2011 – End Of July Blog

Welcome to yet another blog. Lots to cram in, as always, but it’s a blog with a twist this time. I’m even including a sea fishing trip and a bit of fun. Enjoy this one as I’m going to struggle to find time for writing during August as I’ll be here, there and everywhere but fear not, things will return to normal in September.

So, what have I been up to recently?

As a birthday treat my good friends Pauline and John Walsh organised a sea fishing trip out of Whitby. John occasionally fishes at sea while my experience in those quarters is pretty limited, but fishing is fishing and when John sent me a link to the current favourite tactics I was completely intrigued. You see they’re fishing with rubber shads and that is right up my alley because it’s not a million miles apart from pike fishing.

John had booked us onto Sea Otter 2, his favourite Whitby boat and one that is popular enough to mean you have to book up weeks in advance. The skipper, Paul ‘Killer’ Kilpatrick knows the fishing inside out and he works his socks off for you. It was only at the last minute when I got around to selecting me gear that I realised the two rods I would have taken were stored round at Stu’s. Can you believe we haven’t even unpacked from the last Andamans Island trip? Stupid, I know.

So I just grabbed a catfish rod instead. Short and stiff seemed fine to me. Fortunately I did have my Saltega reel to hand and it was already loaded with 50lb braid. A root through the cupboards for shads and I was raring to go. John was bringing leads and clip swivels.

It seemed distinctly odd to be the biggest novice and least experienced angler in a group of ten blokes but that’s what happens if you step out of your regular comfort zone. Anglers ask me questions all the time, through the site, by letter, email, in shops, on the bank and so on. Now the role was reversed. I knew absolutely nothing! My only saving grace was to hear the guy next to me was also a virgin.

Looking round at the rest of the party, they were all men of a certain age with character etched in their faces. Seriously you could have cast them as outlaws in a Western movie. I was surprised there wasn’t more facial hair but other than that they all looked like they knew the score. Unlike me.

Fortunately the rig was dead simple. 40lb nylon leader to cushion the the lack of stretch in the 50lb braid. Clip swivel on the end of the leader. Big lead. 40lb nylon hook link. Shad of choice.

I was amazed at the most popular sized shads. They were just 3 to 4 inches long. That’s not a very big target at the bottom of 180 feet of water. But they worked remarkably well. If you knew what you’re doing, that is.

It was a tough day. Even the skipper said so. The other anglers told me it was usually a lot better, but with a lumpy sea and a freshening wind it wasn’t easy to get perfect presentation. The routine was the skipper would position the boat, we’d all drop our rigs and then work them. Slow reeling in is the usual way, but you sometimes could twitch it, or hold it still, or anything you could think of to impart and attractive movement.

Every drift through the outlaws would share a few fish. Killer would jump onto the bows and drop his own rod in, and that’s when you realise why he’s called Killer. He’d be the first to catch on almost every drift and he’d usually get a couple compared to the one fish in maybe three drifts we were getting. I watched him like a hawk and I tried all I could to mimic him but the outcome was always the same. He’d catch, I’d struggle.

Chopping and changing shads didn’t seem to make any difference. Fish fell to all different colours and makes. It was a case of sticking to your favourites. Presentation was the key, not colour, and it took me three quarters of the trip to eventually get it right and from then on I began to catch. Had the weather not been deteriorating I’m sure I would have bagged up in the last hour. But I suppose I caught just enough to whet my appetite. I held my own with more experienced anglers and the old matchman in me thinks I might even beat them next time. But not Killer. He is awesome!

I want another crack at this. Soon!

Barbel Bashing Corner

Depending upon who you listen to, the Trent is either very tricky right now or it’s on fire. It’s neither in my view. You are either on fish or you are not. Or, you have to be able to draw them to you. The ever reliable pellet might be convenient, relatively cheap and reliable, but during daylight hours at least it is getting outfished by the humble maggot. Indeed maggot is probably the hottest bait on the Trent right now but it’s no good playing around with half a pint.

I’ve used 6 pints on each of my last two trips and come home when they’ve run out. Take last week when I set up with one rod, three maggots on a size 14 hook to an 8lb hook link. After a steady first hour the fish just kept coming. Things got pretty hectic between 10am and noon, and again between 2pm and 4pm. To say I was kept busy would be an understatement. It was literally a bite every single cast. I had one roach very early on and after that it was all barbel. Not a single bream or chub. Or anything else. Just barbel after barbel after barbel.

