2007/08 Club Reports

These reports first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2007/08

EFA Club

Matches were played before Christmas this season against Harrow, Oakham, Uppingham, Aldenham, Bryanston and Ipswich. The Oakham/Uppingham weekend was a particular success and featured two former Kinnaird Cup winners in Jonathan Mole and Ed Wass. In the second half of the season fixtures were also played at Marlborough College - a very successful first visit - St John's, Leatherhead and QE Barnet. The schools value our visits and the results are of no consequence; it is all about bringing enjoyment of the game to the pupils, as well as advice where it is needed. Next season's matches are, for the most part, on the equivalent dates.

Martin Samuel

Cambridge University

We had a very successful year with many achievements at University level. Mike Birkett and James O'Callaghan won the Universities' Championships beating rivals Oxford early in the season. We also managed to compete in several tournaments giving us a good set of matches all year round.

However, with the Leys courts gone there was just the one court in Magdalene College that we could practise on. Despite this we still managed to rotate teams and get a good weekly training schedule for everyone in the club.

Of course the big match of the season is the Varsity Match against Oxford. Just one week before the match Paul Jefferys fell ill and since he was meant to be playing first pair it made things a bit difficult, having to rearrange pairs again after we had settled on them. However, we brought in Jamie Potts at the last minute and our Blues managed to win 3-0 against Oxford with pairs two and three having rather tense five setters.

Our Penguins team unfortunately lost 2-1, which shows us that we need more matches for them next season. We now also have female representation in the club for the second year running and hope to continue to grow this in the years to come. Oxford had two female pairs and so our pair played matches against both, coming out with one win and one loss.

This means that we have beaten Oxford in the Blues match for nine out of the last eleven encounters and are on a run of four consecutive victories. Congratulations to all those who played this year and we hope to continue our Varsity success for many years to come!

Robert Desmond

Lancing Old Boys

Played 6,Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 3

The 2007/08 season was one of mixed fortunes for our club. We had some good wins and some disappointing results with narrow losses. Overall, however, we had no disgraces and much to encourage us for the future.

I am extremely grateful to all who turned out for the club. We rely on a number of longstanding stalwarts as well as newer, younger members and it is perfectly understandable that work and family commitments often have to be put ahead of Fives matches. Nevertheless, I am confident that we can look forward to next season's matches safe in the knowledge that we do our best to enjoy ourselves.

Stuart Duncan

North Oxford

Played 24,Won 13, Drew 1, Lost 10

This has been a season of real progress for North Oxford Eton Fives Club. Our Monday night sessions at Summer Fields continue to be well attended and we are even managing to lower the average age thanks to the Scholey, Shaw and Millership clans. The current strength of the club can clearly be seen by the fact that 30 players represented us in fixtures during the course of the season.

Having achieved promotion from Division 3 at the first attempt last year, we exceeded expectations in our first season in Division 2, getting off to a flying start and turning our "home" courts at Eton into something of a fortress. The flow of league points slowed up slightly after Christmas but we still managed to finish in third place with an extremely respectable points total. Two teams were entered in the EFA Trophy with yet another semi-final defeat for the A team - surely our name is going to be on the trophy one year! In fact, the group stages day of the EFA Trophy saw a remarkable 16 North Oxford members playing for various teams at Eton. Elsewhere, Nick Shaw reached the final of the Barber Cup with the Old Harrovians and Gareth Hoskins the semi-finals with the Old Ipswichians; Chris Davies and Chris Lloyd were runners-up in the Veterans Championships.

An increased number of friendly fixtures were played this year, including several at Summer Fields as well as our annual fixture against the Old Edwardians at a venue that is "off the beaten track" - this year at RGS High Wycombe.We also improved our ties with Oxford University, with several fixtures between the clubs and a good smattering of University players past and present turning out for us.

