News from the Oxford and Cambridge Past versus Present

News  University
Oxford and Cambridge Universities
Saturday, 10th February 2024
The 2024 Oxford University Past vs Present match took place at St Paul’s School on Saturday, 10th of February. This was the 38th edition and was the best attended event in the fixture’s history, with 50 Past and Present players involved throughout the day. This allowed us to hold a 6 vs 6 Women’s match for the first time (expanding on the success of mixed doubles in the past few editions), in addition to the regular Beavers and Men’s 8 match-ups.
In the Beavers fixture, the Present had to contend with some quality Past players, including recent leavers Adam Hutchinson and Harry Turner, in addition to the more tenured Past players of Tony Julius and Chris Blakeley. The Present Beavers were able to steal a few games, however the Past came through with a comfortable 231-95 win.
In the Women’s fixture, three former captains of Viola King Forbes, Phoebe Thornhill and Gabriela Van Bergen headed up a strong Past squad. However, in the singles only Phoebe was able to score a victory, holding Abbie Evans to 3. Present captain Lena Barton’s team held a commanding 58-20 going into the doubles. Viola and Phoebe put up a firm fight, winning all but one of their games, but the Present’s depth allowed them to extend their lead to 166-63 by the close.
In the Men’s 8, it was clear from the start that it would be a close affair. Former captain Dan Whitham lost 11-12 against his younger brother Aiden in the singles, before bettering him in both doubles games 12-11. Elsewhere in the top 4, the Present’s top pair of Shiloh Wu and Ander Iraizoz Olaetxea won their games fairly comfortably giving the Present a narrow lead. However the Past were stronger in the second IV, aided by returns to the fixture for Brian Elfick, George Barnes and Ed Brooke. In the end the contest was decided by a single point — with the Present prevailing by 202 points to the Past’s 201.
The day ended with a dinner and presentation of trophies at Queen’s Club, where the Past wished the Present well in the Varsity Match coming up next weekend.
The 75th Cambridge University Past v Present was played on the glass-backed courts at the University Sports Centre, where it has been played since 2014. There were 40 players past and present involved in the match and 54 inked in to dine at Pembroke College thereafter. With the greater experience of the Past, who numbered amongst them National Singles Champion Ben Beltrami and other multiple champions such as Charlie Brooks and Andy Pringle, it was no surprise that the Past ran out winners by 251-128, with captain-for-the-day Ian Steed taking the Trapnell Tankard. In the Ladies’ Match the 5 players from the Past were also a little too experienced for the 7 Present players, so the match was combined with a number of games of Mixed Doubles, from which Helena Tunks  carried off the new trophy for the Ladies’ Match and India Blaksley the Ted Isaacs Trophy for Mixed Doubles. In this last competition Martin Wilkinson beat his own record for the oldest player to play in the fixture: 77 two days previously.
It being the 75th Jock Burnet Dinner it was appropriate that there were “a few more words” than usual. Club President Bob Dolby celebrated the several national and regional titles currently held by male and female players from the past and the present, reminding those dining that since 1926 Cambridge players had won 516 such titles — David Hebden 117 of them! Bob then ran through the history of the event, which Jock Burnet had founded in 1949 and had run until his death in 1989. Bob had then taken over in 1990 and organised the match and dinner through the last days of Portugal Place, the 17 courtless years between 1996 and 2013, and the glass-backed era the Club is now enjoying. Bob finally announced that, having enjoyed the privilege of doing so for 35 years, he felt it was time to pass Jock’s mantle to the Club’s great benefactor and friend Gareth Quarry.
There followed a number of generous tributes and presentations to the out-going President before those assembled could concentrate on enjoying what Jock Burnet always described as “the evening that never fails”.
Oxford Past v Oxford Present
Oxford Men in action
Oxford Beavers match
Oxford Women’s match
Ben and Jacob share a joke at Cambridge
Reunion for George and Emrys
The Churchill Boys back in action
The ladies reunited too
An Old Bedfordian meet-up
Gloves not worn for a while!
The Old Library at Pembroke College
The Women’s Captain speaking
Helena flanked by two stalwarts of the event
The winning Past captains with the spoils
The outgoing President