2008/09 Club Reports

These reports first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 2008/09

EFA Club

Matches were played before Christmas this past season against Harrow, Oakham, Uppingham, Stowe, Aldenham, Bryanston and Ipswich. The Oakham/Uppingham weekend and the trip to Bryanston are always well supported and thoroughly enjoyed by those who make the respective journeys.

In the second half of the season, fixtures were also played against Marlborough and QE Barnet. Sadly, our fixture against St John�s School, Leatherhead fell foul of the inclement weather (certain amount of snow, if you recall!) for they do not enjoy covered courts.

The schools value our visits and it is not about winners and losers but about bringing enjoyment of the game to the pupils, adding a bit of advice where needed and showing them that the game continues way beyond school years.

Next season's matches are pretty much the equivalent dates to this past season (although, Stowe will be Sunday 15th November) and I would ask anyone interested in playing to contact me on 020-8942 9845 or martin.samuel@ talktalk.net.

Martin Samuel

Cambridge University

This season has been one mixed with success and disappointment. There was a large intake of first year players and also an increase in the number of fixtures and female players. All this contributed to making organising practices on the single court at Magdalene College difficult, but excellent organisation by our captain, Will Illingworth, meant that all keen players were able to play at least twice a week.

The Universities' Championship was a great success with our first pair, Max Little and Robert Desmond, defeating Oxford�s first pair in the final, 12-9, 12-7. Later on in the season, there were excellent victories against Highgate School and the Old Cholmeleians, with the former being a huge ten pair fixture. There were also close matches against the Old Etonians and North Oxford towards the end of the season. In the run up to Varsity, Cambridge had four pairs competing in the Kinnaird Cup, and here Max Little and Robert Desmond performed superbly to reach the last 16, before going out in a tight match against two very experienced players.

The highlight of the year for the club is the Varsity Match against Oxford. With such good preparation and a strong recent record in the fixture, we were confident of success. However, Oxford had strengthened their team considerably since the Universities� Championship. First pair performed brilliantly, defeating Oxford in straight games, but the two other matches were much more closely contested. The second pair match could have gone either way with the match poised at 9-9 in the fifth game, but in the end it was the Oxford pair that narrowly defeated Laurie Brock and Will Illingworth to win 3-2. Our third pair, Chris Lewis and David Elliot, fought hard but were unfortunately beaten in four close games, giving Cambridge their first defeat for five years. The Penguins also lost narrowly 2-1 in games, with Alfred Jackson and Oliver Watts fighting back brilliantly from 2-0 down only to lose 15-14 in an epic final game. However, encouragement can be taken from the fact that our sixth pair cruised to victory in straight sets, indicating the level of depth in the squad. The ladies match was drawn 1-1, since Oxford were unable to field a third ladies pair.

Although the men�s result appears disappointing when compared to the results in recent years, this squad was nevertheless one of the strongest we have had, and it was unfortunate that it was matched by a similar improvement from Oxford, for whom four of the Blues players were first years. With the top four players from this year all still available next season, and great depth in the team, we can hope for more success in the Varsity match next time around. Congratulations to all those who played in all fixtures this year, it has been a great season!

Laurie Brock

Cambridge University Ladies

Ladies' Fives in Cambridge has reached new levels this year, with an explosion of interest and ability. We have seen the numbers of regular players increase from only two to twelve, allowing three ladies only practices a week as well as mixed games for our more experienced pairs. The support of Cambridge Captain Will Illingworth has been invaluable in giving Ladies' Fives the opportunity it deserved.

Undefeated in our fixtures, we had a 2-1 victory against Highgate School, a conclusive 3-0 victory against Westminster and a 2-0 win against North Oxford. For an inexperienced club these were remarkable results and the excellent performances of new players Lizzie Burgess, Natalie Lilienthal, and Rebekah Tennyson show just what potential we have. Also taking to the sport for the first time was Real Tennis champion Karen Hird: natural ability and sporting experience has led her to a well-deserved spot in first pair. Our new players have really been the inspiration of this year, with fantastic levels of enthusiasm and commitment they have taken what little coaching we could provide and become a serious force in the ladies game.

