I awoke before 7am on Saturday (early for me these days!) and picked up Warren Bates and Glenn Bailey as we headed off to Bath race course for the draw of the Div 1 National. I met up with my Thatchers team mates but couldn't help bumping into some anglers of old, it was great seeing some old and very famous faces.
Mark Harper did the team draw and I wasn't really impressed with a few of our team's pegs, but well you never know for sure. After catching up with a few other teams we headed back to Kingswood for a breakfast at Wetherspoons and watched in amazement at the amount of beer and cider being consumed at 9:30am! From here we headed to Keynsham and walked up the Crane before the match started, the river looked good and there was the odd small fish topping. We walked all the way to the last peg in A section at the top of the long ashtip, Andy Bush was one off the end. When the whistle did go it was very quiet as very few anglers balled it in. Getting back down to my team mate Andy Ottoway he was catching the odd small roach, but he was in the peg above the boys hole which is very boily and he had his work cut out. From here we walked down to Jack Whites, England international Steve Hemmingray was on the fence (where I had dace and barbel last year) and he was catching dace on the pole, and below him Dennis "Fatha" White was also getting some fish on a stick float. These pegs were pacey but Leon Hubbard had a very fast peg below the steps.
The next destination was Kelston anglers water (Swineford we knew about from Steve Hutchinson) where the angler below the weir at the Jolly Sailor had 6 good bream and at the other end of the section Darren Cox had a bream and some roach. The rest was pants with only locals Mark Harper and Kev Dicks admitting to 2lb! Saltford trees was our next port of call, and we had to go here as we had a bottle of water to deliver to Nick Chedzoy on end peg 150, nice walk!!!!! Chedz was doing OK as had taken about 6lb of roach, and this was by far the best in his half of the section, most anglers admitted to 1lb and there were a lot of fed up faces! After this we walked all the way to Nathaniel Johnson on peg 79 and we were knackered, in fact Glenn fell asleep. We decided with 45 mins of the match left to call it a day and go to the rugby club for some cider, not long later joined by Chris Higgins. We all said how surprised we were at how poor it was fishing at Newbridge, although it has to be said we thought the standard of fishing was not so high in places. Swineford and Crane and in fact Jack Whites fished much better in the end, glad the long walks were worth it.
Waiting in the club I started to find out how the team had done, but it soon became apparent that Thatchers had blown out. The best results were Chedz with 3 kilos, Andy Ottoway with 4 kilos and Lee Trivet 3 kilos. "A" section (Jack Whites and Crane) was won by Andy Bush (son of Vic) with 9 kilos, and I'm really pleased for him. However the overall individual winner was Thyers Steve Priddle. Steve was at Barton Farm (I think) and was fishing the pole, but after an hour it was a bit slow and he chucked the feeder out to have a bite to eat.... then he had a bream! Steve ended with 27 bream for 52 kilos, a very nice day, well done Steve! I think the peg next to him came 2nd with 35 kilos. I'm sure the top 6 weights will look very impressive. I spotted on the AT web results page that Les Williams put a feather in his cap by beating Alan Scotthorne off the next peg, nice one Les!
On the team front the mighty Dorking march on winning yet another high profile event, congratulations lads, a very good performance. In 2nd place was Maver Image and 3rd Barnsley Blacks. Of the local teams Garbolino Blackmore Vale came 5th, Diawa Gordon League 6th and Bathampton 8th, so well done to them. Thatchers came 16th not what they wanted, but I really do believe they had a number of very poor draws. Mind you one local angler Dave Haines helped and fished for a team of Northern lads. Unfortunately their tactics did not pay off and the team came last but one. Apparently Dave is at a loss to know why things went so bad as they had all bagged up on top sets in practice, lol!
It was a shame the river fished so hard in some places, whilst not totally to blame I am sure anglers practicing the day before on the river did not help, especially those that filled their nets with bream. Hope the AT don't let that happen again. Well done to all the local people who worked hard clearing swims, pegging and stewarding, as without them the event could not happen.