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2015 Review

The OCEFC’s 122nd season has been a busy one, at home and abroad. The season began with a visit to Zurich, where there were two firsts.

A group of nine Old Citizens and friends travelled to Switzerland and presented the Hawken Garrett cup to our Swiss hosts. This trophy is intended to strengthen ties between the OCEFC and the Old Zuozers and will be played for whenever and wherever we meet. It is named after Floater Hawken and Bunny Garrett who revitalised the club after the war and took it to Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in the Swiss mountains to encourage the game there. The HG Cup was won this time by the Zuozers.
 
David Cooper, who was one of those who travelled in the fifties to Zuoz and is now in his seventies, was this time accompanied by OCs John GeeGrant, Alex Kasterine, Stephen Kelly, Jonny Powell and John Reynolds. Club friends Ronald and Louise Pattison, and Will Skjott completed the party.
 
The weekend also saw the inaugural Zurich international fives tournament. The Old Zuozers who run the event have, curiously, named it after John Reynolds. The trophy is in the shape of a Swiss beer jug.
The domestic season was kicked off by the Wood Plate and this was won by CLS captain Jivan Navani and Jonny Powell. It was the first time that (any of us could remember) a schoolboy had won the cup. This also meant that Jonny held both Wood Plate and Adams Cup at the same, as he’d won the latter at the end of the 2013/4 season.
 
We have run two sides in the national leagues. In the 11-strong division two our side has been run by Alex Nice and at the time of writing we’re in second place behind the Etonians, after victories over the Westminsters, Stoics, Berkhamstedians, Ipswichians and Mill Hillians. We’ve been in contention for a top-three finish for most of the season. There is still time for the closing stages to be kind or cruel to us. In Division Three, run by Stephen Mullin, we occupy a respectable mid-table place.
 
In the Barber Cup – the Eton fives world’s premier knockout trophy - we lost in the first round 2-1 to the fourth seeds from Lancing, but gave them a bit of a scare. We fielded Spencer Chapman and John Reynolds at first pair, Nick Gill and Sam Packer at second and John Gee-Grant and Alex Nice at third. Third pair won easily, second pair faced a tough task against a formidable pair but for a while we were on course for an upset, after the first pair, thanks to some great cut returning from Chapman, won the first set and came close to nicking the second.
 
We may have fallen at the first hurdle, but we have assembled a stronger squad than they have had for many years, combining the experience of players who knew the courts at Blackfriars more than a quarter of a century ago with the increasing expertise of those who have learned their game on borrowed courts. On this occasion there were three of each category in the side.
 
Thursday practices have continued to be well attended this season, thanks to the organisation of club guest Ralph Morgan. We’ve been joined by some Old Cholmeleians and players from London University and as a result have often had four courts full of players.
 
CLS boys, led by Jivan Navani, continued to play the game on Wednesdays at Westminster, despite an early-season scare that the courts there would be unavailable. Jivan organised three pairs to go to the National Schools competition at Eton, although only two played. By the account JOHN REYNOLDS (1972-1979) OC SPORT of competition organiser, they were a credit to the school and to the OCEFC and were a boon to the occasion. We’ve been delighted to see Jivan, Harrison Jones, Jonah Taylor and Jacob Greenhouse at our Highgate practices from time to time.
 
Sam Packer again led the Oxford University Peppers to victory against Cambridge in the Varsity match. He also represented Oxford in the mixed universities, being knocked out in the semi-final stage.
 
We had a couple of representatives in the Kinnaird Cup, the game’s premier tournament, held at Eton. Stephen Kelly and Spencer Chapman played, although not together.

Our end-of-season annual dinner, a black-tie event at the Royal College of Medicine organised by Stephen Mullin, looks like being a sell-out with a maximum of 24 attending.
 
All former players are very welcome to join us, if only to say hello. And even if you’ve not played for decades all Old Citizens are welcome to join us at our practices each Thursday. Please contact John Reynolds if you’re interested.

(Photos in The Gazette, Autumn 2015)