2006 Aberconway Cup
Mike Fenn reports:
The sixteenth Championship took place at Eton College on a warm Spring day spoilt only by the odd heavy shower during the afternoon semi-finals. We had no mothers entering this year and with many regulars missing the organiser was concerned as to the likely poor entry. He need not have worried as seven new pairs appeared out of the woodwork to join six regulars making the draw of thirteen thus ensuring a fair transition to the final stages more difficult! It was particularly pleasing to see several family members supporting the efforts of their menfolk.
The seven new pairings were John and George Harbord-Hamond; David and Paul Martin; Philip and Robert Wilson; Gerald and Harry Campbell; Sandy and Toby Savage; Christopher and George Turnbull; and Mark and Nathan Cousins. The now regular six were Tony and Anthony Walters; George and Jonathan Nosworthy; John and Seb Cooley; Mike and Chris Hughes; Martin and Jonathan Lindsay; and Trevor and Charlie Bailey. The players were placed in three groups with the Walters, Hughes and Cooleys seeded 1-3 respectively and with the likely next top pair of Martin and Jonathan Lindsay placed in the a group of five pairs. The larger grouping, providing two semi-finalists, played four matches of two games setting at eleven with the other two groups playing three matches setting at fourteen.
The late arrival of two pairs made for a slow start further exasperated by the large number of evenly matched pairings thus ensuring a long full morning of Fives with longer than usual breaks in between matches.
No surprises in Group 1 with top seeds Walters comfortably winning their group. The Nosworthys came back strongly to take the second game against the Martins, having lost the first and the Turnbulls and Martins fought themselves to a standstill in a 12-15, 15-13 epic in their first match of the day. Group placings - Walters (1), Turnbulls (2), Martins (3) and Nosworthys (4).
Group 2 saw the Cooleys taking top spot with the Savages second, the Campbells third and Cousins fourth. In their third match late in the morning and with others disappearing for lunch the Savages and Campbells called their last match an honourable draw at 15-14 to the Campbells, the lure of a pint proving too strong after an exhausting morning.
As expected Mike and Chris Hughes reached the semi-finals relatively convincingly although the Lindsays almost won the second game against them losing narrowly 11-12. The Baileys and Wilsons played out a 12-11, 11-12 stalemate with the Harbord-Hamonds winning two and losing two of their matches. Final placings - Hughes (1), Lindsays (2), thus securing the last semi-final berth, Harbord-Hamonds (3), Wilsons (4) and Baileys (5).
The Walters made short work of the Lindsays winning comfortably 12-2, 12-2. The other semi-final could so easily have gone to either pair. The tight and closely fought games were exhausting to watch let alone play. Those watching felt that the winners were in danger of leaving little energy for the final. Mike Hughes and Chris took the first 12-5 and appeared to be attacking the weaker player of the John and Seb Cooley pairing. However if this was the game plan the returning power of John clearly took the Hughes by surprise the Cooleys taking the second to 12-6. The loss of this game clearly shook the top seeds and as Mike declared afterwards "in the third game we just concentrated on playing positive Fives, hitting the ball firmly rather than pussy footing around."
The all Salopian final was judged as likely to be a close encounter, the players with the exception of Chris Hughes knowing each others game well and being of similar overall ability. The main difference, giving the Hughes's perhaps an advantage, was that the Walters were not aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Chris. This difference was probably the deciding factor in the outcome with Chris returning the cut well throughout and withstanding some harsh scrutiny in the back court. The Walters had no answers in what was one of the best and tightly contested finals in the sixteen years of the Aberconway. They lost in two games 7-12, 8-12 in an evenly matched final, by making the greater number of unforced errors.
In presenting the Cup to the winners Christopher Horne congratulated the Hughes's in winning the Aberconway at their second attempt whilst commiserating with the Walters. It was Tony Walters eighth final in twelve years having won on three ocassions, twice with Anthony and once with son Jake.
A most enjoyable day of Fives included the usual lunch at the Waterman's Arms.
1st A & A Walters Won 3, Lost 0
2nd C & G Turnbull Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1
3rd D & P Martin Drawn 1, Lost 2
4th G & J Nosworthy Drawn 1, Lost 2
1st J & S Cooley Won 3, Lost 0
2nd S & T Savage Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1
3rd G & H Campbell Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1
4th M & N Cousins Lost 3
1st M & C Hughes Won 4, Lost 0
2nd M & J Lindsay Won 3 Lost 1
3rd J & G Harbord-Hammond Won 2, Lost 2
4th P & R Wilson Drawn 1, Lost 3
5th T & C Bailey Drawn 1, Lost 3
A & A Walters beat M & J Lindsay 2-0 (12-2, 12-2)
M & C Hughes beat J & S Cooley 2-1 (12-5, 6-12, 12-2)
M & C Hughes beat A & A Walters 2-0 (12-7, 12-8)