The Fives Court

The legendary, and it turns out, quite unique, Fives Court donated to the school by the relative of a fallen World War One soldier, old pupil and master.

"Having had a look at the photos it is looks like it is neither an Eton Fives court (it lacks the internal features - ledges, step and buttress) nor a Rugby Fives court (no back wall). It is most definitely a Fives court, but a non-standard one of unusual design, perhaps more akin to some of the handball alleys or Fives walls that cropped up around the place way before Rugby or Eton codified their versions of the game.

Gareth Hoskins
October 2019
Secretary, Eton Fives Association

The 1970s Rules

Amongst the shouts and noisy stampedes of 20-30 half dressed boys, of all ages, inside a 20 foot square, semi derelict enclosure, there were at least some rules of the 'modern' Fives Court.

Most of the action took place on "the wall", or the muddy puddle at the "back" of the court which was adorned by several green blazers spared the heat of battle.

A "dead" (often wet and muddy) tennis ball was the only equipment which was kicked, furiously, by any boy who could, against the "the wall".

  • If the ball fell short of the wall, or left the court, the kicker was out.
  • If someone else kicked it and it hit you, then apart from the wet, muddy stain on your shirt, then you were also "out".
  • If no one chose to kick the ball, then the last person to hurtle themselves against the wall was out, and the game restarted with another dead ball.
  • Anyone, of any age could join in, and in the earlier years it seemed quite terrifying!

    When only 1 winning boy was left remaining, everybody rushed back in and the game repeated until the next end of break bell rang.

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