2006/07 School Reports
These reports first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2006/07
The seniors have had a good year, bolstered by the improvement of the U16 pairs. However, the results have not always reflected the potential of the boys at this level. In the main, this has been due to lack of court time, which is understandable given that all the boys represented the school regularly for football and most for hockey also. Given the burden of extra curricular commitments, it has been impressive to see many of the U16 players working hard to improve the quality of their fives this year and this will surely stand them in good stead for next year.
The Ladder Competitions are very important to the development of fives at the school, as they promote competition among the best players in the school and provide an opportunity to experience more match practice. In the Senior Ladder Competition Grant & Williams beat Wallace & Bryan in a well contested match in the Christmas term to win the trophy for the first time. In the Lent term they retained the trophy; again, fending off the challenge from Wallace and Bryan in a close match.
At junior level the club has struggled in some fixtures due to a lack of strength in depth, although as the year has progressed new talent has emerged, particularly at U14 level. Hopefully, next year, these players will retain their interest and develop their potential.
Aldenham entered one pair in the Open Competition at the Schools' National Championships and three pairs in the U15 Competition as well as sending for the first time four pairs from years 7 and 8 to the Prep Schools' Championships at Eton.
The Inter House Competition, in its new format, was keenly contested this year. Two senior pairs and two junior pairs represented their houses in four separate tournaments.
Despite being reduced to three courts, this year saw further improvement in the quality and quantity of Eton fives played in the school. Once again we had fixtures against all of the main fives playing schools as well as a couple of new fixtures. In all we held nearly 30 fixtures over the course of the Michaelmas and Hilary terms from U12 to U18 levels boys and U18 girls, the majority of them being played away from home.
We had a certain amount of success at the Schools Nationals. Five pairs reached the Quarter Finals and one pair reached the Semi-Finals. We had a number of good results in the school fixtures. Highlights of the season were the block fixtures of 15 pairs at all levels played at Eton against Cranleigh and Eton. We also held a mini tour to Shrewsbury to play against Shrewsbury and KES Birmingham.
Andrew Joyce and Jeremy O'Neill impressed throughout the season with a number of crushing victories at U16 level. At U14 level Charles Holroyd and Steven Wiggill lost only once in the season and that was in the Semi-Finals of the U14 Nationals. Matt Barnes and James Holroyd won the plate of the U14 competition.
The Turnbull Trophy final was an all Berkhamsted affair. With OB Mark Herring and school boy Andrew Joyce overcoming coach Doug Foster and school boy Ed Knight. They came back from two sets down to win 6-12 7-12 12-8 12-9 14-12 in an epic encounter that left your correspondent feeling tired and emotional.
The U15s improved and the U12s and U13s show signs of real talent. Even the girls, despite having less practice time than the boys made decent progress. The U18s had a tough season. Often they put in strong performances but were unable to close out victories. Of the 6 leavers, Matt Andrew and Ed Knight deserve particular mention for their unwavering commitment to fives over their school careers. We hope that they will all continue to play fives after their departure from the school.
Bryanston has benefited greatly from the coaching from Peter Knowles (ex Highgate), on two afternoons a week. That, and our refurbished courts, have given a boost to the sport. We have enjoyed our match with Lancing (at Bryanston) which we were fortunate to win, it was very close and a visit from an EFA side.
Our match with Eton (at Eton) was great fun and involved 6 pairs. We were outclassed but gained much from the match experience. We also played St Olave's. They were good enough to bring a team down to distant Dorset. A most enjoyable and close contest was had which we narrowly lost.
We were unable to play our fixture against Ludgrove as we were in quarantine at that time. Regrettably we were unable to get a match with Marlborough as their emphasis was very much on Rugby Fives at that time. We took three pairs to the National Schools' Championship at Highgate in the Easter holidays and enjoyed the competition. Participating in this event was a first for us as we never quite felt we had had enough match experience to have reached an appropriate standard. Peter Knowles' encouragement and coaching gave us the necessary boost.
Fives had a good season.
I arrived as a new beak unsure of the ways of Charterhouse. I was exceptionally fortunate to find a sport led by the captain MJ Manby ((D) and two lieutenants B Rinck and E Birkett (both D). They have the essential qualities of immense enthusiasm for the sport and the level of good nature that meant they were prepared to coach and play with those who were starting the sport.
