START OF ANOTHER SEASON
Well we are 2 weeks into the river season and it’s been pretty reasonable for me so far, apart from the weather. Our climate seems to going through a rapid change, as a kid I remember long hot balmy summers but in recent years they seem to have gone. We hardly get a ‘proper’ summer nowadays, take this year for example, we get 2-3 glorious days and then it rains for a week and when it rains it’s still warm and humid, then we are back to sunny and warm.
I had planned to get on the banks of the river Trent over the first weekend of the season but due to the heavy rain, 60mph winds, river being 6 -7 feet up, dangerous banks and reports of 8oz not even holding bottom I decided to give it a miss. Instead I waited until the 19thwhen the weather was better and the river was just a couple of feet up and dropping of nicely. I was fishing a stretch of river I had not fished for 15 -20 years where I can also park behind my peg which is vital so it is practically a case of only having to go a few feet from the car to my peg. I was excited at the prospect of using new bait I have been developing over the close season and as I’ve explained in previous blogs I have developed all my boilies, stick & sausage hookbaits, groundbait & liquid flavourings using the same ingredients and flavours so they all complement each other. First job was to make up the mix for my feeders, a 3kg mixture of 2 different types and sizes of pellets were put into a bucket along with 200ml of my flavouring and a couple of pints of river water to soften them and dampen them all down. I then added 3 pints of cooked hemp and a kilo of my home made 8mm boilies and gave it all a mix before finally adding 1-2kg of my groundbait to make the final mix. I baited the hooks on both rods with my sausage boilies that I had glugged in a mixture of oils and flavourings I had put together to match everything else and at 7.45am I make my first cast of the season.
30 minutes in and the downstream rod rips around and I’m into my first fish of the season. After a fantastic fight I am bringing the fish to the waiting landing net and it looks big, a good double, and disaster strikes. Just as I’m about to slip the net under it the fish rolls and pops the hook, to say I’m gutted is an understatement. After a wait of about 2 hours I’m in again and slip the net under my first barbel of the season, not a Trent monster but at 7lb 10oz it’s more than welcome. I do manage to put 2 more barbel on the bank weighing 9lb 2oz and 6lb 4oz before calling it a day at around 3pm. I had tried various baits on the hook and all 3 fish (plus the double I lost) had all fallen to the glugged sausage boilies which was pleasing, especially when 1-2 around me had struggled on pellets (I never had a bite on pellets either).
The following day I am back on the same stretch and there is a peg that I really want to fish, so today I set off early and I was on the bank at 5am and to my disbelief there’s an old chap in the peg I wanted. He was a really nice old fellow, but never shut up talking all the time I was there and I learned that he was 79, lived in Northampton, comes here once a month, was up at 1.30am this morning to get here early, had been fishing for almost 70 years and had fished countless nationals in the past, fished the Great Ouse regular and knew a lot of well known anglers from the past. The only downside was that I never got the chaps name, hopefully I will bump into him again because some of the stories he told were fascinating. Anyway due to me feeling ill and that my knee was very sore today this was only a short session where I fished from 5.30am until 9am, however I did put 4 barbel on the bank and again every one was on my glugged sausage boilies while the old chap in the peg I wanted to fish never had a bite on halibut pellet. The fish went 5lb, 6lb 9oz, 7lb 10oz & 7lb 14oz none were huge but I was pleased with putting 4 fish on the bank in a short space of time.
The following Tuesday I am back again, this time I’m determined to get the peg I want to have a go in, so I am up at stupid o’clock (2.45am) and on the bank at 4.15am and thankfully the peg is empty. There is just something appealing about this peg that I can’t put my finger on, maybe it’s just a hunch that it will produce? By 8.30am I already have 3 barbel on the bank and they went 6lb 14oz, 6lb 2oz, and 5lb 2oz. Are you seeing the pattern here too? Yes they are getting smaller, my hopes of landing my first double of the season seem to be going down the pan. A little later I get a really shy bite, no indication from the alarms just slight movement on the tip, so I lift into it. At first I think I’ve hit the bottom as it feels like a dead weight, then it starts to move slowly upstream before setting off like a train downstream. 5 minutes later an angry 11lb 6oz fish is recovering in the landing net and I’m over the moon with my first double of the season. An hour later and the alarm on my upstream rod is screaming and I’m in again and once more it feels like a good fish. I zero the Reuben Heaton digital scales out with the sling attached and pop the fish in, the scales read 10lb 5oz, FANTASTIC!!! 2 double figure fish in an hour and 10% of the way towards my goal of 20 double figure fish for the season.
