GARETH Goldson has been crowned Drennan Cup champion following the closest-fought contest in the competition’s history.
The all-rounder from Norfolk lifts specimen fishing’s top prize after securing fractionally more votes from his peers than big eel supremo Steve Ricketts, with the pair finishing well clear of their nearest pursuers.
In an exhaustive campaign that saw him travel thousands of miles to venues as far afield as Loch Naw in Scotland and the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire, Gareth secured five weekly awards for catching big roach, rudd, eels, perch and chub. His main rival, Steve Ricketts only secured two, but one of those was for the biggest brace of eels in angling history weighing 9lb 13oz and 9lb 1oz.
In the end however, it was the wider spread of species caught that saw Gareth pip Steve at the finishing line and get his name etched on the sport’s most prestigious trophy, as well as picking up a cheque for £2,000.
Gareth said: “Ever since I saw a picture of Matt Hayes lifting the Drennan Cup back in 1998 it has been an ambition of mine to have a serious go for the title. I gave it my all this season, and dread to think how much I’ve spent on fuel – I feel like I’ve been to the moon and back!”
“I felt sure that Steve Ricketts’ would win – his incredible brace captured the imagination of many anglers –and I’m a little surprised to have beaten him. All I can say is thanks to everybody who voted for me – it’s the ultimate honour.”
Steve Ricketts, meanwhile, was ever the gentleman in defeat, saying: “I’m delighted to be crowned runner-up - it’s the icing on the cake of what’s been a great 12 months for me. I thought I may have been in with a squeak, but fair play to Gareth, he put in the effort, and I’ve always thought the competition was to find the best all-rounder. I’ll be back for another go next year.”
Although Gareth and Steve finished well clear of their nearest rivals, the battle for third spot on the podium was an equally tight affair. In the end Sussex-based specimen hunter Simon Buckman (three awards for big barbel and perch) pipped Peterborough rod Nigel Bryans (Nene barbel of 16lb 8oz, 16lb 8oz and 16lb in a session) by a single point.
The Top Four
Gareth Goldson £2,000
Steve Ricketts £1,000
Simon Buckman £500
Nigel Bryans £250