Having visited Molineux for the pre-season friendly against Swansea City a couple of weeks back, it was great to return for the opening home league game of the Championship campaign. Having had a season ticket prior to my TNS involvement, this time round I’m buying tickets online for the matches I go to. It’s easy, quick and you choose your own seat. On row Z in the Stan Cullis stand, not only was I impressed with the view, but also what I saw on the pitch. A 2-0 victory against Reading and I was a happy bunny indeed.
Watching Wolves one day and TNS the next was like dying and going to the football equivalent of heaven. My 17th game of the season saw TNS get off to a winning start as they defeated Aberystwyth Town 2-1. I enjoyed being on TNS Radio, of course, and then immediately afterwards doing some interviewing for TNS TV. Manager, Craig Harrison, and scorer of the first goal, Ryan Brobbel, were the chosen ones this week. I also became part of Welsh footballing history.
For the first time ever, a female official took part in a Welsh Premier League game. As soon as I saw the tweet from the FA Wales a few days before, I thought interviewing Cheryl Foster for the weekly TNS podcast would be a good idea. Following the match we did just that and Cheryl was great. In fact the interview ran for almost ten minutes, it just flowed really well. We discussed her own playing career that started at Conwy, then Bangor City, before a big move to Liverpool.
A very successful time on Merseyside was followed by a short spell at Doncaster Belles. Alongside her club career ran an international one that saw 63 caps for the Welsh national side and 9 goals. I only thought about it afterwards but Cheryl confirmed, it was the first chat that she did post-game. So my claim to fame is that I did the very first interview with the first female official in the WPL. I am a big supporter of TNS Ladies, and the women’s game overall, and I’m sure Cheryl will be the first of many in the top realm of Welsh football.
Now for some fishing. Due to football commitments, especially being away for prolonged periods of time in Cyprus, San Marino and Scotland, plus a holiday in Wales, my barbel fishing has been non-existent so far this season. Up till now that is, as I had a little bit of extra time that was needed to take in a few sessions on the Severn. First up was a trip down the M5 and the lower reaches of the river, and with roadworks galore, delays and tailbacks it was a good job I gave myself plenty of time. Arriving at the car park, with no other vehicles there, I had the pick of the swims.
The one I chose looked like it hasn’t been fished since I was last in it, which was the best part of a year ago. My bankstick came in very handy as I did a jungle-explorer impersonation and hacked my way through the dense nettles and Himalayan balsam. Making my way down the steep bank I settled into a tight, but safe, spot right next to the water. I fished two rods, as is my custom on the lower Severn, with SBS’ frankfurter sausage boilie (18mm) on the downstream rod and halibut pellet on the one fished slightly upstream.
Sometimes, as dusk approaches, the river has fish crashing all over. They’re very active and you feel particularly confident. Other times it’s as if it’s devoid of life altogether. It was like a piscatorial graveyard this time round. In fact I felt that it was a result just to catch the small chub I did. I didn’t even know it was on, to be honest, but as it was hooked fair and square on the pellet rod, it certainly counts. At least I’m not a blanker, and you’d be amazed at the number of people who say that to me when they see me for the first time. The power of the internet. My next session saw me avoid a blank as well, as I headed for a different section of the river.
This time I fished the middle reaches, in Shropshire. After a period of fairly dry weather, this time out the heavens opened and more than made up for being closed for so long. Some anglers won’t go if there is rain but it doesn’t bother me, after all the fish are wet enough as it is, it’s not an issue to them. This time I fished frankfurter sausage boilies (18mm) on both rods. It was just a short evening session, but within half an hour the left rod was alive, and I netted a nice chub. There are some really good chevins in the Severn and I do target them. I ended the session with more, but sadly no barbel.
Forever squeezing as much into life as I can, my third outing was an evening session on the lower Severn on the back of a busy day. You can’t flog yourself to death, of course, but the vast majority of us can get far more out of life if we push ourselves a bit more. So, instead of crashing down to watch TV, I headed southbound M5 and settled beside the river instead. Sadly it was another one of those absolutely dead nights, well as far as the barbel were concerned. I did however net another nice chub that fell for an 18mm frankfurter sausage boilie.
Still keen on getting the first barbel on the bank, I again set off for a session on the River Severn, this time back to the middle reaches. With the river running low and clear I set up in a spot that had a deeper glide in front of it. I had one fish on, just as the sun set and dusk kicked in. However, as I struck, disaster. Somehow, line had tangled inside the spool on the reel and unable to give the fish space as it set off on a run, I’m afraid that was the end of that. No more bites of the cherry that night, that’s the way it goes sometimes. I think most barbel anglers would agree though, the river needs a drop or two of rain. (Published August 20 2016)
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