Fives Back in Birmingham
02/10/17: King Edward's School is traditionally one of the great Fives schools in the country, so it was fantastic to see the six courts there being played on yesterday for the first time in over a year.
With the roof in need of repair and Fives in the school dormant for the time being, the Old Edwardians and North Oxford produced a tremendous morning of Fives between them, filling the courts and providing a perfect demonstration of just what a wonderfully fun game Fives is.
A distinguished group of spectators - including legendary KES coach George Worthington and Old Edwardian multiple Kinnaird Cup winner Gordon Campbell - braved the slightly damp conditions to watch an equally distinguished group of players demonstrate their skills on the KES courts. The fixture was played in a ladder format, with players moving up or down a court depending on whether they had won or lost and then changing partners.
The result was a series of fantastic matches and a textbook example of how well Fives works as a game for players of all ages and abilities sharing a court - from current national champions Seb Cooley and Karen Hird to Old Edwardians such as Chris Jones and Paul Thompson returning to the game after a long hiatus plus welcome appearances from KES teacher James Butler, demonstrating some nifty skills for a beginner, and current KES Year 8 pupil Tom Hoskins, who showed that there is plenty of future Fives potential within the school. The North Oxford team also featured EFA Chairman-elect Chris Davies, EFA Secretary Gareth Hoskins, EFA Director Andy Bishop and Fives legend Jon Staley and there were welcome guest appearances from Old Rydal Penrhosian and Birmingham University student Shaswath Ganapathi, Old Aldenhamian Phil Lyndon and Old Wulfrunian Phil Bullock, who ended the morning's Fives with the best overall score to take the honours.
Pete Scholey, Mike McGeoch, Chris Mellor, Stephen Thatcher, Ed Johnson and Rob Scholey completed the Edwardian contingent, with Chris deserving of a special mention for travelling all the way down from his home in Glasgow to play, and all agreed over the post-match lunch that it had been a real treat to see the KES courts being played on again. All those involved very much hope that this will be the start of a revival of Fives in Birmingham, restoring the status of King Edward's as a mainstay of Fives in the Midlands and maybe eventually producing some future champions to follow in the footsteps of Campbell, Hughes, Mason, Mole and the rest.
Our thanks go to Ed Johnson for his organisational help, with assistance from Pete Scholey, George Worthingon and others, to the Chief Master and Martine O'Neill at KES for allowing us to use their wonderful courts and to everyone who came along and made it such a special occasion.