Here we were immensely fortunate. The days of choice at the beginning went well and we had in the order of 20 yearlings who took the sport. The triumvirate also managed to persuade a number in their year to come down to the courts on Thursday afternoon so we had about 30 boys playing regularly on Thursday afternoons. These were coached by our professional Mark Herring.
With numbers of this magnitude the fixture list with others school was expanded. The highlights of the OQ were the match against Westminster at Charterhouse, where we did not lose a match and scarcely a point, and the match against the Beaks. In the latter fixture we filled the courts and saw low cunning such as to bring families of foxes form the woods to learn from Brooke Hall. It was in this match that I realised that the yearlings were exceptionally strong. After less than six weeks of playing a complicated game it will be natural talent and determination that wins matches as technique still has to be taught. We also had three removes A Jeffreys (D), S de Soysa and J Chard (both S) who showed immense natural ability for the game.
We embarked upon LQ with a full fixture list. The results are listed and it would be immensely dull to go through each match. The undoubted highlight here was the home match against Eton. It was on the day of the hurricane and the lights duly failed. Eton were keen to carry on. The match hinged on the first pair at one game each on step all; the equivalent of sudden death in a penalty shoot-out. In the gloom it was Manby and Birkett who triumphed in the tradition of Newbolt. Mr Gergaud organised a lower school house tournament which involved 60 boys and girls playing on one gloriously sunny afternoon. Appropriately Daviesites won.
We attended the Schools' championships at Highgate. We had a strong presence in the Yearlings group. G Rowe and F Imrie (both S) were seeded second and duly made it to the quarter finals where they were involved in a titanic match with the Shrewsbury second pair. The game was ended by Imrie's falling and spraining his wrist. In a game which depends upon ambidexterity we had to forfeit the match. T Markwell (S) and Z Shellman (D) came through the group stage but were defeated by a very strong Shrewsbury pair. H Wise and A Kane won the plate tournament.
Fives continues to form a popular part of the minority sports programme at Cranleigh in the Michaelmas and Lent terms. While it is sometimes difficult to compete against the majority sports in terms of attracting the very best players and, more importantly, giving them the time to hone their skills, as a school we continue to punch above our weight in terms of our performances against the other major fives playing schools.
It is always great fun to induct a healthy cohort of Year 9 students into the curious methods and techniques of this most quirky of sports and this year was no exception. Bolstered by our usual inheritance of some extremely useful Prep School players (Tom Batchelor, Matt Storey, Charles Alston & Josh Hughes to name just a few) we were able to train up a decent squad to the point where we now have over 20 IVth formers who are highly competitive. The pick of the new players have been Alex Knox, Harry Adolphus, Luke Hall and Ollie Davies but there are plenty more. The highlight for this group of players was a satisfying win over Charterhouse but they also managed to perform well against what one might term the stronger schools, Eton and Berkhamsted.
In the U15 and U16 age groups we continue to progress well: Alex Frew, Henry Church, Mike Holford, Will Jordan, Alex Betteridge, Harry Thomas, Will Langmead, Peers Lyle, Tom Forster, Andrew Goudie and George Cross make up a fine and talented cohort of players and we have high hopes for them for the next few years. They have benefited from coaching from our visiting professional, Ryan Perrie, and also from regular matches against The Brigands, a locally based fives club who come to play us at Cranleigh once a month. Again, we must thank David Martin of The Brigands who very kindly sponsors the club and we have some rather splendid school fives shirts to show for it. Because Fives is perhaps not one of the more commercially attractive games I suspect we might well hold the honour of being the only corporate sponsored fives team in the world!
At senior level we probably have our strongest cohort of players. Phil Roper (Captain), Seren Waters and Harry Milburn-Fryer are all playing at a level which ranks them amongst the best in the country with Archie Cameron-Blackie (Vice Captain), Matt Goddard and Rob Storey not very far behind. The highlight for this group of players was a 2-1 home victory over, a possibly slightly depleted but nevertheless solid, St. Olave's team. Unfortunately, the boys couldn't quite repeat this form against the strongest of all oppositions, Eton, Shrewsbury and Highgate but we are certainly not that far off. All 6 players remain with us for another year and it will be exciting to see what they can produce. Maybe, just maybe, we can get a pair beyond the last 8 of the Nationals!