They weren’t big fish, mostly running three to 6lb. But they just kept on coming. So many in fact that in order to keep count I placed a white maggot in a bait tub each time I landed one. I also added a red one if I lost a fish through a hook pull – which tends to happen if you foul hook one. Through the day 8 fish came adrift and I gave up adding white maggots when I’d landed fifty. That’s right. You read correctly. FIFTY barbel in under 8 hours on one rod.

You might wonder why on earth I bothered to keep going, and so do I. It had been my original intention to float fish but with a north easterly wind putting upgate rollers on the river that was pretty much impossible so I just went with the flow and fished a feeder. As for catching so many, after a certain point you are simply doing it for the sake of it. There isn’t much skill involved, is there? You simply have to land your feeder on the same dustbin lid each time and hold on to the rod. Barbel bites are not exactly difficult to hit, are they?

Quite what the anglers fishing either side of me made of it I can’t imagine because they were not catching a great deal.

Eventually I caught what I was hoping for. A nice double. I say a double, although I didn’t weigh it. I fancied that a nice picture in the bright sunshine would go down well on here so I roped in the two blokes below me. They were really nice folk and had already spent a fair while picking my brains. We’d put the world to rights and it seemed sensible enough to enrol their help. I asked one to hold the landing net while I instructed the other on how to work the camera.

Everything was set up and raring to go when I heard a rather strange utterance from behind me followed by ‘It’s bloody gone!’ And sure enough, my biggest fish of the day, the icing on my cake, had escaped, unweighed and unphotographed. He was full of apologies, even begged me not to publish the tale. He was definitely more upset than I was. Stories like this are what makes a blog interesting, not what a fish weighs. Save that for the accountants and statisticians. 

We all packed up around the same time and they came round for one final natter. ‘Why is it we were struggling while you’ve never stopped catching?’ They asked. And the answer isn’t easy to pin down. We’d all fished quite close together and I was on the upstream peg. They’d fished pellets and corn. Live baits in bright sunshine might be one answer. Smaller hooks, lighter lines, or maybe accuracy another. But if it was down to bait then I must have been pulling their fish upstream.

The only two ‘technical’ points I can refer to are that I prepared some floating maggots to counterbalance the hook and I was threading one of the three maggots up the shank of the hook to hide it. Other than that I did nothing particularly clever.

What I will say is that Trent barbel are coming under increasing amounts of pressure. Folk are fishing round the clock and targeting the better swims (for obvious reasons) but it’s the same fish that are getting caught over and over again and the practise of using heavy tackle, heavy leads or feeders, short hook links and big hooks is causing mouth damage. It may not be lasting damage but I’ve caught countless fish this season that are already showing signs of having been caught too many times in the opening few weeks of the season.

I’m noticing split fins, too, and that’s not down to keepnets. I’ve not seen anyone use a keepnet this year. Maybe someone needs to take a fresh look at landing net design because this is where a lot of the damage is caused in my view.

But when you’re there and you’re filling your boots, it’s very hard not to keep going. After all, that’s why we are there, isn’t it? To catch fish. But answer me this:

Do we need to night fish in prolific areas and should we perhaps rest the fish periodically?

I keep reading complaints on forums where experienced barbel anglers complain about pleasure anglers fishing with tackle they regard as too light and taking too long to land barbel while encouraging anglers to use stronger tackle and land the fish more quickly. Could it be that concept is flawed? That bullying fish on heavy tackle actually causes more harm?

Question Time

I spend a fair bit of time answering questions posed by visitors to the web site so it’s only fair that I ask one in return now and again, so here goes:

How come folk can’t spell their own email addresses correctly? Please, if you’re going to ask for help, or information then please double check your own email. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as bothering to reply only for the response to keep bouncing back with  he message:

Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable (state 14).

So, Dean Giles, try again, eh?

Angling Will Embrace 21st Century

Collingham and District AA has announced new plans to make queuing to fish Peg 1A a lot more fun in the future. Plans to construct a roller coaster ride to rival Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach have been unveiled. “We have the beach, we have the tides and we have bigger crowds!” Boasted a Collingham spokesman.