Progress has also been made off the court - the club now has sponsored shirts thanks to Spencer Chapman and Aston House Stud as well as its own website (http:// northoxfordefc.googlepages.com). The Christmas Dinner was well attended and at the time of writing we are looking forward to the first end of season club barbecue and family day at Summer Fields.

Thanks are due to Andy Bishop and Summer Fields for letting us play there, to the club sponsor for his immense generosity and to everyone who has donned the gloves at some stage this season.

Gareth Hoskins

Old Berkhamstedians

This has been a year of steady progress for the Old Berkhamstedians. A Berkhamstedian side featuring Old Boys, students and staff won the EFA trophy this year and are looking to form a combined league side for the upcoming season.

The enthusiasm of Doug Foster and Martin Pett at the school has led to a Monday night Fives club being set up at the school courts again. This is open to all local Fives players and we would love to see more Old Berkhamstedians coming along to play.

With the Fives at the school on the up (Schools' Championships Open semi-finalists in the Lower 6th) the club certainly has the potential to rise again.

Mark Herring

Old Carthusians

Played 16,Won 4, Drawn 0, Lost 12

The Old Carthusian Fives Club had a disappointing season in the Second Division. We had a number of close fought matches but each match that went to the wire seemed to slip away at the final hurdle, although we had one notable victory against North Oxford. Despite this we fielded full teams in all our matches and always enjoyed the occasions with healthy post match festivities. My thanks to all those who played for our team. We look forward to joining battle next season in the enlarged Second Division.

Ronald Pattison

Old Citizens

The Old Cits continue to play Fives a quarter of a century after they lost their home courts at Blackfriars. This year we were represented in the Kinnaird by Spencer Chapman, Nick Gill and John Reynolds; in the league by those three, playing for North Oxford, Cholmeleians and Westminsters respectively; and in the ladder by David Cooper, Nick Gill and Daniel Floyd.

The club was also represented in the festival held on the Kinnaird Cup weekend by Max Luck-Hille and Alex Nice, father-and-son combination David and Rob Cooper, and Nick Gill with his Cholmeleian partner James O�Callaghan, who won the Pepperpot competition.

Each year Old Citizens compete for the Adams Cup, donated in the 1920s. This year 16 of us played and Max Luck-Hille and John Reynolds triumphed.

John Reynolds

Old Edwardians

Played 3,Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 2

After withdrawing from the league for 2007/08 the Old Edwardians had a very quiet season, although several players have popped up playing for other sides in that competition. A Barber Cup side was raised, defeating the Old Aldenhamians in round one but succumbing to the Old Salopians in round two.

One fascinating friendly fixture was played against North Oxford on the roofless courts at RGS High Wycombe. North Oxford won 2 - 0 and each pair lost one ball into the neighbouring garden, probably while attempting to hit the overhead power cables which had been declared to be "in" under local rules prior to the match. For 2008/09 an attempt is being made to entice a number of Fives-playing Edwardian school leavers back onto court and friendly fixtures are invited from all interested clubs.

Peter Scholey

Old Emanuels

This has been a most symbolic season, with entry to the Barber Cup for the first time. Anthony Theodossi now sits at the head of an enormous squad of some six players. However, the number is rapidly rising as players feed through the school. The future of Emanuel Fives is looking so promising that it is certain to feed on to the Old Emanuel team - especially as Anthony maintains such strong links with the players through coaching assistance and participation with the team in tournaments and events. For now, the Old Emanuels enjoy regular play at the Westway club nights.

Howard Wiseman

Old Etonians

Played 13,Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 12

No report received.

Old Harrovians

Played 15,Won 12, Lost 3

The 2007/08 season has been one of triumph and disaster for the OH squad.

Despite managing to win as many fixtures as the league winners, the problem of availability reared its ugly head and a dose of penalty points saw us finish in bronze medal position. The squad were especially pleased with their win over Olavians 1 at Orpington - a first in living memory for the current players of the OH fold! For the coming season, players have agreed to cancel or postpone all weddings, christenings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs for the Fives cause to avoid the dreaded penalty points.

