2003 Veterans Tournament

Graham Pulsford and Jo Seelig report:

A cool May day at Eton saw twelve pairs contest this enjoyable highlight of the Fives calendar. Familiar faces predominated, including defending champions and winners for the past three hundred years, Graham Pulsford and Neil Margerison. But this year it was good to welcome a goodly number of 'new' veterans including Colin Spurrell, Jim Pitts, John Cooley, Dave Goad, Phil Lyndon, James Oliver, Andrew Fraser and the powerful combination of Mike Hughes and Peter Scholey.

Early Skirmishes

Matches in the two pools were keenly fought with all players entering into the spirit of the competition. Tournament referee Jim Fredenham had little to do apart from write down the scores (although there was a brief challenge as to the legality of Nigel Cox's 'gardening' gloves!). Ipswichian pairings Peter Boughton and Simon Woolfries, and John Levick and John Caudle showed plenty of tractor power, and Richard Dennis and Phil 'Conquistador' Lyndon also threatened. Mike 'Statistics' Fenn, ably partnered by John Collett, was delighted to avenge a defeat by David Cooper. The last time they met on court was in the inaugural match between the Old Citizens and Old Ipswichians at Blackfriars on 28th October 1967! Eventually, having overcome all other contenders in their respective pools, pre-tournament favourites Graham and Neil, Mike and Peter, emerged to contest the final.

The Final

This clash promised, and delivered, high class Fives, and a very even, exciting game was enjoyed by the large group of spectators. With Graham and Neil

2-0 ahead, the match stopped briefly when Mike suffered an attempted blinding at the hands of his own partner. Ah, those playful Old Edwardians - what can one say? Reassured by two helpful consultants, psychiatrist Neil Margerison ('would you care to concede?') and sympathetic rheumatologist Nigel Cox ('does it hurt?') Mike was able to return to the fray. Tremendous volleying and fierce attacking play from both pairs kept matters nail-bitingly tight as the score reached 9-9. A subtle change of tactics then saw pile on irresistible pressure, gradually, relentlessly, drawing away to triumph 15-10.

Presenting the trophy, dedicated to the memory of Martin Shortland Jones, EFA vice-president Gordon Stringer, at 65 believed to be the oldest 'Old Veteran' to have participated in this tournament, welcomed new winners. And thence on to The Watermans' Arms for suitable liquid refreshment. Thanks to Jim Fredenham for his match refereeing, Mike King and Joe Seelig for being 'the spectators', and to all who took part. Fashion highlights of the afternoon included Cox's new gardening gloves - a delicate shade of British racing green, Mike Fenn's mustard coloured deck shoes (Editor: a case of mistaken identity!), and weirdest by far, Peter Scholey's 'Friends of the Wetlands' tee shirt. Er, what? 2004 Veterans Tournament is a month earlier on Sunday 18th April. Please encourage all your over 40s Fives playing friends to enter. The more the merrier!