SENSAS Bourne AS proved that practice does make perfect as they raced to a magnificent victory in the team event at the Embassy Division Four National Angling Championship on the Grand Union Canal on Saturday (July 20).

And there was joy for John Chapman, a 58-year-old engineer from Bramley, nr Leeds, who captured the Individual title with 7.250 kg to pocket a personal best £1,071…using a team-mate’s pole!

However, Chapman could have added another £1,200 to his bank balance but arrived just too late to have a £5 each way bet with bookmaker Billy Knott.

Bourne AS, with two anglers in the top 10 and four in the top 20, netted £840 from the Team Pools as they totalled 419 points – 20 points clear of Dick Clegg’s Team Barnsley.

There were no big weights but, remarkably, there was just ONE dry net from 504 anglers – a tremendous result in a major team event!

But it was plenty of practice – and local knowledge – that paved the way for Bourne’s brilliant success.

Skipper Steve Cooper, a 39-year-old engineer from Bourne, Lincs, said: “Trev Lovell and I have been practising on the water for three months and the rest of the squad have been down to the water up to six times each. It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s paid off – it was a great all-round team performance.

“We also had a lot of great advice from Northampton angler Tom Boyce who fished in our team and knows the canal really well.

“This is my first season as captain and winning an Embassy National title is easily the best-ever result for the club. We gained promotion from Division Five last year when we finished eighth and now we have gone up to Division Three as champions.”

Boyce said: “We fished squatt and looked for 1.4 kg a man – the team tactics worked really well and it was a great result.”

Leading the Bourne glory charge was fifth placed Phil Chesterton, a 34-year-old paint shop foreman from Grantham, Lincs, who weighed in 4.060 kg from Peg B14 just off the A5 main road near Dodford – a catch of mainly roach plus a bonus small bream and perch. He fished squatt on a size 22 hook over groundbait and hemp at eight, 11, 13 and 14½ metres,

Chesterton, who picked up £751 in bets and pools, said: “That’s my best-ever pay day. I had fed the far bank under an overhanging tree when, after about 10 minutes, two boats came along and hit the tree. That killed the swim and I had to rebait. It’s brilliant that we have gained promotion.” In ninth place was Bourne’s Paul Asher with 3.330 kg from Peg L23. 

Individual champ Chapman, who fishes for Thornhill AC, was one peg above the highly-rated “Stick-up” swims on D19 at Nether Heyford and, as these pegs failed to produce in any quantity, he hit the jackpot.

Fishing close in and at 13 metres under a bush on the far bank with pinkies and double squatt, Chapman caught bream up to 0.5 kg and gudgeon steadily through the match.

Chapman said: “This was my eighth National and it’s just fantastic to be a National champion, especially as I was using my mate’s pole. I have the same rod holdall as my team-mate and when the tackle was dropped off, we muddled up our bags.”

But Chapman soon got used to his “new” pole and caught steadily close in right from the start. He added: “It would have been nice to have had the bet but we got there a bit late and it was just one of those things. I’m still a National champion.” His previous best pick-up was just £100. Unfortunately, Thornhill AC narrowly missed out on one of the 10 automatic promotion places when they came home 12th with 299 points.

There was a double celebration for second-placed Colin Walton who weighed in 4.850 kg from G35 near Banbury Lane Bridge as his team, Dick Clegg’s Team Barnsley, grabbed the silver medals and £600.

Walton, a 60-year-old engineering worker from Barnsley, landed bream up to 0.6 kg, perch, roach and gudgeon at 11 metres going up the shelf on the far bank. He fished squatt on a size 20 hook and then switched to red maggot.

With a £10 each way bet, Walton collected £410 from the bookie to go with the £974 he netted from the Individual Pools to total a best-ever £1,384.

“I had a feeling it was going to go well when, after having a shave, I joked to my team-mate, Stuart Merrills, ‘I’m ready to have my photo taken today,'” said a delighted Walton, “It’s been a brilliant day and to win two silver medals is just incredible. We put in quite a bit of practice and this is easily my best result in a big match.”

Team Barnsley, skippered by Don White, a 54-year-old chartered surveyor from Staincross, near Barnsley, adopted a “fish light on the drop, squatt approach on the near and farside.”

A delighted White, who has been skipper since 1996, said: “We have practised hard six or seven times, fished some Open matches on the water and now we are in Division Three. We came fifth in Division Five last year and to take home the silver medals this time is just superb. All the squad did well.”

Third place in the Team event went to Team Daiwa Trentmen who made up for their disappointment last year when they thought they had gained promotion in ninth place but a points mix-up meant they had missed out!

But there was no mix-up this time as they collected 375 points to go up to Division Three where they will be one of the pre-match favourites as the 2003 event is being fished on their home water – the River Trent!

Skipper Andy Dare, a 42-year-old former miner from South Normanton, Derbys, said: “We just fished the match on the day – we didn’t put in any practice. We have had a good season as we were third in the Drennan Superleague final and second in the Angling Times Team Championship.

“We just missed out last year after the mix-up over the points. Now we have won the bronze medals and gone up to Division Three – it’s been a good day. The team did well with nine of the squad catching 1 kg or more.” Trentmen won £480.

The bronze medal in the Individual went to Keith Gray, a 40-year-old machine operator from Winmore, Leeds, who scaled 4.750 kg from B11. Winning a personal best £1,239, Gray said: “When I arrived at my peg I thought it was rubbish. There were no features on the far bank and I didn’t rate the spot at all.”

But that early diagnosis proved to be false and Gray fished worm and caster on a size 18 hook at 12 metres down the middle to land bream to 0.5 kg, small roach, a 0.5 kg perch and gudgeon.

Gray’s great day was completed when his team, the Huddersfield-based Gas Club AC, gained promotion in fifth place with 352 points. Gray said: “I was wrong about my peg, I have won a bronze medal and I have beaten my biggest pay day of £400 – what a good match.”

EMBASSY DIVISION FOUR NATIONAL ANGLING CHAMPIONSHIP (Grand Union Canal) (Top 10 teams promoted to Embassy Division Three)

TEAM: 1. Sensas Bourne AS 419 pts; 2. Dick Clegg’s Team Barnsley 399 pts; 3. Team Daiwa Trentmen 375 pts; 4. South Cerney AC 366 pts; 5. Gas Club AC 352 pts; 6. Marconi AS 345 pts; 7. Brampton AS 340 pts; 8. Harefield Geers 330 pts; 9. South West Lakes AA 327 pts; 10. Luton AC 310 pts.


INDIVIDUAL: 1. John Chapman (Thornhill AC) 7.250 kg; 2. Colin Walton (Dick Clegg’s Team Barnsley) 4.850 kg; 3. Keith Gray (Gas Club AC) 4.750 kg; 4. Andrew Kilby (Ramsey & District AS) 4.600 kg; 5. Phil Chesterton (Sensas Bourne AS) 4.060 kg; 6. Rob Gibson (Newport Pagnell FA) 3.750 kg.