Greetings and welcome to the Late May blog. Might I suggest you make yourself comfortable, perhaps with a drink. It’s a bumper blog edition and you could be here a while. First things first though. You’ve probably seen on the front page of the site that I’m running two angling courses this summer on the River Wye.
This isn’t a case of plonking you on a barbel flier and then leaving you to it while I go and enjoy a bit of fishing myself and then expect you to pay a couple of hundred quid or more (dear me, the tales I’ve heard about a certain ‘guide’…!). No, this is proper coaching and it’s more than just chucking out a heavy feeder loaded with pellets. We’ll be fishing various methods using different baits for a variety of species. This is a proper angling experience, not just a catching one.
Speaking with the hotel owner (Peter – he’s a mad keen angler himself) I’m told there are a couple of places left on each course. As the TV advert says, when they’re gone, they’re gone. The price, including 4 nights accommodation in a fabulous hotel with full board – and we’re taking gourmet dining, plus coaching and fishing fees – is a ridiculously cheap £459.
Yes, you read that correctly. That’s not per day and there are no hidden add-ons, just your bar bill and a bit of petrol/ deisel as we dodge here and there on the river. Non-fishing guests (sharing the same room) are welcome to come along for just £299.
Like I say, each course is limited to 8 fishing places and when they’re filled the books are closed. The dates are as follows:
Sunday 27th June – Thursday 1st July 2010
Sunday 8th August – Thursday 13th July 2010
For more details just give the hotel a call on 01982 552601
Green Un Final
If you’re wondering what the Green Un Final is then the chances are you don’t live in South Yorkshire or the North Midlands. It’s a competition run by me for club match anglers each year and I’ve been at the helm since 1997 although the competition itself predates this by donkeys ages. I even used to fish in it myself 20 years ago.
It is run to promote club match angling and local fisheries and in doing so we create a Club Match Angler Champion for the region. To enter you simply have to live in the geographical area, submit your match results to me for publication in Sheffield’s dedicated Sports Paper (the Green Un) and the winner of each match goes through to a semi final.
The section winners from the semi make it through to the final. Each year, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Climax Tackle I’m able to pay out around £8,000 over the two matches. Back in 1997 I had 40 entries. This year I had over well over 500 and each season it gets bigger and better so I must be doing something right.
Mind you, I’d struggle to run matches on the scale of these without the support and help I get from Pauline and Geoff Hurt who’ve been by my side for over a decade, sorting out registrations, taking the pools, printing off weight cards, going round with the scales, you name it. They’re invaluable and they do it for absolutely nowt, like me.
This years final was staged on the Snake Lake (clue’s in the name!) and what a perfect venue it turned out to be. So many matches are won at the draw bag. How often have you watched even a Fish ‘O’ Mania and you know who’ll win it after the first hour?
The fish in the snake are predominantly small orfe and little carp, averaging perhaps one to 4 ounces apiece. On top of this there are a few one pound carp, the occasional bonus perch and a few skimmers running to a couple of pounds. Honestly, once a match gets underway you haven’t a clue who’s in front even though the venue lends itself perfectly to spectating because there’s a high bank on one side where you can look down on every single competitor.
I was taking photographs for the various newspapers that like to cover the outcome, and (of course) this web site, so I was right in there in the thick of the action but I got the outcome totally wrong. Everyone was catching. Indeed three-quarters of the field topped 22lb with many topping 30lb. It was action all the way and I would have put my money on one of three anglers taking the crown but not one of them made the top three.
The 44-year-old NHS Supplies Officer fished two short lines. To one side he fished caster, to the other he potted in groundbait, worm, caster and pellets and despite catching steadily, at no time did he imagine he was leading the pack. A friend who was spectating rang him up in mid-match to say he was probably in the top five.
Later on, after catching several bonus bream and carp, the forecast was upped to top three but it still came as a shock to him when he won. “It’ll sink in later.” Said the Tardis Tackle backed angler. Asked what he’d do with his winnings he said, “I’ve got a crap pole, a crap box and I need replacements! This is the perfect prize for me.”
