MORE than 1230 anglers entered the brand new Builder Center/NFA Team Knockout Competition and just 39 teams have survived to compete in the semi-finals on Saturday, April 3, 2004. “There has been some spills, hiccups and tears along the way, but no-one can deny that team knockout competitions create a great atmosphere and bonding amongst anglers,” says Mick Turner, who is the NFA officer in charge of competitions.

The £11,000 competition attracted a good cross section of teams and there will be fierce rivalry between the remaining teams who are competing for just two places in each semi-final. Elton Tackle (Thirsk, Yorkshire) will fancy their chances in the Northern round at the recently restocked Worsborough Reservoir near Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Warrington (Gold) and their close neighbours, Saints, (Lancs) will confidently expect to be one of the two teams who qualify in this group for the Final but the Welsh team Llyng Y Gors (Anglesey) have fished magnificently so far and they will be in no mood to let their biggest opportunity of landing a top prize slip through their fingers after travelling halfway across the country to reach the semi-finals.  

The qualifiers for the Northern semi-final are; Walton MG; Team Shimano Quaker Red (Durham); Stainforth FAPS Blue; Elton Tackle (Yorkshire); Hull Works Sports Association; Thorne & District AA; Edgeley Sports Fossils (Stockport); Warrington Gold; Llyng Y Gors (Anglesey); Derby Hot Rods; Todmorden Profish UK; Saints (Lancs) and Derby Junction.

The Midland semi-final is being fished on the fabulous Lakeview Complex, Holwell near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. This is the first time the NFA has used this fishery, which has been chosen on form. “We have kept an eye on the performance of the lakes for some time and taken into consideration the facilities and the expansion programme (four new lakes were completed this week) and we feel this water will be a popular inclusion for the semi-final,” says Mick Turner. The surprise team in this regional semi-final is ‘Mayfair Damp & Timber’ (Newark) who qualified in the two rounds through the spectacular form of Colin Walton, who was the top weight in both legs. Team manager Dave Coombs commented: “As the semi’s are fished on weight, and as Walton is in the best form of his fishing career, I can see him returning the top weight of the competition to see our team power through to the Final. This is why the Builder Center Team Knockout event is so good, one good weight from an unknown angler in an unfancied team, can put that team through to the Final. It’s all terrific stuff.”

But the money will be on the Nottingham based ‘Middy Matchmen,’ or one of the three Lincoln teams, ‘Lincoln Harrison’ Gold, ‘Lincs County Chubbers’ and ‘Lincoln Harrison’ Silver, or the two crack midland teams, ‘Starlets Sensas MAP’ (A & B) teams, (who are going to be formidable opponents) to land one of the two Grand Final places.

The qualifiers for the Midland semi-final are; Mayfair Damp & Timber (Newark); Sun Inn AC (Tuxford, Notts:) Middy Matchmen (Nottingham): Lincoln Harrison Gold; Lincs County Chubbers; Lincoln Harrison Silver; Quorn VDE Gold; Maver Loughborough Soar; Burton Mutual Team Two; Starlets Sensas MAP ‘B’; Starlets Sensas MAP ‘A’; Tipton Van Den Eynde and Peterborough & District.

The Southern semi-final is on the prolific Stubpond Fisheries near East Grinstead, Surrey. This will be another ‘first’ for the NFA who have not used the fishery previously. But Steve Sanders, captain of the Daiwa Dorking Black team said: “This is a superb fishery and ideal for a Builder Center Team Knockout competition. In April the fish tend to shoal up and anyone can draw a swim full of fish. This venue is great for the lesser known teams and it is conceivable that the fancied teams could get knocked-out. This has been a terrific competition and there have been plenty of shocks already. This always happens in knock-out situations and the proof of the pudding is in the amount of top teams who have not made the semi finals. It has been a gripping competition so far and there will be plenty of anxious moments during the weigh-in on April 3.”

All the teams in the Southern semi are out of the top drawer but a few will claim they are extra special. Daiwa Dorking Black are widely regarded as one of the best outfits in the country and they know this water. Meat Bashers (Surrey) are a local team and expected to do well and it is rumoured they know every fish by name! Preston Innovations Delcac and Browning Wickford Blue will try and make sure that they finish ahead of everyone else – but this is a weight knockout and anything can happen.

The qualifiers for the Southern semi-final are: Thames Mead Town ‘A’; Meat Bashers (Surrey); Browning Wickford Blue; Daiwa Dorking Black; Preston Innovations Delcac; Dorset Raiders; Thames Angling Megabait; Sensas Bathampton Aquatic ‘B’; ALS Van Den Eynde; Milton Keynes Sensas; Sensas Bathampton Aquatic ‘A’ Fox Match Triangle and Dick Clegg Sensas Mark One Black.

Builder Center marketing manager, Stuart Evers, says: “Clearly the knockout competition has created a lot of interest. Those teams knocked out in the qualifying rounds will no doubt be watching with interest the progress of the teams in the semi finals. It is an exciting stage to be at with lots of practice taking place before the semi finals.” With just two teams from each semi final qualifying for the £7,000 Grand Final cash prizes, and the three days all-expenses paid competition (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, May 17/19) at the exciting White Acres holiday complex in Cornwall, there is more than honour at stake.”

NFA President Ken Ball commented: “The Builder Center Team Knockout event has created a lot of interest nationwide and from a standing start, and with a fairly short time scale, the event attracted 1,232 competitors. The three semi finals on Saturday, April 3, 2004, are ‘weight’ competitions and so the top teams could find they are eliminated by a small club team, which would not normally be the case in a ‘points’ competition. From now on the qualifiers will be practising hard and trying to find a ‘secret’ formula to ensure they end up in the prestigious Grand Final in May. But as we all know with angling, nobody can predict the outcome of a fishing match.”