This said, it was disappointing that the Nationals themselves were scheduled in holiday time this year and rather frustratingly (due to competition from three school trips and an U14 hockey tournament) this meant that we couldn't enter any pairs. We hope that this scheduling will be a one-off as the Nationals traditionally mark an exciting end of season event for our players.
Aside from our busy fixture list (and, apart from those mentioned, other opposition included Westminster, Lancing and St. John's) we run a busy domestic fives scene. On top of 2 activity slots per week the house matches continue to be hard fought and of an increasingly competitive standard.
Common Room too has been known to enter the fray on the fives courts but with very little to show for their efforts. I think I can safely say that this is the only sport at which the students beat the staff with such remarkable nonchalance, and have done for years. It will take a Master in Charge of Fives far greater than I to reverse this depressing string of losses!
The best season to date for Emanuel school Fives. There were a large number of Senior pupils playing throughout the season, and several of them had contributed to the campaign by the Old Emanuels to win the Third Division - a considerable acheivement. Lower down in the school, numbers were up at every age group, with the significant addition of a girls team and an U12 squad for the first time. Dominique Redmond, the Master-in-charge, worked hard to target these two categories and ran a very successful recruitment campaign through the lunchtimes and games lessons, having enlisted the key support from her Sixth form and the Games department. More fixtures were played this season and the coaching team of Steven Payne, Dominique Redmond, Anthony Theodossi and Ryan Perrie did wonders in bringing the standard up to another level.
As a result of the increase in numbers and popularity of the sport, Emanuel entered an encouragingly large number of players into the National Schools' Championships - including the Girls Team for the first time. Everything seems to be in place now for the standard to rise considerably over the next few years - an exciting prospect.
The courts at Emanuel have been recently re-roofed, new lighting put in, and the walls sandblasted to remove old paint. The Team are excited at the prospect of the second phase of the court renovations being in place for the start of the 2007-08 season. The courts will soon be an indoor facility - the run off effectively roofed over and walled in to form a club-house and covered court complex all in one (modelled on the excellent court renovations at Lancing College). Due to the up-grading of the facility, we are moving close to the time when it will be appropriate for the Emanuel courts to be hired out for Club fixtures, and for it to run as a club centre with a weekly club night or Saturday morning South London Club. Watch this space!
Howard Wiseman and Ryan Perrie will be running all the coaching in the 2007-08 season, whilst Dominique Redmond will run all fixtures and recruitment.
Eton have had a successful season this year, yet it would be difficult to equal 2005/6. The first pair of William Hopton and Ted Morrison withdrew in the latter stages of the Nationals due to injury, which was a pity with potentially enthralling matches ahead. In a busy Lent term the school was certainly competitive against the major schools and we have a number of promising younger players coming through.
There were a number of encouraging features about this year�s season. It was particularly pleasing to see Harrow enter a team into the 3 pair competition in early March for the first time in several years in addition to pairs playing in the Schools championships during the Easter holidays. There are some fine players but the lack of practice time means that these talented individuals find it difficult to sustain the consistency necessary for success at the highest level. We have again benefited from external coaching (Ian Hutchinson has been excellent) and we are hoping to widen our playing base next year. William Jones is our most talented player and he is certainly one to watch for the future.
Highgate School has enjoyed a very successful season at all age groups. As a team we have won all our school matches and well over a hundred boys represented the school. We also did very well in the Championships held at Highgate School at the end of the Lent term.
Our U.11 1st pair (Charlie Noble and Joe Berriman) won both the Prep Schools and National U.12 Championships against a very good pair from Summer Fields. Both finals were of an extremely high standard.
We had both pairs in the U.13 and U.14 finals, lost to Shrewsbury in the U.15 final and our U.16 1st pair (Sam Little and Joe Marks) retained their trophy. Special mention must also go to our U.14 1st pair (Cameron Most and Matthew Kovar) who not only retained the U.14 Championship but were so close to reaching the U.16 final but lost 2-3 in a thrilling semi-final to Shrewsbury.