The Ladies� Nationals was a highlight of the year, with four strong pairs taking to the courts. Captain Annabel Griffiths and Karen Hird reached the quarter-final stage, where they faced tough competition from last year�s runners-up. An all-Cambridge plate semi-final and final resulted in a Plate B win from experienced player Emmalina Thompsell and the rediscovered Lucie Bishop.

The Ladies' Varsity match was in its third year, and for the first time we saw two pairs battle it out. For Annabel Griffiths and Karen Hird it was a close fought affair, which drew in a crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Unfortunately it wasn't to be our day and we narrowly lost out to the more experienced pair in a four game contest. The impressive pairing of Emmalina Thompsell and Lucie Bishop dominated their match in a straight 3-0 victory, giving us an overall 1-1 draw. We were able to put forward a third pair of Lizzie Burgess and Natalie Lilienthal, who bravely took on a hybrid Oxford pair, and clocked up a very respectable score. Hopefully Oxford will be able to match us for pairs next year, to complete the first full Ladies Varsity contest � one that will undoubtedly be another day to remember.

Next year is set to be even more impressive, with possibilities of professional coaching and hopefully increased funding. We look to increase our squad size, number of match fixtures and skill level, to further the progress Cambridge Ladies have made this year. With all bar one of our players staying on for another year, we will be sure to build on the successes of this year and take our promising team to the level it deserves. I would like to thank all the ladies players for their continued commitment as well as the outgoing Cambridge Fives committee, who have been so supportive in our campaign � roll on next year!

Annabel Griffiths

Stop Press:
Annabel and Karen have both been awarded Half-Blues by the Blues committee in recognition of their achievements this season, a first for Ladies Fives at Cambridge.

Lancing Old Boys

Having now come to the end of another Fives season I thought that I should take this opportunity not only to thank everyone for their continuing support for the club, but also confirm that I expect to continue in my role as Club Secretary. However, this year we shall have the added bonus of Nigel Cox's experience to help bolster the current turn out. nAlthough we have not had the best of seasons in terms of results, we can certainly say that we have very much enjoyed playing!

I am the first to understand how difficult it is for players who do not live in the London area to make regular team fixtures. This year we shall be looking to expand our horizons, playing further afield to some extent, in order that we might enable a few more keen, but less London-centric players become a stronger part of our club.

I wish to thank all current OLs and helpers for their continued support for the club and I very much look forward to a successful season to come. I also look forward to being in touch with those players who have enjoyed playing Fives regularly whilst at Lancing but who have for some reason been unable to play as much as they had wished on leaving, whether this be recently or from many years past. With every good wish to the club � here's to a successful 2009/10 season.

Stuart Duncan

North Oxford

2008/09 has been a truly momentous season for the North Oxford club. After several near misses in recent years, we finally managed to win the EFA Trophy after a nail-bitingly close finish against the Old Salopians. This was then followed by us clinching the League Division Two title by just one point having won nine out of eleven matches and 25 out of a possible 33 points.

Success should be measured in more than just competitive results, however and North Oxford are showing vibrant signs of life in all sorts of different areas � healthy attendances and new recruits at our core Monday night practices at Summer Fields; sponsorship deals with Aston House Stud and www.pokerheaven.com; well-attended Christmas and end of season social occasions and a detailed and up to date website - http:// northoxfordefc.googlepages.com.

As usual we played a wide range of friendlies against as mmany different clubs and at as many different venues as possible, this year including Bryanston, Wolverhampton GS, Aldenham, Charterhouse and of course Summer Fields.We entered two teams into the EFA Trophy and had a five pair match against Highgate School, a four pair match against the Old Wulfrunians and an eight pair match against Cambridge University, including the first ever Ladies pairs to represent the club.

The League and EFA Trophy successes were based around an experienced core of players - Gareth Hoskins, Nick Shaw, Graham Pulsford, Courtney Friend, Peter Scholey, Spencer Chapman, Justin Byam Shaw, Chris Davies, Chris Lloyd, Nigel Cox, Ian Mitchell and club founder and President, Andy Bishop. Over the course of the season as a whole, however, the club was represented by 40 different players, with an encouraging number of youngsters showing promise for the future, from Monday players Pierre Leveque, Alejandro Millership and Tim and George Scholey through to the Old Summerfieldian contingent of Jeremy Hindle, Theo Bossom and Hugo Meakin.

