You know, I had a brilliant time at the Barbel Society’s ‘Running Water 2010’ show on Sunday despite the attendance appearing to be well down on recent years. With Dave Chilton (Kryston) and Gary Knowles on the stand next door the insults were always going to be be flying thick and fast. But I guess what makes these people so much fun to be around is that they know how to give (and take) a joke without resorting to malice.
The boys from Pallatrax are pretty good at the old Micky taking, too, so even when the crowds disappeared off into the other hall to watch the speakers we managed to keep ourselves amused in the trade hall.
Arriving early, we hadn’t even unloaded out gear from the car when Trefor West shouted over to us, “Hey Bob, I’ve watched your DVD’s and I have to say they’re bl**dy brilliant, well done!”
We struggled inside, laden down with cardboard boxes and bumped straight into Steve Pope:
“I’ve done what you said, I’ve resigned!” He said, with a glint in his eye.
“Yeah, and these boxes are full of happy pills…” I thought.
Fred’s okay at heart, especially since he cut the umbilical chord from those who used to wind him up and supply the bullets. As Steve P said himself later on, and this isn’t betraying a confidence, “Fred’s okay, he’s a hard worker and does a lot for the Society that he gets no recognition for. Trouble is he has too much time on his hands and he gets carried away on the Internet…”
Gary Knowles is as dry as they come. I asked him, “Gary, I won’t be able to see your talk as I’ll be here on the stand; cut all the bullshit out and just squeeze your talk into two minutes for me, what are you going to tell ’em?”
“Dead easy,” He says, “I’m Gary Knowles and I’m f*****g good!”
Although I do think his new career ambition as a celebrity look-alike with Paul Garner will falter. I give you, the new Mitchell Brothers…
And if you suspect the negotiations between Clegg and Cameron might have had an air of cloak and dagger about them, it was nothing compared with the longest ever, “I’m telling him nowt”, conversation between Stef Horak and Phil Smith. Talk about top secrecy and diplomacy, whatever you do don’t mention the war…
They’re fish guys, not national secrets!
“Hey, well done on catching those perch, Stef.” Says I. “I never had the time to use my ticket once last year.”
A look of panic shot across Stef’s face. He grabbed me by the shoulder, wheeled me off to one side and said, in hushed tones, “Jesus Bob, don’t mention the perch! I haven’t said where I’ve been catching them and I don’t want to give any clues away…”
With customers waiting to be served I left the two Jedi knights to it…
It’s serious business this specimen angling.
It was lovely to see old Peter Wheat doing so well and to hear he’s still enjoying his fishing. It was at a Society Conference a few years ago when he took ill and I spent the afternoon up at the local hospital with him. You know, if you ever get a letter from Peter it’s invariably adorned with little pen drawings and they’re a real treasure. Just hope there’ll be some fish left in our rivers if/ when I get to his age.
Oh, and I must mention the pamphlet that was handed out to all attendees. Glancing at the inside cover I spotted ‘A welcome from our Chairman’ in which Steve Pope writes passionately about barbell habitat. Hang on, did I read that right?
Err, what’s a barbell, Steve?
Now I can overlook the odd typo or spelling mistake, maybe a gramatical or syntax error, after all we’re none of us perfect, but you’d think the Chairman of the Barbel Society would know the difference between a ‘barbel’ and a ‘barbell’, wouldn’t you? Did no-one on the Committee think to proof read the pamphlet? I mean, you could spell almost any word in it wrong, but surely not BARBEL. Doh!
Anyway, Swordsey was there along with Tina and their lovely daughter keeping everyone in check on the Teme Severn baits stand. I find it odd that the vast majority of anglers seemingly exclude their families from fishing. Very few seem to embrace it together, unlike, say, the Americans. Perhaps that’s why we sell a meagre one million licenses while they sell sixty million.
Well, the turn-out may have been disappointing but the quality of attendees made up for it. So many folk came up and said how much they enjoy this blog (none were called Rocca or Elliott, of course! Oh, that’s right, they weren’t there…) One couple said how much they enjoyed the music playlists and had even bought tracks on the strength of it. Others asked why I can’t publish the blog weekly. Well, I could, if I sacrificed some fishing time or doing the kind of work that pays the bills. The blog is a labour of love, in fact the whole site is; it stimulates me creatively. But twice a month is already pushing it, time wise.
Running the site actually costs me money, not to mention more time than I care to think about already. But no complaints here. I shall just continue to do my best. Thanks to everyone for the fantastic feedback.