“We aim to make Peg 1A the biggest attraction in the Midlands. A miniature steam railway will run from a newly constructed terminal outside the Grey Horse pub, all the way down river lane, turning left at the car park and terminating in a small shopping complex at Cromwell Halt, immediately next to the weir. It is hoped that we will be able to attract fast food franchises and a decent tackle shop where you can purchase bait and replacement feeders as and when necessary rather than having to bring the kitchen sink with you.

Permanent lighting is to be installed along the river bank so that regulars will no longer need Tilly lamps or small generators. Gaily painted sheds spaced 8 metres apart will do away with anglers’ bivvies and permanent tripods will be concreted into perfectly level platforms adjacent the newly laid ashphalt pathway that will eventually run all the way down to Besthorpe.”

The plan is not without its critics as it will be essential to use the facility all-year-round to make the project viable. When asked about the closed season the spokesman told me,”We will be advertising camping by rods rather than fishing, and anyway, it’s okay to eel fish all year round, isn’t it? I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. This is the future of fishing and we had all better get used to it. The era of floppy hatters and match anglers is over. Say Hi-de-Hi campers everyone!”

The owners of the Grey Horse were tight lipped about a rumour that MacDonalds has already made an approach to purchase the premises, giving nothing away, although some suspect this is a done deal already.

Meanwhile, the Barbel Society is contemplating an outrageous plan to construct a mini-weir on their fishery at Sutton-On-Trent. “We have to embrace progress,” Said Society Chairman Steve Pope. “Anglers have a duty to preserve and improve fishery habitat and we intend to take a lead in this field. This will be habitat improvement on a grand scale. I want this new weir to be my lasting legacy to a Society that I had given so much to already. And let’s see how the ABoF’s react to this – let’s see if they copy us now!”

“If the project goes ahead then the income from hydro-power will come in very useful.” Claimed Fred Bonney, the Society’s Chief Communications Officer. “It will certainly fill a temporary funding gap and will have no detrimental effect on our own fishing as construction will take place over the winter and through the closed season which, of course, we will continue to observe.”

Other local fishing clubs appear to be unconcerned by Collingham’s plans. “We’ll be running our usual record barbel caught by mystery angler story again next June.” Said someone from Newark and District AA who declined to be named. “It always seems to work for us. We might have to ‘up’ our game a bit next year, maybe claim a 28-pounder, but we don’t need fancy attractions to pull in the punters when we’ve got record fish galore. Anyway, we have a railway line with real trains running over our stretch of river.”

No-one from the ABoF was available for comment.

Eleventh Heaven For Stu

If you ever wanted to know the secret of catching big barbel then ponder no more. It’s not what  you do so much as where you go. Stu Walker has caught 32 barbel in 8 trips so far this year. I have caught almost three times as many in my last two trips alone. Out of the hundred plus barbel I have caught from the Trent in the past 4 weeks, only one was a double. A strike rate of under one per cent yet in the same period Stu has had 11 doubles in his 32 fish – a strike rate of almost 35 per cent. In other words, if you fish with me you are 35 times less likely to catch a double than if you fish with Stuart.

He nipped out for a quick session at the weekend before nipping over to do a job in Algeria and caught four. I feel almost relieved that he only had one double. Another corker, mind.

Now he’s away I’m half tempted to go and try some of his spots!

Mole’s Badges Are Working Their Magic

When Maurice Pledger sent me those very special badges he promised they would bring me much luck and possibly personal bests.

Already this month I’ve had one of those once in a lifetime red letter days where the barbel fed like there was no tomorrow, throwing themselves on my hook and giving me my biggest barbel bag ever.

A few days later I found myself in a very special place freelining luncheon meat more in hope than expectation. Blow me, the first boris I found myself attached to only turned out to be the biggest I’ve ever had from that particular river.

I was sceptical about the badges at first but I’m now beginning to understand that they’re truly magic.

However, my joy is not shared in all quarters. Indeed a comment was left by some guy on my Facebook page suggesting it has made him LMFBO (or some such nonsensical acronym) and he questions if my arms are six feet long.

Well, actually they are. In fact if you measure from left fingertip to right with arms outstretched then the distance is greater than six feet. But what a sad life this guy must lead. First he submits a friend request to me, then he obviously follows whatever I post on Facebook and then he gets upset by my joy at catching a fish that I’ve been hoping for all season.