I’m exhausted so decide to make myself a ‘cuppa’ and to warm up my lunch on the stove. Here’s a tip for those with a little portable stove. Instead of lugging milk around with you etc I have a one of those silver camping cups with the black closable lid on it. In this I put a teaspoon, a small freezer bag of ‘Typhoo QT’ and a small bag of sweeteners and this makes a good 7-8 cups of tea. In a small Tupperware tub I have 3 chopped up grilled sausages and mushroom rice in tamarind & barbeque sauce that I heat up and eat out of the pan.
After lunch I settle back down to fish and land 1 more barbel at 6lb 7oz before deciding to call it a day at 2pm before tiredness sets in as I’m falling asleep in my chair and have to travel home yet. But I’m really happy with how the 3 sessions have gone so far and every fish I have caught have succumbed to my home made sausage boilies that I have glugged in a combination of flavours and oils that I put together to match the hook bait.
Did I mention weather at the start of this blog? Well on Thursday I was back on the river with my dad and we got caught up in horrendous thunderstorms. What made things worse was that I didn’t fish for long or properly due to the weather and lightning flying about overhead which resulted in no fish. And to top the day off I had to pack up during the storms to go and pick my mum up from hospital as she has had a fall and broken her ankle. So fishless, not much time spent fishing properly and soaked to the skin. A few hours I would rather forget!
MY BARBEL DIARY
I will be updating this on every blog I write when if I have been out on the river…..
To date – 4 sessions totalling around 21 hours fishing time resulting in 13 Barbel @ 1 fish every 1hr 35m
5-6lb fish = 2, 6-7lb fish = 5, 7-8lb fish = 3, 9-10lb fish = 1, 10-11lb fish = 1, 11-12lb fish = 1 @ 15.4% of fish caught are double figure fish.
Season Goals: 13lb 1oz PB beaten = No, 20x Double Figure Fish = 2/20
Well slowly but surely the squad is starting to take shape for next season. Six of least seasons successful cup winning youth team have now signed professional contracts with us (even though 1-2 were attracting interest from top premier league clubs) and we have also made another 2 signings. Welcome to Doncaster Rovers both Robbie Blake & David Cotterill. Cotterill is a quick and skilful winger who seems to have been around for years but he’s only 24, a Welsh international and has Premier League experience. Robbie Blake also seems to have been around for years and being 36 certainly has been. He brings with him lots of experience and I also feel another reason for him coming is to help develop the youngsters, after all Jordan Ball has just signed a pro contract with us after scoring a shed full of goals in the youth team last season. Apparently ‘Deano’ is also hoping to make 2 maybe 3 signings next week, in my opinion we need a couple of central defenders, a central midfielder, a striker and a keeper.
Forum For The Future…..
Well all that fuss for basically a glorified rallying of the fans, nothing learned that was already known and a hell of a lot more questions left unanswered that the club need to answer…..
1. No clarification on the board situation in regards to any changes at boardroom level and how other directors felt about the return of the KM2.
2. No reason given for board resignation of TB last season and what has changed to make him all of a sudden become interested.
2. No reason for why DW & TB have returned and no clarification as to whether they have rejoined the board of directors as between them they control the club.
