"no Point In Taking Part"

Ex England star, Lee Thornton on why team fishing is going nowhere.
I read with interest Mark Downes article in this month’s Match Fishing magazine, and was particularly interested in Mark's comments regarding how the team is treated with contempt here in the UK and like superstars abroad.
Well Mark, you are of course correct, I cannot think of many people within match fishing who care one iota whether the England Team comes first or last. This of course shouldn’t be the situation, the guys at the top of the game should be given praise that they deserve but I have been thinking about why this is the case.
Let’s have a look at how you now get chosen for the England team.
I need to point out now that these are my own perceptions and are not based on facts, but there are no trials so the anglers must be picked on pure opinion of the England managers.
How do you get noticed by the management? Let’s have a look at who is currently involved in the England set up.
Will Raison - Dorking
Callum Dicks - Dorking
Des Shipp - Dorking
Alan Scotthorne - Barnsley
Lee Kerry - Barnsley
Steve Hemingray - Starlets
Sean Ashby - Starlets
There is quite evidently a correlation of fishing in one of the three teams listed above.
So quite simply, to have a chance of fishing for England you need to fish for one of the three teams listed, and ensure that your personality fits in with the other existing members of the team and more importantly, have the ear of both Mark Downes and Mark Addy.
So what does this mean to the vast majority of match anglers that fish within the UK. Well the perception to many is that to reach the top of the sport within the UK is an impossibility so therefore the majority of match anglers turn their backs on this branch of the sport to concentrate on individual fishing which nowadays involves commercial fisheries as generally the fishing is more consistent and rewarding.
I am glad to see Steve Hemingray take individual silver this year in his debut World champs but I am also absolutely gutted for him at the same time.
I do not know Steve very well personally but from the few times I have met him, I get the sense that he has devoted his whole life to trying to get in the England team and he has finally got the chance when he is 50 years old.
Has he only just got good enough in the last 12 months to represent his country in the worlds? I think not, if the management had decided to put him in years ago, who knows he too could of won five world championships and be known as the world’s best matchman, but due to the system currently in place in the UK sadly he may have been given the chance to late.
In my opinion the above personifies what is wrong with the whole team fishing scene within the UK. Match anglers are by their very nature competitive and want to be the best, the perception in this country is there is such a slim possibility of reaching the top that there is no point in even taking part in team events as it is a dead end because ability is only half the battle.
To kick start the team fishing in the UK the England selection system needs to change, we all know that will never happen so myself like the hundreds of others that have been involved in the England youth set up will continue to turn our backs on the team fishing element and concentrate on fishing individual matches that satisfy ourselves. Worse, many discontinue match fishing which unfortunately has happened to several good friends of mine that given being in the right place at the right time, had the potential to go all the way.
Lee Thornton
Middy Bag Em  Matchbaits.
Former member of England U23 Team.