Fresher loses bet and travels to Edinburgh and back in a day (with a detour)

900 miles, 27 hours, 5 hockey clubs and 1 kidnapped Aussie: ‘Edinburgh Fives’ is back with a vengeance


  • Exeter fresher loses fives and has to get 6am train to Edinburgh
  • Met by Edinburgh, Durham and Birmingham hockey clubs on the way
  • ‘Kidnapped’ by Bristol Uni Hockey Club and taken for a night out

Sometimes it’s nice to have a day out – but this is ridiculous.

Exeter Uni Hockey Club’s ‘Edinburgh Fives’ is something of an annual tradition. 40 freshers take part in a game of fives where the loser has to take the first train to the Scottish capital the next morning – a 16 hour round trip. It’s the furthest you can get from Devon without changing – as well as being the furthest north that most Exeter students will ever go.

Jack at Exeter St Davids before embarking on his odyssey

Jack at Exeter St Davids before embarking on his odyssey

This year, first-team keeper Jack ‘Banno’ Banister was the unlucky soul who had to rise early to catch the 6.22 Cross Country train – let down by his limited grasp of the rules of the game.

On losing, the Australian remarked how he’d “need to wash my chinos” and that “Scottish people have nice accents.”

The English and Politics student kept himself busy on his 7-hour journey north by live-tweeting.

After being waylaid by delays at Durham, Banno finally rolled into Edinburgh Waverley at around 2.30pm…to be greeted by a delegation from Edinburgh Uni Hockey Club – or ‘the other EUMHC’ as they’re known in Exeter.

Our hero with Edinburgh club captain Scott Duncan

Our hero with Edinburgh club captain Scott Duncan

He even got to have a drink with Max Abott – an Edinburgh second-year who last year lost a game of fives to get the train to Exeter and back in a day.

Max Abott and Jack Banister - two massive losers

Max Abott and Jack Banister – two massive losers

After exchanging ties with the Edinburgh boys, Banno hopped on the next train south to Exeter, laden with provisions. But his adventure didn’t stop there. Uni hockey clubs around the country had been paying close attention to young Jack’s trajectory. First, Durham Uni Hockey Club grabbed him for a 45-second chat and foisted more gifts on him.

Banno features in a quick selfie at Durham station

Banno features in a quick selfie at Durham station

A couple of hours down the line, he had a slightly longer meet with some of the chaps from Birmingham Uni Hockey Club – who Exeter are set to play in their varsity.

Banno swaps stash with UOBHC club captain Will Selfe

Banno swaps stash with UOBHC club captain Will Selfe

Perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by the other clubs, hockey’s answer to Odysseus jumped off the train at Bristol Temple Meads to meet even more hockey boys…only to be duped into staying for a night out.

Jack explains why he won't be back in time for the social as his train departs

Jack explains why he won’t be back in time for the social as his train departs

After getting off the train to meet his fifth hockey club of the day, the English and Politics student exchanged more stash, only to discover that Bristol had tweeted Exeter and got their permission to ‘kidnap’ him for a night in Britain’s edgiest city.

Banno and the Bristol boys prepare to hit the town

Banno and the Bristol boys prepare to hit the town Picture: BristolUMHC

He described how he was whisked away from Bristol Temple Meads by the BUHC boys, straight to a social, where they shared each other’s cultures by exchanging drinking games. Karaoke and a swift bottle of rosé were on the cards at the social before they headed out to the O2 Academy – with Jack dressed in the Birmingham hockey shirt he acquired at New Street Station earlier that evening.

Loving the bow tie

Loving the bow tie Picture: BristolUMHC

At the O2, the boys ‘dominated’ the stage, with Jack adorning stash from all over the country and claiming that he ‘danced in front of half the uni’.

He arrived back at St Davids at 9.41am this morning. Great though the night was, Jack admits that ‘it would have been nice to get back for TP.’

27 hours and 20 minutes after he left, Banno returns to St Davids

27 hours and 20 minutes after he left, Banno returns to St Davids Picture: ExeterUMHC

Speaking exclusively to the Tab moments after his return, Banister told us he’d had “about four hours sleep over the last three days” and that he was feeling “seriously ropey” – as well as his night out in Bristol and the hockey dinner the night before, he was up until 8am studying on Monday night. However, rather than going to bed, he headed to a study group meeting later and then to the nutritionists. Reports that he made it out on Thursday are thus far unconfirmed.

Banister’s epic journey is the latest in the series of elaborate forfeits  from uni hockey clubs. This time last year, Ben Sully was the unlucky fresher who made the trip north.

Sully departed Exeter St David’s on the 08:23 on Thursday December 13 2012. He arrived in Edinburgh at 16:05. The journey seemed pointless and Sully got bored.

Sully, left, raring to go ahead of his trip. Picture: ExeterUMHC

But touchingly, when he arrived, there to greet him was a welcome party from the Edinburgh hockey club. They read about Sully’s plight on Twitter and were at the station bearing gifts of wine, flowers and an Edinburgh club tie.

It’s always nice to be made to feel special. Picture: ExeterUMHC

There was no time for hanging around though. After a swift pint, Sully was on the train south, leaving Edinburgh at 16:52 to arrive in Exeter at 00:55.

Sully was the real winner in this game of fives. Picture: ExeterUMHC

Sully told The Tab: “While I enjoyed my time in Edinburgh, I might look to plan ahead next time. Next year’s game will be far more enjoyable knowing I’ll be safe from going the distance.”

However, this was not the end of it. Inspired by Sully’s journey, Edinburgh’s hockey boys pledged to send a fresher of their own to Exeter and back in one day.

In February this year, Edinburgh hosted their game of ‘Exeter Fives’. Max Abott lost in a well-organised final (their referee had a bow tie!) and the following day he made the journey to Devon.

The Tab’s first update came as Max reached Birmingham New Street station. Frankly, he was looking less than impressed and some feared this was a joke that had gone to far.

At the halfway point. Picture: EdinburghUMHC

Any fears were allayed when Max arrived in Exeter on the 14:42. There to welcome him were Exeter hockey’s finest and Ben Sully, the man who started it all. Max looked delighted.

Max gives Exeter the thumbs up. Picture: Harrison Hodges

Sully, right, was there to meet Max, left. Picture: Harrison Hodges

There wasn’t much time for hand-shaking, so it was off to the pub for refreshments. Before Max had to head home, the boys couldn’t resist a game of fives where it all began.

Sully and Abbot. Two men on a journey of self-discovery. Picture: ExeterUMHC

There were no losers here though. In the spirit of fairness, the two sides called it a draw. Neither Sully nor Max much fancied another trip up or down.

Following protocol, Max hopped back on the train to return home. He arrived back in Edinburgh as Thursday turned to Friday.

Max, centre, safe and sound at home. Picture: EdinburghUMHC

A return train ticket to Edinburgh costs around £170. But this tradition is absolutely priceless.