Congratulations and commiserations to the Dunbar brothers on their tournament successes this season and a hearty welcome to players returning to the squad after university or work absence - we look forward to seeing you all on court for the 08-09 season. Finally thanks to Mr and Mrs Dunbar for their hospitality at home games, their welcoming back of Old Harrovians still battling the Fives cause is always much appreciated.

Ross Bryan

Old Ipswichians

Played 20,Won 11, Drawn 1, Lost 8

24 OIs, one school pupil and three guests played for the club during the season.

This was a rather disappointing league campaign this year, but this was not overly surprising given the decimation of the team. Gareth Hoskins represented North Oxford, Tim Fletcher was only available outside university term time and Peter Boughton was heavily involved in Bursary activity throughout. John Caudle was also carrying an injury for the most part. A late season push, and lack of penalty points, meant we just avoided relegation into Division 3.

Our Barber Cup performance was much stronger. Oppositions were reluctant to travel to Ipswich, which helped our cause, but nonetheless we were still extremely pleased to make the semi-finals. Indeed we were particularly excited, and have to say fancied our chances, when we heard on the night before the semis that the Harrovian star man was unavailable, but unfortunately we weren�t quite strong enough to progress after some closely fought matches.

On the individual front Tim and Tom Fletcher played as a pair in the Kinnaird Cup and can both feel very satisfied with their performance after taking a game off the eventual winners in the second round.

The climax of the season culminated in a celebratory dinner at the school to mark a centenary of Fives at Ipswich. Friends from the Eton Fives world and the Eton Fives Association joined Old Boys, pupils, staff and governors to celebrate the centenary of the Courts, which were built in 1908 during the headmastership of A K Watson.

Mark Graves

The Jesters

Following a review of the 2006-07 season we somewhat rationalised the fixture list for this past season. This has allowed us to effectively focus on the most successful fixtures. The club has had a varied season in terms of results but has continued to contribute to matches in sixteen separate Fives centres. We look to continue to take fixtures to some of the less well trodden Fives venues and would welcome club members suggesting appropriate new fixtures.

The profile of the Jesters within the EFA community appears to continue to rise and I am hoping that we will be able to welcome a number of new members over the coming months. This has been enabled by the Jesters support of recent EFA ventures. It is critical to keep increasing the stock of players in the club to maintain and improve the standard and depth that the club can boast. As I mentioned last year this trend needs to be maintained if we are to regularly fulfil such a fixture list.

Finally, I would encourage any Jesters of any ability to be proactive about contacting match managers. We now have a set of matches that cater to all abilities, timetables and geographies.

Alex Illingworth

Old Millhillians

Played 16,Won 8, Drawn 0, Lost 8

This was an encouraging season with a solid base of young, enthusiastic and promising players forming the essence of the club led by captain Chris Vincent and the new secretary James Hutcheson. After several years with players away at university or working away from London, there is now a nucleus of players under the age of 30 to see, it is hoped, the club through the next generation. Of these players Vishal Bhimjiyani continues to impress and worry the opposition. It is good to see his old school partner Justin Lefort return to mainland England.

In the League Division 2, there were some tough games and opposition with some rather topsy-turvy results but a respectable 4th position was achieved. Again no fear of promotion or relegation! In the Barber Cup a win over Old Emanuels was followed by a defeat by the Old Olavians who proved a b�te noir this year.

However, the success and popularity of Club Nights, based at Mill Hill throughout the summer and season were both surprising and encouraging. It is hoped that this can be developed further to encompass the concept of "Fives in the Community" at Mill Hill with players of all ages, experience and standards using the new courts. As usual the OM club takes its socialising, drinking and eating seriously and extends its hospitality to all Fives players.