I guess it’s the photographic perspective that has got to him. After all, if you care to look at the picture you’ll see my elbows are tucked against my ribs, the left forearm supported on my thigh, as you would on a precarious bank and with the fish’s welfare in mind plus it’s a self-take. But why would something like that bother anyone? Have I suggested it weighed X pounds? Err, no. Did I even weigh it? No I didn’t. My obsession is not with pounds and ounces. It is simply to get a good image that will always bring back a special memory.

And if you saw where this fish came from, you might just begin to understand why I was so chuffed. This isn’t the Pope, the Bishop nor the Beast, or Three Whiskers, or Red Belly, or caught so many times it’s recognised by one and all. No, this fish doesn’t have a name. It’s an old warrior and I  doubt it will be caught again this year, or possibly ever again. Which is something my carp angling tormentor will probably never understand.

But I shan’t ‘unfriend’ my Facebook stalker, not now I know what winds him up…

Book Release: Still-Water Angling by Dave Tipping and Tim Ridge

According to the impression you might get from reading the angling media, the biggest fish and best anglers all live in the south of England. Well it’s not my job to dispel that myth but the disparity of weights across the geographical divide has meant that many fine Northern anglers get overlooked. Indeed I’m gladdened when I see these Southern ‘big hitters’ turning up to do an obligatory overnighter on the tidal Trent, or perhaps have a go on the Swale and come completely unstuck.

They seldom return for a second crack and the North remains a wasteland in their eyes.

Two northern anglers who I have great respect for are Dave Tipping and Tim Ridge. Dave I don’t know, indeed I don’t think we’ve actually ever met, although he has written in just about every publication going and he was already established as a writer in Coarse Angler magazine before I even contemplated writing my first article. Tim, on the other hand, I do know. He’s a fellow member of the somewhat dormant Don Valley Specimen Group and as nice a guy as you’d ever like to meet and on that basis I’m sure Dave is sound.

I always find that folk of a like mind and similar moral principles are drawn to each other and enjoy sharing their time together. Perhaps that’s why you find nice cliques on the internet and others that you would cross the ocean to avoid. But I digress.

Dave and Tim have pooled resources to write a book called Stillwater Angling. It will be published in September by Little Egret press and as I’ve not seen it as yet, the best thing I can do is share what Dave Tipping writes in the foreword:

Tim and I have fished together for a number of years. We share similar aspirations but have contrasting approaches to big fish angling. Tim excels at technical aspects of the sport, devoting considerable time and thought to developing and refining the practical side of his approach. He even uses drinking straws to suck and blow hook baits in buckets of water or the bath, to ensure their presentation is as natural as possible. My own approach is much more intuitive. This has led us to compare and review many of our ideas, which has undoubtedly been mutually beneficial.

As will already be apparent, Still-water Angling was not written to a strict format. It is a collection of thoughts and experiences which we felt would be of interest and relevance to any modern specialist angler. The upshot is that we ended up with what might, in some respects, be considered a rather unusual book, delving deeply into some aspects of the sport while brushing over others with barely a mention. Most surprisingly, perhaps, it contains relatively little about arguably the two most popular species in UK stillwaters – carp and pike (these have been covered more than adequately by a host of other authors.)

Much of the content is descriptive in nature, ranging from our boyhood experiences of fishing (and poaching!) on small ponds right through to recent campaigns on huge pits and reservoirs in pursuit of monster bream, roach and tench. There is a technical aspect to the book too, though it is not intended to be a rigid guide. To a large extent, its purpose is to provide an insight into how successful anglers think rather than any sort of strict formula for success (how can there be a strict formula for catching creatures that are as fluid in their habits as fish?)

Our aim was to create a book that is both informative and enjoyable to read… it is down to you to decide if we succeeded.

This book is the larger LEP format, 160 pages long, illustrated with colour and black and white photography and pen and ink illustrations throughout.

The edition is of 500 copies, 30 of which are fully leather bound. The cloth edition will cost £32.95 with each copy numbered and signed by the Illustrator. The leather bound edition will be limited to just 30 copies, each numbered and signed by both authors and the illustrator at £185.

Copies can be pre-ordered from LEP.

Tom O’Reilly of Little Egret Press has kindly offered me an exclusive extract from the book which you can read by clicking on the books section of this site.

Why Men Fish

Another book that’s near the top of my unread pile and one I’m rather looking forward to reading is Why Men Fish by Jon Wood.