Away from our EFA Trophy and League success, Nick Shaw and Gareth Hoskins played for the Old Harrovian side who won Division One, Courtney Friend and Graham Pulsford won the Veterans Tournament for the umpteenth time, Hugo Tobias and Jon Staley won the Festival at the Northern Tournament and Peter Scholey, Courtney Friend, Simon Purkis and Chris Mellor all played in the Old Edwardian team that reached the semi-finals of the Barber Cup. Next season, the Old Edwardians are back in the League fold - undoubtedly a good thing but a change that will result in us losing several key players. Hopefully the younger club members will be able to seize the opportunities that should now open up to them and drag some of the old stalwarts along with them!

Gareth Hoskins

Old Carthusians

The Old Carthusians had a much more successful season than last coming fourth in the Second Division, which comprised a total of 12 teams, winning six matches, losing four and drawing one. The new enlarged Division seemed to suit us better, getting up a head of steam for each of the eleven league matches.We had a good selection of players and our apr�s Fives social side continued to flourish. The main core of the team comprised Alex Burrows, Justyn Comer, Simon Parrish, Mark Platt and Ronald Pattison with Ian Clarke, Marc Quinn (off to pastures new perhaps next season), Nick Bourne and David Jones all playing occasionally. My thanks go to all players.

Ronald Pattison

Old Cholmeleians

2008/09 was the Old Cholmeleians second full season since our return to the EFA after a three year break to rebuild the active player base. The time out was successful in many ways and after a faltering start last year we felt ready to make a serious competitive challenge this season. We have worked hard to bring the average age of regular club players down from the mid 30s to a more favorable mid 20s region. Being the only member of the team old enough to have played 1st VI school Fives in the 80s, it is gratifying to see such a talented crop of new players emerging on the back of tremendous behind the scenes work. The Club Committee members were Mark Williams (President), Niifio Addy (Secretary), Guy Chapman (Club Captain and Online Coordinator), Rob Beenstock (Treasurer) and Dexter Davis (Practice sessions, Friendly matches and School Liaison).

Special thanks must go to Dexter Davis and Anthony Brunner (Highgate School Master in Charge of Fives) who ran the club practice nights from this year�s cold winter through to spring with ruthless efficiency. In particular Dexter�s boundless energy for this most difficult task has proven to be one of the main driving forces behind the club�s resurrection.

The EFA first division title was a tight race to the finish line by the top two teams (Old Harrovians and Olavians I respectively) but for most of the season the Old Cholmeleians were in a strong position to finish in a respectable third place. We were led by Guy Chapman as Club Captain who, as always, played with a competitive spirit whilst maintaining his strong sense of fair play. The other regular team players were Niifio Addy, Jonny Ho, Rob Beenstock, Dexter Davis, James O'Callaghan and Hedi Young. This season also saw the welcome return of David Goldschmidt and Shuja Khan to competitive club Fives. We also had guest appearances by Nick Gill (Old Citizen).

Notably, we were strengthened by the addition of younger players such as Rob Desmond and Max Little, who each travelled from Cambridge University to play in key matches for the club. Sam Little, whilst still at school, also played excellently for the Old Boys. Both Sam and Jonny have acclimatized so quickly to the more complex club Fives game that they have already been marked as rising stars.

In the end our final league position was fourth largely due to our sporting offer to rearrange one of our home fixtures. Nevertheless the season was a success in terms of the high quality of Fives that was played and the increased strength in depth that was evident in the teams.

The season's highlights would also include the club reaching the final of the Barber Cup knockout competition for the first time since 2003 after a thrilling second round win against league winners the Old Harrovians. Niifio Addy and Guy Chapman beat the Old Harrovians first pair (P Dunbar and N Shaw) 3-2 in a grueling five game match that ended just before Niifio ran out steam completely. The semi-final against the Old Edwardians was close with the OCs winning 2-1. In the final we were simply outgunned by the Old Olavians, whose top pairs were both Kinnaird Cup semifinalists this season. It was a great run to get to the final but we were beaten convincingly 3-0 by a team who have won the cup for the last six years in a row.

