The Fascination of Eton Fives

The Best of all Games to Play

Sports Gossip - The Times April 8th 1931

Tucked away in an odd corner of Queen's Club, a little crowd of spectators will stand for hours on end every day this week in a little gallery watching the boys from a dozen of the big public schools play Eton Fives.

Vitually a Championship

These events are vitually championships, but in deference to the wishes of headmasters and parents living in distant parts of the country who wish to see something of their boys during the holidays, the play is on handicap lines.

Otherwise every school would feel it a matter of honour to be represented by its best team, no matter the inconvenience and travelling involved.

Keen to Play

The fascination of the game is so strong that many boys with a flair for it have entered, and the standard of play is undoubtedly very high.

At the moment, Eton, Harrow and Shrewsbury, and Highate are producing the best Fives players. Harrow, as a matter of fact, are the present holders in both the senior and junior sections, and the school on the hill has won every competition staged at Queen's since the events were inaugurated three years ago.

A Little Change

For the lover of the sport satiated with his ordinary round of games - soccer, rugger, hockey, golf and tennis - an hour or so spent on a Fives court might provide a welcome relaxation and a tonic for the bigger games.

Here, in a very prescribed area right under spectators' eyes, can be seen all the elements that fascinate one in games - pace, tactics, stamina, the use of angles, and the team spirit without which no game is really worthwhile.

The Best of All Games

It is the view of many all round players of games that Eton Fives is the best game of all to play. It is the favourite game, I know, of K C Gandar Dower, who has played more games with success than any other youngster now before the public.

Half an hour spent in the gallery of a Fives court watching the players trying for the 'pepper box' imparting cut to the ball with the gloved hand, or seeking for an opening to kill, is an education in physical energy and the zest of games.

No Champion

As it is all doubles at Fives, except for the purpose of practice or keeping fit, there is no champion of the game. But I have heard wonderful accounts of the play of a Basque named Aguirre, who was at Highgate not so long ago; and in the old days the late Lord Kinnaird, of football fame, established a great reputation for his skill at Fives.