In the Open our young 1st pair (Sam Little U.16 and Jonny Ho U.17) won through to the final in fine style but lost to the best pair in the Championships from Shrewsbury. We had enjoyed two close matches previously against them and thought we might have a good chance on our courts but on the day Adam Parker and Rex Worth played outstandingly and thoroughly deserved their victory.
I would like to thank our leavers Robert Desmond, Paul Yiannakas, Tom Greene and Nick Brand for all they have done for Highgate Fives, their loyalty and enthusiasm and for giving us so much pleasure watching them play over the years. We still have a lot of strength in depth remaining and look forward to next season with keen anticipation.
High Wycombe Royal Grammar School
Ryan Perrie was the REFCA Coach visiting RGS each week. As ever, there was a keen following during lunchtime, afternoon Games and after school. There is a decent group of year 10 and 11s playing the game, and it should be possible to have a reasonable fixture list in place for the Easter Term of the 07-08 season. The open-air state of the courts is still a big issue - coaching has to be cancelled if it rains since the floors are so very slippery. As numbers and activity rises with the Fives, we should have a stronger case to seek court renovations.
A very active year, with a large and keen group of senior players who were also both sociable and sporting and a real pleasure to coach and play with. This was particularly appropriate for the year that saw Barry Hoskins retiring and giving up the fives reins at the School after 37 years. We are massively indebted to Barry for such a monumental contribution to the game, taking it on although completely new to it back in 1970 and being responsible for introducing fives to hundreds of young Ipswichians. In many ways it is more difficult to run a minor sport such as fives than it is one of the School's principal games, dependent as one is on pupils giving up their own time freely in order to gain proficiency. Barry can be proud of the players he has produced and we are grateful to him.
This year's players have been more than willing to give up their own time to play and learn. Apart from the regular Wednesday evening practice sessions, success and enjoyment of the Ipswich Tournament led to an expedition to Shrewsbury for the Northern. Losing to some seeded pairs there only seemed to fuel the team's appetite, with Annabel Griffiths teaming up with O.I. Emma Fletcher, to reach the quarter-finals of the Ladies Championships a week later. Trips to Eton for the Kinnaird Cup and Mixed Tournament and for the Williams Cup, which we were delighted to be invited to play in for the first time, led to few victories but never a dampening of the enthusiasm. Indeed, the team's willingness to seek insight from every defeat was commented upon by some of the seeds at Shrewsbury and showed what a great spirit this group of players has.
Alex Yusaf has been a superb Keeper of Fives, not only leading by example on court but in helping to organise the sport and in particular, along with other senior players, running the junior fives club during lunch breaks. Alex is to be congratulated on being awarded the Martin Shortland-Jones Cup for the most promising player. Oliver Watts, apart from winning the accolade for enthusiasm, really impressed by organising a match against Aldenham, including our first outing for an under 13 pair for many years. At the Schools' Championships all four senior boys pairs won through the group stage but were outdone by the girls, with Annabel Griffiths and Harriet Fletcher reaching the quarter-finals before having to concede to the eventual winners, Lancing. Whilst there though, contact was made with the players from Oakham and the opportunity taken to arrange a fixture (to which they drove themselves) some weeks later.
The exposure to more competitive fives led to Old Ipswichians remarking on the School players' improved standard and towards the end of the season the winning of a pair in the OI v School match. The School players involved hailed this as the highlight of their season.
We will, sadly, lose a large number of the senior players for next year and with that and the end of the Hoskins era, we shall have to work hard to maintain the momentum of fives at the School.
King Edward's Birmingham
Fives at KES continues to be well supported and in a healthy state, with about 30 players representing the school over the age range in 15 or so matches and the Schools Championships. Coach David Goldschmidt (Old Cholmeian) has done a great job in keeping players' enthusiasm and ability at a high level for the last three years.
Two features of next season to look forward to are: under Howard Wiseman's aegis we are sharing a Fives coach with our sister school ( King Edward's High School); they are on the same campus as us, and will use our courts when they begin Fives in September.
We are hosting a mini-tournament at the end of September, organised by Rod Tait (Stowe ) and involving in addition Uppingham and possibly Wolverhampton and Repton.
