COVID-19 IMPORTANT ANOUNCEMENT

Daiwa Sponsored Star/ Green Un Club Match Angler Championship

2019/2020 Semi Final Postponed

Please note that the ‘Green Un’ has had to be postponed indefinitely. I have read this morning that Lindholme Lakes, venue for our planned semi final is closing its doors to matches with immediate effect. I have also been advised that my Angling Notes column in the various Star Newspapers and the Doncaster Free Press is suspended forthwith.

We are in unprecedented times but I sincerely hope this event will resume at some point in the future. Who knows where, who knows when. Or even how. Safety of life comes first.

May I take this opportunity to thank the hard working match organisers, club secretaries, the thousands of participants, various sponsors (Jack Purchase, Tony Flint, Daiwa Sports) who have supported us during the 23 years I’ve been involved with running the event. Same goes out to countless fisheries and the under-pressure tackle shops without whom it couldn’t happen.

Let’s hope this is a brief postponement and not the end of a fantastic era. Thanks everyone, from the heart, for your past support. Meanwhile stay safe and don’t be an idiot. Distance, Isolate or whatever it takes. Time for some to stop being selfish and ask, what can we all do for others?

Take care everyone and hopefully this will soon be a bad memory.

Bob Roberts

A Little Background…

Were it not for a man called Colin Dyson you would not be reading this as I would not be tasked with running the Club Match Angler Championship. Without Colin I would most likely still be fishing club matches and going ‘pleasure fishing’, assuming I was still interested in fishing at all.

There would be no Bob Roberts the author, columnist or DVD maker. No Goldthorpe years or being crowned the UK Masters Champion. Nor would I have become, as Any Kaczmarczyk posted in what was clearly intended to be a derisory slur on Facebook recently, an ‘angling celebrity’.

It’s unlikely that I would have adventured in the Himalayas, Uganda, Zambia, the Nubian desert, the Americas, Europe, Sri Lanka, remote islands and more. I wouldn’t be on first name terms with some of the greatest anglers on the planet nor appeared before TV cameras on 3 continents, for sure.

All this, thanks to one man, Colin Dyson. So how come?

I grew up in South Yorkshire where Colin’s contributions to angling were inescapable. He, along with Colin Graham, was the man behind The Angling Telegraph, Coarse Angler magazine, every local newspaper column going, so may important books including works by the likes of Kevin Ashurst, Tom Pickering, Billy Lane, Fred Foster, Archie Braddock and many more. He was an accomplished angler, too.

It’s fair to say a lot of my early inspiration came from Colin and, as you do, I wrote to him asking for advice. We swapped letters on an infrequent basis until at some point he suggested I write a series for him in Coarse Angler magazine.

I was gobsmacked! Me, a writer? Give over! And I turned him down flat.

A year later, he was back. Same suggestion, same response. Then he tempted my vanity. “Do me a favour, Bob, will you write me 3 articles as if you were writing them for the magazine. I won’t publish them, I just want to see what they would be like.”

Of course I fell for this and a while later he called to say how much he’d enjoyed them and… the first one will be in the next issue. What!!! I could have killed him. I wasn’t a writer. I left school at 15. This was just supposed to be a bit of flattery. For his eyes only. But the die was cast and my very first article was published in the hallowed pages of Coarse Angler Magazine in May 1987. I had begun a writing career by default.

The articles were well received and he asked for 3 more. I thought that would be that. What on earth could I possibly have to say. Anyone can write one article. Three, perhaps. Six becomes a tall order without repetition. Beyond that is impossible, or so I thought. But with his help and encouragement I soldiered on until I realised a fire had been lit. I could do this. Not only do it, but do it well.

That was 33 years ago. Some of you reading this will not even have been born. A lot of water has flowed under many bridges since then, yet somehow I’ve managed to publish at least one article in some magazine or another in every single month since, plus regular columns for the Angling Times for a while.

Colin’s health deteriorated in 1997. By now I was not only a columnist, I was an author, having published the Complete Book Of Legering, dare I say it to critical acclaim. It sold 6,000 copies on the first print run. Unbelievable, but I digress. Colin wasn’t well and I went over to see him at his home in Sheffield. I had previously asked if there was anything I could do to help. It turned out there was. Would I be good enough to take over his weekly column in the Sheffield sports newspaper for a while, ‘just till he felt a little better’.

OMG, this was a fearful task. I was to ghost write the column in his name. Something I had no experience of whatsoever. Talk about a demanding challenge. But he knew I could do it, I just had to convince myself I was up to it.

The first one appeared on April 19th 1997. Colin was happy. I carried on. I carried on, and on and on. Colin passed away and the paper’s editor passed on the batton to me, with my name on the masthead. I’m sure that was Colin’s vision all along. It wasn’t a bad decision and I’ve continued to write that column for 23 consecutive years, week-in, week-out, as near as damn it 1,200 columns, a million and a half words, possibly more.

And now I’m going to take you back further, 43 years to be precise. That was when Colin Dyson and Colin Graham launched the Club Match Angler Championship. A competition to find who was the champion angler in the UK’s hotbed of club match angling. Clubs in the Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and Chesterfield area were invited to submit match results to the paper. The match winners would compete to become the Club Match Champion. So many entered there was a limit on qualifying, the top 100 winning weights from summer matches, 100 more from the winter.

Back in those days the breweries were allowed to sponsor sporting events so the prizes were massive. I competed on several occasions in these 200 peg finals, never winning but did manage to make the top ten. It was an incredible competition.

When I took on the column in 1997 I took on responsibility for the match. It was in disarray to be honest. The miners’ strike had decimated the club match scene. Breweries could no longer sponsor sporting events but dear old Jack Purchase was still happy to pump in two grand. Hard to believe but there were only 40 finalists that year.

A lot of hard work has gone into promoting the event since and we are now back to around 200 anglers qualifying for the finals. It has become eagerly anticipated event for many. Alas the progress we’ve made has been undone by the Corvid-19 virus.

This past week I had been working on a plan for how the 2020 event could be staged in spite of the virus issues, including all pools to be paid a week in advance, a virtual draw over Facebook using the Angling Direct Store media platform on the evening before the match, anglers driving straight to their allocated pegs, weigh-in by fishery staff only maintaining social distancing of 2 metres, disqualification for leaving pegs or gathering, no presentation on the day and payment of winnings by bank transfer.

The fear was, who would still turn out and were the measures practical? Then on Saturday I received an email from the newspaper headquarters saying that in the light of the demise of competitive sports in the UK my column would no longer be required.

That presented a huge headache because you cannot expect sponsors to support an event if you can no longer deliver the promised publicity which is your end of the bargain.

I was facing some difficult phone calls this morning but then I read on Facebook that the venue for our finals venue is no longer hosting matches for the foreseeable, so that’s it. The finals can no longer go ahead as planned.

And frankly, it’s the responsible thing to do.

I pray this is merely a postponement and not a cancellation. If not, then this country and the rest of the world is in deep trouble. I’ll update everyone on here and through social media if things change but for now, please note, the 2019/2020 Daiwa/Star/Green Un Club Match Angler Championship is officially postponed until further notice.

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