15 years in the making, are Dorking the greatest ever team?


With Daiwa Dorking’s tenth Superleague win and captain Steve Sanders’ bold statement that his team are now the best in the land, could a possible sub division amongst the ‘top’ teams now emerge to further fragment  match fishing?

For years there has been talk of a Champion’s League style competition contested by the big teams in the UK – the likes of Dorking, Starlets, Barnsley, Drennan NW – but could this dream now be under threat as Dorking pull away from the field?
Steve thinks this has already happened and that they are ‘head and shoulders above everyone else’ at the moment, just as Essex County were when they went professional and the likes of Shakespeare, Leicester’s Likely Lads and Cofton Hackett were in their own lifetimes.

“The statistics speak for themselves,” he said. “We hold the record for Team Champs wins, have dominated the Superleague and now have a shot at the National and World Club Champs. I honestly think there’s a gap developing between us and other big teams now but that’s exactly what we’ve been trying to achieve for the last 15 years – a team to beat all others.”


So how do they compare?

Steve rates his team as good as any there’s ever been and likens two of the giants of UK match fishing, Cofton Hackett and Essex County as the benchmarks his side aimed at and now have surpassed. But how do they match up in a head to head on title wins?

“We sat out the Nationals for a good few years at one time,” Steve said. “However, we decided to fish them again three years back starting at the bottom and we’re now in the top flight after winning the Division Two event last year. This now gives us a potential shot at the World Club Champs.”


Cofton Hackett

Team Championships winners four times in the 60’s and 70’s the team boasted the likes of Ken Giles, Clive smith, Austin Clissett and even Ivan Marks. The Superleague didn’t exist then the but the team won plenty of titles including the contemporary knockout events of their era. They set the benchmark for all to follow.


Team Championships winners


Essex County
Britain’s first professional team in the early 90’s, Essex were winning titles before with Division One National gold in 1984 and a Superleague crown in 1992. Then came the glory years with five winter league wins including a hat-trick from 2000 to 2003. One of the team of the 80’s and 90’s.


Team Champs winners


Superleague winners


National winners


Pretty consistent over the last three decades only now has the team become all conquering – just look at that Team Champs and Superleague roll call! The National is now in their sights but they’ve also got Tuborg Cup and Captain Morgan titles to sit in a groaning trophy cabinet.


Team Championships winners


Superleague winners


How’s this for a team?
Dorking’s international contingent is significant – in fact they could almost field a side for the Team Champs final entirely made up of England men. Here’s the possible dream team – should they get picked of course!


Steve Gardener
William Raison
Des Shipp
Steve Hemingray
Simon Willsmore
Paul Hiller
Michael Sanders
Ben Leach
Callum Dicks


No professionals here

You might think Dorking’s anglers have all the time in the world to go fishing but according to Steve, nothing could be further from the truth.

“We all work and have to take time away to practice or fish. Des Shipp drives a forklift truck five days a week and Steve Hemingray has his own business. Even William Raison has to put time in at his Gold Valley fishery so we all have to make sacrifices to get it right.”


The Dorking work ethic

A typical assault on the title will begin with Steve and England ace William Raison visiting the venue under match conditions – ‘there’s not a lot you can learn from pleasure fishing on your own’ Steve reckons. The team will pleasure fish if matches are at a premium, but treat the day as a mini match of its own.

Then, as the days tick by more and more of the team will join, working on Steve and William’s initial findings to formulate the team plan, each angler inputting their own findings and thoughts. From this, the final approach and team best suited to carrying this out will be selected but whether in or out, Steve knows every member of the squad will do their job either with pole in hand or bank running shoes on.