Beat Belgium and France and we will win gold says Mark Downes

“Beat Belgium and France and we’ll get gold!” That’s the war cry of Drennan Team England co-manager Mark Downes ahead of this weekend’s World Champs in
Holland. There, the team will be trying to retain the title they won memorably 12 months ago in Italy.

Fished on the Lage Vaart Canal in Almere near Amsterdam, Mark is brimful of confidence going into the weekend and is looking forward to a match on a venue that will be as close to an English-style water as you can get abroad - a canal stuffed with roach and bream.

However, those Belgian and French sides will have something to say about it and you can be sure that waiting in the wings will be the sizeable threats of Italy and home team Holland as well, but Mark knows he’s got the team to seize the crown again. The main job in practice this week is to get the tactics right.

“The canal is full of roach, but bream will play a big part and one fish could make a big difference,” Mark said. “Some teams will fish for bream and maybe return a couple of good results, but blow out elsewhere while those that concentrate on the roach might not get section wins and seconds but will be consistent. We’re well aware that a mix of the two should get the job done.”

Another unknown is the new split sections, making their World Champs debut in Holland. This year’s Euro Champs, Youth World Champs and World Club Champs have all been run along these lines, so Mark has experience of how it’ll work and the pitfalls the new format can bring. He knows a strong team at the top of the bank will be as important as one down at the water’s edge.

“You’ll be fishing in 12 or 13 peg sections and the first priority is to win that mini section,” he explained. “You can’t do anything about what’s happening elsewhere but as bank runners and management we’ve got to be on the ball and get our sums right to know where we’ll be overall once those three section scores are merged together.” “You’ve also got the risk of having anglers from those strong teams in your section,” he continued. “It could happen that a team wins a medal with a fairly easy run in their sections but I know that by having and beating the French, Belgians and Italians in your mini section you’re removing any doubt and uncertainty. Luck will be a bigger factor this year.”

The canal is a cross between the River Nene and the Stainforth & Keadby
Canal and while bloodworm and joker will be key, Mark reckons the amount of tiny blade roach in the venue will mean maggots, casters and pinkies will be of equal importance. Chopped worm and caster for perch could also play a part.

“As ever we’ll know the full picture by the end of this week as there’s so many questions to try and answer,” Mark finished. “There’s also the issue of how well the canal will stand up to a week of hammer from 30-odd teams. Will the fish still have a go by the weekend? Will they back off to the far side of the canal? That might mean the waggler becomes key.”

“The French, Dutch, Belgians and Italians have all fished the canal several times and will know a few things, but I think we’ll have the best team there when it comes to this type of fishing. It’ll be between ourselves, Belgium and France and I’m looking forward to this championships more than any since Mark Addy and me took the reigns.”


The England team

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Double gold 12 months ago is impossible to beat and the two Marks have stuck to the same squad they’ve been using for the last five years, boasting a wealth of experience:

1 Steve Gardener
2 Stuart Conroy
3 William Raison
4 Sean Ashby
5 Des Shipp
6 Alan Scotthorne

The management team also remains the same:
7 Mark Downes
8 Mark Addy
9 Dick Clegg


The medals

Since the current England team first fished as a unit back in 2004, England
have largely dominated the medals table, winning gold three times and taking
silver once in the five years. They’ve also seen two of their men, William
Raison and Alan Scotthorne crowned world champions, adding three bronze
individual gongs for good measure.

2004: Willebroek Rowing Course, Belgium team silver
2005: Saimaa Canal, Finland ¬ team gold, individual bronze (William Raison)
2006: Montemor Rowing Course, Portugal ¬ team gold, individual bronze (Sean Ashby)
2007: Lake Velence, Hungary ¬ individual gold (Alan Scotthorne)
2008: Spinadesco Canal, Italy ¬ team gold, individual gold (William Raison), Individual bronze (Steve Gardener)


The coverage...

Angling Times has teamed up with website to offer extensive coverage of the World Championships, taking in every twist and turn within hours of it happening!
AT Match Editor Richard Grange will have his daily blog kicking off on Friday September 4, detailing what are the tactics to conquer the Lage Vaart, the team to fish, how the home nations rate their chances and of course what actually happened over the two days of competition!
The first report goes on to the site on Friday on the eve of battle followed by dispatches on Saturday and Sunday evening when hopefully we’ll be reporting on more gold for England. Check it out at where you’ll find the latest stories detailed on our homepage.