Words and pics: Steve Martin


Neil Machin has achieved an unbelievable double by adding the 2006 £25,000 Parkdean Masters title to the Fish’O’Mania crown that also saw him win the winner takes all prize of £25,000 at Hayfield Fishery in July this year.

Stoke-on-Trent-based Neil, who has been on a high since his first big money success, decided to try his luck at

Cornwall bagging Mecca, White Acres. After eight years away from the venue Neil got to grips with the challenging waters to finish in eighth place in the Maver Festival. That result saw him qualify for the final big west country festival of the year, the Preston Innovations sponsored Masters qualifying week.

As successful week on the Preston festival saw 38-year-old Neal post a perfect 36 points after dropping his worst result of five points in the five day event to put him ahead of a top class field to bag the £3,000 first prize and a place in the big ‘un.

Even before the draw on the day of the Masters final, there were some comments from his fellow anglers about the possibility of Neil doing the double after his quality performances over the past week. However, it was never going to be an easy feat, as he was up against some of the best commercial match anglers in the county with the likes of Steve Ringer, Des Shipp, Harry Billing, Will Raison and Giles Cochrane as part of the star-studded field.

The big event was again held on the complexes Jenny’s Lake and Neil pulled Peg 11 out of the hat at the draw, on the right bank, but just away from the favoured swims. But after a quick talk to the angler who bagged 80lb-plus in the Rover match the previous week, he was confident that he could make a challenge for the title.

“I knew nothing about the peg and was told it was 19 metres to the island, but when I arrived and saw I could reach it with 16 metres my confidence rose,” he said.

Armed with the advice of the Rover winner Neil fed pellets and chopped worms down the deepest part of the swim and two lines over to the island, one of meat and hemp, the other pellets and corn.

“I started at 10 metres on worm and had a great start catching two tench in the first 15 minutes,” said Neil. “I then saw some blows over the meat and hemp line after around 45 minutes, so when across and had two carp to 5lb.”

That was to be the last real action for Neil for some time, as the next two hours saw him struggle for a bite, a session that produced the odd roach, even from the inside line to his left that he had also fed at the start of the match.

The final 60 minutes of the event however saw a complete change in fortune, as after bagging a few quality skimmers and crucians down the middle, Neil returned to his island meat line and found the fish had returned. That final hour saw him put over 30lb of carp in the net, but Neil had no ideal if he had done enough, as at least two anglers to his right in the fancied pegs had also been bagging well.

As the scales got closer, former Masters winner Alex Murrary was claiming 80lb,although he was to Neil’s right, six pegs away, so when the needle registered only 67-14-0, Neil believed his chance was gone. Rather than follow the scales, he started to pack up and phone his wife.

“I was a little disappointed, but rang to say I had not won and then continued packing my kit away,” he explained.”

But, about five minutes later he looked up to see Darren Cox and Steve Cooke running towards him, shaking their fists and shouting that he’d won.

“At first I couldn’t understand what was going on and thought they were winding me up,” said Neil. “But Darren explained that Alex had only posted 61-5-0 and was third behind Karl Webster who had more, but I had the top wait.

“The next thing I can remember we were jumping up and down,” he added. “I then had to make my way around to the other side for the presentation, so I asked Darren to ring my wife to tell her the good news. Apparently she screamed a lot when he told her.”

After the presentation that saw Neil receive the massive £25,000 winner’s payout and Masters trophy, he made the now traditional plunge into Jenny’s Lake.


Parkdean Masters Top Five

1 Neil Machin, 67-14-0; 2 Karl Webster, 62-9-0; 3 Alex Murray, 61-5-0; 4 Des Shipp, 57-7-0; 5 Craig Ebbrell, 54-0-0.