3. Nothing brought up about expansion and development on the site.
All we got was a 2 year business plan in place with no great detail gone into regarding it, JR quickly telling us the experiment was over and then moving onto the next topic, the unveiling of the new kits, new catering, and how every penny u spend at the ground now helps the club, the reason DS never came out with the players was because we shouldn’t do a lap of honour after being relegated which is rubbish as it was to show appreciation to the fans not a lap of honour and the evening came to a close with JR taking a snide pot shot at Sean O’Driscoll.
Also we have had the fixtures announced, and I am very disappointed to say the least, why? You may ask. When will the football league give us a home Boxing Day game? On top of that BOTH our first and last matches of the season are also away!!! Our biggest away derby fixture is at Sheffield United, now you would think after the above 3 things that the football league might get the derby right? Wrong!!! They make the trip to Bramall Lane on a Tuesday night!!!!! I think if they could the Football League would make all our 46 games away fixtures.
Is it a fix? I’m referring to the clubs ‘Season Ticket For Life’ competition here. Season Ticket holders who renewed their tickets for the upcoming season before June 8th were automatically entered into a prize draw to basically have their season ticket for free, for life. The winner was then chosen at random during the ‘Forum for the Future’ event. The cynic in me that had a little smile when the winner turned to be an OAP It was odds on that it would be and everybody thought the same when the competition was announced.
Well the dream for us is finally over with a whimper after being knocked out in the quarter finals on penalties (as usual) by Italy. To be fair the best team won on the night and we have been riding our luck a lot, in fact I would say the only game we may have deserved to win was against Sweden, and even then in the 2nd half we struggled at times against what was a poor Swedish side.
We can’t keep giving our opponents 60-70% possession and a stream of chances and expect to go far, especially when we hardly create anything in front of goal. Let’s take a look at the stats:
v France – Result 1-1
Possession: England 35% – 65% France
Shots: England 3 (1 on target) – 9 (7 on target) France
v Sweden – Result 3-2
Possession: England 52% – 48% Sweden
Shots: England 15 (8 on target) – 12 (9 on target) Sweden
v France – Ukraine 1-0
Possession: England 43% – 57% Ukraine
Shots: England 10 (3 on target) – 16 (3 on target) Ukraine
v Italy – Result 0-0 (Lost on penalties)
Possession: England 32% – 68% Italy
Shots: England 9 (1 on target) – 36 (8 on target) Italy
Against France we were on the back foot and somehow clung on to a draw, they had all the possession and 7 attempts on target compared to our 1 when we scored. Against a bad Swedish side it was even and it looked like we were going to lose after collapsing in the 2nd half but came back really well to scrape a win, we edged possession and they edged shots on target. How lucky we were against Ukraine? They had more of the ball and more shots and had a legitimate goal disallowed when the ball had gone a foot over the line. Then we come to Italy, 36 shots with 8 on target and they fail to score, and they had almost 70% of the ball. To be honest we had a 10-15 minute spell early in the first half when we got at them and we were playing well, but then we went back into our shell, put no pressure on them when they had the ball, dropped deeper and were happy just defending. We gave Andrea Pirlo an open invitation to run the show, and he took it with both hands and made our so called ‘superstars’ look mediocre.
Now let’s take a look at our squad and their individual performances. Our entire defence was immense apart from the game against the Swedes. For me John Terry had his best ever tournament for England and alongside him Joleon Lescott was outstanding. Behind them Joe Hart was as solid as ever and some of the faces he pulled in the penalty shootout against the Italians were hilarious. Ashley Cole was his dependable self, and even though he was ok I think Glen Johnson was the weakest link as he does get caught out of position and we looked weakest when teams attacked us down our right. In the middle of the park I thought Gerrard was fantastic, some of the balls he played were out of this world and he worked his socks off. Alongside him Scott Parker also worked tirelessly and did his best to break things up when we were under constant pressure. Now our wide men, oh dear, our 2 worst players in the tournament by far were Ashley Young & James Milner. Both of them were completely ineffective and created nothing, having said that Milner did have to do a lot of covering for Glen Johnson but there are no excuses for Ashley Young, he was simply awful.
