2005 Aldenham Tournament

Martin Lindsay reports:

The day dawned bright and sunny and thus it remained, with the exception of a few watery but seasonal hiccoughs and a fresh breeze that cooled the fevered brows of competitors but would have been detrimental to a simian population.

All six courts were in action featuring the usual mix of old, very old and not-so-ancient Aldenhamians, Cholmeleians, Edwardians, Carthusians, Berkhamstedians, Ipswichians, Westminsters and Vikings (no, they are not something from the dark ages but past members of Shiplake College!). We also fielded an international cast in the person of Bob Pace, expatriate American who teaches at Belmont School, and Richard Dennis who came across specially from Northern Ireland, whilst a smattering of current Aldenham boys helped keep the occasion youthful.

The usual pre-tournament magic was wrought by the Pulsford family who manage to draw contestants from a hat the night before and then pair them equitably. This ritual has never been observed but it is assumed that the hat must be of Mardi Gras Float proportions to contain all those people�.

The format requires participants to play three timed 30-minute matches, the winners of each round being determined by the number of points scored regardless of the number of games played. If there is no outright winner, then a 30-minute final is played to the same rules. On this occasion this proved to be the case.

Early rounds were all hard-fought as there is no time to gently work your way into the games. Neil Margerison and Simon Turpin worked particularly hard, just pipping Gordon Whitehead and David Goad to the post (can anyone tell me the precise meaning of this rather quaint expression?), Graham Pulsford and Jonathan Lindsay started with a tight tussle against Tim Pemberton and past-multi-champion Richard Dennis, then went on to just defeat the in-form pair of Andrew Fraser and Paul Kendall in the next round.

John Caudle and Joe Seelig started brightly against Martin Lindsay and Courtney Friend but Joe was forced to withdraw due to injury in the following round - which necessitated some reshuffling, expertly managed by our Organiser, and allowed some lucky souls to get a bye.

Josh Rose and his last-minute partner Rob Lee fared well, particularly against Rubel Malik and Jamie Harris. Rubel seemed unable on this occasion to pot his usually high volume of shots. Chris Cernuschii and Phil Lyndon battled manfully but not without some considerable knee-pain for Phil - who has regrettably announced his retirement from fives, a great loss to our club.

The Final saw two Lindsays (on opposing sides) and two left-handers pitted against two right-handers. Graham Pulsford, ably supported by Jonathan Lindsay, currently playing the best fives of his life, proved extremely tough opposition to Courtney Friend and Martin Lindsay who had grave difficulty in holding onto a narrowing lead due to Graham's and Jonathan's determination and to the elder citizen�s flagging stamina! The final five minutes seemed an eternity but the left-handed Courtney and Martin finally won through.

The winners were presented with the coveted Heath shirt, this year in spring green with specialist additional printing provided by Josh Rose. The words on the back, "Fives is a game best enjoyed between finishing one drink and starting another" being particularly apt for this year's tournament.

With the Fives out of the way, the assembled multitudes were joined at the courts by their wives, children, girlfriends and several hounds reputed to belong to Joe Seelig.

Courtesy of Aldenham School and the good offices of Andrew Fraser, a barbecue had been installed and guests were able to cook the food they had brought with them. The absence of Peter Scholey and his brew was not allowed to dampen proceedings and thirst was well slaked. A small group even gathered to wish James Fredenham bon voyage as he left us to join a yacht somewhere in Turkey (at least we think that is what he said!).