2012 Richard Barber Cup: Olave's win the Barber (Part 1)
The Alan Barber Cup has been the blue riband event for Old Boy club Fives for many years; in the last couple of seasons it has been joined by the Richard Barber Cup, also a three pair team event, but with each pair consisting of one current and one former pupil of the schools concerned. The trophy was first played for in the 2010/11 season and returned at Eton on Sunday after a one year hiatus. The finalists this time were the same as two years ago - St.Olave's and Shrewsbury - and the final result also the same, with St.Olave's running out winners, despite Shrewsbury taking a 1-0 lead in all three pairs in the final.
Teams took part from Shrewsbury (x2), St.Olave's (x2). Eton, Ipswich, Lancing and KES, Birmingham. The whole purpose of the event is to create closer links between school and club Fives and for the school pupils concerned to gain valuable experience and hopefully go home inspired to keep playing Fives once they've left school. In this respect, Sunday's tournament delivered in spades, with all of the teams involved enjoying themselves immensely.
The morning's pool stages saw both Shrewsbury sides qualify, with the school's recent successes reflected in the fact that only one of their six "old" boys was over the age of 21. St.Olave's 1 cruised through their group, with Eton pipping the Olavian second team to complete the semi-final line-up.
The other four teams went into the plate, which produced an Ipswich v St.Olave's 2 final, won by St.Olave's with a 12-10 first pair win with the tie balanced at 1-1.
In the main tournament, Shrewsbury 1 saw off Shrewsbury 2 in the all-Salopian semi-final, while St.Olave's 1 had too much firepower for the battling Etonian side.
The final was a fascinating match up, with the dominant Old Boy club of recent years up against the dominant schoolboy team. At first, things looked like they were going Shrewsbury's way as all three Salopian pairs won the first games of their best of three matches. The third pair continued in the same vein as Henry Lewis and Harry Flowers won their match against Peter White and Sudhir Balaji. At first pair, Olavians Chris Self and Seb Cooley quickly recovered from their slow start to dominate the latter stages of their game against Ed Taylor and Guy Williams to level the tie at 1-1, leaving second pair as the decider. Howard Wiseman and Sanjay Kundu didn't panic after losing the first game and with Howard controlling the tempo of the rallies and Sanjay providing fine and solid support, they won the second and third games against George Thomason and Henry Blofield to win the trophy for the Olavian team.
Thanks to Eton for hosting the tournament, Mark Williams for running things and Richard Barber for donating and presenting the trophy.