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Portugal Place - RIP

This report first appeared in the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 1994/95

Awards for architectural excellence were never showered on the motley collection of red brick and glass-topped blocks at Portugal Place. In living memory no fresh coats of paint were in evidence, the furniture was always decrepit and in recent years only essential maintenance was carried out as the Damoclean sword hung ever more menacingly. But we played our games there and it was a special place for us.

June 11 was the last celebration of its century-long role as the Rackets and Fives centre in Cambridge: we were all determined to make the most of it. Some of the best players in all three games exhibited their talents on courts finally reverberating to the pinging of balls off walls, the smack of leather gloves and the enthusiastic applause of galleries full of the late and great.

Speeches too from those who played the games and knew the courts for half their lifetime, recalling the professionals who had devoted so much time and effort to the games there and the famous players.

We toasted them all, downed the buffet and played our last games with present University members who must look elsewhere for their sport in future and who showed themselves determined to maintain their various sports in Cambridge, despite the deep lethargy of the University authorities.

Portugal Place is a heap of rubble now and will soon be just an address in Cambridge, but we did capture its ethos far a day and have photographs to take to the next Fives centre in Cambridge and the next century.

Exhibition Match

B C Matthews and R C Tyler/M J Moore beat R A Mason and J R Mole