Veterans Tournament 2022: New Winners All Round

Graham Pulsford reports:

02/05/22: The Veterans Competition in association with Advanta Wealth, now also known as the Legends Competition, is truly a great finale to the fives season and this year was particularly competitive in the fight for all three trophies.

This year’s competition has certainly provided enough ‘material’ to pass on to the wider fives audience with a combination of exceptionally high-quality fives, nail-bitingly close matches, a full house of new winners and ‘the curious incident of the missing cup.’ This year’s newcomers included the Newbury Club pairing of Paul Holland & Will Thomas, Old Salopian Oliver O’Callaghan-Brown, and two actual fives legends in Eddie Wass and Seb Cooley. For a flavour of the afternoon please scroll through the photographs.

The result of the three Legends finals were:

Open Competition for the MJS-J Cup

Seb Cooley & Eddie Wass beat Mike Hughes & Grant Williams

The MJS-J Cup is an exceedingly difficult competition to win and is often a marathon with close games from start to finish. This year there were three critical games that decided the winner. In the first the Wulfrunian pairing of Chris Austin & Sid Simmons took on Seb Cooley & Eddie Wass in a game that was a joy to watch. The quality of fives was exceptional and the volleying exchanges of the highest quality with both Eddie Wass and Sid Simmons in outstanding form – but however well the Wulfurians played their opponents were able to play better and Eddie and Seb won after 45 minutes of joyous fives.

The order of play can be a considerable influence on the day and in the second vital match the Wulfrunians then met the holders, Mike Hughes & Grant Williams, in their next game. This was a thriller in a different way as the evergreen Mike & Grant raced ahead, the Wulfrunians slowly fought back, a crowd built up at the back of the court, and finally Mike & Grant closed the game out at 15-13.

The ‘final’ was therefore the holders, Mike Hughes & Grant Williams, against the newcomers Seb Cooley & Eddie Wass. This was a tense game with the holders giving 100% and showing both clever shot selection and extraordinary reflexes to compete with the younger pairing. As the game progressed Seb took more control and the younger pair were delighted to win 15-9.

Peter Boughton presented a cup to the worthy winners – unfortunately not the actual MJS’s Cup, which rumour has it is still with Mark Williams, but a least a cup to mark the occasion!

In this category Paul Holland & Will Thomas scored points against all their adverseries and were a credit to the Newbury Club.

Over 50s Competition for the Chris Cup(s)

Marc Quinn & Oliver O’Callaghan-Brown beat Paul Kendall & Phil Lyndon

With both previous serial winners of the Chris Cups moving up level and into the Over 60s competition there was going to be a new name on the cups for 2022. The final saw the Old Salopian pairing of Marc Quinn & Oliver O’Callaghan-Brown take on the Aldenham pairing of Paul Kendall & Phil Lyndon. Early exchanges were even with Phil Lyndon exhibiting a fluidity movement on the top court not normally seen and Paul ably backing him up from the back court. But as the game progressed the league experience of Marc and the obvious fitness of Oliver became apparent, and they accelerated to win 15-8.

The cup was presented to the victors by David Cooper. If the engravers charge by the letter Oliver will need deep pockets….especially with two cups!

Over 60s Competition for the Walters Cup

Matthew Beard & Stefan Nowinski beat Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries

Looking at the draw it looked odds on that Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries would add their names to the Cup for another year and they duly eased their way into the final for the umpteenth year in succession. Joining them was the scratch pairing of Matthew Beard & Stefan Nowinski who had only been introduced to each other on arrival.

The final was a 45-minute marathon with the difference between the two pairs never more than a couple of points. The courtside betting, disapproved of by the EFA, favoured the more experienced Ipswichian pair the longer the game went on, but it remained tense and neck and neck to the end. A combination of Stefan’s top court volleying and Matthew’s consistency of cut was enough to secure a well-deserved a 15-13 victory for the younger pair. They managed to combine well and their smiles on and off court were an indication of just how they were enjoying their afternoon.

Simon Woolfries kindly presented the Tony Walters Cup to the delighted winners.

David Cooper & John Cooley took third place in this category.

Firsts on the Day

David Cooper was confirmed as the oldest Legend to have played in the competition, a youthful 82, and with his partner John Cooley they boasted a combined pair age of 155 - another competition record. In their semi-final with Peter Boughton & Simon Woolfries the overall age on court was 295!

John Cooley and Seb Cooley were the first father and son to have played in the same Veterans competition (although not in the same category).

Henry V

The post competition visit to the Henry V was a pleasing end to the day. General bonhomie and tales of past fives exploits are always enjoyable. Many thanks to those who helped make the day enjoyable by playing and to Eton College as hosts.

Note: - If you are over 40 you are eligible for these competitions

Note: - 2023 is the 39th Veterans Competition – the more pairs the merrier!

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