Up front I thought Welbeck & Carroll did ok but Wayne Rooney might as well not bothered going to the tournament altogether. All he did in 2 games was score a header from 1 inch out that he couldn’t miss and to call him world class is laughable, he isn’t in the same league as some of the true world class players we have seen in the tournament. He might do it for Manchester United now and then but for England he’s been a flop for years.
Let’s look at the positives we can take from the tournament. Our organisation and our defence were very good. We are unbeaten in normal play in the tournament, in fact we are unbeaten under Roy Hodgson and only got knocked out on penalties. We are the only team that have stopped Italy scoring (even though they hit the post twice) which is something both Spain & Germany failed to do. We showed briefly against Italy that we can play good attacking football and have the players to do it. Roy Hodgson has done a great job given the timescale and lack of preparation time to put together a squad and get them to the quarter finals, something the majority of fans never expected.
Roy Hodgson has said since that he knows we have to change and that we have to have more of the ball and be better when we don’t have it. We now have 2 years until the World Cup, so let’s start building for that and blood some youngsters. We need to do the same as Germany & Spain did in order to get where they are now, and if that means we do nothing in the next world cup but give some youngsters tournament experience in preparation for the Euro’s in 2016 and the world cup in 2018 then so be it. I also feel we need to change our system, 4-4-2 went out of the Ark and is way too rigid. One of the biggest factors for our poor possession was that we were outnumbered in midfield, so let’s go continental and go 4-2-3-1. My team for the qualifiers and the next world cup would be:
Walker Cahill Lescott Baines
Walcott Wilshere Oxlade-Chamberlain
Welbeck (Rooney if he can prove himself)
As for the final, well it’s a mouth watering prospect and I couldn’t confidently pick a winner but my gut feeling is that Italy will win it. I thought they were better than Spain when they played them in the group stages and have been better throughout the tournament on the whole and if Super Mario is fired up like he was against the Germans then he will take some stopping.
BEN PARKINSON AN INSPIRATION TO ALL
What an inspiration this Doncaster lad is. For those that don’t know his story (Surely everybody does?) then this is it:
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson served with 7 Para RHA in Afghanistan. During September 2006 aged just 25 he suffered horrific injuries caused by an anti-tank mine, leaving him unable to walk or speak. Ben is the most injured soldier to survive his injuries in the conflict having lost both legs, the use in his left arm and a shattered spine, broken pelvis as well as suffering brain damage and 35 other injuries. He Spent 3 month’s unconscious in military care where doctors expected Ben not to recover but his progress and recovery has been extraordinary.
Last week Ben carried the Olympic torch through the town and was cheered along the 300m all the way by folk young and old like the true hero he is. What you are about to read and see now is not something I wrote, but it is the work of Emma Clark from the press because she sums it up perfectly and it could not have been written better…….
After weeks of corporate freeloaders and Z-list celebrities hijacking the Olympic Torch, a REAL hero steps forward
* Paratrooper Ben Parkinson lost both legs and suffered brain injuries after driving over a mine in Afghanistan
* He had major surgery on shattered spine and had prosthetic legs fitted
* Spent three months unconscious in military hospital
* But he refused to use his crutches to carry the torch
* Thousands cheer him on in the most inspiring moment of the relay so far
* Fellow paratroopers travel from Colchester to show their support
* After completing the challenge, he said: ‘It was nothing – just another walk’
It took the courage and determination of a gravely wounded soldier to remind us what the Olympic Torch relay should really be about.
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson battled for 27 painful and exhausting minutes yesterday to carry the torch 300 metres. After accusations that the relay was becoming a circus for minor celebrities and corporate sponsors, here was a real hero to win the crowd’s heart. Few who saw Ben – the most severely wounded soldier to survive the fighting in Afghanistan – could fail to have been stirred as he walked slowly by the cenotaph in his home town of Doncaster.
Schoolchildren shouted ‘Go Ben’, fellow soldiers walked behind in battle dress and watching mothers sobbed. They were 15 deep on the pavement and every vantage point was taken. For Ben, every step was a triumph of mind over matter – a victory for human endurance and a stirring example of what the Olympic spirit should embody.
