Tom Manning (back row, far right) with the 1959 CLS Fives team
(extract from the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2001/02)
Tom Manning has been one of Eton Fives' unsung heroes and a wonderful man of hidden depths that were not common knowledge, mainly through his own sheer modesty.
For over twenty-one years he was Master-in-Charge at City of London and he coached with a dedication that led to their winning the Public School Championships for the first time in 1963 with C. S. H. Hampton and P.A. Hall and all three senior pairs beating every school pair they met. These years of devotion to City of London Fives also spawned more than a generation of enthusiastic players who became the strength of the Old Citizens Fives Club, leading to their golden age in the '60s and '70s. Not only did the Old Citizens find that they at last had the players to call on for what became legendary fixture lists, but they also achieved the first Old Citizen win In the Kinnaird Cup in 1969 with C. S. H. Hampton and S. H. Courtney.
Tom went to the Crypt School, Gloucester where he played Fives with a tennis ball in a hybrid, three-walled court. On going to Cambridge, where he became a first-class classical scholar who turned to modern languages, he learnt Eton Fives and played no small part in the renovation of the court at Emmanuel College. He described Eton Fives as an absorbing game and has left notes he made on his connection with the game during his Cambridge years, 1929 to 1933. These have become an invaluable addition to the EFA archives.
Teaching at Whitgift Middle School was Tom's first career move, where he became Master-in-Charge of Rugby Fives and in 1945, he joined the staff at City of London. He combined a high degree of skill as an athlete with a rare ability as a coach. As Master-in-Charge of Eton Fives he soon saw that the two open courts - at times used for storing coal or coke - were covered and lit and that all six courts were totally refurbished. He also ran the third rugger XV, organised school sports and saddled himself with full responsibility for cross country. Also, almost 1,000 boys from City of London went on the foreign visits that he ran most successfully, mainly to France between 1948 and 1970.
It was characteristic that in his retirement Tom Manning returned to school to continue coaching Fives and run the secondhand bookshop. He also devoted more time to the Samaritans, probably an unknown side of his life to most of the pupils he taught as well as the majority of his colleagues, and to other local community projects.
Tom was a person of selfless interests. He saw that a job needed doing and simply got it done through good and an innate determination, which, coupled with his quiet authority, ensured success with the minimum of fuss.
Many will have fond memories of his clear, distinct and expressive voice and recollections of his wide range of achievements for others, but it was his unassuming demeanour, almost bordering on humility, which commands so much admiration.
To his wife, Hilda, and their two sons, Anthony and Patrick, both Old Citizens, we express our sorrow at their sad loss