Of course, this was a huge weekend for football, armchair Man Utd and Chelski fans (excuse me while I stiffle a yawn!) in particular, but it was even bigger if you follow the third and fourth divisions. Yes, there is life outside of the Premier League and Leeds United proved without doubt that no matter how hard they tried to screw things up, the other minnows were determined to see the back of them. “Good riddance!” They cried in unison.
…or third time lucky. Depends on your perspective, I suppose.
And boy, did they celebrate at Bell End Road! Did anyone else wonder what all that was about? A veritable giant of a club, who’s most active web forum is called WACCOE (an accronym for We Are Champions, Champions Of Europe – not that they ever have been!), fans who, as in Rob Hiltons response to a recent blog claim, ‘rivalry is about much more than competing in the same division or on the same field. Donny Rovers, Huddersfield, Bradford or whoever else decides to crawl out of the woodwork will never be rivals of Leeds United’.
Honestly they were celebrating like they’d won the European Champions League rather than finishing a poor runner-up in the third division. Guys, I’ve no real wish to disillusion you but it wasn’t Barcelona or Bayern Munich – it wasn’t even Bristol City – it was Bristol Rovers!
But promotion is promotion and we take off our hats to salute these iconic Galacticos who overcame the mighty Pirates (who had turned up gamely with exactly nothing to play for). And how fitting that the mercenary Beckford should score the goal that takes them one step nearer to the promised land. Such a shame he’ll have jumped ship before the season starts, as he selfishly spouted his goodbye’s during a post match interview that really should have been about the team, not the individual.
But what of the team that was beaten so many times in the final quarter of the season, are they seriously good enough to compete in the Championship?
Time will tell. I’ve no doubt the club that couldn’t afford to pay its St Johns Ambulance bill will still be able to find a few millions to splash around on a few experienced journeymen. Let’s just hope they don’t try to ‘live the dream’ again and go for broke.
Meanwhile, I wonder if we’ll be treated to seeing an open-topped bus ride round the city on Yorkshire (Leeds) TV as they parade the non-existent trophy around. And probably a one-hour TV special documentary to celebrate their glorious triumph.
I first watched Leeds United in the early 1960’s. The place was Elland Road, the opponents Sunderland, and they’d both been promoted from Division Two the previous season (only two teams went up in those days). More than 40 years on the names Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Hunter, Charlton, Bremner, Giles and so on still trip off the tongue but can anyone actually name more than a couple of names from the current team? And despite their outstanding potential, did any other team finish second best more often? All I seem to remember from the Revie era was Leeds getting beat in FA cup finals, coming second in the league, being beat by the likes of Celtic in Europe and so on.
But back to the BS show, fair play, this was Rob Hilton’s moment, his time to gloat. He’s taken the stick all year and true to his word he delivered me my pint of Tetleys BITTER! And I had my photo taken draped in a Leeds scarf.
“We’ll fill your ground for you next season.” He reminded me.
Nothing changes. But lest anyone doesn’t realise, our current average home gate is only 2,000-odd seats below maximum capacity. Even a massive club like Leeds can’t match that. Crikey, they’ve only recently opened up their cavernous East Stand after it stood empty for ages – mothballed, unlicensed and unnecessary, echoing the despair on the pitch. And despite Donny being a trivial minnow in this second division, we’ll still take up our full allocation at Elland Road again next season, so don’t worry on our behalf.
But all this banter apart, Leeds will finish above us, be in no doubt. They are rich beyond our wildest dreams. To succeed is inevitable because if they fail, with all the massive resources at their disposal and such a fanatical support base (from all over the world), they might as well just roll over and die of embarassment.
But thank you for giving us our cup final back…
Not another one.
Screws Of The World Shocker
Not that I buy such a sensationalist newspaper you understand but, like many newspapers, the ‘Screws’ seems obsessed with world order. You know what I mean, certain teams DESERVE to be in the Premiership, and Gordon Brown gets his JUST deserts, vicar DEFROCKED and all that.
Occasionally these Fleet Street giants fall into the ‘mistaken identity’ trap and make a complete hash of things. Or maybe it’s deliberate but they’ll forge ahead and risk paying a few bob in compensation for the sake of a good story.
It’s clear the News Of The World thinks my little ‘pub team having a laugh’ have got a bit above themselves and DESERVE to be in a much lower league because according to the fixtures they published last week, the Coca Cola League 2 play off semi-final first leg will be between Doncaster and Morecambe. What’s more it’s live on Sky Sports 1 at 2.30pm.
