potential to be a real force in the future.
Mark Yates & Chris Austin in the Barber Cup; Gary Baker & Mark Moore back on court; Tom Weston of Bath, Universities Plate winner; Sid Simmons in Geelong
On the competitive front, the Barber Cup was our earliest opportunity to test ourselves. A tricky visit to Highgate to pit ourselves against the Old Cholmeleians was first up in and was successfully overcome with a 3-0 victory. The quarter final saw a match against Lancing Old Boys who had slightly more power and stamina in their top 2 pairs as they ran out 2-1 winners.
As soon as the Barber Cup is done and dusted, the EFA trophy looms large. A strong Wulfrunian six descended on Harrow for the qualifiers where credit needs to go to Gareth for assembling the strongest field for a number of years. A tough group opener against the Salopians saw Andy Husslebee retire injured and so we were down to five players. To assist, Gareth very kindly dipped into the ranks of the travelling North Oxford contingent and plucked out super-sub Wendy Carling who performed heroically all day for her adopted team. Qualification was gained by a solitary point in 4th place in a very strong field and so we will be forever grateful to Wendy for her efforts.
Finals day pitted us against our old foes the Old Salopians in the semi-final, who are always a ‘tough nut to crack’ and again this proved to be the case. There’s always next year (we say that most years)!
Other areas of competitive note were Chris Austin and Mark Yates partnering U16 schoolboys Silas and Matt respectively in the highly competitive Turnbull tournament and recent leavers Ben Pritchard and Tom Weston appearing at the Universities Championship, which was particularly pleasing.
Mark continued his development of the U16 boys and his female players by exposing them to adult Fives at both the Northern and Midland tournament, where they all gained valuable experience.
Further on the development side, it has been good to swell the ranks at our Thursday night sessions as Chris Davey, a Rugby Fives convert, has been a regular and has been bringing some of his Birmingham University guys over to learn the game. Together with regular attendee Tony Walters, the U16 boys and some of the usual faces this has meant that we have a varied range of ages and levels of experience. More are always welcome – please contact me on 07944 296399 if you’re in the area and fancy a game!
In summary, a highly enjoyable season yet again and special thanks must go to Mark Yates and Greg Hammond for their sterling efforts on the administrative as well as playing side. It was great to get Andy Stephenson more involved this season and now that Mark Moore and Gary Baker have made an appearance on the new Cambridge courts maybe we can tempt them to partake in Old Wulfs Fives next season!?
On a personal note, if you ever find yourself in Australia be sure to visit Geelong Grammar School (just south of Melbourne) to experience the delights of open air Fives. The school is located on the picturesque Corio Bay and iis one of Victoriaand Australia’s top schools with excellent facilities. There are 2 courts that were partially converted from RugbyFives courts and are in differing degrees of conversion. To coincide with a 100 year celebration of the school being at their CorioBaylocation, the courts have undergone further conversion work. The tireless work of Anthony Strazzera has enabled Mark Haimes to be installed as a coach along with assistance from Anita Ganguly who is currently out there. The team are aiming to resurrect Fives as a regular term sport at GGS and are coaching across the age groups. I had the pleasure of visiting family in Melbourne in March and so popped along for an afternoon and I was well looked after by ‘Straz’ and Mark who gave me a guided tour of the school and finished off with a game of top-step! Well worth the visit!
Universities Mixed runners-up Jack Flowers & Alice Walker; Varsity Match squad; EFA Trophy team
No report received
Oxford University Ladies
Universities winners Izzy Watts and Alice Walker; Varsity Match squad; Team talk
We started the year off well with our top pair securing victory at the University tournament for a second year in a row. Regular coaching sessions with Gareth Hoskins helped bring in new players and provide coaching for all levels of players in order to improve everyone’s overall game. The under 21s had a solid tournament but it was at the nationals where the coaching and practicing could be seen, with Oxford’s top pair reaching the semi finals, and their second pair reaching the quarter finals. Two pairs also entered the festival to match our turn out from last year. The next tournament saw our mixed top pair reaching the final and only narrowly losing, and our two other pairs performing well and having fun. The coaching once again paid off, and for the third year in a row Oxford Ladies whitewashed Cambridge in all 6 pairs in the Varsity match. This was a fantastic result and one thoroughly deserved with the hard work put in by all members of the team against a decent Cambridge team. This result highlights how the Ladies club continues to grow and achieve success.
Team Westway in action; The Westway management
On balance a successful season. Agreed we didn’t win anything but with a little luck we could have. As we move from a Fives Club aiming to get players into pay and play into a club aiming for success a clear philosophy is developing. Win. And win big.
In all three divisions we challenged; played hard and, if it occasionally happened, were gracious in defeat. Magnanimous in victory? Definitely not! Overall we had the most wins, the least losses, the most points of any club in EFA history. Who needs title wins when we can subvert statistics to our will.
Whilst we don’t have the past history or glories of other clubs we do have the potential to make that history in the here and now. And that’s our mission.
With a slightly larger squad we should be able to overcome the couple of hiccups that resulted in the embarrassment of a few penalty points. We take it as a badge of honour that pretty much every team attempts to field its strongest against us. And for those that don’t we are most grateful.
Division 1. We have great talent throughout the squad and it showed in some muscular victories against established teams. Without the pens we would have finished second. But with Pete Cohen, Ed Taylor, Guy Chapman, Ryan Perrie and Alex Illingworth and the cream of our Div 2 crop we opened eyes and set a marker for the next step.
Division 2. Never play your manager in a key fixture! Having another beyond my skills may well have brought the title home to Westway. Our blend of youth and experience – from Daniel Arwas and Noah Caplin through to Darshan Patel and Will Betts - and the late arrival of Alex Constantine meant teams had an uphill task against us. Next year we try that bit harder.
Division 3. Although leading the division until the last week a couple of unfortunate blips kept the title beyond us. Next year an extra Westway team is in the division. Some say it’s a ruse, a trick.To all those I say ‘stop whining, start playing’.
And to each and every one of the Team Westway squad who pulled on the Polo and put themselves on the line – let’s do it again next season – only better!
Windsor & Eton
No report received
The Wycombe President and Treasurer at Cambridge
The Wycombe Fives Club plays on the two recently refurbished courts at the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe on a Sunday afternoon. The season began with numbers increasing as well as the standard of play thanks to Paul Bowden's coaching and a few guest appearances. Thanks go to Richard Black for his role as secretary, which he handed over to Colin Turnbull (cotu82her at gmail.com), and with Paul for getting the club off the ground. Sadly the storms in the new year removed part of the roof on one court and that is still not fixed. So having spent a few weeks as nomads sampling play at St Barts Newbury and at Eton with the Windsor and Eton club we resumed weekly sessions but had somehow fallen off some people's calendars. But we can always fill at least one court and attendance is growing again. We pride ourselves on being a friendly group committed to playing the game with the right spirit, welcoming all and especially in introducing and developing beginners. We teamed with the Windsor and Eton club to enter a joint team in the EFA Trophy which was enjoyed by all. With standard of play rising across the membership and some great guests we are playing some fun fives at a reasonable level too, so if anyone fancies a game following school term times, please get in touch or just come along.