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2010 Matt Mills Memorial Trophy

Mount Vernon Cancer Network

The 2010 Matt Mills Memorial Trophy

The annual pairs carp match goes from strength to strength. This is especially pleasing for those of us in the club who used to fish with Matt Mills, the angler in whose memory we hold this event.

Matt's been gone for a few years now, but his memory still burns brightly with some of us. Matt was a carp angler who loved to fish, and loved the beer, the banter and the camaraderie that went with it. One thing's for sure; Matt would have loved this competition. We try to keep it light hearted and fun, but with that competitive element that gives the whole thing it's edge. The result is a terrific competition that incorporates all the best bits of carp fishing.

Now in it's fifth year, the competition was once again full to capacity. Indeed, we unfortunately had to turn several pairs away this year, as we simply didn't have the room to accommodate them. The result was that 80 anglers, in 40 pairs, lined up to contest this prestigious event at the beginning of the season. The top four pairs in each of 3 heats would qualify for the Grand Final, and would be joined by last year's champions, Carl Harpin and John Moss.

First Heat

The first heat took place in May at Smallford, and conditions were tough, to say the least. Over a gruelling weekend, only three pairs managed to put fish on the bank. Smallford stalwart Nick Dayton and his long suffering partner Chris Saunders won this heat from Marlborough Point, with our 2008 Champions Paul Lawrence and Jon Healy also qualifying. Jake Gourd and Nik Taylor-Pugh took third place.

This left a qualifying place empty, and it was decided that this would be held over and awarded to the best losing weight of the next two heats.

Second Heat

Moor Mill was the venue for the second heat, and we ended up over-subscribed, with the result that we included the School Pit in the competition as well as the Island Lake. 2007 Champions Keith Speer and Dave Currell were the lucky anglers who went onto the school pit for the weekend.

This heat was extremely competitive, with several pairs swapping the lead between them. The Island Lake fished pretty well, and the winner in the end was Lewis Chippendale, who fished on his own for the weekend after his partner mysteriously disappeared on the Friday night. Lewis put 48lbs on the bank to take the win, closely followed by John Stacey and Roger Figg in second, with 42lbs.

Steve Nairn and Pat Splat took third place, courtesy of one of the 'casts of the season' from Steve - pinpoint accuracy and sublime timing of his cast brought him just reward in the shape of a 17lb mirror to sneak through in third place, with Kev Marslin and Jack Blackman taking fourth.

Third Heat

Back to Smallford for the third and final heat, and another batch of carp trophy hopefuls. And thank goodness, this time around Smallford fished it's socks off! Runaway winners from Big Point were Steve Falco and Dan Mason, with 85lb, followed by Harry 'Power Ranger' Cunningham and Shane Poole from Marlborough Point with 58lbs. Nathan Liddle and Allan Bayman took third and Alan Moss and Ken Mimer fourth. That held over place from the first heat was secured by Ashley Moss and Joe Colclough to complete the line up for the final.

The Grand Final

Held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the Grand Final is one of the showpiece events of the specialist committee's year. With twelve pairs qualified, and last year's Champions returning to defend their crown, 26 carp anglers were left from the original 80 entrants to battle it out for the crown.

2008 Champions Paul Lawrence and Jon Healy had qualified once again, and there were three generations from the Moss family in the final - although strangely none of them had chosen to fish together! There were also plenty of Moor Mill anglers looking to bring back the trophy after it was taken by a Smallford pair for the first time in 2009.

The draw for swims is all-important, and some of the favoured pairs came out very late in the draw, which evened up the playing field still further. With the anglers settling into their swims on Friday afternoon, and only minutes to go before the kick off, there was much debate over who should do well, and the consensus was that it really was a wide-open competition this year.

