Shrewsbury School

Staff / Student Fives resurrected

Saturday 23 February 2013

When Mark Williams was in charge of Fives at Shrewsbury some 20 years ago, the staff would play a fives match against a house every week across about ten pairs. This seemed such a civilised idea that it deserved to be revived; Wednesday 20th February presented itself as a suitable date and several members of the common room found themselves coaxed, tricked or press ganged into playing. Since for many it was their first time donning the gloves, pairs were mostly set up to be mixed staff / student. The selected students needed no pressing or trickery: they were delighted at the opportunity to take on their teachers, tutors and housemasters. And win.

The Headmaster and PRV formed the SLT vanguard in a match of increasing quality played in excellent and competitive spirit. RTH, DMH, ASB, DAGN and GJFB formed the Housemasters’ Cavalry (SHC was gloved and almost on court when called away) and Light Infantry were MDHC, TDJW, JAM, TSM, CWC, RHM, CWO, CWK, IPH, BDP and JVL.

School House vs Severn Hill: GJFB and Harry Bromley-Davenport came back from a game to love down to win 9-12, 12-2 and 14-13 in the nail-biting decider against DAGN and Samson Yick. (Accusations of having played before were levelled at Mr Bell!)

In the closest match, CWC and James Bampfield OS lost by the narrowest of margins 14-15, 13-14 against Nick Pearce and Jamie Humes.

Churchill’s’ civil war was won by JVL and George Panayi against RTH and Henry Newbould 12-10; rumours that JVL is having to do an extra weekend duty in penance are unconfirmed. He undoubtedly enjoyed himself tremendously. The JVL victory dance after a point won is to be incorporated into the fives team warm-up for the rest of the year, and may be employed tactically during school matches!

Possibly the most competitive match – though that is akin to picking the titanium alloy from a heap of hardened high-carbon steel – was played out by ASB and Tony Walters OS against Jack Fox and James Harris. ASB is far more accustomed to watching than playing but has picked up plenty of ideas while doing so. The boys won the first game 12-4 but the seniors were beginning to work out the cut returns and took the second 12-8. The PH boys are a competitive bunch too and raised the battle. It became a classic game of wiles and experience from Walters vs energy and grit from Fox and Harris; the seniors emerged victorious, 12-7. ASB claims to be of limited mobility or at least aching today, despite the application of pain-killing medicines.

The blood-feud pitted TDJW and David Clark against MDHC and James Warburg. Fortunately no blood was spilled and much enjoyment was had by all, especially the fathers on their first and second outings respectively. James was a little too strong in the end, he and MDHC winning 12-8.

The Battle of Oldham’s Hall squared up CWK and Guy Hunter against IPH and Dan Delikatny. The latter pair eventually won both games, the second 7-6 after a comeback.

Many of the newcomers to the sport conceded a great enjoyment of it having played. I have also been asked more than once by students whether this might be made a regular event. I could certainly see a future in the idea of a staff/student tournament. This may not be the last you hear of it!

21st February 2013

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