OF: Welcome, Olavian Legend. Please tell us what qualifies you to be an Olavian (ie: when did you attend STOGS)
I was at STOGs from 1985 to 1992
OF: When did you first set foot on a Fives court (to the nearest decade, if you prefer)
Actually during an open day at STOGs when I was looking at prospective senior schools.
OF: Why did you start playing Fives?
More or less in the first few days of joining STOGS in 1985.
OF: Do you still play? If so, why; If not, why not?
Rarely. A combination of injuries, proximity to courts, available time and a little bit that I’m not as competitive as I once was – I’m not good at playing socially having been so competitive.
OF: What is your earliest memory of schoolboy Fives?
Rushing down to get Court 1 and the best gloves from ‘the box’ at lunchtime and then playing with Howard, Geoff, Nick Stanbridge et al.
Playing ‘top step’ with Pauli up to 100 after school almost every day, all year round. Had we been footballers or golfers we’d have been millionaires by now the amount of practice we put in!
OF: What is your earliest memory of adult Fives?
Playing Joe Ward and Doug Keeble in a schoolboy versus old Olavians match one evening at STOGS. My mum turned up at about 9pm in a panic wondering where the hell I was as I didn’t realise that it would run on so late!!
OF: Are there any particular memories of OO Fives that stick in your mind?
Quite a few actually. I think winning the Barber Cup at Eton for the first time since it was won by Dick Spooner, Jimmy Biggs et al all those years ago and having the photo taken with them on court after the match. It was the start of the Olavian dominance of the Barber, the league and the sport in general.
I remember Pauli cracking a ball at Doug Keeble’s forehead from the back of the court and watching Doug wobble back and forth whilst everyone waited in silence, mouths wide open, for him to fall like some grand old oak tree in the forest. Fortunately he rallied and we finished the match without further risk to life.
OF: Have you ever won anything Fives related? A Spoon, a Tankard, a Kinnaird, a Barber etc.
I’ve been lucky enough to win quite a few bits and bobs in my time playing. I was part of the team that recovered the Barber Cup for the Olavian’s for the first time in many years and a regular in the team that retained it throughout the initial run of success that followed. I’ve won the league with the old Olavians as well on a number of occasions and the county cup with Kent (essentially the Old Olavians) numerous times too. Various tankards and spoons were in the mix there too.
In terms of National competitions I’ve won the London Tournament and been a finalist in the Northern Championship only to be beaten by another Olavian pair. I’ve not made it past the semis in the Kinnaird.
Pauli and I were probably the most unsuccessful, successful schoolboy pair in the history of the schools championship. We finished finalists at U16 and Open losing to the same pair each time (M O Ross and D E Jones of Wolverhampton). We also lost in the final of the National U25 in the same year we finished 2nd in the schools Open Championship.
OF: Have you ever paid money to play a game of Fives?
Regularly. Tournament entry fees & court fees at various matches (eg Westway).
OF: Have you ever received money to play a game of Fives?
I have been paid as a coach by a number of schools including King Edward’s Birmingham and Ipswich most notably.
OF: Which idiosyncrasies about Fives do you particularly like?
Where to start! I think the one that I am most fond of is the need to be Five’s Fit! No matter how fit you are generally, that first game of Fives after a break takes a physical toll on you that you aren’t prepared for. You would almost swear that you had to develop muscle groups specifically to play Five’s you ache so much!
OF: Which idiosyncrasies about Fives do you particularly like dislike?
I’m not sure there are any that I dislike about the sport itself. It’s a difficult sport to watch for the uninitiated and it would be nice to see a few more courts built with the spectator in mind (exhibiton style). Also, the availability of courts and their uniqueness is an inherent barrier to growth of the sport and sadly may end up being its downfall without initiatives like this one.
OF: Your new girlfriend asks if she can come and watch you play in a tournament at Eton. You’re quite keen on her. It’s January and rain is forecast. Do take her along? Show your working.
Yes you take her along! New girlfriend means honeymoon period so it doesn’t matter how miserable the day is she will probably still like you at the end. If she doesn’t then it wasn’t meant to be!
OF: Describe 3 (three) characteristics that you believe should be present in an Olavian Legend.
Small balls, thick gloves and an anecdote involving a grumpy Olavian caretaker!
OF: Are there any other players that you believe should be granted the status of Olavian Legend? Honourary Olavians are permitted if you’re particularly persuasive. Justify your selections
Alan Chadwick and Howard Wiseman – the time and effort they put into training and preparing us for the Schools Championships make them legends in my book. Pauli too as my partner at school – you can’t win without a partner and Pauli and I did fair bit of that in our school years.
Honorary member, John Reynolds. Along with Howard and Alan, John coached Pauli and I to two National Schools finals and to be consistently one of the best pairs in the country in our age group.