England: ‘We were so close to gold’

It was a classic case of ‘what if’ for Drennan Team England as they finished fifth, an agonising 3.5 points adrift of retaining their world title won in 2008.

As Slovakia climbed the podium to take the plaudits, England looked on knowing they had the measure of the Eastern Europeans, but despite being placed fourth after Day 1, they just couldn’t capitalise on the second day when, historically, England always come roaring back.

The bream, which had shown strongly on Day 1, took a bit of a day off, and where England had planned to have at least three of the team catch one, only two managed.

But it wasn’t just about the bream, there were missed opportunities elsewhere, with a matter of grams in some areas the difference between gold medals and fifth place overall.

“There’s a list as long as my arm of what ifs,” said co-manager Mark Downes. “We sat down and talked about it and it just got worse and worse. Des Shipp needed another 100g, that’s a few roach, to score three more points, but we had him spending an hour trying for a bream.

“Sean Ashby was the same the day before, Alan Scotthorne has lost a bream that would have won it for us, and Stu Conroy hooked a bream on the whistle which didn’t count. A few minutes earlier and it would have been an extra point and a medal.”

After Day 1 England cottoned on to the effectiveness of maggots and pinkies for getting a better stamp of roach, but were happy with the bream front. Four of the team had caught them to record just seven points, Sean’s 11 in D section, where there were no bream and few roach dealing them a bit of a blow.

“We said on Saturday night that we needed to catch a better stamp of roach on bigger baits and have three anglers catch bream,” Mark continued. “Fewer bream have shown today, and those teams that have fished long aiming to catch everything that swims have done best, and that’s Slovakia and France. Our strategy was high risk, we knew that and maybe we should have played it a little safer.”

A promising-looking draw on Day 2 didn’t really turn out that way, William Raison winning his section and the whole match with ease, Stu chipping in with second and Des a fifth, but two of England’s brightest lights 24 hours earlier, Alan Scotthorne and Steve Gardener, suffered on D and E sections, returning under 1kg as the bream didn’t show.

“We made decisions in the interest of scoring maximum points, but some of those decisions might have been a little premature in terms of taking anglers off catching roach to go for a bream,” Mark admitted. “Hindsight is a great thing, and the new system of points scoring misled us massively, especially on Day 2. We fished for bream when we didn’t need to, but from what we could see on the bank, we felt we needed to.”

“I think we risked a little more than we had to, but I honestly believe we weren’t far off, and if we had to fish this event again I wouldn’t change a great deal.”

Result teams: 1 Slovakia 39pts; 2 France, 40; 3 Belgium, 41; 4 Russia 42; 5 Drennan Team England, 42.5; 6 Hungary 47; 7 Netherlands, 50; 8 Italy, 51; 9 Poland, 55; 10 Czech Republic, 57; 11 Luxembourg, 61; 12 Spain, 62 (28-909); 13 Daiwa Scotland, 62 (24-363); 14 Serbia, 63; 15 Switzerland, 64; 16 Croatia, 69; 17 Portugal, 70; 18 Channel Islands, 71 (21-454); 19 Shimano Team Wales, 71 (18-650); 20 South Africa, 72; 21 Germany, 74; 22 Finland 75.5; 23 San Marino, 77.5; 24 Bulgaria, 78; 25 USA 79 (21-886); 26 Romania, 79 (21-045); 27 Slovenia, 79 (19-856); 28 Lithuania, 79.5; 29 Denmark, 81 (20-051); 30 Montenegro, 81 (16-837); 31 Latvia, 82 (20-385); 32 Austria 82 (17-221); 33 Maver Ireland, 87; 34 Sweden 90; 35 New Zealand 92; 36 Norway, 97; 37 Australia, 104; 38 Ukraine, 111.
Individual: 1 Igor Potapov, Russia, 2pts; 2 William Raison, Drennan Team England, 3 (15-332); 3 Simon Jensen, Denmark, 3 (8-368); 4 Ratislav Dudr, Slovakia, 3 (7-857); 5 Greig Brown, Channel Islands, 3 (6-780); 6 Jamie Masson, Daiwa Scotland, 4 (8-569); 7 Jozsef Varga, Hungary, 4 (6-759); 8 Igor Holocek, Slovakia, 4 (6-167); 9 Jacopo Falsini, Italy 5 (10-166); 10 Hans Slegers, Belgium, 5 (8-626).