Jon’s the author of Carp Fishing Science and this time round he’s turned his attention to one of life’s big questions. Why do we go fishing? Indeed, ask yourself why would any normal man spurn the bed of a beautiful woman to spend his nights failing miserably to catch carp? What is it that drives us to distraction in our quest to fool something that has a fraction of our brain cells?

With chapters like, Three Degrees Of Competition, Fishing And Human Relationships and Coping With Addiction, it’s probably a book we should be buying for our partners to read. Needless to say I can’t wait to get stuck in to it.

Once again I’ll be running an extract with the publisher’s permission.

Bidding Is Not For The Feint Hearted

I see Tom O’Reilly is offering a one-off leather bound copy of The Gentle Art of Angling by Bernard Venables. It is a first edition, published by Max Reinhardt, London in 1955 and has been beautifully hand-bound by Tom in green leather making it both unique and a fantastic example of Tom’s outstanding leather craftwork.

The front cover leather has been overlaid on a hand made fishing float, creating a stunning three dimensional effect. This is offset with an inlaid red label bearing the title of the book in gold-tooled detail. The spine of the book is gold embossed with five raised spine bands, a red gold-tooled title label and separate author label. This unique binding is superbly finished with striking hand painted page edges, combining the skillful work of artists Jon Habens and Tom O’Reilly. The book comes with a handmade cloth-covered slipcase and will deserve pride of place in any angling book collection.

Obviously it is a highly collectable work and LEP is inviting cosed bids via email with a deadline for all bids at 5pm on 1st August 2011. All bids will be acknowledged and Tom suggests if you don’t hear back then please assume your bid has not reached him.

The email address for all bids is info@l-e-p.com

New Monthly Video Magazine Launched

It seems a lifetime ago now but there was this young kid I used to fish with. I say young but in reality he was only about ten years younger than me. He was dead keen to be a star and he’d made close ties with a fishery owner who also had a video camera. Both had TV ambitions but that seemed a long way off at the time, after all, no-one had heard of the ‘star’ and fishing videos themselves were still quite a novelty.

Anyway, I had this great idea we should launch a video fishing magazine, indeed I even had a title in mind, Videozine, a play on the words video and magazine. To launch such a concept was pretty daunting but as I already had a column in Angling Times it made sense to broach the plan with the then editor, Keith Higginbottom. Keith was keen but my co-star was less so. He preferred the Mail to the Times – he’d even had an article published in it.

But we met up in Peterborough, made our pitch and Angling Times went for it. We would launch our magazine as an ‘off the page’ reader offer. To support the offer we did some weekly articles in addition to my column and things went swimmingly well. So much so that a second Videozine was commisioned. By now my partner in crime had his own column in the paper and he was even a step nearer to that much coveted TV show. He was bloody good mind you.

I kind of got caught in the slipstream as he went on to much greater things but good luck to him. He deserved every ounce of his success and it didn’t come without some serious sacrifices. The videozine concept was a sound one but needed massive backing. A newspaper alone didn’t have the clout. You really needed a TV station behind you. It needed to be in every supermarket and newsagent – something that would cost an absolute fortune.

Now roll forward 15 years or so. Back then there was no internet as such. Home computers were a relatively novel thing, the luxury toys of the rich and nerdy. Now everyone’s got one but let’s be honest, what’s really lacking is some great free angling content. There’s plenty of free stuff, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of it is mundane at best, amateurish at worst.

Perhaps the ideal vehicle for a videozine is on the web. You certainly don’t have the logistical problems and nor do you require the massive capital investment.

Well, the monthly videozine is finally a reality and I sincerely hope that Total Fishing’s new venture, Coarse and Match Fishing Monthly, which is currently free to view on line is a resounding success. 

Interesting to note though that the editor, Gareth Purnell was on the editorial staff at AT when we proposed the original Videozine. Guess me and Matt were just ahead of our time!

Time For Tares

Well I guess you can only take so much of a good thing so it’s time to rest the barbel for a while. At least till next week I suppose. Meanwhile I’ve turned my attention to catching a few roach on hemp and tares. My local Jolleys pet food store sells the best hemp I’ve seen in ages. Proper big stuff that splits as it should and just for good measure they have some tiny tares as well. What more excuse do I need then?

