A book review by Bob Roberts
I suppose I initially became aware of Tom through a series of excellent magazine articles in Coarse Angler magazine that had a great influence on my fishing long before I actually met him.
When he opened a tackle shop in Doncaster we became good friends and I spent many an inspirational dinner hour above the shop in his office talking tactics. I’ve travelled with him, fished next to him and against him, even filmed an interview with him on the banks of the Trent at Long Higgin.
I’ve known his co-author Alan Barnes since he was a cub reporter for Angling Times and later an editor of David Hall’s magazines but I hope you know me well enough to appreciate this in no way colours my judgement of Born To Win which is an absolutely riveting read.
Let me first get a couple of niggles out of the way. There are no page numbers, which I found odd, as an index would have helped make it a very useful research resource in the future and Brian Blessed was born in Goldthorpe, not Mexborough (16 Probert Avenue, actually). And that’s it, unless you count wishing it was twice as long.
Verbally Tom is one of the most accomplished communicators in angling, whether that be on a one-to-one level or speaking from a stage, thanking sponsors, or commentating on TV events like Fish’O’Mania. He’s exceptionally good at it. Reading the book is like listening to him speak. Apparently he wrote it in his Yorkshire dialect before Barnes turned it into English so the rest of the country would be able to understand it!
Each chapter is self contained making it an ideal dipping book. You don’t have to read the chapters in order as they each stand alone, but when you get stuck into it you could be fooled into thinking this is a work of fiction. It seems impossible that one man can achieve so much success in one lifetime.
I swear if a bloke walked up to you in a pub and claimed he’d won half the titles Tom has won you’d be convinced he was a fantasist. It beggars belief that he has the fortunate knack of not just winning matches but winning the ones that really matter, and then not satisfied with winning, given half a chance he smashes records along the way.
And if that wasn’t enough he transforms individual glory into team success for Barnsley, Team England, England Ladies and the England Feeder team. I won’t be in the least surprised to see him winning gold at World Veterans or Masters level in the near future, he really is that good.
So why wouldn’t a book about these events be equally good? Well, for a start, it could come over as big headed, but rest assured it doesn’t. Tom tells the tales with good humour and humility. He gives plenty of credit to those around him without whom it would not have been possible. He also opens up about several personal issues and he gets the balance just right.
This is the best angling book I’ve read in a long time. The pages fly by. It’s only weakness, as with the vast majority of match fishing books, is the lack of quality photographs of anything that happened more than 20 years ago. In photographic terms, that might as well have been the stone age. They simply don’t exist.
In his summing up Tom promises to write another book if this one goes well, about the tactical side of match fishing, the psychology of developing a winning mentality and how to execute a strategic plan in a match. For that reason alone I would urge you to buy this book, but I shouldn’t have to. This is a book that will disappoint no-one. A man at the very pinnacle of the game describing what he does best. Unless you were the poor guy who came second.
Sensibly priced at just £20 hardback or £15 paperback and available from the www.tommypickeringangling.co.uk web site.