Runner-up Barrie Moat has fished in the final on several occasions and he came so close this time to lifting the coveted title of Club Match Angler Champion. After a steady start the 47-year-old Fabricator Welder began picking up small carp and orfe on the long pole line where he’d been feeding pellet and groundbait. Twenty carp in the final 90 minutes took him agonisingly close to catching Newsome who’s net was boosted by a run of late bream.
1. Steve Newsome 44lb 3oz (£2,000 tackle voucher plus £160 cash)
2. Barrie Moat 40lb 5oz (£1,000 tackle voucher plus £100 cash)
3. Mick Scott 39lb 1oz (£500 tackle voucher plus £80 cash)
4. Mick Brownell 36lb 0oz (£300 tackle voucher plus £60 cash)
5. Roy Gibson 34lb 12oz (£200 tackle voucher)
The twenty finalists each received a £50 tackle voucher
Cash payouts at the semi final alone included £400 to the winner and £350 for second ranging down to over £200 for 6th. Even the tenth placed angler picked up £100 (all cash) with the 20 section winners receiving £50 tackle vouchers. Amazing payouts for a club match, don’t you think?.
Footnote: Dedicated Or What?
If anyone should doubt what competing in the Green Un Final means to our club anglers spare a thought for 68-year-old Dave Loveday who had qualified for the final but was rushed into hospital just days before the match. Dave’s a great supporter of the Championship and has been a permanent fixture in the semis for as long as I’ve been running things.
Despite undergoing surgery in Chesterfield Hospital this week he managed to get himself discharged on Friday and turned out for the match still wearing his identification wrist band. It wasn’t to be Dave’s day but did he care? Nah!
“Bob,” He said, “It’s just brilliant to be out here fishing in the fresh air again.”
What a great attitude.
Footnote: Should you be interested the Aston SpringsFishery contact number is: 0114 2470876
Bob The Fish
I’ve never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth so when Bud Grover got in touch and offered to send me a bit of Bob The Fish merchandise to go with the stuff I’d already bought I practically snatched off his hand. What a nice bloke, and generous, too.
So I rushed out to greet the postman each day, all excited, as you do.
Nothing! Just the usual bills and fliers.
And then I received a letter from Parcel Force informing me that HMRC wanted to charge me £11.36 VAT on the package (gift) that they were holding for me and just to throw in a double whammy there would also be an £8 handling charge payable to them on top for collecting it. So I had to cough up almost twenty quid just to see what they were holding on to.
To make matters worse you have to phone them agreeing to pay up and that doesn’t mean talking to a real person – oh no! What you get is, “If you’re pi**ed off, press one, (You have pressed one, says the robot).” Then you have to enter your 17-digit parcel reference, your 13-digit customs number, your post code, your credit card details, start date, expiry date, your security code, your inside leg measurement…
I’m sure you know what I mean. On and on it went. I reckon I’ve half a chance of a ‘no-win, no-fee claim’ for repetitive finger strain injury and stress now. Honestly I must have been on the phone ten minutes.
Still, it’s cheaper than flying back to Aruba to buy another T-shirt.
A report in the Daily Mirror this week reveals that, according to the insurance company Elephant, the safest drivers in the country are called Roberts…
Some of us knew that already.
Anyone getting excited about the new river season yet? The ‘Glorious 16th’ and all that?
It ain’t glorious, is it? It’s the date when so-called do-gooding conservation minded anglers go out and target fish that have either just spawned, are spawning or are about to spawn. The idea of shutting down fishing through March and April (and the coldest May on record) just so that died-in-the-wool traditionalists can enjoy a ‘glorious’ opening day is so at odds with my intelligence I therefore find it hard to support them in anything else they try to achieve.
It’s their Achilles heel, for sure.
Look, we’ve towed the party line for nearly three months now and the vast majority of the species still left in our rivers HAVE NOT SPAWNED!!!!
Come the 16th June there’s every chance they will be spawning though.
And there’s the rub. In the past I have frequently been known to mount a one-man protest by staying at home on opening day, or going to work. It just seems wrong to fish the 16th and more often than not I’ve observed a 2-week stand-off, giving the fish until the 1st July, but as the years fly by and I realise I won’t live forever, I feel that extending an already over-long closed season is only punishing one person – and that’s me.
