Dick Clegg will go down in angling history as the brilliantly successful England team manager who brought world championship success on a massive scale.
Dick, a dyed-in-the-wool Barnsley lad, originally qualified as a draughtsman and enjoyed a pretty successful career in that field in his younger days. However fishing eventually became his life. Not only did he achieve great things on the bank as an angler and as a team manager, he also ran various specialist manufacturing and distribution companies within the angling trade, building a formidable reputation for quality and fairness along the way. Even now in his 'retirement', Dick operates a pole repair service with a sizeable customer base.
Dick has been a lifelong member of Barnsley & District Angling Club representing them in many National championships and other team events. Over time, a group of top local anglers who used Dick’s tackle shop formed the famous Barnsley Blacks with Dick as their first manager. The squad enjoyed success after success both nationally and internationally, and became the country’s undisputed top club team. Today Barnsley are still rated amongst the top three or four match teams in the country.
Throughout this period Dick also enjoyed plenty of individual match fishing success. A few of his biggest wins include the first ever televised fishing match run by the Angling Times, the inaugural UK Championship, the last Embassy sponsored Individual Championship in Ireland, and also the very last Sheffield Haigh & Haigh. This match was fished on the mighty Middle Level drain by over 500 anglers. Dick recorded the competition's highest ever winning weight of around 81lbs.
Along the way, Dick’s leadership and management skills became increasingly apparent. The world angling championships started in 1957 with England competing from 1958 onwards. Several English anglers won the individual crown including Billy Lane, Ian Heaps and Kevin Ashurst. However, the much longed for world team gold medal remained elusive.
The then governing body for coarse angling, the National Federation of Anglers, advertised the position of Director of International Events in 1984. Dick, one of four candidates interviewed, was successfully appointed. He had direct control over the England teams at world, European and home international level.
Thus began his parallel career which saw England become 'the team' in the world, with Dick’s name virtually synonymous with success. His 17 years in the role saw England take 6 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze team medals and 8 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze individual medals.
In the late 1990s England also fielded a ladies team in the world championships, which saw two team golds and a bronze medal coming home, along with two individual golds, one silver and one bronze medal. There were similar successes in both European and home Internationals. In recognition of his wonderful achievements Dick was awarded an MBE in 1990 and this was upgraded to OBE in 1999.
In 2001 Dick stepped back (slightly) from direct team management, although he did retain control of the ladies team and, from 2007, the veterans squads, only retiring from the latter position in 2015. The veterans picked up two golds, three silvers and a bronze medal as a team and three individual golds.
In 2001 he built a brilliant set of team managers to take direct control, while still being heavily involved. In the last decade there have been many successes at under-18, under- 21 and now youth level, proving the worth of this approach. Similarly there have been six more team golds and four individual golds at senior level.
All international competitions are under the jurisdiction of le Federation Internationale de la Peche Sportif (FIPS). The responsibility for coarse fishing is with FIPS En Eau Douce. In 1996, because of his expertise, his achievements and his great sense of fair play, Dick was appointed to the FIPSed Committee, where he is held in the highest possible esteem. His wise counsel is highly valued by the representatives of all member nations of which there are more than 50.
Since his appointment with the NFA, Dick served as a key member of the Coarse Competitions Committee, which oversaw all domestic and international events. During this time he was tournament manager for the now much-missed Embassy Pairs event, which saw the biggest sponsorship angling has, even to this day. This competition as many will recall, culminated each year in 40 pairs of anglers fishing a grand final overseas.
In 2009 when the five national fisheries and angling organisations collectively formed the Angling Trust, Dick was appointed to the role of International Events Manager, and remained a member of the Coarse Competitions Committee.
In his 'retirement' Dick still has a pretty active life and remains very competitive. He plays golf and fishes at least one match each week, more than holding his own in both sports.
Thanks to David Kent
Last date edited: 14 January 2021