The Jesters Tour to Scotland, January 2016
Fives-packed and fun-packed: that was this year’s Jesters Tour to Scotland. Below are some photographs relating to this tour, an annual fixture which began in 1992, making this the 25th of its kind. It was the biggest yet; over the long weekend of 8-10 January some 38 players contested 11 matches, plus four internal and very hard fought pairs competitions and a further tournament involving six of the best boys. The Jesters also put on coaching sessions for the younger boys and girls at the four Fives-playing schools in the Scottish capital: Edinburgh Academy, Fettes College, Loretto School and Merchiston Castle School. Notably, it was the first time that girls had figured among the opposition.
Two players flew in from New York to take part, and one from the Bahamas. It is only fitting to acknowledge, also, the impressive record held by Duncan Neale of playing in all tours so far, and Tony Metcalf-Gibson, Andy Williamson, Ed and Robin Thompson have missed only a handful between them.
Warmest thanks must go to Fettes College and their bursar and master in charge, Peter Worlledge, for their hospitality: not just a reception but “even a refreshments bar in the gallery of the courts stacked with croissants, tea and coffee, which was an unbelievable sight to long-suffering Fives-players more usually accustomed to outdoors conditions”, says organiser Frank Akerman.
The first four action pictures relate to the Select VI tournament in which the best six boys available from the four schools (one player at least must come from each school) pair up with a Jester and then play five games up to 11, one game against each of the other pairs. On this occasion the pairs were (1) Grant Spirling (Fettes) with David Butler (42 points), (2) Lewis Baird (Merchiston) with Jez Sinton (17 points), (3) Andrew Boyd (Edinburgh Academy) with Ben Chua (54 points), (4) Ben Jourdan (Edinburgh Academy) with Mike Crompton (48 points), (5) Archie McCreath (Fettes) with Hamish Buchanan (44 points), and (6) Gary Lemon (Loretto) with Harry Akerman (32 points).
Invitations to the parents of the boys playing, to the headmasters of the four schools, to the masters i/c and to the small Fives-playing community, i.e. those who play with the Caledonian Club, the Merchistonians and the University, were sent out suggesting they might like to watch some of this tournament and then join us at the Reception which Fettes kindly arrange for us. The response was as good as ever. There was the customary small engraved award to the boys in the winning and runner-up pair which were presented at the Reception: this year to Andrew Boyd and, in second place, to his school partner Ben Jourdan. As it happens, it was the other way round last year!
The remaining two photos feature stalwart Hamish Buchanan and newcomer Roger Layton: so good to see him back on a Fives court now he is living in Edinburgh.