First trip was back to Alderfen’s Match Lake where anglers have been enjoying some excellent sport with roach on the mighty seed. Alas they weren’t having it when I fished. I caught thirty or 40 good roach and rudd but there was no sign of the pound plus fish that had been out recently. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

I’d not had a chance to use my Pride ticket thus far this season so, on the grounds Alderfen was not having it, perhaps the Trent would be. But forst I had to get there and that meant running the M1 speed camera gauntlet. Between the A38 and the A52, a distance of 15 miles – throughout which the carriageway is four lanes wide – there are no less than 30, that’s right, THIRTY speed enforcement gantries spanning the motorway. Of course not all of them have cameras but every single one carries the threat of one so you get four lanes of motorists jamming on their brakes every 800 yards or so.

The river looked in fine fettle but an upstream wind made presentation very difficult, holding up the float and generally making things tricky. I’d decided to give a debut to my new 17-20 foot Spectron rod, a tool I’d acquired mainly for fishing the River Don at Sprotborough where the Nature Reserve length is far too deep for a conventional rod.

The extra length certainly helped here but even using a 7 No4 stick the float was held up and the fish wanted it running at them. But I caught steadily in both swims I tried. Fish to 10oz and in five or six different year classes boded well for the future. Not as good as last year but I’ll return in more clement conditions before deciding whether things are really looking up.

Goodbye Malik Old Friend

It was with great sadness that I learned this week of the death of Parvez Malik. As owner of the Sambya River Lodge in Uganda he was instrumental in making our trip to Murchison Falls a success. Poor Debbie; she had every right to believe they would share life together at least into their seventies. What began as a simple hernia operation appeared to trigger his Lupus, an illness he had been in remission from since 1999. Lupus is an auto-immune disorder which began to attack his kidney, then his heart and finally his lungs. Ultimately his heart gave out and he went into cardiac arrest.

My time with Malik was memorable to say the least. He was a fixer. An extraordinary man who had traded logistics in war zones throughout his life. He had contacts like you wouldn’t believe and told famously amusing stories of purchasing everything from land rovers to tank parts in the same way you or I might buy a packet of hooks. I may be a magnet for idiots on the internet but that pales when considered alongside Malik’s experience of seeing his own face on front line posters, ‘Wanted…, dead or alive’. Yet he was at ease in the company of anglers and politicians alike.

How ironic then, that he had just given up smoking after 35 years.

Parvez Malik was buried on July 13. He will be sorely missed by his wife Debbie, daughter Farrah, son Maajid and everyone who knew him. Rest in peace old friend. It was a privilege to know you.

(Footnote: The picture shows Malik on the right. Next to him, shaking my hand, is the Hon. Serapio Rukundo, Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.)

Identity Theft

We don’t choose our nicknames, they are bestowed upon us, not always pleasantly, but they are as much a part of who we are as the name on any birth certificate. I’d rather not be called ‘Bungalow’ mind, who once asked a mate of mine why he always called him that. The answer, didn’t please, ‘Because you’ve got nowt upstairs!’

No, I’d have like a name like Killer, The Stud or Boysie, even. However, other than Bob, the shortened version of Robert, I passed through my childhood unsullied by any name that lasted longer than an icepop. Perhaps I should count my blessings.

It was only when I launched Advanced Carp Fishing magazine that my profile in carp circles demanded I had an alias by those ‘in the know’. By that I mean those who could read Black Lizard in Carp World and have the slightest clue what on earth anyone was on about. Being mauled in those pages was a real badge of honour, you know. And as the editor of a rival magazine that occupied space on the same sheves as the carper’s bible I was fair game, a cuckoo in the nest.

So, in those hallowed pages I became Donnybob and made frequent appearances. Didn’t exactly take a genius to work out that this was Bob, from Donny, or Doncaster to you. And it kind of stuck. I rather liked it and even registered on the Viking Supporters Club Forum as Donnybob.

And then one day I chanced upon a post on the Championship Football Forum by none other than one Donnybob! Err, hang on, that’s me, isn’t it? Apparently not. And to make matters worse he has a far better avatar than I have. Oh no!

Tough Season Lies In Wait For Rovers

Can you believe that the footie season starts all over again next week (Sat Aug 6th)? No, nor I. It’s not something I’m getting overly excited about because I envisage a difficult season ahead. Doncaster Rovers are the bookies favourites to get relegated. It’s the one table we are currently top of. The tables showing who’s favourite to win the Championship and the one for who will get promoted sees us firmly rooted to the bottom.

If I’m honest I’d regard a mid-table going nowhere season as a triumph over potential disaster.

