2012 Drennan Cup winner announced

Simon Lavin has been voted Drennan Cup champion for 2012 after being chosen as the country’s leading specimen angler by his fellow fishermen.

In a desperately close contest, the 51-year-old fended off a strong late challenge from last year’s winner, Neill Stephen, to lift the prestigious title for the first time.

Both men entered the annuls of fishing history during the season after superb campaigns which saw Simon bank a new record bream of 20lb 2oz, and Neill equal the British best chub of 9lb 5oz. But in the end it was Simon’s other awards for huge tench and chub which swung the balance in his favour and earned him the greatest number of votes from his peers.

The pair finished clear of Nick Rose back in third, who hit the headlines after landing the biggest brace of eels in history - weighing 8lb 2oz and 9lb 2oz - in a single session, while fourth place went to last year’s runner-up Alan Stagg, who scooped three weekly awards.

As well as getting his hands on the trophy, Simon will also pick up a cheque for a cool £2,000. On being informed that he had won, he told Angling Times: “What a fantastic surprise! I’ve always followed the Drennan Cup, and had a few awards in the past, but never really thought about setting out my stall to win it. But earlier in the spring a friend said to me while we were fishing for the big bream that if I ever fancied having a go for it, this could be the year. After I landed the record, I began to think a bit more about it, and was then fortunate enough to land the big brace of tench not long afterwards. In the end I think it was the chub at the backend that sealed it for me. It’s a special competition, made all the more meaningful because it is voted for by anglers.”

Simon, who hails from Sunbury-on-Thames in Middlesex, revealed that he currently has no intentions of going all out to defend his title, although is planning to ‘play things by ear.’

“I’ll be carping until the autumn, before trying to better by barbel pb, as well as having a go for big chub and perch, so you never know!” he added.

Outgoing champ Neill Stephen was fulsome in his praise for the winner, saying: “Many congratulations to Simon. He deserved to win it and caught some fantastic fish from difficult waters. I am very happy to be runner-up – it’s a real honour and wasn’t expected!”