2011 Marsh National Schools' Championships: Shrewsbury and Highgate claim the silverware

The Marsh Insurance National Schools' Championships took place at Eton last week, with over 500 pairs taking part in 10 different competitions, a remarkable number, a real celebration of the game and testament to how Fives is thriving in so many schools.

Shrewsbury had a hugely successful week, winning the boys Open and Under 16 titles, while Highgate dominated the younger age groups and the girls events.

The results of the finals are listed below along with the text of EFA Chairman Peter Worth's speech at the Championships dinner. A fuller report on the week's Fives will follow soon.

MARSH INSURANCE NATIONAL ETON FIVES CHAMPIONSHIPS 2011











OPEN COMPETITION

SHREWSBURY 1

J.G.Hudson-Williams & G.Thomason

12

14

12





84 pairs

HIGHGATE 1

C.D.Most & M.J.Kovar

5

12

6





UNDER 16 COMPETITION

SHREWSBURY 1

G.D.Williams & W.H.Miller

14

12

13





67 pairs

ST OLAVE'S 1

C.Self & S.Kundu

11

10

10





UNDER 14 COMPETITION

HIGHGATE 1

A.Robinson & R.Footman

12

12

12

12



69 pairs

HIGHGATE 3

M.A.Budgett & I.Tomasson

15

5

1

5



UNDER 12 COMPETITION

HIGHGATE 1

E.Smith-Bingham & I.Tomasson

11

12

8

12

12

96 pairs

HIGHGATE 2

J.Gibber & A.Tejuoso

12

2

12

3

3

UNDER 15 COMPETITION

ETON 1

J.E.A.Piggot & J.P.Cobb

14

12

12





48 pairs

SHREWSBURY 1

C.White & H.Flowers

13

1

1





UNDER 14 BEGINNERS' COMPETITION

SHREWSBURY 1

G.Lewis & N.Pearce

12

12

12





43 pairs

SHREWSBURY 2

J.Humes & S.Yick

5

6

8





UNDER 13 COMPETITION

HIGHGATE 1

J.Gibber & A.Tejuoso

12

12

12





51 pairs

BERKHAMSTED 3

O.J.Holroyd & J.Lamport

0

5

5





LADIES OPEN COMPETITION

HIGHGATE 1

E.Smith-Bingham & A.Paul

12

12

12





17 pairs

HIGHGATE 3

A.Reimer & S.Katz-Roberts

4

7

4





LADIES UNDER 15 COMPETITION

HIGHGATE 1

E.Smith-Bingham & A.Paul

12

12







16 pairs

HIGHGATE 2

L.Foch & E.Most

10

3







LADIES UNDER 17 BEGINNERS' COMPETITION

SHREWSBURY 1

I.Barber & A.Long

12

12







10 pairs

SHREWSBURY 2

S.Walker & S.Lim

0

4







MIXED COMPETITION

SHREWSBURY 1

J.Tse & A.Brett

12

12







15 pairs

HARROW 1

J.Lawson-Baker & A.Snowden

2

7









"When I took over as Chairman of the EFA back in October there was a degree of uncertainty as to where the National Championships were going to be held. It was Shrewsbury’s turn on the rota but dates could not be finalised due to various administrative issues. I thought, at one stage, that we would have to cancel the Championships altogether which would have been, to say the least, a more than disappointing start to my tenure. Thankfully Mark Williams came up trumps and offered us the use, again, of the Eton courts. Little was I to know then that we would be having this dinner in the wonderful surroundings of College Hall. It would be remiss of me if did not say a few words of thanks to the Headmaster of Eton firstly for stepping in to help out this year but even more so for all that Eton does for Fives. There is hardly a winter weekend when the courts are not being used whether it is for league matches featuring other schools, the Varsity match, The Alan Barber Cup matches, the Father and Sons competition and many more including the ever flourishing ladies events. Furthermore the installation of new lighting last summer, at considerable expense to Eton, has greatly improved the playing conditions especially during the dark winter months. We could not possibly have such a thriving sport without Eton’s help and for this we are all extremely grateful.
The National Schools' Fives Championships, so generously supported by Marsh, continue to go from strength to strength. This year’s entry is a over a thousand up from just over 900 last year. All of us at the EFA would like to thank the Masters in Charge and all the coaches who have devoted so much of their time to Fives during the last year. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Mark Williams, Peter Knowles, Ken Hughes and Paul Bowden for the huge job they do running the Championships. When Richard Barber, and what a hard act to follow, asked me to become Chairman he was quick to tell me of his first initiative – It is all down to the Headmasters, he said, if they support Fives then it thrives, if not, well it is an uphill struggle. We have eight headmasters present tonight which is a huge testimony to Richard but also reflects very much what he was saying. We live in a competitive world and it is only right that Fives should pit itself against all other sports but it does need a helping hand. Why should Headmasters support Fives? Well, firstly I believe it is the finest court game in the world, it is the only game played with both hands, it requires rapid hand-eye coordination, it is a team game with no referee requiring fair play and courtesy and finally it has that element of luck which is part and parcel of the sport. Those who play Fives improve at other sports merely by playing Fives. Fives is cool at many schools but there are still a number of schools where Fives is thought of as rather eccentric and certainly not mainstream. If anyone is in any doubt come to Eton on Sunday to watch the final of the Kinnaird Cup featuring four of, arguably, the best players ever to play the sport. They have dominated Fives over the last 10 years and all were past winners of the Nationals, some more than once. However, having seen a few of this year’s young players I have no doubt they will be challenging for top honours pretty soon.

You might think all is rosy in the garden of Fives – sadly not. We are losing far too many players once they leave school. There are few courts at universities and by the time they have graduated, players are into their careers with little time to rediscover Fives. With the very generous support of The Jesters we are beginning to address this but what is really needed is more courts strategically placed allowing both existing players to continue playing and new players to take up the sport. This all requires significant funds and we are endeavouring to source government and lottery funding to supplement the funds we have already earmarked for such developments. We are close to finalising a fully sanctioned and accredited coaching scheme, a prerequisite to any government support, and colleagues are actively exploring ways of reducing the cost of building new courts. This is very much work in progress, along with our move to align ourselves even more closely to the other Fives codes with the creation of the Fives Federation. The building of four Eton Fives courts at Westway some years ago and the introduction of one wall Fives shows what can be achieved. The total number of attendees has increased from 4000 in 2009 to just less than 7000 in 2010 - a remarkable jump thanks to financial support from the John Lyons Trust and the hard work of Pete Cohen and his team at Westway. Pete sadly leaves us at the end of the month and we can’t thank him enough for all his hard work. He has shown us what is possible to achieve although we are some way off finding a financial model that really works.

There are many who contribute tirelessly to further the cause of Fives and I would like to pay tribute to my EFA colleagues for all they do. I would also like to thank Anthony Wagg for arranging this dinner

To conclude, a huge thanks to Peter Newnham and Marsh for their continued support. You have been very generous and your help has been hugely instrumental in the growth of the National Schools' Championships over the last four years. And so I would ask you, please, to be upstanding to drink to Eton Fives coupled with Eton College and our supporters, Marsh."

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