In the Kinnaird Cup Niifio Addy and Guy Chapman had to withdraw at the last minute leaving all eyes on the Jonny Ho/Sam Little and Rob Desmond/Max Little pairings. Both of these reached the last 16 with Jonny and Sam beating the eighth seeds to reach the quarter-finals. They gave the top seeds and eventual runners-up Howard Wiseman and James Toop a good fight despite losing in three hard-fought games.

Our season report would not be complete without mentioning the inaugural Highgate School/Old Boys competition organised by Robert Beenstock. This open tournament was made up of pairs comprising one old Cholmeleian and one schoolboy balanced to make each pair as equal as possible. The knockout tournament took place on Sunday 23rd November at Highgate School and was won by Rob Desmond and Sam Little. A �traditional school lunch� was provided in the dining hall with a chance for Old Cholmeleians and schoolboys to mix in a relaxed social setting. It was a highly enjoyable event complete with trophy. We look forward to seeing this tournament grow year on year.

Niifio Addy

Old Citizens

If proof were needed that Eton Fives is a game for life, the Old Citizens' internecine contest for the Adams Cup provides it. Fifty years after David Cooper last won the trophy, he did so again on a Saturday in late May, this time partnered by the relatively youthful Les Jacobs.

David, 69, and Les, 43, emerged undefeated after taking on all-comers in the competition, in which half the participants are seeded and then their partners chosen at random.

Sporting the club's new red-and-white colours, a dozen of us gathered at Highgate to compete for the solid-silver trophy, first presented in 1928 and contested most years since, although there was a gap for the Second World War.

The OCEFC � founded in 1893 but operating in exile since the City of London School's courts were destroyed when it moved to a new site in the mid 1980s � was also represented this season in the Kinnaird Cup, the Martin Shortland-Jones Veterans' Tournament, the EFA Trophy and League Divisions One and Two.

John Reynolds

Old Edwardians

2008/09 was a fairly quiet season for the Edwardians. The series of "unusual venue" friendly fixtures against North Oxford was continued with an excellent day out on the black painted courts at Bryanston in Dorset. Many thanks to Bryanston school who were most welcoming. On the competitive front a relatively friendly draw led to a tantalisingly close Barber Cup semi-final loss against the Old Cholmeleians.

Midweek social Fives has been tentatively re-established in Birmingham under the broader roof of The Edgbaston Fives Club and fixtures played against the local Wulfrunians. 

The Edwardians withdrew from League Fives in 2008 due to an inadequate player base but, following a request for regular competitive matches from the Birmingham based players, have re-entered the League in Division 2 for the 2009/10 season. The success or otherwise of this venture will depend on the depth of the Birmingham resurgence and to some extent also on the support of other clubs. It has always been a struggle to get other clubs to leave London in Birmingham or a mid-way venue.

Peter Scholey

Old Etonians

With a squad in transition following last season�s relegation, the Club�s league form this year was variable, though of players, with former stalwarts less able to commit and our best recruited for Division One fixtures, but occasional flashes of brilliance (a whitewash of the eventual league winners, for example) show plenty of potential. The player base is wide but shallow, and the ambition for next season is to encourage occasional contributors to turn out more regularly.

It will take time to develop a new nucleus, and the key to the future remains the recruitment of university leavers and strong support for the School. To further the latter, the Club contributed to the provision of a full-time Fives coach for the boys, and the appointment of Seb Cooley has significantly increased the quality and quantity of Fives played. Indeed, the Club�s three fixtures against the School were well attended and close affairs, and we look forward to benefiting from this initiative in years to come!

In the meantime, anyone interested in playing for OEs please do get in touch.

Alex Knight

Old Harrovians

The 2008/09 season was a huge success for the Old Harrovian Fives club. The club emerged winners in nine of their ten league games, securing top spot in the First Division for the first time in15 years.

For a number of years, the club has had the talent to compete right at the top but has lacked the depth necessary to sustain a challenge over the course of a long season. This season saw a marked increase in the number of active playing members and this proved instrumental in the club�s fortunes. The club was able to field 13 different players during the course of the season including three schoolboys. The season began well and at the mid way point, the OHs were fighting for top spot with the Olavians. A 2-1 victory over the Olavians in February meant the title race was going right to the wire. In the final game of the season Will Jones and Nick Shaw emerged 3-1 winners against the Cholmeleians, a result that confirmed the Harrovians as Division One champions. Further to the success in the league, Tom and Peter Dunbar regained the Kinnaird Cup.

