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The EFA Trophy was won this year for the first time by the Old Wulfrunians, who beat Berkhamsted 2-1 in the final at Eton.
The qualifying rounds of the EFA Trophy took place at Eton and Harrow on Sunday January 31st. Although a couple of late withdrawals reduced the size of the field slightly, the eventual entry of 13 teams was the biggest for many years and necessitated the use of two venues.
The Eton group developed into a close three way tussle between defending champions North Oxford A, perennial EFA Trophy contenders the Old Salopians and a young and impressive Berkhamsted team. The outcome was uncertain right up until the last couple of games, but eventually it was Berkhamsted who won the group with the Salopians second and North Oxford missing out on a semi-final place by just one point. Noteworthy too were the return to this competition after a few year's absence of Oxford University and strong showings from both Windsor & Eton and also the newly formed EFA Ladies team, who provided a fantastic advert for the Ladies game by scoring five points and finishing fifth out of seven in a highly competitive group.
At Harrow, despite some difficulties with a lack of court lighting, play proceeded smoothly and again produced a three way contest for the two qualifying places. The Old Wulfrunians - still seeking their first EFA Trophy title after several near misses in recent seasons - won the group with Cambridge University A clinching second place ahead of the Old Etonians.
Thanks are due to Mark Williams and Seb Cooley at Eton and Graham Dunbar at Harrow and also to Mark Yates for his invaluable organisational assistance.
Group A (Eton)
Berkhamsted A 16
Old Salopians 15
North Oxford A 14
Windsor & Eton 7
EFA Ladies 5
Berkhamsted B 3
Oxford University 2
Group B (Harrow)
Old Wulfrunians 14
Cambridge University A 12
Old Etonians 10
St Olave's School 6
North Oxford B 2
Cambridge University B 1
The semi-finals and final took place three weeks later at Eton and produced some thrilling matches. The Wulfrunians and Salopians renewed their friendly but fierce local rivalry and for the first time in recent seasons since their comeback in 2008 the Wulfrunians got the better of the Midlands derby, winning well at first and second pair to progress to the final. Initially it looked as if they would be joined by Berkhamsted as they went ahead in all three pairs against Cambridge University. Second pair went their way quickly, but the Cambridge students battled back with first pair and third pair both threatening to turn the tide. In the end, though, the Berkhamsted team prevailed and won through to the final.
The Old Wulfrunians had been threatening to win this competition for the past couple of seasons and it was no surprise that they came out of the blocks fast in a repeat of the final of two years ago. On that day, Berkhamsted had proved too strong but this time the Wolverhampton team had other ideas and raced away with first and third pairs to cruise to victory. Berkhamsted managed to claw their way back and win the second pair match but it was too little too late and the trophy was presented to Wulfrunian captain Mark Yates, a fitting reward for his inspirational leadership and hard work in reviving Wulfrunian Fives over the past few seasons.
Old Wulfrunians beat Old Salopians 2-1
M.Yates & A.Simmons beat G.Williams & G.Thomason 3-0
M.Yates & D.Jones beat M.Quinn & C.Webster 3-0
C.Austin & G.Hammond lost to J.Pollock & B.Walker 1-3
Berkhamsted beat Cambridge University 2-1
A.Joyce & R.Perrie beat R.Desmond & L.Brock 3-1
A.Cybulski & J.O'Neill beat M.McCulloch & O.Watts 3-0
A.Theodossi & A.Rattan lost to W.Illingworth & A.Jackson 2-3
Old Wulfrunians beat Berkhamsted 2-1
M.Yates & A.Simmons beat A.Joyce & R.Perrie 3-0
M.Yates & D.Jones lost to A.Theodossi & A.Cybulski 2-3
C.Austin & G.Hammond beat A.Rattan & J.O'Neill 3-0
3rd/4th place play-off
Old Salopians beat Cambridge University 2-1