2005 Veterans Tournament

Graham Pulsford reports:

The 21st Over 40s Tournament was once again contested on a warm and sunny afternoon in near perfect playing conditions. The contestants were in good humour and the comparison of respective aches and pains produced much merriment.

Those making their first appearance included Chris Lloyd (Stoic), Phil Lyndon (Aldenhamian), Paul Kendall (Aldenhamian), James Oliver (Aldenhamian), and Forman Wilkes (Etonian). It was also pleasing to see the reappearance of Barclay Lawrence (Stoic), Keith Turnbull (Edwardian) and Phil Wilson (Westminster).

The competition format was the same as in previous years - each pair played 4 rounds of one game up to 15 points, and then the two pairs with the best results contested the final. For the second year the Cox Coefficient was used to add an interesting twist to each game; the senior players were given a plus points rating from 1 to 5 over their younger opponents. This produced a series of nicely balanced matches and some gripping fives.

Many of the highlights of the day will be lost in personal memories, but some which were generally acknowledged were:- the colourful bandana of Forman Wickes, the latest fashion in gardening fives gloves worn by a very good humoured Nigel Cox, the admission by John Cooley to his partner that he had already played four games of fives that morning, the matching hair style of the two Chrises and the superior dress sense of Phil Wilson. Also on show were no less than five Heath Tournament winners' shirts in an array of gaudy colours!

In the top half of the draw the form pair was Chris Lloyd/Chris Davies. They produced some clinical and fast paced fives to overcome, amongst others, the experienced pairings of Pete Scholey/Keith Turnbull 15-7 and John Caudle/Phil Wilson 15-10. It was only a shame that they did not meet Martin Powell/Forman Wilkes who, after a slow start, were showing signs of a real challenge.

The top half of the draw also saw the over 60s final between Geoff Bates/Martin Lindsay and Derek Whitehead/Gordon Whitehead. This was a repeat of last years final but with the opposite result, a 15-12 win for the Whiteheads.

The bottom half of the draw turned into a three way struggle between Nigel Cox/Neil Margerison, Peter Boughton/Simon Woolfies and Courtney Friend/Graham Pulsford. At the start the two doctors, Cox/Margerison, swept aside Boughton/Woolfries with some accurate and consistent fives. Next Boughton/Woolfries stretched Friend/Pulsford to the limit is a very tense and lengthy game before the younger pair finally edged through, and then Friend/Pulsford overcame the two doctors in a game notable less for quality of fives than the bonhomie on court!

The two unbeaten pairs, youngsters Chris Lloyd/Chris Davies and veterans Courtney Friend/Graham Pulsford, contested the final. Both pairs looked slightly nervous during the opening exchanges but as the game warmed up there was some top quality fives on display. The top court exchanges were very even and, probably by default, an unusually high number of rallies were decided in the back court either by clean winners or forced errors. After two lengthy and stamina sapping rallies, both won by the Chrisses, the older pair dug in and gradually edged ahead to win through 15-10.

Martin Powell presented the Martin Shortland-Jones Cup to the winners and then the ensembled combatants retired to the restful surroundings of the Waterman's Arms. A pleasant and relaxing time was enjoyed by all, with the possible exception of Martin Lindsay! His match partner, Geoff Bates, managed to loosen part of the pubs decor and a heavy section of ships rigging swung from the ceiling into Martin's chest. In true Jester spirit, he managed to save his beer before the rigging struck! New tournament records:-

Derek Whitehead (72) became the oldest playing veteran

Martin Lindsay, uniquely, has played in all 21 veterans tournaments

Derek Whitehead became the oldest winning veteran

255 years - the highest combined age of four players on court

We look forward to 2006! For those with extended diaries the 2007 tournament may be held in the more relaxed atmosphere of the south of France. B&B and wines provided by Nigel Cox. Not of course "A Year in Provence" but "A Tourney in Provence"!