After the historic opening of the courts the school has played 7 matches this term including a protracted set of fixture at various age levels against Aldenham and QEB. Mill Hill won 5 and lost 2. The school easily swept aside St. Olaves, Aldenham and QEB and the 2 defeats were tough matches against Eton and Harrow; on neither occasion was Mill Hill disgraced.
At 1st Senior pair Joe Coakley and William Hughes have impressed and are sure to be seeded again this year in the top 8 pairs in the country. They have been ably supported by Doug Pyrke, James Ellen, Edward Winfield, Animesh Majrekar, Vince Livesey and Robert Whelan. The U15s have produced 2 promising pairs, albeit beginners: Sidharth Thrakra and Rohan Davda along with Charlie Williams and Ben Abrahms. The top 3 U14 pairs have impressed everone with Jack Weller and Josh Leader taking the limelight but they too are ably supported by Saul Levy, Stelios Gergiou, Chenning Duker and Jack Herschman. Most encouraging is the number of U14 beginner who have taken up the game and provided Mill Hill at representative level with at least another 5 pairs, making 8 in total. The girls have been represented by Isabelle List and Katie Newton who easily won their match against St Olave's.
In the U14 and beginners tournament nearly 30 pairs took part in a mammoth competition. Eventually after over a hundred or so games, the final was played out between 2 Weymouth pairs: Jack Weller & Josh leader v Saul Levy and Stelios Georgiou. The result: 15 - 12 [?] to Stelios and Saul. Ra, ra, ra, ra, ..the cup:!
St. Bartholomews, Newbury
Fives has continued to grow at St Bartholomew's School. The squad has expanded to over sixty members of all ages and abilities in the school's first full season. The squad is composed of both boys and girls who practice throughout the season despite the lack of a roof on the courts.
St. Bartholomew's played its first competitive match against St Olave's at Eton, thus allowing the entire the squad to take part.
St. Bartholomew's entered the HSBC Schools Nationals this season, bringing four pairs to the Ladies Competition and twelve pairs into the U14 Beginners, getting as far as the third round.
No doubt Fives will continue to grow at St Bartholomew's over the coming year.
St Johns Leatherhead
For various reasons, there were only two school matches this term, although the St John's game, which is uniquely different, continues to thrive internally. Our under-15 team played rugby fives for the first time, away at St Paul's, and although the fixture was lost, it was a most enjoyable experience for our four pairs. We also played away at Cranleigh, where we lost a more closely-contested match. Sadly, the fixture against the E.F.A. had to be cancelled.
In 2008, the St John's courts will be 100 years old and we are hoping to have a series of events to celebrate the centenary, including many more fixtures, if possible! In the medium term, sadly, it seems that these courts have come to the end of their natural life and will have to make way for "development". At least the plan is to replace them with three covered Eton courts, which means that St John's will be able to compete home and away on a more level playing-field. We look forward to building up our fixture-list again, and to calling in the E.F.A. for some coaching assistance.
Fives continues to be the one sport or activity that I know of that can genuinely bring together pupils of both sexes, of all ages and of all abilities together in a school. Fifty two sixth-formers opted for Fives during their Games lesson this year - a record. Twenty six of them were girls!!! What better evidence could there be that this is the perfect co-eductaional sport? Fives continues to be played at a very high level by many members of the 150-strong School Fives team, but with a team that size - there are happily players that represent every stage of development and ability. Fives is not on the curriculum at St.Olave's, so everyone playing the game is there by choice and that makes for a very happy and dedicated community.
The main target for the season was to expand the fixture list so that many of the more distant schools who lack fixtures would be paid a visit by us, and in the process we would achieve a better balance of matches offered to our less experienced pupils. Real highlights were the tours to Rossall and St.Bee's, to Uppingham, Oakham and King Edward's Birmingham, and also our visit to Bryanston School for the first time. Stephen Payne was recruited to arrange and travel with all the matches whilst on a gap year between University and Music College, and the system worked superbly well. All fixtures were arranged in good time so that a match booklet could be produced and issued to all pupils with the team selections for an entire term ahead, with delegated responsibility to a Match Manager in each team list to deal with any necessary changes or problems.