From the outset it was clear that there were never going to be dozens of fish caught, but that the winners would probably need to put three or four onto the bank over the weekend. The fishing started slowly, and many teams opted for a 'social' night. As a result, the leaderboard was fairly sparse by the half way point, and the Charity Barbeque event. No one team was dominating, but Steve & Pat on Little Point had banked a couple of fish to hold a half time lead. Several other pairs had banked single fish, and at the interval there was everything still to play for.

The Charity Barbeque

The prime purpose of these matches is to raise as much money as we can for Mount Vernon Cancer Appeal. In 2009 we had set a record, raising a magnificent £1009.00, and we were determined to beat that total this year. As ever, we were reliant on the members turning up for the barbeque, and they did us proud at the Grand Final. Loads of people came along, and enjoyed a bit of sunshine for the early part of the barbeque, before the Heavens opened, as has become the norm at this event!

The 'Never-Ending-Raffle' was once again well received, with people generously digging deep to buy tickets. Once again the club 'scroungers' had done us proud, and there were literally hundreds of prizes up for grabs. Pretty much everyone was a winner, as the song goes.

On change for this year's event was the introduction of our Charity Auction. This had been running for several months via the club's forum, and with the auction due to close at the barbeque, we had several last minute bids. This extra addition to our fund-raising armoury really helped boost the proceeds, and a massive vote of thanks goes to those who kindly donated prizes for this auction. As you will see below, the 'lots' proved very popular,

With the beer and burgers going down a treat, we were hopeful of a bumper year in terms of funds raised. One special mention to Smallford bailiff Jake Gourd, who has a bit of a reputation for 'dressing up'. Some pictures had appeared on the forum a while ago of Jake dressed as a very camp policeman, and after some pressuring, he agreed to spend the whole weekend in his camp policeman's uniform, if we raised pledges of £50.00 for the charity. Great effort Jake - and thanks to those who coughed up to force him to spend the weekend looking like a plum! His partner Nik was none-too-impressed...

The Home Straight

And so, as the barbeque quieted down, battle resumed once again on the lake. People were taking it seriously this year! Steve Nairn, aka Stellaman, had even resorted to drinking Carlsberg, on the basis that he'd be a 'bit less bleary'. The usual Saturday night frolics were strangely muted, as everyone felt that they were in with a chance of the £500.00 prize.

As it happened, the lake continued to fish sporadically, and with just the odd fish coming out here and there, there were no serious charges for the finishing line until the Sunday morning. By this time, Steve and Pat were feeling relatively secure, having had a third fish. But Carl and John in West Bay had other ideas, and banked another fish to get them within a few pounds of the lead. And as the final whistle approached, one of Carl's rods roared off with literally seconds to go. Talk about heart-stopping for all concerned. Carl played the fish so gently it wasn’t true, but the look of anguish on his face told the tale, as a tench rolled over the net chord. With only carp counting in this match, Steve and Pat were confirmed as champions for 2010.

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And So It Ends...

It's fair to say that Steve and Pat were popular winners. And it's fair to say that the trophy is back where it belongs - at Moor Mill! As is now customary, the winners were launched as far into the lake as we could manage from Noddy's bank. A decent distance was achieved with Steve, but Pat's launch was a bit disappointing - due to his 'stunted' nature, we were hoping to reach Bastard Point with him at least. We can only put it down to the fact that all those beers have played havoc with his aerodynamic capabilities.

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It only remains to thank all those involved in the organisation and running of these events. Although it might look like just a quick barbeque and a few beers, there is an awful lot of planning and running around to do. So, to all the organisers, the Specislist Committee guys and girls, the transporters, the marshals, the cooks, servers, raffle ticket sellers, donators, and especially to all you guys who turn up year after year and give so generously...Thank You!

Whilst the final touches are still being put on the accounting for the event, at this stage we are absolutely overwhelmed to be able to confirm a profit of £1974.00. Not only have we have a great laugh through the summer, but this sort of money really will make a big difference to somebody.

Matt will be smiling...if he's not out fishing somewhere up there...


The VAC Specialist Committee


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