Keith Arthur: Let's have two very different Nationals

It’s good to see some extra money rolling in to matchfishing, with Preston Innovations the latest to get on board. The creation of a match involving the top teams in the Division 1 National will obviously provide a fillip for that event, which can be said to have fallen on hard times, at the very least.

I may keep harping back to the ‘good old days’ when the, and I mean THE, most important thing for any match angler worth their salt was to be selected to fish The National, but I just can’t help it. Even when the dilution process began in the mid-1970s and the requirements to become a member club of the NFA were diminished in the clamour for income, fishing any National ¬ and there was a range from 1-6, totalling well over 500 teams at one stage ¬ was the highlight of the year. Now fishing a National for many anglers of my acquaintance is at best an expensive luxury and at worst a downright chore.

So, will Preston’s cash improve the attraction of Nationals? Currently there are just about enough anglers, based on last year’s matches, to run one event but the Angling Trust Competition Committee is retaining two divisions despite the fact it is dramatically short of funds and one match would halve the overheads.

Will the average club angler, for whom the Nationals are run in truth, think that the attraction of the Preston pounds simply make their chances of winning medals even more remote?

I have thought for some time that the time has come for elite match anglers to have their national and the real heartland members of the Angling Trust ¬club anglers ¬ to have their events.

The popularity of matches for non-elite anglers is obvious ¬ a glance at the Angling Times Clubman competition tells you that. Given the chance to compete against anglers of similar ability and, perhaps even more importantly, affordability, generates numbers. The way that this division could be overcome may be achievable.

Why shouldn’t there be two very different National Championships? One should be expensive, fished to CIPS rules ¬ shorter, three-hour events, six-man teams, no legering, bait and pole limits and allowing bloodworm and joker.

Team pools, individual pools and section pools would reflect the commitment of competing anglers.

The other National would be to Angling Trust rules, with legering and feeders allowed but with one main difference: NO POOLS! This would be for trophies only, just like those ‘good old days’ when the only way to win proper money was from the bookie ¬ who gave odds of 600/1, by the way, for an initial limited bet.

Those anglers fishing the no-cash match would be far less likely to want to fish in the World Club Championships, an elite event if ever there was one.

I suppose there is a possibility that this kind of match would be even more attractive to potential sponsors as it would be reaching angling closer to grass roots, rather than at the tree-tops.