Looking ahead to the 2009/10 season, the club is well placed to mount another challenge in the League and also do well in the Alan Barber Cup. A number of friendly fixtures have also been introduced. Additionally, further efforts are going to be made to strengthen the link between current Harrovians and the OHs and in this respect two fixtures have been planned in September and November in addition to the match in February.

Congratulations to all those who were involved in a memorable season.

Peter Dunbar

Old Ipswichians

The 2008/09 year for the Old Ipswichians started worryingly. With John Caudle injured for the season and Mike Fenn claiming "not to be of league standard" (but still able to make the Graves Cup final!) there were reasonable worries about raising a side for all fixtures or, at the very least, wearing out the old guard.

However the resurgence of the "youngsters" Peter Forrest, Richard Robinson, Jim Wright and, having reclaimed his life from Rothschilds, David Cox, meant that the sides put out were substantially down on the average age of the past few years. Coupled with continued dedication from Peter Boughton, Richard Wood, Simon Woolfries, Tom Fletcher and the ever youthful Mark Graves and the keenness of David Leach (Ipswich School), a solid season of league Fives was enjoyed by all.

Unfortunately the Barber Cup campaign this year was not as successful as in previous years, failing to field the best side and going down in the second round 2-1 to the Old Edwardians. A grudge match may now be in the offing for this season.

As usual the Graves Cup produced an interesting mix of pairs and was eventually won by Peter Forrest and Alex Yusaf in a final against Mike Fenn and Nick Bunyan, youth winning over beauty! However the refreshments provided by Pete Scholey tempered any disappointment of other players in not making the final.

With the return of some more wandering students next year perhaps we are about to see a renaissance for Ipswichian Fives.

Tom Fletcher

The Jesters

Despite the various formats of competition that are on offer throughout the Fives calendar the Jesters games continue to be well supported. The competitive yet friendly style of the club continues to be critical to achieving this. A strongly supported and successful Strawson event was an excellent catalyst in the early season.

We continued to play our matches in a multitude of different locations and will look to continue to add venues in the coming year. Indeed the strength and participation of the matches outside London have been commendable this last season.

In terms of results we were not as successful as in previous years, but hope to rectify that in the coming season. As I look forward I hope to further expand the fixture list. In particular Eton Fives has not previously �toured� other countries for obvious reasons. Whilst Nigeria might not sound particularly attractive, Provence might prove more palatable. Nigel Cox has offered to host a weekend at the courts and I hope this will prove possible in the coming 12 months.

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. In particular please contact me as regards any interest for a Provence weekend.

Alex Illingworth

Old Millhillians

This has been another encouraging season for the club with a growing base of young and enthusiastic players who narrowly missed out on winning the Division Two title despite the absence of the injured Ian Hutchinson. This was a result of the continued excellent form of Vishal Bhimjiyani, the return from abroad for the whole season of Justin Lefort and Oliver Sanders and the reclamation from the Fives wilderness of two talented young players, Sunil Tailor and Jitesh Patel. The arrival of Sunil and Jitesh significantly strengthened the top of the order and, after a couple of early losses, the club was undefeated in competitive fixtures for the last five months of the season, giving us high hopes for next year. Disappointingly, the Captain has been unable to justify his own selection on a number of occasions this year.

Over the last ten years, the average age of active players has fallen from late 30s to mid 20s, suggesting an encouraging future. We have a number of good players who will become full-time players for the club over the next couple of years as they leave University. This is entirely a result of the sterling work of Steve Plummer who ensures that the schoolboys are involved with the club before they leave school and subsequently throughout their University careers.

Chris Vincent

Old Olavians

Compared to the last few years, the Olavians have had a fairly weak season, particularly in the leagues. The first team came second to the Harrovians in the top division; the second team struggled to put out three pairs regularly and ended up bottom; and the third team came eleventh in Division Two, with nine penalty points.