Those who preach ‘swim wild and swim free’ are all down the river trying to catch barbel. So much for care and conservation, eh?
But this year I’ll be joining them because until there’s a genuine desire to change the closed season and reflect the needs of the fish, why on earth should I be out of step with everyone else. So I’ll be out there with the rest of you even though I feel it’s wrong.
We need leadership from the Angling Trust and all the other specialist factions. To close the season on March 15th is totally un-neccessary. Pointless. It doesn’t help the fish and it doesn’t help the clubs and it doesn’t help the ailing tackle trade. Frankly it would do less harm to leave the rivers open until the end of April than it does to open them on the 16th.
Sticking your head in the sand and shouting, “La-la-la, I can’t hear you!” is no help to anyone.
The fish don’t require 93 days to spawn. That’s plain ridiculous. The whole of May and the whole of June would be more than adequate. THEN I’ll be happy to celebrate the Glorious First (of July). Unfortunately that won’t happen and the result we’ll end up with won’t be a compromise, it’ll be either-or, and seeing as we can now fish canals and stillwaters all-year-round with no discernable impact on the fish we’ll probably end up scrapping it altogether. And I don’t want that.
And the more folk complain that rivers are a special case and that barbel must be treated differently to other species, with none retained in keepnets or stocked in stillwaters, the more we’ll see those who only fish lakes and matches turning against this moral minority.
Wake up guys, you could be your own worst enemy.
What Closed Season?
A walk down my local river revealed a peg that has seen a bit of action recently. Whether it was from a courting couple indulging in a bit of al fresco coupling one can’t be sure but the remains of a fire suggest otherwise. I reckon someone’s been fishing here, don’t you?
There’s No Need To Ban Angling
You don’t have to walk too far away from the car park to find areas that definitely haven’t been fished. Sadly they probably won’t get fished when the season opens, either, because the river looked absolutely dead. I spent a good hour on the banks and walked about a mile, stopping now and then to observe what was happening.
The river actually runs through a nature reserve and, of course, there are signs sticking up out of the adjacent lake at intervals to proclain ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED’. Like there’s anything left alive in there anyway? I don’t mind having restrictions on certain wetlands providing that alternative areas are allocated to those who prefer to fish rather than snoop on birds which is marginally better than being a Peeping Tom after all. However, there’s really no need to take the pi**, is there?
At the entrance to the reserve you find all manner of fancy notices and plaques laying down the ideals of the organisation that controls it. Things like, ‘We aim to protect all wildlife’. And it would be a grand ambition – if they did care about ALL wildlife. There’s a whacking great clue on the introductory board what their stance is.
If they cared one jot for the indigenous British wildlife their concerns would encompass fish as well as flora and fauna. Not surprisingly there’s no mention of fish in any of the information on offer. Instead they feature a pretty piicture of a cormorant. That’s right, an alien bird that is ravaging our natural wildlife and given time will impact so badly on grebe, heron and kingfisher.
It’s already eaten the otter out of house and home…
Few will really be aware of the artist Norman Rockwell but you’ve probably seen some of his work. Born 1894 in New York City, Rockwell struggled to be recognised as a serious artist, dismissed by critics as ‘just an illustrator’, which was so unfair.
He worked in realism, painting more than 320 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, an occupation that brought him fame, wealth and enormous popularity. His subjects were painfully real, capturing life in the United States through bad times (the Great Depression and World War II) and good (the idyllic 50s), and, with the onset of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the uncomfortable and unjust.
Humour frequently shone through his perfect technical skills and it would be amazing were his collection of works held in one gallery today but unfortunately Rockwell didn’t value his art. Many of his paintings were simply given away to readers of the Post who wrote in and said they liked a particular work.
A number of his works have achieved iconic status, for instance the ones shown here dating back to 1943, Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Worship that make up half of hisFour Freedoms. Other classic works include Rosie the Riveter, The Girl at the Mirror, Triple Self Portrait, The Golden Rule, The Problem We All LiveWith and many others.
