England legend Steve Gardener reveals his new ‘Life in Match Fishing’ book
Next week, match legend Steve Gardener launches his first book. But what finally made England’s quiet man put pen to paper?
STEVE Gardener was one of the most capped England internationals of all time when he retired from the international set-up in 2014, following an illustrious 27-year career at the top.
His trophy cabinet boasts 11 team gold medals, plus individual silver and bronze, and many regard Steve as being one of the greatest anglers never to have won the world championship individually. His near faultless performances in a Three Lions shirt earned him the nickname ‘Mr Consistent’, and he was also a key member of the famous Daiwa Dorking side.
Now, Steve’s long-awaited book, A Life in Match Fishing, is about to be released. We got the lowdown on the Milo-sponsored angler from the man himself…
What can we expect from the book Steve? It’s a collection of stories from my angling life, from the beginning up to the end of my England career. Dorking set me on the path and I used to play truant from school to fish matches! I’ve made reference to lots of the household names I’ve fished with over the years, including Ivan Marks, Ray Mumford, Clive Smith, Ken Giles, Kenny Collings, Milo Colombo, Keith Arthur and Dave Harrell. I was persuaded to do the book by Pat Newman, as writing a book isn’t really my style – I’ve always been quite a shy person.
The book’s cover picture is you with a big eel. Is there a story behind that fish? The picture was from when we won the world champs in Paris in 2001. We’d worked out how to catch bonus eels on worms. On the second day I hooked one and a steward was going mad, claiming it had gone out of my zone. But the fish was in the edge and it was impossible to see the zone limits as we were sat so far from the water. I put it in my net but then I caught an even bigger eel, the one in the picture. Manager Mark Downes told me not to put it in my net because if they disqualified one of my fish they’d take out the biggest. He got another keepnet for that eel alone. At the end they were still objecting. Dick Clegg totted up the points and when he realised we’d won without the eel anyway, he told the French they could have it!
How committed do you have to be to be a full England international. Do you miss it? I don’t miss it like I thought I would. Being in the England team takes up a lot of time and effort, and puts a lot of pressure on you. The venues and the tackle you need are constantly on your mind for months. You have to be 100 per cent committed, or your place is at risk. If the squad does well then it doesn’t often change for the next year, so you have to make sure you’ve done enough to stay in!
Class of 1987 or class of 2014? Which was the better team? You can’t compare the two because they are from different eras – both were fantastic. The team of 2014 was a lot more hi-tech in terms of tackle and its approach. Things have become a lot more professional over the years – we didn’t even have mobile phones in 1987.
What’s the best match that you’ve ever fished? It’s hard to say because often the best I’ve fished has been from difficult pegs when I was aiming to catch say just two or three fish and get good points for my club or country. The match many people remember is when I caught 42lb of roach on the River Nene in a Winter League semi-final, but it was an easy day for me as I was on a pile of fish!
If you could only fish one venue with one method for the rest of your life, what would it to be? The method which has always been kindest to me has been the waggler float. If it wasn’t for the waggler I might never have made the England squad, as Dick Clegg picked his team specifically for the method in ’87. It’s difficult to choose a favourite venue, but I’ve probably spent more time on the River Thames than anywhere else over the years.
Celebrating with England manager Mark Downes.
A superb 42lb of roach from the River Nene.