New Fives Season

The first night of the Wessex 2019-2020 fives season will be on the 17th September. We will then play every Tuesday (bar a Christmas break) till the Letchworth Bowl which is normally at the end of April. Club evening normally start around 1830 and we play till about 2145 following which we have drinks and sausages in the Wykeham Arms. Please come and join us!

Letchworth Bowl Winners

Tuesday 30th April saw our traditional end of season tournament being played for the Letchworth Bowl. Last year’s winner Giles Munn was paired this year with Wendy Carling and having won all their group games came up against Ben Chua and Dan Thompson in the final. For Dan this was only his 5th time playing fives…. which was 4 times more than Giles’ partner Chris Jack had played when they won it last year! A good final was won by Giles and Wendy 11-6 and so Giles joins a select group of players in having retained the Letchworth Bowl. Previous back to back winners are Frank Akerman (1985/ 86), Tony Letchworth (1989/ 90), Tony Wolstenholme (1995/ 96)…. and a bloke called Will Ellison (2007/ 8). Giles still has some way to go before he finds himself on the hall of fame below!

Previous 4 time winnners Nigel Cox- 1978, 1980, 1984, 1990, Tony Letchworth- 1981, 1983, 1989, 1990, Tony Wolstenholme- 1988, 1995, 1996, 2005

Biggest gap between wins…. Jamie Orchard, 1985 and 2011

Oldest winner…. Bev Boag 2017… 70 something!

Youngest winners- Pete Kullavanijaya and Alex Younger 15 year olds paired together

First Lady Winner- Wendy Carling 2019

Giles Munn and Wendy Carling celebrating their 2019 victory. You have a year to clean the cup Giles!!

Giles Munn and Wendy Carling celebrating their 2019 victory. You have a year to clean the cup Giles!!

Grand Master Champions!

It should probably come as no surprise that when it comes to having strong fives players in their ‘latter years’ Wessex is going to be strong…. and so it seems! We are proud to have the first ever ‘Grand Master’ national champions! Well done Bev and well done Bernard! Below is some words written by Bernard….

The Grand Masters: The establishment of the Masters by David Bawtree in 2003 inevitably nurtured the ambition that there might be another tournament lurking in the RFA gerontocracy. The date of inception was clearly a critical trade-off between sufficient numbers on the one hand and creeping mortality on the other! Deeming the moment to be right, Bernard Atkinson launched the new tournament, and so two pairs of players in late middle age were able to prove that there is probably life after death, with a contest of three games to 11. In the end all four players were still standing and a red line had been crossed and a serious point proved. The new trophy will be engraved with the names of Bernard Atkinson & Bev Boag, while Chris Horrocks and his partner David Neal can bask in the pride of having not only participated in the making of history, but giving the winners some nervous moments on the way.

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Match vs Winchester College

Thanks to Bill, Rupert, Toby, and Lucas for playing against the Winchester College 1st IV on Saturday. In beautiful Spring conditions the match was a close affair with Wessex loosing the doubles by just 10 points. In a desperate attempt to close the gap the non playing Wessex Manager suggested that singles was a good idea- our team who had given everything on court during the doubles were all ‘delighted’ to run around against opponents 1/2 (or even 1/3!) their age and despite their best efforts sadly we lost the singles as well. Thanks to Jamie and the College boys for such an enjoyable fixture.

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Barnes Bridge Report 2019

16 pairs entered this year’s Barnes Bridge and despite the post storm British Rail excuses of ‘trees on the line’ and ‘scaffolding on the line’, all 32 players made it safely to Winchester College for what could be the last Barnes Bridge before the new courts are opened. The first round sprung no surprises other than local Wessex stalwarts Martin Patterson and Miles Catton leading in both their games against number 2 seeds Dan Tristao and Dave Butler… but not for long! Again the second round/ quarter final went according to the seedings apart from a fine 3 game victory by Hamish Buchanan and James Bristow over Giles Munn and James Birch. The expected hard hitting onslaught of Ollie Arnold and Theo Parker could not put the number 2 seeds off their line and with Will Ellison and Ed Kay having a relatively easy semi final against an understandably tiring Hamish and James the number 1 and 2 seeds had made it through to the final without too many concerns.

Various plates were meanwhile underway to ensure that no one went home feeling short of exercise. In the main plate for first round losers Ben Chua and James Smith won an excellent final against James Marshall and Louise Mathias. A plate for the second round losers saw Giles and James coming out up against John Minta and Ed Hawke in another 3 gamer.

Other highlights of the plates included Duncan Neale (always one for a bit extra fives) playing a best of 3 in the plate without realizing it was a best of one and then he went on to display some extraordinary delaying tactics to catch his breath when playing against the organiser- you really need to learn to tie those laces properly the first time Duncan!

And so to the final, and what a final it was. I cannot think there have ever been too many better games of fives played.

The first started cagily with both pairs not wanting to give anything away. All players were serving well, not necessarily into the buttress but into the nicks around it, so chances to win points were scarce. Eventually, with the game stuck at 6 all, Will and Ed broke the deadlock to lead 13-7. As often happens in Winchester Fives however it was Dave and Dan’s turn to go on a run of points. It looked at one point like they may turn the tables and take the game but they never managed to quite get level and Will and Ed held on to take the game 15-13. 

The second game was a role reversal of the first. Dave and Dan broke the deadlock again at 6 a piece to go up, only for Will and Ed to claw their way back successfully enough to earn their first match point, but Dave and Dan narrowly won 16-14.

With the match all square going into the third it was very hard to call a winner. Both pairs again knew the importance of a strong start and as was the norm there were a close first few points until Dave and Dan went 10-6 up. Were Ed and Will going to rue not winning that match point in the previous game? At 11-11 it was impossible to call a winner until some killer buttress shots gave Will and Ed the lead and eventual victory 15-12.