But does that mean we’re a bad side? I rather hope not. But however you try and dress up the alternatives it’s going to be quite a struggle. Three key players who missed the end of last season are still out injured, plus a couple more, but at least that means we’ll have quality players coming back mid-way between the two transfer windows. That should be like introducing five new players just when the going starts to get tough, as it surely will.

Leicester City and Sven are throwing money around like its going out of fashion. Five million quid for one of our old players who we picked up for a then record outlay of £300,000. Our share of the Mills’ sell-on is worth almost double what we paid for him. And he’ll join up with another of our old players, Wellens.

I hate to think what’ll happen if Leicester don’t go up, but at least their last encounter with the administrators is recent enough for them all to still be on first name terms. The thing is, this division is a lottery at the best of times. There is no room for complacency and I have a gut feeling that one or two of the big names might fail to hit the ground running. Should that happen the board my panic, disrupt the management structure and the team then hits the skids.

There are too many established (I won’t call them big) names around like West Ham, Birmingham, Cardiff, Derby, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Leeds, Middlesborough, Ipswich, Reading even, and teams still benefiting from parachute payments like Burnley, Hull and Blackpool, not to mention the new boys with a bit of cash behind them, Southampton and Brighton, for them all to be challenging at the top.

Sixteen into 7 just won’t go, however you look at it. And who’s to say Palace, Barnsley, Watford, Millwall, Coventry and Bristol City won’t make a decent fist of things?

I suppose that only leaves Peterborough and Donny to prop up the table, but why are we below the Posh? Beats me. Oh, that’s it. Daddy will lend little Darren a few toys to play with. Funny what a bunch of Man Utd wannabees can do for a team. Unless the apple of his eye fails again and gets the sack. That will see those assets whisked away quicker than you can say, ‘Remember Preston?’

To younger readers ‘Remember Preston’ will mean Sir Alex spitefully recalling his loanees from Preston after Darren was (rightfully) sacked, arguably resulting in their relegation to League One. To those of a certain age it might bring back memories of the Oxo Family in the TV advert, Linda Bellingham asking her hubby rather suggestively, ‘And Michael…, remember Preston?’

Just scroll forward to 2 minutes thirty seconds…

Whatever happens, season 2011-12 will be emotional. Expect to see some big shocks on the Championship Roller Coaster Ride and don’t be surprised if a ‘big’ club goes tits up a-la-Leeds.

The Murdoch empire is crumbling over the phone hacking scandal and that will have serious repercussions in football if the income flow from Sky is affected. We saw what happened when ITV Digital left free spending Championship clubs financially exposed. Football got a severe reality check.

Could it happen again, I ask?

Oh, and when will the first manager get his marching orders? Will it be Jewel? Clough? Grayson? Or someone else? At least one poor gaffer will fall foul of a chairman’s knee-jerk reaction before September’s out, I’m guessing. And of the 92 current club managers, how many will leave their posts within the next 12 months? I reckon it was 58 or thereabouts last year…

It’s a funny old game, eh?

Hardly Unexpected News Then…

A report in the Independent newspaper on 22nd July 2008 read:

He, along with his wife, was trying desperately to kick his habit: “He knows that if he fails, an appointment with calamity awaits, not just for him but for his wife as well.”

The man in question was Blake Fielder-Civil. The ‘prophet’ was his barrister, Jeremy Dein QC, pleading to reduce the 27 month sentence dished out for grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice.

Who, you may ask, is this Blake Fielder-Civil?

If I was to say Amy Winehouse’s husband would things become a little clearer?

Two years to the day afterwards, the girl they tried to send to rehab gave up saying no, no, no, and joined the infamous 27 club. Other members include Kurt Cobain. Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. And the list goes on.

What a pointless, frustrating, predictable conclusion to a sad and destructive life.

What an utter waste.


2 thoughts on “2011 – End Of July Blog

  1. Bloody hell Bob, I gave you that Sutton information in confidence, we needed to tell the syndicate members first!!

    Anyway ,somebody didn’t listen to advice about those bloody great gravel barges needing to get through, so it’s likely to be put back on the drawing board.
    PS: Old photo’s, sack your agency, my beard has been trimmed, and Steve’s put on a bit of weight ;o)

  2. Bob your bang on with the use of maggots, I had my best day ever on the river fishing the float, with loads of arm acheing action.Yes it does beat watching 2 tips all day, but each method has its day.

    Great blog too