Steve Plummer

Old Olavians

Played 26,Won 23, Drawn 2, Lost 11

The 2007/2008 season saw a number of league and tournament successes for the Olavians. Perhaps the most celebrated will be Howard Wiseman and James Toop winning an epic Kinnaird final to see Howard lift the trophy for the first time. The club also retained the Barber Cup and Division 1 titles, with Olavians 2 surviving in the top flight for another season. Olavians 3 rallied towards the end of the season to catch the very impressive Highgate School and take the Division 2 title in the final fixture.

The club continues to grow in numbers and we look forward to celebrating our 80th season in 2008.

Ed Sanderson

Old Reptonians

The Old Reptonians have had an excellent season - finishing top of League Division 3, having two Old Reptonian pairs compete in the Kinnaird and a pair playing in the Midlands tournament, which was held at Repton.

Overall, the standard of Fives has greatly improved since last season, and so have our numbers; not bad when you consider that only five years ago we were in danger of disappearing from the league.

The revived Midlands Tournament has allowed Fives to become a more prominent feature at the school and the number of people turning up for the event was especially good to see. The reception that we received from the school and in particular Peter Bradburn, was fantastic and the Old Reptonians hope that the success of the tournament will encourage the school to participate in more Fives.

On the club front, the dominance of both James Ware and Simon Warren-Thomas has been a major factor in securingn a number of wins for the team. The continued support of the Old Stoics, in particular Michael Skjott, and the guidance of Rodney Knight has helped stabilise the team and allowed our numbers to grow.

Next season promises to be interesting what with the changes to the league. We are however confident of repeating the success of the previous season and take an even more active role in the tournaments played.

Sam Basu

Old Salopians

Played 20,Won 9, Drawn 0 , Lost 11

The Old Salopian Fives Club had a solid season this year. The drive for new players undertaken in the past few seasons has really come on well and the club now has a good pool of players and a good club spirit.

In the League, where we have struggled for players and victories in the past, there has been good availability and we have won some good victories over strong opposition. Overall the club finished in the middle of the Division 1 table and we should be aiming for a top three place next season.

In the Barber Cup, our new captain Pete Nichols has firmly set his sights on building a new team around young players. Such ambitions take a few seasons to take root and this season the Club lost in the semi-finals to old rivals the Olavians. Pete's strategy for the team however should be of great benefit to the club over the next few years, as he works to pull our top school players through the often lost years of university and into the club fold thereafter.

A similar result was achieved in the EFA trophy this year. After a strong pools round, the Club failed to pass the semi-finals in a season where a final spot would have been much deserved. Had the Club been able to turn out the same strength and depth during the weekend fixtures of the EFA, as we have during the weekdays in the League, we might have clinched some silverware this season.

In other competitions, the South were victorious in the inter-club Harding North versus South trophy. In the Ladder individual tournament, Ed Taylor came second and the club won in the overall category.

The club looks forward to an even stronger season next year, and with our summer club games in London gathering pace we aim to hit the ground running come September!

Any potential player who wishes to play for the club in either our friendly or competitive games can either contactme by email or be in touch via our new Facebook group by searching for Old Salopian Fives.

Anthony Walters

Old Stoics

Played 12,Won 5, Lost 7

No sooner had the secretaries' meeting in June finished than the season was upon us. This made turning a full team an instant challenge for our first match in early September. However, after a shaky start I am glad to report that our league match turnout for the rest of the season was excellent. Many thanks go to Mike Skjott, our match captain (and passionate Fives player) for organising match fixtures in his usual persuasive manner.

Our performance in the league was about the same as last year. New entrants Highgate and North Oxford have definitely raised the bar in League 2 and despite our results not being quite what we hoped, we have had some excellent and hard fought matches, and managed to keep our place in League 2. Recruiting new Fives players remains a challenge and we are always envious of clubs such as North Oxford who have a seemingly endless pool of players. Sadly, we lost two Old Stoic members of the team, Rupert Fisher and Charlie Robinson who have moved to Lancashire and Yorkshire respectively. Regrettably, we have had to resort to acquiring fresh blood outside the Old Stoic channel; However, we hope this will change over time. Looking on the positive side, it is very enjoyable to operate as a reasonably small group of players who know each other's strengths (and also weaknesses!).

