Tony Keeling

WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays mean match fishing. Steve Collett is currently away fishing – a top secret mission – which he’ll tell you about at a later date.

Into his blogging boots steps Angler’s Mail match fishing reporter and Where To Fish sage, Tony Keeling. One of the best canal anglers (and match organisers) in his younger days, top man Tony is still an ace to be reckoned with, and very much in touch with the whole scene.

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WELL here we go with another blog (what a horrible word) from me that may well upset a few and hopefully liked by many!

My ‘scribblings’ are done for the best intentions of match fishing so take it easy on me with your replies – oh to heck with it say what you want, I shall be an official OAP soon and I can take it!

This week the Winter League come under very heavy fire – not just any Winter League but the main national one. Yes, that’s it, the one the used to be a part of virtually every matchman’s way of life.

A big influence back in the day – Cofton Hackett and Shakespeare Superteam godfather, the late Clive Smith (left, with Ken Giles).

In my day, I fished against some great teams in great leagues, namely the West Midlands version.

Cofton Hackett, under the captaincy of the great, late Clive Smith were the top team, not only in our league but the country; they were certainly my biggest inspiration in match fishing.

I can remember Clive coming over to me after every round and grabbing our results card to see how we had done, this was before he had checked his own – the encouragement that he gave us doing just that was priceless.

When we started, as the rather daft named Stafford Trotters, it was an achievement to beat anyone in the West Midlands League but the encouragement we were given really egged us on. Someone suggested (not us I may add) that a canal could be introduced to the list of venues and on the grounds of fairness and that’s what happened, no falling out at meetings and all that crap, it was just deemed fair at the time.

We improved marginally until we reached the top half of this League. Starlets joined the League and had a very similar passage as us; that was how strong this League was. That grounding was immeasurable.

I live in Staffordshire and the Winter League grew and grew, so much so that the county had a few Leagues of its own – nowadays you be hard pushed to name a few individuals that actually fish for anybody in this League, – such has been the downhill trend.

I know there are probably less match anglers about but what has been done to encourage the Stafford Trotters of today’s world? I see the answer in one name, sweet Fanny Adams. It should never be forgotten that the ‘minnows’ make these leagues, without them there will be no big teams – is this what we want because we are going that way.

The League needs a drastic revamp although I feel it may be too late – only my opinion, folk! Firstly a simple entry form would be a start with every team naming their choice of semi-finals venue if there are any and naming their preferred choice of final venue- at least this would tell the organisers their choices are on the right lines.

Each league should have a minimum of eight teams based on geographical location, some league may still operate like this anyway. All leagues should have the same amount of anglers in each team and ALL teams in their respective leagues have a say on venues. To that end all leagues would have their own small committee.

In my view leagues with five teams in it and two qualifying is downright daft – it just devalues the competition and has done for a while yet the rules allow it.

At least that would be a start but there is still no real help to encourage the ‘minnows’ that the Winter League can simply not do without. Perhaps a look at the points system and a reversal back to weight would at least give the ‘lesser’ teams a chance of winning a round or two. Let’s face it – what chance have the ‘minnows’ got now?

Now this last bit is more controversial but I always though this is a WINTER League, I can’t see anyone disagreeing with that! Well, why on earth is the final in the middle of the summer? Some will say it is to get the best out of the fishing but to me, that is not what a Winter League is about – the match programme is cluttered enough in the summer anyway. It could be something to do with making money – I may be wrong.

The cost of entering these Leagues must be put in reach of most match anglers’ pockets – there is still a recession on after all. Balance sheets should be produced for every match. If anybody thinks I have just dreamt this one up, I have been banging the drum on this one for years.

I am sure that there are sponsors out there that would support such a venture, that is, if it is not too late. There are sports clothing firms, garages, drink and food manufacturers, garages and bakeries that all have a distinct connection with fishing. Perhaps they have all been tapped up, perhaps not but it really does take the right sort of person to sort this out and indeed succeed. I really do wish the Winter League well but all I see is a bloody dark tunnel with no light at the end of it.

Apologies for the lack of ‘funnies’ in this week’s read but it is a serious issue and I hoped you enjoyed the read.  Please reply with your thoughts, whatever they may be.



The Matchman of the Week is back and I have no hesitation whatsoever with these two. Yes two as I picked an organiser last week!

Pete Scott

Steve Dudley won the last round of the Izaak Walton Winter League on Sunday on the Trent and Mersey Canal. It was a very popular win. Steve fishes for Browning Lifestyle and he couldn’t help it if this carp didn’t know where its mouth was!

Anyway, he gets the award not just because of his undoubted angling ability, he is one of a few that puts something back into the game.

The other up for the award is Leicester Sensas new signing Pete Scott. Pete, has got all his old yearning back for the sport and yesterday he won his second of the Soar Valley Winter Leagues.

Well done matey, but don’t get too excited– after all it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention a little birdie told me you were virtually on the same peg as you won before: hehehehehe!!

Apologies for mentioning this Steve and Pete, you are well deserved winners anyway – a Guinness will do, I think one from each would be asking too much!!!



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