Senior pupils pulled their weight as usual with recruitment of year 7s and performed well with their coaching responsibilities amongst the junior years. In excess of sixty matches, internal events, and tournaments were played and there was considerable success, especially amongst the Seniors and U15s. Rahul Deasi, our Captain won the Rossall Schools' Doubles and was also one of very few schoolboys to have ever reached the Northern Championships Semi-Final. The Seniors performed brilliantly to become the first school team to win the EFA Trophy, with equally commited performances in the Williams Cup and the Schools' Nationals.
Squash-court Fives is part of the training programme at St.Olave's - effectively Rugby Fives, which really fast-tracks development of the weaker hand and court fitness. As a result, a number of our players chose to play io the Rugby Schools' Nationals, in the holidays straight after the Eton Nationals. Balrik Kailey from the first Senior pair, played brilliantly all week to eventually win the prestigoius singles plate.
The EFA's new ladder initiative has been well attended by young Olavians. This is the perfect vehichle for school players to make a natural progression into the adult game as they leave school. Any school that could take senior or U16 players to a few ladder events almost as a school fixture would be a long way along the road to ensuring that their players continue to play after school without requiring spoon-feeding from their Old Boys club.
It is hoped that in the 2007-2008 season, St.Olave's will play all Eton Fives playing schools in the country.
Played 18..... Won 14..... Drew 1..... Lost 3
Despite the enormous difficulties of turning out teams in the Lent Term we again added new schools, and venues, to our fixture list and fulfilled some eighteen school fixtures before we attended the HSBC National Championships at Highgate in late March. Perhaps the most important new fixture was the renewal with Wolverhampton Grammar School (a major force in the 1980s).
The new intake of Third Formers was very strong in 2006 and after an initial period of trials we established a strong top four pairs at Under 14, however we never thought that they would all go on to reach the semi finals of the Nationals. The number of players achieving a good standard was very encouraging.
At Under 15 level we had a mixed but ultimately successful season when Rupert Salmon and Ramith Abrol won the Nationals in fine style. Injury, illness and clashes with other commitments disrupted a number of practices and I will be looking for greater consistency from this group next year.
The Under 16 pairs were disrupted by the long term illness of Chris Hughes. He and Joe Leach had shown so much promise in January but his withdrawal and the selection of Rory Griffiths in the Seniors did not allow all to flourish with their chosen partners. I am sure that they will all be a force next year and be pushing hard to establish themselves in the Top VI. Praise and special mention must go to Tom Welti who was an ever-present on court and worked tirelessly to improve his game.
The Lower Sixth practised as hard as any age group and showed excellent commitment throughout the term. I am expecting the likes of Joe Brunner, Peter Stewart, Tom Bradshaw, Charles Hopkinson, Will Hedley, James Kidson and Robert Coakley to fight hard with the Under 16s for the right to join Matthew McKeever and Rory Griffiths in the Top VI in 2008.
The Upper Sixth were excellent with Rex Worth (Captain of Fives), Adam Parker, James Franklin and Harry Clarke-Williams to the fore. All four competed in the Williams Teams Cup success but also managed to contribute to the 1stXI Football notable Cup run in the ESFA Cup.
Rex & Adam had played well throughout the 2006 Championship but came unstuck in the Final. In 2007 a serious foot injury greatly curtailed Adam's time on court. Following a five week lay off their form was patchy but despite this, Adam and Rex claimed the ultimate prize in schools Fives. In winning the Open Championship they became only the fifth Shrewsbury pair in 88 years to win the title.
Previously Rex's father Peter had won it in 1970 with N.Pocock and rightfully he was on hand to present the trophy on the 29th March. Both boys played magnificently in the final and thoroughly deserved to be crowned champions.
This has been a record year for fives fixtures and use of the courts with sixty house games played and home and away fixtures with Eton, Berkhamsted, King Edward's, Lancing, St Olave's, Oakham, Uppingham, The Old Stoics and The Jesters.
Of the schools we play each year now, all but one are more established, and beat us at senior level, although our steady march towards being competitive in this scene has some momentum now, with a healthy growth in uptake at third form level and the development of some very useful players.
