I had joined the local pub’s angling club (The Gladstone), and was on my first match. It was on the Yorkshire Derwent. I’d only started fishing a month earlier, and was full of trepidation, but excited about it. The lads seemed a decent bunch. Being a newcomer, as with all of them, I was put in ‘A’ section to assess my skills, against the others. One of them had actually fished for England! Somehow, the smoke emitting old Bedford OWB coach got us all the way there, and to the 2 mile hike along the river bank to our designated match stretch. We dropped off near a pub, and had five match lengths of river bank to walk to get to our allotted section, and that was after a half mile walk from the pub to the river bank!
For the first 5 hours and 50 minutes of the 6 hour match, I didn’t even get a bite! Then, when I did, I struck, and struggled to get the fish out, and it was a tiny eel, and I’d never seen one of them before. Nobody had explained to about how slippery and slimy they were, and I ended up on the grass, grappling with this 3 ounce eel… and nearly losing! The whistle indicating the end of the match was blown as I was putting the eel into a bait box full of water, I looked back up the bank, and there were about half a dozen of the lads who had been watching my embarrassing fight with the tiny eel, and they all laughed and then gave me a round of applause, accompanied with a few loud boos, whistles and selected comments of a injurious nature. Bless em! It turned out at the weigh-in, that only two fish had been caught – my hard-nosed eel, and one Tommy Ruff, so on my first match, I’d won the prize money, and had a challenge cup to keep for a year! Easy this match fishing lark I foolishly thought. My next win was five years later. So we all packed up and took the trek back to the pick-up point for the bus that was conveniently in a pub car park. With only two fish being caught, the weigh-in had taken no time at all, and we were very early for the pick-up, the coach not yet in site. The landlord opened the pub up early for us. I was soon guzzling ale, and listening and watching some of the lads play a game of ‘Tip-pit’, which I’d never seen before, and was fascinated with. After a while, I thought I’d better nip to the toilet before the coach arrives, and off I went to the little boy’s room, where I found I had a touch of constipation, but persisted painfully. When I got back into the pub, there was none of the lads or any of their tackle to be found! They had piled the tackle and themselves on board, and driven off, leaving me behind in the loo! Bless them, I was a new face, and they were rat-arsed… understandable I suppose! There were no mobile phones to use in those days. I rang the Gladstone, leaving a message, and requesting rescue. Then settled into a game of domino’s with some of the locals, oh, and imbibed a few more pints of the excellent ale on offer. It turned out that about an hour or so later, the lads on the bus were sorting out the raffle, and eventually they realised I was not there. They returned to collect me, amid much jibing, Mickey-taking, and the ranting from the bus driver, and picked me up. I fell into a splendid alcohol induced stupor on the way home. Forced out of this wonderful state, I was awoken and kicked off the bus at the end of the road here I lived, and my fishing tackle thrown out along with me. I picked it all up, and made my way to the flat. It had been burgled – Tsk!