33 YEARS OF THE DRENNAN CUP...
Who won the biggest prize in specimen fishing in its first year?
THE prestigious Drennan Cup has been offering people an opportunity to make it big in the angling world for the last 33 years – but when did it all begin?
For this special 65th anniversary issue we’re taking a trip down memory lane to 1985 and the first year of the ‘Drennan’ – the most prestigious competition in UK specimen fishing.
It was a year that turned out to be memorable, not just for the introduction of the Drennan Cup itself, but for the records that were broken in the process… Words from Angling Times, Wednesday, May 8, 1985 F Girresgt: Buxton – £1,000 S Neecvoinllde: Fickling – £750 Third: Alastair Nicholson – £500 FRoituchrtihe: MacDonald - £250
THE secret is out. Greg Buxton – captor of a 14lb 1oz barbel – is the winner of the 1984/85 Drennan Cup.
Launched at the beginning of last season, the Drennan Cup competition evolved as a way of rewarding specimen hunters for their achievements.
Sponsor Peter Drennan expected to see perhaps one entry from a national record-holder, but the competition very soon went out of control. The records rolled in… no fewer than NINE of them during the season, and each a world exclusive to Angling Times.
The judging was expected to be conducted by a panel of experts but the decision was eventually deferred until the National Association of Specialist Anglers’ Conference, in March, when members cast a vote for their choice. Again, the result was a complete surprise. The best-known names were expected to make a clean sweep. Instead, fair minded NASA members put the quietly-spoken and charismatic Greg Buxton to the top of the pile.
Greg wins a cool £1,000, the antique silver Drennan Cup perpetual trophy… and the honour of being the first name on an award which is anticipated to be the specimen hunter’s target for many years to come.
“I only expected to get fourth place. Anything else was going to be a bonus,” said Greg.
“I know that carp and pike are the ‘in’ species as far as specimen hunters are concerned.
“Now I know the result I am pleased for the barbel species as a whole.
“It has put them on a par with other fish when many thought they wouldn’t make the grade.”
Greg already has plenty of plans for next season, but none of them will be followed to the extent that would allow him to lose his ‘sense
“I enjoy fishing for big fish because they are few in number – that’s the challenge,” he said.
“But it means more to me to catch medium-sized fish from a nice river than to fish for big ones at a place where I have to keep picking up litter.
“If, by my example, I can influence people to look after what we have got, it will have been more than worthwhile.”
Second-placed Neville Fickling was quick to congratulate Greg. “His fish is so far ahead of any other barbel that has been caught in recent years that he thoroughly deserves the award.
“I would like to have won the cup, but having my name engraved on it along with the top four is a great honour.”
And Alastair Nicholson said: “I am pleased for Greg, after all the hard work he has put in.
“His win will be good for barbel fishing generally.”
Fourth-placed Ritchie MacDonald said afterwards: “Everybody who caught big fish last season and didn’t make the top four was disappointed.
“I’m just glad to be there, and pleased for Greg.”
And as he turned to leave, he shook hands with Greg, who was holding the Drennan Cup and said with a smile: “Keep it polished for me, my son.”
1st First winner Greg Buxton’s 14lb 1oz barbel.
Greg Buxton, the inaugural Drennan Cup champion.
2nd Second – Neville Fickling’s 41lb 6oz pike, a great fish.
4th Fourth – Ritchie MacDonald’s 45lb 12oz mirror.
Alastair Nicholson, third with a bream of 15lb 6oz.