In other tournaments, things were somewhat better. Our ladies proved a force to be reckoned with. Marianne Rees and Charlotta Cooley reached the final of the Ladies' Championship, losing to Kerry White (almost an Olavian!). We also had large numbers of schoolgirls entering the Mixed Tournament, the final of which featured three Old Olavians(Charlotta and Seb Cooley plus Peter Cohen) and Kerry.

The Barber Cup was strongly retained, without dropping a match anywhere in the tournament. This is the club�s sixth consecutive win, chasing the Cholmeleians�'astonishing 15- year winning streak. Just nine to go, boys!

Olavians came first and second in the ladder and first and third in the Keeling Cup individual championship.

In the Kinnaird Cup, James Toop and Howard Wiseman reached the final but failed to repeat last year�s victory (report elsewhere). Matt Wiseman and Seb Cooley also lost to the Dunbars, but in the semi-finals (at least they were in separate halves of the draw this year!) and we had a further three players in the quarters - Pete White and Pete Cohen couldn't repeat their Northern victory over Taylor and Sorrell and Dave Mew with Richard Tyler upheld Olavian tradition by coming up against players of his own club - Wiseman & Cooley. Seven of the sixteen quarter-finalists were Olavians. Luke Stradwick and Billy Dennis took home the Pepperpot trophy.

Putting aside lists of statistics, we have suffered the loss - at least from home shores - of skipper Ed Sanderson, who put in huge time and effort for the club and ran a very tight ship. Nonetheless, Ed continued to organise by hyperlink very effectively. Back into the fray, though, came Seb Cooley from Swiss exile and, during the season, Matt Wiseman from injury. We did gradually establish a base of regular players, with the class of '04 (Billy Dennis, Luke Stradwick et al) playing more frequently than in past years.We also saw the very welcome return of some more of the illustrious "99ers" Stew Fautly and Richard Harpham playing again after a few years off.

Next season, then, we need to regroup a little. We are managing to get players back into the game, but need to ensure regular turn-outs across the board.We have plenty of players at all levels so it's time to return to dominance in the league!

Seb Cooley

Old Reptonians

Well once again, it is time again for the season report for the Old Reptonian Fives Club and it has been another remarkably good year for us.

Coming second in Division Three was a surprise for us. This year, the standard of Fives has been much higher and despite coming first last season, we did not expect to do as well as we did. It is a welcome change seeing the Old Reptonians in the top half of the table compared to previous seasons.

The team continues to make steady progress, introducing new players to competitive Fives and bringing back old hands. It was nice to see more Old Reptonians coming back to the fold in the form of Oliver Malcolm and Jean Pierre Houlier.

The team continues to be a good training ground for all comers who wish to progress their Fives, with several people improving to the extent that they were invited to play in Division Two, amongst them Karl Wagner and Sam Basu. A special mention should go out to those who have supported the team at the eleventh hour, notable among them are our friends from Charterhouse, Ronald Pattison and Nick Higgins, who can always be relied on to pitch in when numbers are low.

We look forward to next season, where we hope more old boys/girls � because we are not fussy � will be able to join our ranks.

Sam Basu

Old Stoics

Given the news of a possible additional division being tabled by the EFA at the 2008 Secretaries' meeting, we knew that we would like to end up in the right half if Division Two were to be split.We were also under no illusions that this would be a difficult feat, with more teams entering the league and the Old Etonians now also part of the group.

We feel that the increased number of teams in the division has created more diversity and has made Division Two as enjoyable and competitive as ever. Every match counts as you don't have the opportunity to beat the competition at a return match. Hence we were delighted that the proposed split did not materialise.We also achieved our best result yet in the league (since re-joining in '02), and came third (out of 12) in Division Two.

A big thanks go to the stalwarts of the team, "Antand Dec" (aka Anthony Theodossi and Ryan Perrie), Jonny Saunders, James Ware and also Simon Warren-Thomas for their sterling efforts. It is with regret that we have to say goodbye to James Ware as he embarks on a new life �Down Under�. We trust that he will do his best to spread the word on Fives in Oz at all those BBQs held there. Should James not make Eton Fives a major Oz sport he will be more than welcome to play the occasional match for us when he is back visiting!