Our relationship with the Old Reptonians, who now operate independently in League 3, remains strong; Sam Basu and James Ware are often called upon to play for us and we are more than happy to return the favour.

We place great importance on the social aspect of Fives which is reflected by our patronage of all pubs within a mile radius from Westminster. Fierce rivalry is long forgotten after the first round of drinks. This is especially the case with the Old Carthusians with whom we shared our annual dinner this year. Joking aside, post match drinks offer the perfect opportunity to catch up and to discuss ideas.

Earlier in the year, Rod Tait and Barclay Lawrence kindly organised a trip to Stowe. While the weather could have been better, 16 players proved themselves up for the challenge. We are delighted to have had Old Stoic Helen Corner join as our first female player. May many more join! The standard of play at Stowe school has improved and this can only be built upon as the schoolboys continue to receive the appropriate coaching, and if boys from other sports can be encouraged to play.

With the prospect of an expanded league for 2008/9, next season will be critical for us. We look forward to the challenge.

Jurgen Hutter

Old Westminsters

Played 18,Won 12, Lost 6

2007/8 proved to be another fine season for the Westminsters. Back in Division 1 after an absence of some 20 years, Old Westminsters 1 got off to a flying start and stayed in the upper reaches until the end, finishing second behind the Olavians and just pipping the Harrovians into third - which was nice. The core of the side was Giles Coren, Saul Albert, Nick Fry, Ed Rose, Peter Kennedy, Mark Herring and the incomparable John Reynolds (plus others from time to time) and much credit is due to all involved for their commitment and consistency.

Old Westminsters 2 also had a good campaign in Division Three, equal on points scored with the Reptonians, but runners-up owing to a penalty point. The Abbey Club came third, just a whisker behind, and they are, of course, current Westminster School players. This season Old Westminsters 2 have been promoted to the enlarged Division 2.

Despite finishing second in two competitions, � la Chelsea football club, neither I nor my fellow managers Edward Levy and Chris Watts have been sacked (yet) and indeed have been joined for 2008/09 by Saul Albert, who will organise Old Westminsters 1 matches.

Andrew Aitken

Old Wulfrunians

Season 2007/08 saw the return of Old Wulfrunian Fives. With the support of the staff at the school it was possible to contact many former WGS Fives players. A positive response saw the first small gathering of Old Wulfrunian Fives players at the Sports Festival in September 2007. Over the following weeks word spread and more Old Wulfrunians got in touch and local interest was sufficient to see the first Evening Club Fives in November 2007. The Evening Club now meets every Monday for a social game of Fives and refreshment at the Royal Oak.

During the season the Midlands Tournament was reestablished. It was played for the first time since 1987 at Repton School over the weekend of November 3/4th. Twenty pairs entered from all over the country and were warmly welcomed by Repton's School Staff (including OW Simon Earwicker). The courts were in excellent condition, benefiting greatly from new lighting. Saturday evening saw a superb meal at the Mickleover Hotel in Derby, followed by more keenly fought Fives on the Sunday. The eventual winners were the Old Wulfrunian pairing of Mark Yates (1978-85) and Mark Yates (1985-92), ensuring that the Midlands title stayed in the Midlands.

On a team basis, the County Championships provided the opportunity for six Old Wulfs to form the 'Staffordshire' county team. Some of the team hadn't played Fives for almost a decade, but as we all know 'form is temporary, class is permanent'! The team defeated Cambridgeshire, consisting mainly of the University's Varsity Team, to finish in fourth place. An excellent performance by a team that had travel to play from all corners of the country. A big thank you to Stuart Bickerton, Greg Hammond, Mark Stacey, James Brazier and David Jones for getting back on court and bringing Old Wulfrunian Fives back to life. In addition, thanks should also go to Phil Corn (Old Reptonian) for ensuring that a full team could be fielded.

