Family Fortunes: Number Eight for the Hughes
Chris Hughes reports:
16/04/18: We gathered at Eton on 15th April for the Aberconway cup. We had 19 confirmed pairs, up until a few days before the competition with a couple of late withdrawals. Unfortunately, the holders Grant and Guy Williams couldn’t make the day as Grant had broken his wrist playing football.
16 pairs ended up entering the competition including Seb Cooley, famous for the ease in which he wins Kinnaird, eager to get his hands on a proper piece of silverware in the shape of the Aberconway Cup. Fewer different pairs have won this cup than the Kinnaird, cementing the prestige of the tournament.
For the first time in a few years, the competition felt more open. The Hughes were seeded 1, Cooleys 2, Wisemans 3 and Walters 4.
The groups did not go to seeding.
Team Hughes got through their group with relative ease. Team Gregory providing a great game, with Natasha showing real class - we agreed she will be much better than her father and one to watch for the future! The rest of the group saw some good matches with Team Gregory beating Team Cooper in a thriller. Team Halstead had a very good group campaign finishing second with solid wins over Team Gregory and Team Cooper.
In Group three Team Wiseman got through, ultimately being too strong for the other pairs with the experience of Howard and the natural ability of Gwydion prevailing. The pick of the games was Team Hoskins vs Team Asquith. Team Asquith got into a commanding lead at 12-7 and it took the Hoskins a while to get into the game. However, from this point they managed to turn the game around, some inspired play from the father and son pairing finally getting the upper hand and winning the game 15-12. Special mention as well to Team Marwood, who managed to take 5 points off the Wisemans.
Group two always looked like an interesting group. Team McCahon, unlucky not to be seeded having reached the semi-finals last year were looking forward to their showdown with the Cooleys to upset the seeding. David and Tom have both improved significantly over the past 12 months – a real testament to hard work and enthusiasm. Team McCahon managed to beat the Cooleys 15-11 in a thrilling match. Seb had probably underestimated them and Team McCahon have too much class these days to let a decent lead go. A thoroughly deserved victory, and a second year in a row that the McCahons have reached the semi-final stage. Elsewhere, Team Turnbull came through a close fought match with Team Osen nipping it 15-9 and Team Osen took 6 points off Team Cooley.
In Group four an intriguing matchup between Team Husselbee and Team Walters loomed. There were some very close matches in the groups the pick being Team Sillar edging Team Chapman 15-7. T senior had put off a hip replacement to play in this year’s competition and so felt slightly more reliant on T junior that he may usually be. The Husselbees are stalwarts of the competition and went into the game confident they could get a victory. With T Senior nursing his fragile hip, T junior had to try and take control of the game, however with the agility of both Husselbees this was difficult to achieve, the Husselbees winning 15-8 and reaching the semi-finals.
The Hughes had the task of beating Team Husselbee. The pressure that playing the Husselbees presents made the Hughes’s play very hard from beginning without letting them have much of a look in and winning 12-0. Tom, a naturally talented fives player like his father, doesn’t get to play often however by the end of the day he is transformed as a player. That transformation happened in the second set. Tom played a much safer game, returning well and with fewer mistakes. Andy continued to grace the court eloquently (having played a game of football the day before) providing a much sterner test. The Hughes had to dig in at times but eventually prevailed 12-7.
In the second Semi Final, Team McCahon battled the Wisemans. This was perhaps the most closely contested game of the Aberconway this year. Rallies were long, set piece was good and generally the game was played in a great spirit. All the makings of an Aberconway classic. Ultimately, the experience of Team Wiseman brought them through the game however both sets were close fought, the final scores being 12-7 and 12-8. The Wisemans made it through to their maiden final and the McCahons bowed out at the semi-final stage for the second year running. a great achievement for them both.
For the first time Team Hughes played a non-Salopian pair in the final of the Aberconway cup in the shape of Howard and Gwydion Wiseman. The Hughes have a lot of experience playing with each other and implemented a classic Salopian game plan of starving the Wisemans of time. Howard, of course, has a lot of experience, however he wasn’t able to stamp his mark on the game. Gwydion, a gifted rugby fives player, showed how good he will be and will, I am sure, emulate his father’s successes on the courts. This match, though, ended up being a one-sided affair, the scores being 12-0, 12-3.
This was the 8th time Chris and Mike have won the Aberconway cup – Mike now overtaking Graham Dunbar with the most wins a father has had in the competition.
Mike Fenn Plate
This is the third year of the Mike Fenn plate which has become such an important part of the day. We were guaranteed a new winner of the trophy and the tiring vintage all wanted to get their hands on the trophy.
We had four groups, with a seeding system based on the morning exploits. The length of the games was dictated by the number of teams in the group. Team Halstead got through their group beating Team Osen and Team Chapman with Team Osen missing out on a semi-final place despite beating Team Chapman. In Group two Team Hoskins were involved in another thriller against Team Gregory eventually nipping it 15-13 to reach the semi-final stage of the plate. The Asquiths beat the Turnbulls and the Cooleys beat the Marwoods to set up the knockout stage of the tournament.
In the Semi-Finals Team Halstead played Team Hoskins and Team Asquith battled against Team Cooley in a one set to 12 game. Team Hoskins had been involved in multiple thrillers throughout the day but finally met their match in the steady pairing of the Halsteads. By this point, the quality of fives on show was very high, the Halsteads eventually winning the game 12-7.
In the other semi-finals Team Cooley managed to win the game 12-9 in a very tense encounter. Seb wanted to get his hands on some silverware that day and he was able to influence the game in the important parts to stop the Asquiths reaching the final with a real chance of winning the plate.
The final was therefore Team Halstead against Team Cooley. Seb, disappointed not to get further in the main competition, wanted to ensure that there was some silverware for Team Cooley. A daunting task in the shape of Team Halstead stood in their way. The game was nip and tuck throughout the whole set. Drawing the largest crowd of the day they traded points. Team Cooley were able to enforce the killing blow, with Cooley senior noticeably thankful that the game was over. The silverware went to Team Cooley: many congratulations!
My thanks go to Eton for hosting the day, and a special thanks to everyone who took part. The day is epitomised by playing the game in the true spirit of fives, balancing the desire to win with the desire to be fair.
1. M & C Hughes
2. M & L Halstead
3. T & N Gregory
4. D & R Cooper
1. D & T McCahon
2. J & S Cooley
3. C & F Turnbull
4. G & E Osen
1. H & G Wiseman
2. G & T Hoskins
3. J & H Asquith
4. R & R Marwood
1. A & T Husselbee
2. A & T Walters
3. W & A Sillar
4. G & J Chapman
M & C Hughes beat A & T Husselbee 2-0 (12-0, 12-7)
H & G Wiseman beat D & T McCahon 2-0 (12-7, 12-8)
M & C Hughes beat H & G Wiseman 2-0 (12-0, 12-3)
Mike Fenn Plate
J & S Cooley beat J & H Asquith 12-9
M & L Halstead beat G & T Hoskins 12-7
J & S Cooley beat M & L Halstead 15-14