We have not had the best record in the Barber Cup event. This year we considered withdrawing, simply because our pool of genuine Old Stoic players is only eight strong, and we have not managed to get out a full team. However we have entered for yet another year, so to any old Stoics out there please make the effort to play this fixture even if it is the only one you play all year - it's not the win, it's the participation that counts (especially at the pub afterwards).

Next season should prove another challenging and interesting one, with a new Salopian team entering League Two. This has an adverse impact on the Old Stoics team as we have had Old Salopians play the occasional �tough� match for us. Those days are now behind us.We only hope that the Westway Centre will continue to prove a rich vein for new recruits!

Jurgen Hutter/Mike Skjott

Old Westminsters

It's a sporting truism that the second season in the top league can be harder than the first. So it proved for Old Westminsters 1, runners-up the previous season in their first campaign back in Division One after a twenty year gap. Whilst not scaling the dizzy heights of 07/08, Old Westminsters 1 still came a creditable third, though admittedly some way behind the top two.

It was a much tougher debut in Division Two for newlypromoted Old Westminsters 2, however, who spent virtually the entire season deep in the relegation zone, but just managed to pull clear in the final days (thanks in part to our skill in avoiding penalty points). In the end the Club Secretary couldn't decide whether he felt like Fulham's Roy Hodgson two years ago or Gordon Brown more recently. . . .

Although the emphasis inevitably tends to be on the League � fully backed by the Club membership, incidentally, who when polled voted unanimously in favour � a full third of the matches are friendlies and we are keen to increase that proportion where time and space permit. If other clubs are seeking to do the same, please get in touch.

Andrew Aitken

Old Wulfrunians

The 2008/09 Season witnessed further developments in Wolverhampton Fives, with more Old Wulfs returning to the game and new players taking it up. We have had friendly fixtures, both home and away, with the Shrewsbury Monday Club and North Oxford. The intention is to repeat these fixtures next season and add matches with the Edgbaston Fives Club to our growing friendly Fives fixture list. We have been successful in maintaining a regular Monday Evening Club and regularly have eight players. Usually we have one court of experienced Old Wulfs, and the standard is very good, and a second court of new players made up of parents and friends new to the game.We sincerely hope to expand to a regular third court as more new players and Old Wulfs are found.

The Midland Championships saw an all Old Wulfs semi-final with Mark Yates and Mark Yates eventually sneaking through against Adrian 'Sid' Simmons and Chris Austin. Sadly the Yates Boys were unable to repeat last year's performance and finished runners-up to an Old Olavian pair. At the County Championship Qualifiers in November, Sid led the 'Staffordshire' team during a successful pool campaign, securing progress through to the semi-final against Warwickshire. The semi-final match was keenly fought, with Warwickshire taking pairs one and three. David Jones and Mark Yates (jnr) restored some pride with a 2-1 win at second pair.

A small piece of history was made in late November with the Old Wulfrunians competing in the Barber Cup for the first time in more than a decade. The draw was not a favourable one and saw us taking on the Old Salopians. At first pair Sid and Chris put up a valiant performance against a very experienced pair of Ed Taylor and Anthony Walters. At two, the Yates Boys had a drawn out tussle, with three games being set, but finally lost 3-1. Third pair saw Oliver Ross returning to competition for the first time since the Schools� Open Final in 1992. He'd clearly lost none of his edge, and with Greg Hammond, eventually ran out winners 3-2. So not quite the return to glory we'd hoped for, but a starting point for next year's competition.

The EFA Trophy looked like the Old Wulfrunians best chance of silverware. However, after a successful qualifying campaign and progress to the semi-finals the draw once again threw up the Old Salopians. Again it was a toughly fought match, which saw the Salopians progress 2-1.

The Northern Championships saw the welcome return of Mark Moore to the growing number of Old Wulfrunians back on court. Chris Moore was found spectating at Shrewsbury and was persuaded back on court the following Monday. Success in the main competition was limited but Sid Simmons and Stu Bickerton prevailed in the Plate A competition. Stuart had further success with victory in the Kinnaird Festival, partnering Mark Yates (snr) during a long day of Fives.

The Old Wulfrunians and Fives in Wolverhampton is in good heart and looking forward to more friendly and competitive Fives next season.