That must be bo**ocks because we’re never on the telly, unless of course we’re playing against Leeds or Newcastle, that is…
Today, as I write this blog, it is the 10th May, 2010, and as we eagerly look forward to our forthcoming cup finals against Leeds United dare I mention that 7 years ago to this very day the mighty Rovers would not have given a second’s thought to playing against the self proclaimed Champions Of Europe. Instead we were taking the stage at Stoke’s Brittania Stadium in the Conference play-off final, our opponents Dagenham and Redbridge.
It was the day when ten thousand Donny fans rose as one when Sir Francis Tierney scored the extra time ‘silver’ goal to take us back to League Two (or the Fourth Division as some of us fondly remember it). THAT was our cup final and there’ll never be another to match it, whatever the future may hold.
Seven years is an eternity in the ups and downs of football. On the day we returned to the Football League it’s perhaps interesting to note that the Premiership Table included teams like Charlton, Southampton, Leeds, Middlesborough, Birmingham, West Brom and Newcastle, all of whom we’ve faced on level terms since. Current teams (2009/10) in the Prem that we’ve faced in the same league since returning to the League include Burnley, Hull and Wolves whilst almost three quarters of the teams that we competed against in the Championship this season had been Premiership teams at some point in the past decade.
None of them had ever sunk as low as we had.
Be that a warning. Football status is volatile and it doesn’t pay to get complacent at any level, does it? Especially when you’re spending what you haven’t got.
Announcement: If you’re bored with the football, scroll down. There’s more fishing and a bit of spice to follow…
World Cup Fever
So here we are, four weeks away from another inevitable disappointment. The World Cup beckons and we’ll be force fed stories about injury scares, who’s in the team, who should be in the squad, and all for what?
Are we going to win?
Does it matter who’s in the squad?
Sorry folks. Let’s face facts. We’re not good enough. Maybe if we had a few more English players competing in the Premier League we’d stand a better chance. But we haven’t. And while no club or manager dare put his faith in young English talent we’ll struggle. You know, I’d be quite happy if they stopped messing around with parachute payments that simply screw up the Championship, why don’t they just pull up the drawbridge and prevent any of the current teams from getting relegated – EVER.
Go on, p*** off, we don’t need you!
Then we might get teams spending less on crap foreign imports to bulk out 50-man squads and take a risk by developing and nurturing more of the best young English talent. Meanwhile the Championship clubs can stop spending ridiculous amounts of money trying to reach the promised land and concentrate on playing good football – like Donny do.
So, let’s stop getting worked up about the World Cup because 5 days after it starts the fishing season opens and we can get back on the rivers again, which by some kind of coincidence might just be the same day when our World Cup winning dreams fizzle out, too. You never know.
Come on England!
Stop Press – Turkeys Vote For Christmas
Hot off the wires. Relegated Premier clubs parachute payments have been increased to £48,000,000 for each relegated club. That sum alone would pay Doncaster Rovers’ wage bill for the biggest part of a decade but to put it in better context the current Rovers squad (in its entirity) cost just £900,000. That means a relegated club could buy our team 53 times over, yet that is the reward for failure. And we have to compete with these teams on the field, in the transfer market and when it comes to paying players salaries.
Is that ridiculous, or what? I’ve often joked that Frickley Athletic are a richer club than Leeds United but what this means is that despite their mounting deficeits, both Hull City and Burnley are, too.
Meanwhile Sheffield Wednesday head off into League One saddled with more than £30 million of debts and still promising that new investors will be announced soon. No prizes for guessing where that one will end, is there?
Aston La Vista, Baby
This Saturday sees the culmination of a competition I’ve been running all season. It’ll reach it’s climax in a 20-peg match for club anglers worth over £5,000 in tackle vouchers and a few quid in cash, too. The venue is Aston Ponds Snake Lake and I popped down there last week to sort out a few last minute details and to have a little dabble, as you do.
I met the owner, Ken Swain, who also owns another fishery, KJS Fisheries, just up the road in Killamarsh. He’s got a really nice complex here and it was looking rather attractive despite the attrocious weather. We’re leaving out all the flier pegs and giving everyone plenty of room to fish so hopefully we’ll get a pretty even match.
Geoff Hurt, who helps out on all my matches with his wife Pauline, came along and we fished side-by-side. It quickly became apparent that we really didn’t need to fish far out as the average sized fish in the place is between one and 8oz. Okay, there’s an occasional nice bream and a bonus carp that’s a little bit bigger but essentially it should be a speed match with lots of fish getting caught, unless you fish like I did and then you’ll miss a million bites.
