Olavian Barber Cup Sextet On Song Once Again
07/06/21: The Old Olavians won the Alan Barber Cup in association with Advanta Wealth at Eton on Saturday, their 20th victory in the last 22 years.
Old Olavians beat Old Westminsters 3-0 at Eton 05/06/21:
S.Cooley & H.Wiseman beat R.Houlden & E.Rose 3-1 (0-12*, 12-3, 12-4, 12-3)
J.Toop & T.Barker beat H.Young & I.Salim 3-1 (12-14, 2-0 ret)
M.Wiseman & I.Jochim beat L.Brock & S.Shah 3-0 (12-5, 12-5, 12-4)
*conceded due to late arrival
Nearly four months later than originally scheduled, the 2021 Alan Barber Cup (full competition results can be seen HERE) finally came to a conclusion in warm summer sunshine and in a celebratory atmosphere, with the ladies championships taking place at the same time and all participants enjoying the simple fact of being back on court again.
It has been a significant achievement - and testament to the resourcefulness and enthusiasm of the participating clubs - to have completed this season's competition in its entirety in such a difficult stop start year, and the final itself did not go completely without a hitch thanks to late arrivals and injuries. Nevertheless, overall this was a fitting showpiece for the sport's blue riband team event and a fascinating encounter between the Old Olavians, who have been at the top of the game for over twenty years now, and the Old Westminsters, a young side in their first ever final. A further layer of interest lay in the involvement of Matthew Wiseman - a key player in the two decade long Olavian dominance of the competition, but also the man largely responsible for the rise of Westminster Fives in his role as coach and Master in charge of Fives at Westminster School.
Both sides shuffled the pack from the semi-finals, with the Olavians bringing in Tony Barker and Isaac Jochim instead of Prajeeth Sathiyamoorthy and Josh Ravi and the both teams tinkering with their pairings.
The first pair match was delayed because of a late Olavian arrival - late enough to cost them the first game - but Seb Cooley & Howard Wiseman eventually settled into their work and when some Fives finally broke out after some lengthy early discussions on top step positioning and other matters, the Olavian pair were always in control against Riki Houlden & Ed Rose, cruising to a comfortable 3-1 victory.
The second pair match only lasted for just over one game, but in that time produced the most competitive and exciting Fives of the day. Hugo Young & Ismail Salim took the fight to James Toop & Tony Barker early on and although the Olavian pair fought back, the young Westminster duo held their nerve at the end of the first game to take it 14-12. The second game had only just started, however, when Ismail unfortunately took a ball to the eye, which was enough to mean he was unable to continue. With the evergreen Matt Wiseman fully in charge of the third pair game from start to finish alongside schoolboy Isaac Jochim against Laurie Brock & Sahil Shah, the trophy thus went once again to the Old Olavians, who have now closed to within two of the all time record of 23 wins in the competition, set between 1969 and 1998 by the Old Cholmeleians.
The Westminsters should be congratulated on reaching their first final, with every possibility that it won't be their last, and were generous in defeat, with special praise reserved for their school coach: "The OW team would like to take this opportunity to thank Matt for all his work as a coach, teaching us the sport, developing us as players, and instilling within us a love for the game and with it a desire to continue playing even after leaving school. It goes without saying that reaching the Barber Cup Final is something our team could never have achieved without him. Thank you!"
Our thanks go to Eton for hosting the competition, to Advanta Wealth for their continued sponsorship and to all of the clubs who did sterling work to ensure this year's Alan Barber Cup took place at all.
Overall the Alan Barber Cup has been won by:
Old Cholmeleians 23*
Old Olavians 21*
Old Edwardians 4
Old Salopians 3
Old Berkhamstedians 2
Old Etonians 2
Old Wulfrunians 1
Old Harrovians 1
*Both Clubs have recorded a 15 year consecutive run, and the Olavians have won 20 of the last 22.