Banksie eat your heart out!
Honestly, it’s worth spending a little time checking out his work. You’ll be amazed by the way he captures emotions and values. A Rockwell print is on my wish list for the lounge, trouble is, which one?
Eel Stocking Initiative
I was involved in the very early stages of forming the Don Rivers Trust but it was always going to be a tough ask for me because of my work commitments at the time and my transition into so-called retirement. I also felt that the real focus would be very much on the upper reaches and the trout angler in particular, but I’m no fool on that score. Get the top end right and everything else falls into place as we’re seeing with the River Wye.
So it was brilliant to learn the Trust had managed to secure £92,000 of Government funding towards boosting the eel population and this past week, Chris Firth was down at the RSPB’s Old Moor Nature Reserve to release 50,000 elvers in the heart of the Dearne Valley.
What impact they’ll have, I don’t know, but it’s a start. And it’s also good to see anglers working with the RSPB. Recently one local angler threw a fit when I suggested he should be working with and not against bodies like the RSPB and canoeists. Learn, son. Watch and learn.
Chris Firth has done more for fishing in the Don Valley than any man alive. It’s due to him that we have barbel in the Dearne at all. Is he fighting the ‘enemy’? No, he’s working with them for all our best interests.
Never Another Saturday (2006 And All That…)
I picked up a copy of Tony Bluff and Steve Uttley’s book, Never Another Saturday (Breedon Books) the other day which charts Donny Rovers’ final year at the old Belle Vue ground and it really brought home to me what a sh*thole the place was.
I cut my teeth watching football at Belle View and to me it was a magical place, especially the night games. But time dims the memories and those who condemn our new stadium as a ‘soulless bowl’ (yet they can never grasp the irony that their own description is completely un-original, too) need to get a grip on reality.
During the final full season there we beat both Man City and Aston Villa in the League cup. We then came so close to beating Arsenal in the quarter final – leading 2-1 withonly seconds of injury time left in extra time when Gilberto equalised. In our very last competitive game at Belle Vue we beat the mighty, twice Champions of Europe (and they’ll never let anyoneforget), Nottingham Forest, but for the majority of the 74 years we lived there it was a diet of dross both on and off the field.
But there were (a few) highlights. You really don’t want to know the low lights.
In my own lifetime I witnessed the compulsory demolition of the North Stand as a consequence of the Bradford fire because it was a timber construction. The west side Popular Terrace stand was demolished due to subsidence. Later it was rebuilt on a much smaller scale following a ‘Raise The Roof’ fund raising campaign. And then there was the main stand.
Bad enough you had to crane around a forest of girders in two seried rows to see anything, the then club chairman, Ken Richardson only tried to have it burned down! The arsonists succeeded in wrecking the roof and caused considerable damage but the stand survived, if not intact, unlike the chairman who went to prison for his role in the affair.
The South end, or Spion Kop, was always an open terrace. It never even had a roof.
It didn’t matter where you watched from, the catering was crap and the toilets worse. And this book brings it all home. We were a tin pot club and we were no better or worse than dozens of other minor league outfits who struggle constantly to remain in business.
How different today with our brand new all-seater stadium, fabulous training facilities, nice corporate hospitality suites, proper merchandising outlets and a place, for a while, in the Championship. But the events in the book were so recent, so fresh in the memory that the thought of falling back to where we came from and to where many fans, who sneer down their noses at our humble achievements, think we belong, sends a shiver down the spine.
Even so, the old ground did have a bit of history. In October 1948 during the post war football boom when attendances rocketed everywhere, over 37,000 souls packed into Belle Vue for a match against Hull City. Having been on the ground in a crowd of 25,000 I can’t imagine where they all stood and what they could possibly see. In 1987 the official capacity had been reduced to just 4,859! Later the capacity was increased to 8,259 and then down again to 7,294 (following the Hillsborough tragedy) until further improvements brought it back to 10,500.
You can see why the compact 15,000 all-seater Keepmoat Stadium with its lakeside setting and surrounding sports complex feels like a cathedral to some of us!