Just out of interest Geoff fished chopped worm while I fished pellet. We both had a bite just about every drop in. Unfortunately I missed far more bites than I hit while Geoff could hit just about every one. I cadged a worm and bingo, even fishing over the pellet I had instant bites and hit them all.
What I would do different if I was fishing the match is to wear waders and sit on the peg at water level fishing just a top two to hand with the keepnet mouth between my legs. I reckon the guy who is best organised will probably win the match rather than whoever draws the better peg. This should be a proper fishing match rather than one man running away with it because he’s sat on a big shoal of carp.
Just a sporting afterthought, if you’re bored by English football, how about some American football – lingerie style…
These pictures require no explanation, do they? It’s kinda like fish and chips, strawberries and cream, Pimms and lemonade (well, maybe not) but the idea of putting lingerie with football leaves one asking, why didn’t someone think of this before?
I’m wondering if my missus would like a replica kit for her birthday…
I spent a couple of days ‘somewhere down in the Midlands’ this week with Allan Parbery, owner of Mistral Baits. Allan was best man at my November wedding but we’ve not managed to fit in a fishing trip since. It was time to put that right although the weather forecast wasn’t exactly favourable.
The idea was we’d fish for carp at night and I would go for tench during daylight hours. Alas I had no carp to report but Allan did manage a couple on the first night, a mid-20 mirror and another going 33lb on his new I40 bait. Judging by results so far this is going to be a seriously good bait as it has been catching big fish from all over the place, both home and abroad.
But enough of his successes, how did I do with the tench. Well, no complaints from me. Even though I used only one rod I caught more than enough fish to keep me happy. In fact I lost count somewhere in the teens of fish. It might have been a good idea to weigh a few of them but I really couldn’t be bothered.
Midway through Wednesday I had a call from Greg Whitehead at the AT and he asked how big they were and I told him I hadn’t a clue. Then the alarm went off and he said, “I’ll call you back in a short while but weigh the next one just out of interest, will you?”
So I did. It was a nice male that gave a typical explosive fight. It went 6lb 4oz. Next cast I had a female. That went just shy of seven-and-a-half. Then Greg rang, so I gave him the scores, adding, “I’ve had bigger but I can’t be a***d to weigh them!”
“Are you telling me that you’re catching ‘eights’ and putting them back unweighed?”
“No I’m not. I’m enjoying myself. What they weigh really doesn’t matter, does it?”
One of the fish I landed left me quite perplexed. Tench can vary quite considerably in their pigmentation, even in the same water, ranging from buttery yellows through to greens and browns, sometimes verging on black. I’ve had ornamental tench that were bright gold with black spots and once I even saw one that was pale blue (I must dig out the slide sometime), but never before have I seen one that had scarlet speckles all over its face like this one. Weird. Does anyone have a clue what this is all about?
Wednesday night was as chilly a May night as I can remember and I woke up to find everything covered in a coating of thick frost. Neither of us had had any indications on the carp kit all night so I chucked out the tench rod, more in hope than expectation. Five minutes later it ripped off and I netted a nice fish of around 6lb and it struck me I was looking at an amazing photo opportunity. The sun was shining yet everywhere was white and I could get a cracking shot of me with a tench surrounded by frozen vegetation.
I dipped the landing net in the edge with the as yet unhooked fish in it and then walked back to my gear to phone Allan and get him to come down and take the shot. Suddenly there was a commotion behind me as the fish mad a valiant escape bid. Walking back to the net I could see the fish had its nose clear of the net but I wasn’t too bothered as it was still hooked.
It obviously saw my sillhouette against the bright sky and bolted off. Oh well, I thought, bending down to pick up the rod and pull her back to the net. And then it dawned on me. There was to be no replay. It had somehow broken my 10lb main line on the swivel knot – damn!
Of course, the race was on then to catch another before the frost melted away but it wasn’t to be. Shame then, after a magic session in which I captured some fantastic images, I was left rueing that one missed opportunity…
B*****ks! B*****ks! B*****ks!
For The Benefit Of Mr Kite Mr Joyce…
A little dedication for Mike Joyce following his comments on my last blog:
And that’s as far as I’m going for now. There’s so much to cover and so little time. What with looming deadlines – one article required today, two on Monday – my Green Un final tomorrow, DVD sales to look after and so on. Guess I’ll have to miss the cup final. And of course, I want to go fishing!
Oh well. It’s a hard life.