His inspiring walk came after revelations earlier this month that some of the coveted places on the relay had been handed out by sponsors to their own staff. Coca-Cola, Samsung and Adidas have distributed the positions to everyone from marketing executives to IT workers. Last month, Will.i.am, US star of BBC talent show the Voice, trotted the Torch through Taunton – with which he has no connection.
Ben, 27, lost both his legs, broke his back, hips and ribs and was brain damaged when a Taliban mine exploded in 2006. He defied the odds to live – let alone take part in the Olympic torch relay.
He was determined to do it on his new prosthetic legs, scoffing at the offer to be pushed in a wheelchair or use crutches. All the sweat and tears were worthwhile by the time he passed on the flame to the next bearer.
‘I am very proud,’ he said. ‘I didn’t realise how much support I had, I was amazed.’
His mother Diane said: ‘I cried from start to finish. People were shouting and cheering. I couldn’t believe so many had turned out.’ ‘It’s the proudest moment of my life,’ said his mother, kissing him at the handover point. ‘We knew Ben would complete the route. He’s so determined.
L/Bdr Parkinson has come a long way since suffering close to 40 injuries in the explosion in Helmand Province and spending three months unconscious in military hospital. He had to learn to walk on prosthetic legs and undergo major surgery to fix his shattered spine and teach himself to talk once more. He was also recovering from grievous damage to his skull, pelvis, hands, spleen and ribcage.
His mother added: ‘The whole purpose of this was to show everyone what he can do.
‘It’s been such a spur for him, he’s had to work so hard. He’s had this practice torch made and he’s been pounding the streets. ‘He’s doing brilliantly. Even a few months ago we didn’t know if he’d be able to do it without crutches but he’s cracked it and he’s been doing about 500m up and down the area.
‘This town has been such a wonderful place for Ben. Whatever he does, Doncaster’s behind him. It’s so important to Ben because this is his chance to prove what he can do, to thank everybody in Doncaster because he’s had such fantastic support locally.’
Speaking after he handed over the flame, which he carried in a white sling around his neck, the exhausted but grinning 27-year-old said: ‘It was nothing – just another walk. ‘I am very proud. All these people helped me along.’
Ben was accompanied by 25 colleagues from 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery and his commanding officer Major David Walker said: ‘My men would have crawled over broken glass to be here today to show Ben our support. Everyone in the regiment is tremendously proud of the progress that he’s made against incredible adversity. We’re immensely proud of the physical and mental courage he shows in overcoming major injuries. It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring. We’re here to support Ben. The regiment is a wider family than just its serving members. We are here to show Ben that he is still part of that family.’
Sergeant Adam Colin, who served with L/Bdr Parkinson for many years, including in Afghanistan, added: ‘We’re just here to show our support to Ben – cheer him on and show how fantastically well he’s done and is doing. We’re very, very proud of him so we’re here to give our big support to him and just let him know we’ll always be there for him.’
People of all ages turned out in the beaming sunshine to cheer L/Bdr Parkinson on, with schoolchildren chanting ‘Come on, Ben’, while others waved flags, whistled and cheered as he passed by.
His physio Robert ‘Shep’ Shepherd said they had practised the walk about six times in preparation, and admitted it was a mammoth task.
He said: ‘He has just completed an incredible feat. For Ben, this isn’t the same as walking the distance as someone else. It’s the equivalent to walking with three times the amount of his weight on his back. We started training about seven weeks ago, and Ben does physio about 15 hours a week. I’m so proud of him.’
You’re not the only one who is proud of this amazing man!!!
PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO ABOUT BENS DAY CARRYING THE OLYMPIC TORCH!
WHAT’S COMING IN MY NEXT BLOG?
Weather and health permitting I will be out a few times over the next couple of weeks and will be writing up about how I fare.
Hopefully more good news about the Rovers.
How England are doing against the old enemy in the one day international cricket series.
Any other current events that crop up that I find interesting.
Until then tight lines,