Following England’s sad but entirely predictable departure from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I was listening to a discussion about the matter on radio.
As usual the subject of how much money the players earn was discussed, and one commentator said that, ideally, the World Cup should be like the Olympics used to be…for amateurs only. In that way the players would try and win for the glory of winning and not see it as almost a punishment at the end of a season’s work.
No-one watching could be under any misapprehension that England’s players actually enjoyed being there or playing for their country or, worse still, were worried that they lost.
“Is there an amateur sport we’re any good at?” was the next question. This came, mind you, the very day after another magnificent, unpaid performance by Drennan Team England in Spain.
This match was fished on a virtually unknown quantity of a river, at the ‘wrong’ time of year, allowing next to no recce or preparation on the river in similar conditions.
Yet despite that, ‘we’ were top of the pile. The ‘wrong kind of river’ obviously didn’t bother Messrs Scotthorne, Raison, Conroy, Ashby, Gardener and Shipp half as much as the wrong kind of ball bothered our footballers.
When the dust has settled, I believe that this victory will be recognised as the greatest – better even than ‘doing’ Italy on their home water. It was a true, 100 per cent team performance. No individual medals, they are not part of team fishing when it’s team first as it was on the Guidiana.
Oh how I wish that a major newspaper had picked up the story, but it didn’t involve a deadly, man-eating fish (of just over 1lb or a multi-millionaire ‘negotiating a new contract.’
I’m not often jingoistic, but this time I’m making an exception.
And this wasn’t just an England triumph because Scotland carried the fight on Day 1 and it must be the first time we’ve had all four home nations (Ireland is a joint team encompassing the island of Ireland) in the top six. Cathal Hughes in silver medal spot led another four ‘home’ anglers – one from each nation – in the top seven individuals too. This is an incredible success story.
Just imagine how good we’d be if commercial fisheries weren’t spoiling our anglers...(yes, that lump in my cheek is my tongue). Perhaps now someone will now explain that for the price of a season ticket to watch footballers who only care about their next Lamborghini someone could buy enough tackle to take part in a sport we are really good at.