DRENNAN Team England did what England’s overpaid soccer stars failed to do … win the European Championships!
After soccer let the nation down it was left to angling to bring back a gold medal from Hungary and give the country something to shout about. It was never going to be easy for the Drennan Team England to beat Hungary (the current World Champions) on their own patch, but England strolled into an amazing 13 point lead after day one. “We got the tactics dead right,” said NFA coach Mark Downes adding: “We recognised there was a shelf that dropped from 4ft to 8ft at 13 metres and we fished a long line and swung a float out to the maximum length and the fish responded to caster and sweetcorn.”
One day two the brilliant England team was under pressure from the remaining 24 competing teams who copied their successful day-one tactics. “The wind got up, we drew badly and the other nations nicked our ‘secret’ method,” said Mark Downes. But Drennan Team England had another secret weapon in Will Raison, the most outstanding young angler in the world. The Ash, Hampshire star, won his section on both days and finished with a total weight from two days of 18.750kg and a perfect score of two points. But once again Raison was prevented from claiming the gold medal by a slender 800 gram margin. Local angler Nagy Attila also returned a perfect score on the Velence rowing course and the Hungarian boasted a total weight of 19.550kg to claim the gold medal.
Steve Gardener from Horley replaced Des Shipp (Yate) on day two and immediately stamped his authority on the event by winning his section. Stu Conroy from Warrington boasted a fourth section place while Sean Ashby (Derby) snatched ninth position. Four times World Champion, Alan Scotthorne from Doncaster, had a nightmare swim on the second day finishing 23rd out of 25.
Although England trembled as the results were announced, their 52 point total gave them a two point lead over World Champions and hosts Hungary (who had two individuals in the top three) who finished with 54 points. France were third with 67 points and Italy fourth with 85 points.
NFA International event manager, Dick Clegg OBE, said: “To win the European Championships two years in succession against such strong opposition illustrates our strength in depth. The team adopted three excellent methods and did a total demolition job on day one. The coaches got the tactics right and the team selection was spot on.”
European Angling Championships: Velence, Hungary. Saturday/Sunday, June 26/27. 25 Nations fished.
Teams: 1/ England 52 points; 2/ Hungary 54 pts; 3/ France 67 pts; 4/ Italy 85 pts; 5/ Poland 92 pts; 6/ Belgium 101 pts; 7/ Wales 105 pts.
Individuals: 1/ Nagy Attila, Hungary 19.550kg (2 points); 2/ Will Raison, England 18.750kg (2 pts); 3/ Walter Tamas, Hungary 14.250kg (2 pts); 4/ Darren Frost, Wales 18.660kg (5 pts); 5/ Stuart Conroy, England 18.330kg (5 pts).