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?

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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.

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