The Old Wulfrunians returned to competition in their own right in the EFA Trophy. Chris Austin and Adrian "Sid" Simmons joined the swelling ranks of Old Wulfs returning to Fives and secured qualification. The semi-final saw us taking on the Old Salopians in our new red shirts. We eventually triumphed in each of the three pairs to secure a 3-0 overall win and progression to the final.

The Final saw the Old Wulfs taking on the youth of 'Berkhamsted'. Yates & Yates had three close games at first pair but sadly lost. Sid & Dave had a comfortable win against the Oxford Varsity pair at two. Greg & Chris were forced into second place by two young and energetic sixth formers at pair three. The overall outcome saw Old Wulfs as runners up by 2-1, a good performance for our returning season. Special mention must go to Richard Hobbs, who having made a return to the game after 17 years in January, played some fantastic Fives during the semi-final encounter.

All bodes well for a successful 2008/09 season and a warm welcome awaits any other Old Wulfrunians who would like to get back on court.

Mark Yates

Oxford University

It has been an exciting year for OUEFC with great interest at the University's Freshers' Fair and a number of new players joining the squad. Foremost amongst these was Chris Michaels, fresh off the St Olave's conveyer belt, who struck up a partnership with Will Betts. They were unfortunate to go down in five games in the final of the Universities' Championships and look set to be a strong force next year. Will also managed to reach the final of the Midlands Tournament while Andy Erskine and Peter Kennedy left early, but undefeated.

Hopes were high for the Varsity Match but it was not to be after losing close five setters at pairs two and three. On the upside the Oxford Peppers defeated the Cambridge Penguins 2-1, their first victory in a number of years, showing the club's strength in depth. The very strong Oxford Ladies team of Juliet Browning and Rosie Scott convincingly beat their Cambridge counterparts and look set to become a major presence on the circuit in years to come. Overall it has been an extremely enjoyable year; the club is in a very healthy state with a mixture of youth and experience, and there is a great deal to be positive about for the future.

Peter Kennedy

Westway Club

Played 6,Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 5

The Westway Club meets on Monday and Thursday evenings at Westway - it is effectively the pay and play club night that is open to anyone of any standard and experience. Both Monday and Thursday evenings average three courts full - enjoying the most varied bunch of players, men and women, old and young. Half of the players have learnt their game at Westway, having stumbled across it, the other half of the club are regular league players from a wide range of established clubs who turn to Westway for a regular fix of organised, testing Fives, with a coach present from whom tips and coaching can be sought. The standard is really very good. Each two hour session consists of numerous one-set matches and a short practice drill thrown in on various setpiece shots if the mood of the group sways that way. Everyone is keen to play any match offered (no care at all if it is League or Friendly!). The club can also boast of two ex Schools' Championship winners who did not hit the ball again after their Open Schools title win, until playing again at Westway. One is a Wulfrunian (after a gap of 14 years) and the other an Old Citizen (after a gap of some 40 years!). Under new management next season, the club looks forward to partaking in all the third division matches available - and getting the results in to Mike Fenn on time!

Howard Wiseman

Windsor & Eton

Played 6,Won 0, Lost 6

The Club continued to fight gamely against the twin challenges of fitter opponents and work commitments, and managed to complete all bar one of their scheduled league fixtures this season, regrettably being unable to find a suitable date to play the Abbey at Westminster. Unfortunately, despite quite good marks for attendance, the club has done less well in competition this year than we might expect, but we are nevertheless looking forward to starting again in the autumn.

We fully support the return to a home and away format for the upcoming season for Division 3 and are looking forward to trying to regain our position at the top of the bottom! The club will be enjoying a few social evenings during the summer 'to keep our eyes in' and will be looking for some new blood to round out the numbers for next year. Any candidates who are interested in some very social and occasionally challenging Fives, please contact Nick Bunyan.

Nick Bunyan