Mark Yates

Oxford University

The OUEFC needed an influx of good players if it was to end the losing streak to Cambridge in the Blues match and maintain its performance in the Peppers/Penguins and Ladies matches. Luckily that�s exactly what it got. Rex Worth, Balrik Kailey, Peter Stewart, Tom Greene, James Batting and Fritz von-Guionneau added vital quality to the squad. Their arrival meant that former Blues could be fielded in the Peppers team. Hannah Cutmore-Scott joined the Ladies team, giving them a fighting chance at second pair.

After fixtures against Harrow, Lancing and North Oxford we sent several pairs to the Universities� Championships, where Rex and Will Betts lost in the final to Cambridge 1. The same result occurred at first pair in the Varsity match with an unchanged line-up, though any of four or five players could have partnered Rex. It was this depth that helped us to a 2-1 victory in the Blues match with Tom and Peter winning a nail-biting five-setter and with Balrik and James winning in four. The Peppers also won 2-1, and the Ladies drew 1-1.We will be aiming to field a third girls� pair next year. With relatively few players leaving this year, things look promising for next season.

Will Betts

Oxford University Ladies

The 2008-09 season has been a quietly confident one for the Oxford Ladies' squad; the number of quality players is very slowly but surely rising, with the valuable addition of Hannah Cutmore-Scott (Westminster and Christ Church) bringing the Oxford squad total of National Schools' champions up to three! We have high hopes for an influx of enthusiastic Freshers this coming October and fielding three pairs for next season.

Our only tournaments as a University squad were the Varsity Match and the University Championships in November, the latter of which was a welcome opportunity to size up our Varsity opposition. Juliet Browning (Lancing and St Peter's) and Rosie Scott (Lancing and Magdalen) won against the Light Blues' first pair, but the match against the second pair contained the vital piece of intelligence that made the day so worthwhile. Karen Hird�'intimidating play after so short an acquaintance with Fives sent us home with real determination to raise our game and put in some serious cut-return practice! Hannah represented Oxford in the Ladies' Championships with Ashley Lumbard and did extremely well, making it through to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by the eventual winners.

The Varsity Tournament was, as ever, the highlight of the season. Hannah and Emma Cernis (Berkhamsted and St Edmund Hall) fought extremely hard against the Cambridge second pair, but could not fend off defeat, despite forcing a fourth game. The first pair game was simply electric, and although of course Oxford were delighted to win, it was one of the most enjoyable games we had played. Despite the intensely competitive atmosphere, play was good-natured and entirely in the spirit of the game. It felt like a great demonstration of all that is best about Fives: excellent sportsmanship, great skill, fine opponents and an Oxford victory!

Rosie Scott

Westway Club

This has been a very successful year for Westway Sports Centre Fives Club. This past season Westway have won the third division title due to the success of the evening club night sessions on a Monday and Thursday night. The Westway pay and play club nights are full of old players returning to the game, new members and people who are local to the centre, who are of all sorts of different ages and abilities from beginners right up to the top end of the game and there is a healthy average of three full courts on both evenings.

The Westway Fives club will next season be entering two teams into the league as we now have the player base to do so. The club members have also entered many of the main competitions such as the Ladies Championships, the Kinnaird Cup, the Midlands and Northern tournaments. In addition, the Junior club have had success at the Rossall schools� competition winning the U15 doubles. Next year looks likely to be bigger and more successful than ever, with success in the major adult and junior tournaments. Dominique Redmond!

Howard Wiseman

Windsor & Eton

WEFC have had another steady season. Sadly the club were not promotion contenders this year, however neither were they in danger of supporting the rest of Division Three. With the arrival of the new team strip, in a tasteful combination of red blue and yellow, WEFC have been instantly recognisable in all of the competitions.

As is customary, the club made their annual pilgrimage to the Northern tournament in Shrewsbury at the beginning of the year and enjoyed a modicum of success and vast quantities of curry. We were proud to bring a total of seven pairs to the tournament with contenders in both the Festival and the Championship. Regrettably, despite several fine performances, none of our pairs were ultimately successful but there were several notable victories.

With some social Fives planned for the summer break we are looking to maintain the momentum for next season and hope to get off to a flying start in September.

Nick Bunyan