Celebration of Fives at Lancing

Richard Black reports:

05/09/16: As well as having a neo-gothic chapel of extraordinary beauty and size, Lancing College has the only set of Eton Fives courts in Sussex.

22 players mainly from the College and from amongst the alumni/ae gathered at the four courts on the weekend of 3rd and 4th September.

A weekend of mainly mixed ability pairings resulted in an enjoyable and friendly but competitive programme. Several distinguished guests and their families were present, including Gareth Hoskins and his 11 –year old son, Tom, who professed to loving the weekend. The oldest (nameless*) player was 70. One of the adult players was a beginner and progressed remarkably during the two days.

Saturday saw a tournament of mixed ability pairings with the usual plethora of plate matches.

Sunday was played with a ladder system which meant that the pairings moved around all the time.

The number of enthusiastic current pupils and recent leavers gives great optimism that the future of the Lancing Eton Fives Club is assured, especially as there is now a club that plays regularly at The College on Tuesday evenings in addition to the London-based team.

On Saturday there was a convivial dinner in Worthing attended by players, College staff and officers of the Old Lancing Club which had given considerable financial support to the tournament. Two past masters-in-charge were present and Dr Andrew Betts was presented by the author with a leather bound and signed version of Dale Vargas’s “ A History of Eton Fives”.

We hope that the weekend will give us that difficult pull-through from school Fives to the world of the adult game.

The last tournament was held in 2010 but we will not be waiting six years for the next one, scheduled for 2017.

*Editor's note: the words uber and veteran may provide a clue to those in the know

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