Main Competition- Barnes Bridge

 First Round:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt S. Frase + D. Percival 15-0, 15-2. M. Crompton + R James-Duff bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-4, 15-3 H. Buchanan + J. Bristow bt L. Amery + G. Daykin 15-1, 15-2 J. Birch + G. Munn bt J. Marshall + L. Mathias 15-3, 15-2 O. Arnold + T. Parker bt B. Hale + S. Zang 15-3, 15-7. J. Minta + E. Hawke bt B. Chua + J. Smith 15-2, 15-10 A. Passey + L. Cook bt C. Davey + J. Sumner 15-7, 15-8 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt M. Catton + M. Patterson 15-1, 15-3

Quarter Finals:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt M. Crompton + R. James-Duff 15-0, 15-2 H. Buchanan + J. Bristow bt J. Birch + G. Munn 5-15, 16-14, 15-13 O. Arvold + T. Parker bt J. Minta + E. Hawke 15-8, 15-2 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-0, 15-0


Semi Finals:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt H. Buchanan + J. Bristow 15-4, 15-2 D. Tristao + D. Butler bt O. Arvold + T. Parker 15-9, 15-7


Final:- W. Ellison + E. Kay bt D. Tristao + D. Butler 15-13, 14-16, 15-12


Plate for 1st round losers


Quarter Finals:- S. Fraser + D. Percival bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-7, 15-8 J. Marshall + L Mathias bt L. Amery + G. Daykin 15-3 B. Chua + J. Smith bt B. Hale + S. Zang 15-3. C Davey + J. Sumner bt M. Catton + M. Patterson 15-4


Semi Finals:- J. Marshall + L. Mathias bt S. Fraser + D. Percival 15-3 B. Chua + J. Smith bt C. Davey + J. Sumner 15-3


Finals:- B. Chua + J. Smith bt J. Marshall + L. Mathias 15-11



Plate for second round losers from Barnes Bridge


Semi Finals:- J. Birch + G. Munn bt M. Crompton + R. James-Duff 15,4 E. Hawke + J. Minta bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-8


Final:- G. Munn + J. Birch bt J. Minta + E. Hawke 5-11, 11-7, 11-5      



Plate for first round plate losers


Semi Final:- L. Amery + H. Akerman bt D. Neale + N. Geere 15-12 B. Hale + S. Zang bt M. Catton + M. Patterson15-6


Final:- B. Hale + S. Zang bt L. Amery + N. Geere 15-4


Plate for 1st round losers from plate for second round Barnes Bridge losers (!)


Final:- M. Crompton + R. James-Duff bt A. Passey + L. Cook 15-13


Ben Chua and James Smith- Winners of the main plate

Ben Chua and James Smith- Winners of the main plate

Rory James-Duff and Mike Crompton- so near and yet so far against number 1 seeds Will Ellison and Ed Kay

Rory James-Duff and Mike Crompton- so near and yet so far against number 1 seeds Will Ellison and Ed Kay

Ed and Will with the Barnes Bridge. Will has now won it 9 times- the only person with more victories is Dave Hebden (14).

Ed and Will with the Barnes Bridge. Will has now won it 9 times- the only person with more victories is Dave Hebden (14).

Ladies National Rugby Fives Championship

We have a national champion in the club again!! Well done to Shinan who won the doubles competition this weekend and also got to the semi final in the singles. Those of you who were in Edinburgh will know just how strong women’s fives is becoming. Below is a report from Bob Dolby….

We have a new National Ladies Singles champion -- Louise Mathias-- and new Ladies Doubles champions -- Louise Mathias & Shinan Zhang.

The venue and the 2-day format were a great success and the standard of play in the whole event, with its 25 contestants, was undoubtedly the highest we have ever had. I cannot imagine we have ever seen a Singles final of the quality that Kathleen Briedenhann and Louise produced (look at the scores), where point after point was gained by either a winning shot or a forced error. The effort put in by both players was enormous (Kathleen's fitbit tells her she ran four and a half kilometers). Kathleen was so gracious in defeat and Louise was, at least momentarily, in disbelief. One Doubles semi-final involving the defending champions (who lost) was more than worthy of the final, but the three-game final itself was extraordinary: it was often scrappy, with countless lets and comings-together, but it was utterly compelling and left the schoolgirls from Edinburgh Academy and Bedford Modern, who watched from start to finish, in some degree of wonder and the rest of us deep in admiration.

Both Plate finals were remarkable too: Dominique Redmond's considerable experience and powers of anticipation against Zara Elliot's weight of shot, athleticism and spirit produced a marvellous match in the Singles, and in the Doubles Dominique and Martha Nugent took the title in a tight game which Katie & Maddie could just as easily have won had the odd rally gone their way in the final stages.

So much more I could say!


Semi-finals: Kathleen Briedenhann (1) bt Shinan Zhang (4) 11-8, 11-7; Louise Mathias (3) bt Tessa Mills (2) 11-8, 11-4

Final: Louise Mathias bt Kathleen Briedenhann 15-8, 7-15, 15-10

Plate: Dominique Redmond bt Zara Elliot 11-1, 7-11, 11-9


Semi-finals:Kathleen Briedenahnn & Tessa Mills bt Ibby Lee & Anna Laakkonen 11-0, 11-2 [Ibby was injured] ; Louise Mathias & Shinan Zhang bt Alexandra Steel & Maddy Raynor 11-8, 3-11, 11-7

Final: Mathias & Zhang bt Briedenhann & Mills 15-8, 6-15, 15-11

Plate: Dominique Redmond & Martha Nugent bt Katie Sumner & Maddie Kent 15-9

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