Another Triumph For The Olavians In The Richard Barber Cup
28/01/19: The Alan Barber Cup may have finally slipped from the Olavians grasp after a decade and a half of dominance but they made no mistake in retaining the Richard Barber Cup in association with Advanta Wealth at Eton yesterday, winning the competition for the eighth year in succession and remaining the only name on the trophy.
This has become a vibrant and importanrt competition in recent years, providing a team counterpart to the pre-Christmas Graham Turnbull Trophy and it was therefore a disappointment this year that only five teams took part. There were some mitigating circumstances - exeat weekends at some of the boarding schools and logistical issues caused by the U13 team competition at Berkhamsted, but there were also some disappointing non-entries and late withdrawals. Hopefully next year's date will prove to be more successful as this competition is tremendous fun and has a huge amount to offer.
Defending champions St.Olave's were all present and correct and it was great to see two teams from each of Highgate and St.Bartholomew's, Newbury. The format was a round robin with all of the teams playing each other across three pairs, with each pair playing two games up to 12. As always, each pair consisted of one adult and one school player.
The two St.Bart's teams were younger and more inexperienced than their opponents but they were undeterred and performed with great enthusiasm all day. The improvement during the course of the competition was clear to see and hopefully the experience will encourage them all to continue playing and be part of the exciting development of the game at Newbury under the inspirational leadership of Will Thomas.
Highgate's second string were lurking menacingly in the draw, playing both St.Olave's and Highgate 1 before the clash of the top two seeds in the final round and they duly made an impact, a James Hopkins-inspired first pair performance winning two points for Highgate 2 against their first team. They couldn't repeat the feat against the Olavian team, meaning that Highgate 1 needed to win 4 of the 6 games in the final round to deprive St.Olave's of the title. They gave it a good go - Ollie Hallam & George Everett took the first game off Howard Wiseman & Isaac Jochim at second pair and a hobbling Niifio Addy & Joel Bliss won a 12-11 first game thriller against David Mew & Michael Li; Tony Barker & Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy were proving too strong for Ollie Light & Charles Duah at first pair, however, so when Wiseman & Jochim struck back to win the second game of their match, the title was in the bag and the third pair were able to shake hands and nurse their injuries rather than play a final game.
Thanks go to Richard Barber for presenting the trophy, to George Thomason and Eton for hosting the event and to David Mew, Jonny Ho, Howard Wiseman and Will Thomas for organising their teams. Hopefully we'll have twice as many teams competing in the 202 edition!
1. St.Olave's 21½ points
2. Highgate 1 18½ points
3. Highgate 2 14 points
4. St.Bart's 1 4 points
5. St.Bart's 2 2 points