But back in 1952 Belle Vue made a bit of history that no-one can ever take away. On the evening of March 4th Rovers played a friendly match against Hibernian in front of 18,474 fascinated spectators. It was the first match outside of London to be played under floodlights.
Fair Play To Donny
Well, surviving in the Championship is one thing, actually winning something is another, but hang on, Donny picked up another trophy last weekend – actually handed out before the kick-off at Wembley by Prince William. Yes, Doncaster Rovers can now add the Championship Fair Play trophy to the list of honours having proven statistically to be the cleanest side in the Division.
Don’t laugh – the £10,000 prize money will come in handy. In fact it’ll probably double our transfer budget!
Donny conceded just 405 fouls over the course of last season, picked up 39 yellows, 3 reds and gave away 3 penalties. Interestingly the three teams at the other end of the table are all based in South Yorkshire – Sheffield United, Wednesday and the gritty Barnsley. Dirty buggers!
By comparison United gave away 627 fouls and picked up 86 yellow cards.
Arsenal won the award for the Premiership (see, I keep telling you we’re the Arsenal of the North) and Leeds didn’t win owt.
Interestingly, if you look back two seasons when Leeds and Donny competed in the same league, Doncaster Rovers finished second in the Fair Play League behind a very deserving Crewe. Guess who came bottom – who was the least fair team in the whole Division…?
That’s right, Dirty Leeds!
Catch The Ferry
There’s a little water just down the way from me called Ferryboat Fishery at Old Denaby. Some regard it as an oxbow lake but it was created 150 years ago when the course of the River Don was diverted by the Railway Companies to save the cost of building two bridges when they constructed the Doncaster to Sheffield railway line.
As commercial fisheries go, for that’s what it is now, it’s a bit of a picture, but it’s not one of your bag-up carp waters. There are carp but most winning weights here feature bream and tench as well as carp. In some ways it’s a shame the place has been developed because it held some rather big tench by Yorkshire standards as well as crucians to 2lb or so.
They still survive but it’s a case of sorting the brown goldfish and the F1s from the originals but it’s a venue I quite fancy having a dapple on sometime soon. Perhaps in mid-week because it’s not exactly busy right now. Weekends see the arrival of caravaners and club matches, not to mention a few pleasure lads.
What really appeals to me is that you can fish a pond that actually has the feel of fishing a river. Methinks a waggler is called for. Not the most efficient way to fish but stick a ripple on it and I can dream away!
Call Phil or Dawn on 01709 588088 or 01709 204593.
Should We Con-Dem This So-Called Democracy?
Well, we’ve finally replaced the old Government with a new one, but wasn’t the election a farce? Bad enough that hundreds of folk were unable to vote because polling stations couldn’t handle the crowds or that we had to wait nearly a week to find out who’d won. Turns out it was the Lib Dems.
But doesn’t it beg the question why we even had an election at all?
The idea of free and democratic elections is fine in principle. Each party lays down a set of promises, the electorate chooses which promises it likes and whichever party gets the most votes then goes ahead and delivers its promises. I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, has it?
We’ve ended up with the party that came third deciding who will run the country but only if it’s on their terms. In other words we have a Prime Minister being pulled around by a puppet master and is now trying to implement a mandate that was created on the hoof after the election took place rather than the one on which we were invited to vote on.
So what was the point of an election? There was never going to be a clear and outright winner from the off, so what was stopping the Tories and the Lib Dems just staging a coup, stripping Labour of its power and saving the country a small fortune?
Democracy, that’s what. So how come, after achieving his only real goal (I want, I want, I want to be the Prime Minister) can David Cameron be allowed to scrap his manifesto and re-jig everything just to suit Nick Clegg’s inflated sense of self importance? And how can a man who so patently lost the election, finishing third behind a washed up Labour party, be rewarded with the job of Deputy Prime Minister?
The Lib Dems and the Tories are a million miles apart on nuclear power, immigration and so much more. Even Clegg’s own party fear a sell-out. And all for what? Fudging and fiddling, consumption and corruption.
Expect to see lots of tough issues kicked into the long grass for someone else to sort out later.
