Division One National comes to Shropshire

In this article, John Ellis takes a forward look to the upcoming Angling Trust Division One National, which this year is being held on the Shropshire Union Canal north and south of Market Drayton.

National Angling Championships Shropshire Union 2014

The History of the National

Being somewhat of a traditionalist, the pinnacle of the match fishing calendar in particular and the world of fisheries and angling generally will, for me, probably always be the Division One match. Nationals have been around since 1906, not long after Alf Waterhouse et al got the National Federation of Anglers up and running. It wasn’t until 1937 that a canal was first chosen as a venue for the All England and the second canal national took place in 1963. Amazingly, the same peg produced the winner on both occasions. Since 1963, things have really taken off for canal nationals and in total of 66 events have been held on the canal network. Here is a full list by Division:

Name of Division Number Years
Division 1/All England 18 1937 1963 1985 1986 1991 1993 1995 1997 2000 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
Division 2 17 1981 1984 1987 1990 1992 1995 1999 2001 2003 2004 2006 2007 2008 2010 2011 2012 2014 2016
Division 3 15 1981 1983 1986 1988 1990 1992 1995 1997 1998 2001 2002 2004 2006 2008 2009
Division 4 9 1982 1989 1994 1996 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003
Division 5 7 1986 1987 1991 1994 1997 1998 2000
Division 6 2 1991 1992

Waiting patiently for John’s book

I have to confess, I can’t wait for our volunteer angling historian, John Essex to finally finish his History of the National book. He has been researching the subject for more than fifteen years, which I keep telling him is long enough! Having had a sneak preview of some of the material he has collected, I guess his real challenge is knowing which content to leave out.

Men behind the scenes

The match fishing world, like so many sports, relies extensively on its volunteers. Every large event needs a team of expert volunteers behind the scenes. So far I have been impressed with the commitment and dedication of Hodnet’s dynamic duo, Terry Nutt and Dave Watkins. This pair of handsome young heroes have already put in many hours of work behind the scenes sorting out parking, access, suitable headquarters, likely peg locations, multi club permits to name but a few things they have been up to in their spare time. There are several others in both the Hodnet and other controlling clubs playing their part too, for planning and staging an event of this size is a real team effort. If you fancy volunteering to get involved in stewarding on the big day, then I am sure that Dave would love to hear from you.

Practice opportunities

Fifty teams, each comprising of ten anglers, are eligible to compete in the match and virtually all will take the event seriously. The various controlling clubs have got together and come up with a permit offer whereby members of the competing club can purchase permits that allows the holders to fish on all of the national sections from April through to the week prior the match. For full details of how this scheme works please drop Dave a line on dgwatkins@sky.com.

Practice match programme

Whilst some anglers prefer to practice in groups away from match pressure, others prefer the prospect of getting to know the venue under actual match fishing conditions. A week before the national, the Angling Trust Individual National will be held on part of the match length.

There will also be two heats of the Angling Trust/Canal & River Trust canal pairs events

Here’s a full list of events coming up:

  • Sun 21 May Open Match on D Sect. Draw, Hippodrome (Wetherspoons) M Drayton TF9 1PS. Contact Brian on 07847628442 or Steve on 07576039169.
  • Sat 27 May Open Match on J Sect. Draw, Hippodrome (Wetherspoons) M Drayton TF9 1PS. Contact and bookings to Bob Yeomans on 07931555958.
  • Sun 28 May Open Match on H Sect. Draw, Hippodrome (Wetherspoons) M Drayton TF9 1PS. Contact and bookings to Bob Yeomans on 07931555958.
  • Sun 11 June Open Match on K Sect, Coole Pilate. Draw at the Overwater Marina CW5 8AY. Contact Paul Harding on 07504346883 (Match limited to 50 pegs).
  • Sat 24 June Open Match on E & F Sect, Goldstone. Draw at Hippodrome M Drayton TF9 1PS. Details & Bookings to Dave Watkins on 07725556159.
  • Sat 01 July Open Match on G Sect, Market Drayton. Draw at Hippodrome M Drayton TF9 1PS. Details and Bookings to Dave Watkins on 07725556159.
  • Sun 09 July Open Match on B & C Sections. Draw at Knighton Social Club, ST20 0QH. Contact and bookings to Terry Nutt on 07970181824.
  • Sun 16 July Open Match on D Sect, Draw, Draw at Hippodrome M Drayton TF9 1PS. Contact Brian on 07847628442 or Steve on 07576039169.
  • Sat 22 July Open Match on A & B Sections. Draw at Knighton Social Club, ST20 0QH. Contact and bookings to Terry Nutt on 07970181824.
  • Sat 05 Aug Canal & River Trust Pairs. C & D Sect, Park Heath. Draw at Castle Hotel, Bletchley TF9 3RZ. Contact, Angling Trust.
  • Fri 11 Aug Garbolino RAF Teams of 5. A & B Sect, High Offley & Shebdon. Draw at Knighton Social Club ST20 0Q. Contact Ben Jackson on 07979527662.
  • Sat 12 Aug Individual National. E,F,G Sect, Goldstone & Market Drayton. Draw at Barbers, Market Drayton Livestock Auction, (Sat Nav TF9 3SW).Contact, Angling Trust.
  • Sun 13 Aug Canal & River Trust Pairs, H & J Sect Adderley. Draw at Castle Hotel, Bletchley TF9 3RZ.

Choosing the ten sections

Terry and Dave have put a lot of effort into determining the optimum location for each section and whilst this list is subject to change, I don’t foresee too many last minute major alterations, unless some disaster strikes such as a full blown canal breach or major pollution incident.

Section Location
A Bridge 42 to Bridge 44
B Bridge 44 to Bridge 45
C Bridge 46 to Bridge 48
D Bridge 48 to Bridge 50
E Bridge 50 to Bridge 53
F Bridge 53 to Bridge 56
G Bridge 64 to Bridge 66
H Bridge 66 to Bridge 69
J Bridge 71 to Bridge 72
K Bridge 81 to Bridge 84

You can view the lengths on a pdf map: Div 1 Nat A to F, Div 1 Nat G to J, Div 1 Nat K

Dream canal team

I did think about putting some predictions down in print as to a winning team. Then I realised the risk of upsetting the rest of the competing teams. In my eyes, it’s the most open national in years and I could make a case for at least 20 teams winning it, including many of last year’s ten promoted squads. And after apparently jinxing Ben Sharrett and Jason Cunningham in the 2016 Canal Pairs final, I definitely wouldn’t want to upset the whole of the Shakespeare squad by putting any added pressure on them. I won’t jinx Frank Szakeley’s lads by tipping Matrix Halifax as a good each way bet either. Instead, I have played it slightly safe and picked an all-time dream team of narrow canal experts which would take some beating if they were all at their peak and lining up in my dream team on the big day.

  • Kevin Ashurst
  • Simon Nickless
  • Dave Berrow
  • Paul Turner
  • Simon Preece
  • Vinnie Smith
  • Alan McAtee
  • Frank Holding
  • Mark Pollard
  • Ian Moulton

Do you agree with my selections? If not, please do let us know who you would have chosen instead and equally important, who should be dropped from the team to make way for your pick.

Last date edited: 21 February 2017

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The fisheries & angling team

The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.

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