10.11.15

Billy Flowers recounts Team England's World Carp Champs win!

Jamie Londors and I received a call from the new England manager Rob Hughes at the start of June. He phoned to say that he would like us to represent England this year in the 17th FIPPS Carp World Championships that was going to be held on the River Ebro in Caspe, Spain. To say we were excited would be an understatement; getting to represent your country against the rest of the world is the best feeling ever. We’ve felt privileged to have represented England during the past seven years, under two managers during that period, winning two team silver medals in South Africa and Italy and an individual silver medal in France.

As always we were hoping we come home with a medal this year and that medal being gold in colour! We had our first team meeting in the Lodge at Horton Church Lake, where we sat down and discussed numerous points and Rob explained how he was going to do things this year. On the way home I was buzzing, as we had now become a team and from that day all the hard work started. First up, fellow team members Harry Charrington, Alexei Bygrave and Mark Bartlett met another team member, Paul, who lives in Caspe for a long weekend recce trip. That trip went well and the lads caught plenty of fish, so another meeting was held at Horton to discuss the tactics they used and the average size of fish they caught. A date was set nearer the time of the match to go out as a team for a practice, so we could build up a good picture of how the river would react to a little bit more pressure (other nations were practicing too) and closer to the time of the event.

The team practice went really well as we caught plenty of fish between us in two different sections and we tried numerous tactics and different baiting situations. Rob Hughes had a couple of meetings with the team on the bank in Spain to discuss how each person had been catching and it was clear to see that certain methods were out-fishing others, so it was no-brainer for us as a team; we agreed that we would opt for the most prolific tactic. We formulated a game plan to fish solid bags with pellet hook baits over a baited area of groundbait balls. Once we returned home to England the final few weeks of preparation started, bait and tackle being ordered from our sponsors, food being sorted for the team, plenty of spare rods and reels being rigged up and lots and lots of rigs being tied.

So, with the match week now upon us we arrived on the Sunday evening, had a bite to eat and got our heads down for a busy day ahead. Monday was spent sorting out the last bits of equipment and re-spooling reels. We spent the day on Tuesday walking the river to see the three different sections, and the swims in those sections, which gave us a good idea of where we liked the look of and it gave us a very good idea of the areas we preferred. The whole team was buzzing and we couldn't wait to get in our pegs. The first draw took place that day and myself and Jamie Londors drew section A, Harry Charrington and Alexi Bygrave drew section B and Chris Holmes and Neil Rivers in section C. After the flag ceremony that evening we had a bite to eat and then we all got our heads down ready for the big day.

After setting up camp before we knew it the horn had sounded and the match had started. On the first scoresheet we were in the lead ahead of some very good countries such as France, Romania, Serbia and Croatia. That day Rob Hughes made a tactical decision to substitute Neil Rivers for Mark Bartlett in section C. Up until the Thursday night scoresheet we were in the lead on every weigh in, and even when we dropped down to silver position we still had another two fish in the sacks to be weighed that would put us back into gold position. We were all plodding away nicely, catching enough fish to keep us in the top positions, and going into the final night we were looking good for a team gold, individual medals for Harry and Alexi and the biggest fish trophy for myself and Jamie as we landed a 19.5kg (44lb) carp.

Going into the final morning it started to get more competitive and we were just hanging on in there for a team gold, as lots of other countries were catching whilst we weren't and as soon as a fish was landed by any country it can change the scores massively. With our bites drying up that morning we really needed a fish, and that's exactly what we got moments before the end of the match as Alexi and Harry played their final fish to the net, which put them into second in section. Bart and Bones finished in second in section and Jamie and I finished 4th, giving us a combined score of 9 points. We didn’t know whether this was going to be enough for us to finish above the Croatians, who were always just behind us throughout the match.

With the help of Ryan Need, Wayne Mansford and Tom Maker, who flew over at their own cost to support the team, they helped us pack away and none of us really spoke too much as we all thought that the gold medal had gone and we’d slipped into silver medal position! I remember loading the final rod bags into the van when I heard, “We have done it!” from Ryan. He’d been sent a photo from Chris Holmes who’d got to the hotel first to witness the score sheet. After lots of shouting and hugging from Jamie, Wayne and Ryan we made our way to the hotel. On the way we saw Rob Hughes' van in the middle of the road flying the St George flag out of the window. Another lot of hugs to team members Alexi, Harry and Rob in the middle of the road and then we were both flying the flags out of the van windows en route to the hotel, where we met the other members of the team. There were lots of hugs and tears were shed amongst the team as it was such emotional moment, we were now officially world champions! The traffic stopped in the road whilst we proceeded to do the 'arrow formation' in the middle of the road with the England Lion’s roar. This photo made the front of Carp Talk and was shared all over Facebook as the support back home was brilliant!

We had a few hours to kill before getting showered and changed before the presentation that evening. We that time spent celebrating in style back at the apartment and in the swimming pool with the rest of the team! That evening provided a moment that will stay in my memory forever; the rest of the world clapped us as we walked into the hall. We got the privilege of being on stage as a team with a well-deserved gold medal round our necks, singing the national anthem with pride. Fireworks exploded and the Queen song We Are The Champions was played. The week went very quickly as always and all the hard work and effort that was put into this, not only by the anglers, but by the management, the bank runners, the cook and the extra support who made there own way over, helped in every way and everyone played a massive part in this special moment in our angling careers.

So now it's time to take it all in and enjoy being a world champion!

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