The problem is simple. No-one trusted a single one of the three party leaders, Brown in particular. But with him out of the way, do any of the new candidates for the Labour leadership fill you with confidence?
Ed Balls-up!!! The Miliband Brothers? Andy Burnham? Not forgetting Dianne Abbott…
Chances are they’d do better with Russ Abbott in charge. What was his album called? That’s right, I love A Party.
Sounds like the only answer to me. Vote for Russ!
Wandering round Curacao recently a couple of statues caught my eye (no pun intended).
Unless you know different…
That’s A Rum Old Drink Sailor Boy!
Hate to sound homophobic but how many bottles of this stuff would you have to drink before you’d actually do it…?
Might qualify you for this T-shirt though…
Believe it or not I’ve actually got a ‘Hell’ stamp in my passport now but please don’t misinterpret that statement!
At first glance the Rovers’ list of pre-season games looked rather mouthwatering. Quite tasty in fact. It included the likes of West Brom, Askern Villa and the Magpies. Three big premiership sides, I thought. That’ll do nicely.
It was only when I realised that it was the Magpies of Notts County and not Newcastle that I smelt a rat. On closer inspection, Askern Villa wasn’t a spelling mistake, either. That’s Askern, as in the mining village, not Aston, as in Birmingham.
With my luck West Brom will turn out to be Guest Brom, you know, like one of those tribute rock bands, the Rolling Clones or something like that.
I can see it now, Donkey Rovers versus Askern Villa, live on the Horse and Country TV Channel. Of course it will be repeated each Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 10.00am, 2.00pm, 6.00pm and 11.00pm as light relief from Hywell Morgan, John Bailey and the horse jumping from Burliegh.
Err, and if you haven’t grasped the trivia band wavelength in this bon mot and have just spent several minutes wondering what the hell I’m on about, try these tribute acts for size. Honestly, they’re genuine working bands who worship their idols with the sincerest form of flattery – imitation.
Now why does that sound familiar…?
Beatallica (Beatles songs sung in Metallica style)
Duran Duran Duran (Bad language and mini riot on film clip… Er, not DD tribute at all!)
Mini Kiss (all-midgets Kiss tribute)
Gabba (Abba songs in Ramones style)
Mandonna (all-male band)
AC/DShe (all-female band)
And the list goes on forever…
Askern Bloody Villa! I ask you. What great intellects came up with that one?
PS: In case you’re wondering bon mot is not a Bon Jovi/ Mott The Hoople tribute act, it’s a clever saying or witticism, isn’t it Whiskerton!
I Don’t Believe It!!!!
A blog should never be this long but there’s just so much going on to comment about so I hope (a), that you’re still with me, and (b), you’ll forgive me my indulgence.
Now you’ll maybe recall I mentioned some while back that the ridiculous logo for the 2012 Olympics was so like Liza Simpson on her knees giving someone a bl*w job although even in my wildest dreams I really didn’t think the organising committee could sanction anything more laughable, however I have to say they have excelled themselves with the launch of the new Olympic Mascots.
Have you seen them yet? Let me introduce you to Wenlock and Mandeville…
Now you tell me. Are they not a bit phalic? The old one-eyed trouser snake in a snug jacket? Or is it an advert for condoms? The one on the left does look a bit like a used prophylactic wearing a Liza ‘head Job’ Simpson T-shirt, doesn’t he?
Perhaps the influence came from that old Woodie Allen film, Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex…
Or maybe they’re hoping to get Usain Bolt to drop the archer stance and dress up as…
We may laugh about Wenlock and Mandeville, as they’re called, but London 2012 chair Paul Deighton expects them to raise between £70m and £80m in merchandising royalties and they’re expected to be a key money-spinner.
How long before we’re offered Wenlock and Mandeville condoms in six flavours? Well, they’re aiming at the youth market, after all.
Feel free to keep up with Wenlock and Mandeville on Facebook, on Twitter and on their own web site but if you don’t mind I’ll give it all a miss. But it’ll be manna from heaven for every commedian in the country and just wait for the parody sites to emerge…
Now they could be fun!