This year was the first time that the Stowe colours had been seen at the National School Championships, in March. In the Under 16 boys' competition third former Isi Madojemu showed that he is a formidable contender for future years, playing with fifth former and future captain Jonty Irving. Jamie Bailey and Daniel Robinson played some good games in the Under 14 competition, however it was in the girls' open competition that Stowe really made news. Zara Nicholls and Jose Brake did sufficiently well in their group matches to get through to the last sixteen on points difference but were then knocked out by a sixth form pair from Ipswich. Having had their championship hopes dashed the Stowe girls then went on to defeat all comers in the plate competition (for those knocked out at the last sixteen stage) and won the plate in a tense final against Oakham - a great achievement for players in their first year.
The excellent coaching services of Mark Herring, gifted anonymously by a generous benefactor, have been a significant factor in the resurgence of fives at Stowe and he was a comforting presence in the crowd at the Nationals!
The future is bright for fives at Stowe.
Uppingham fives has progressed well at all levels during the 2006/7 season. A large number of pupils have represented the school in various formats and recreational fives has attracted many players. Enthusiasm for the game has been apparent at all levels. Over half of the Fourth Former year group have came along to initial "have a go" sessions with many continuing play and to represent the school. We have had a group of particularly dedicated UVIth players who have provided some excellent leadership and motivation at the upper ends of the game, justifying the award of three sets of Fives colours - the first time for many years. A major target for next season will therefore have to be a recruitment drive to encourage equally able replacements!
At one stage every boarding house in the school had its own courts, though sadly the majority of those have now been lost, leaving four at Constables and two at Brooklands. Following a fixture against the Eton Fives Association the EFA members inspected what remain of the other courts - including some used as a wood store and another which has been converted into a (unique?) house.
Upon inspecting the Brooklands courts they came to the conclusion that these must be some of the oldest surviving courts in the country - constructed in 1870 - and as such may warrant a preservation order! A specific aim now is to get the currently enclosed Constables courts fitted with a keypad to allow pupils the chance to use the courts when they wish, without requiring a member of staff to unlock them. Other than this the courts themselves are in reasonable condition, though some routine maintenance to the roof and external walls will soon be necessary.
On the domestic scene there have been a series of strongly contested events. House contests are keenly fought, whilst the Staff and Pupil tournament continues to prove popular, with a selection process required to whittle enthusiastic entrants down to eight pupils to partner the elite common room players!
At the top end of the game, Uppingham has continued to strengthen its profile with a reasonable fixture list, though there is still room for improvement, and representatives at the Nationals for the first time for some years. Progress is being made and we hope to continue this trend.
Despite the departure of James Harrison for St Paul's, Fives at Westminster continues on the up. It is temporarily in the care of the Chaplain. There are far more pupils wanting to play than the 70 who can be squeezed in on Station afternoons. This means that lunchtime and evening sessions have grown in popularity, particularly with Sixth Form girls. This has made Fives a much more social game. What is lacking is persistent practice.
At the Schools Fives Championships at Highgate in March, Natasha Bell and Hannah Cutmore-Scott made rapid progress to the Ladies' semi-final where they came up against a formidable Lancing pair. The first Senior pair, Laurie Brock and Alex Rankine, reached the quarter-finals but Shrewsbury 3 were too strong for them. A number of Plate finals were dominated by Westminster. One U16 pair was happy to be the runner up in Plate D or was it E? The hope is that many of this year's leavers, who have already played in Abbey matches and taken themselves to tournaments away from school, will be inspired by the example of OWs like Ollie Butler and Freddie Krespi at Oxford and continue to play.
Wolverhampton Grammar School
Following the success of a meeting between Richard Barber, Bernard Trafford (Headmaster), John Johnson (Head of P.E.) and myself, December 2006 saw me at the front of the Junior Assembly explaining the merits of Eton Fives to a group of 180 boys and girls. We followed this up with two after school taster sessions that provided the pupils with an opportunity to come and have a go at a new sport. The taster sessions saw all 5 courts full and over 30 pupils enjoying a new challenge. The success of the taster sessions has seen Fives introduced to Year 7 Games and an After School Fives Club established. Many thanks to Andy Barnard at Shrewsbury School, for bringing some of his U14 players over to WGS to provide an opportunity against more experienced opposition. Although it is still early days there is definitely enthusiasm to seeing fives re-established in a school that has had such a prolific past.