A to E of the Euros D2
Mission Impossible?

As a new approach to showing you galleries, we have included below, our final galleries of the 2008 European Champs, they contain over 60 images for your enjoyment, just CLICK a picture to open a gallery.

I suppose it came as no great surprise, to some people, that teams like Germany and Holland had done quite well on day one. This type of venue is very similar to those they normally fish back home, but to see the likes of Italy and England in such lowly positions after the first round was totally out of character. Day one had been about sitting it out for big fish, which was not England's style, but they were nevertheless undone by it. Would we see a repeat, or would the 'Comeback Kings' pull off a virtual 'Mission Impossible'?

England, like Italy, had drawn reasonably well on the final day and confidence was positive. They'd pulled an end peg in E section which that fell to 5x World Champ Alan. Manager Mark Downes was heard to comment... "he'll ****** empty it" or words to that effect! He seemed remarkably sure, as were many of us, including myself, but angling has a way of kicking you in the teeth! 

The first hour and much of the middle period, saw England running away with the match... could the impossible happen? Their policy, in the words of manager Mark, was "catch everything that swims" which they were doing perfectly. All the lads were in the top five of their respective sections up to the mid-way point and it was seriously looking as though they could be in with a major chance of a medal, "Gold", I believe the manager was muttering!

However, there were still others out there who's nerve was holding and the previous day's big fish approach was still in evidence. It was at this mid-way point approximately, that things started to change. Both Poland, Belgium and the Dutch in particular, who'd surprised all on day one by creeping up into 6th place, were now finishing strongly. Even tiny Lithuania were mounting a serious challenge, they had in fact finished just 2pts behind England on day one. They would now play a large part in sealing England's medal fate.

Their angler in E20, Vilius Beinoris, was putting together a good catch of bream which would ultimately consign Alan Scotthorne to fourth place in the medal table, and that was on weight! Two other anglers within grasp of individual medal positions also felt the weight of these tiny minnows. Both Eric de Venti (Belgium) and Zbigniew Milewski (Poland) had their medal hopes dashed by Lithuanian Yzidorius Unikas in C section.

Poland have been gradually moving up the ladder in championships when fished on familiar waters. Their first medal success, believe it or not, was way back in 1965 in Rumania when they secured a team silver at Galati. They had to wait until Slovakia in 2003 for their next team medal... another silver. Now, in 2008, they have yet another team silver. Arte they becoming the bridesmaid of world angling or will their hard earned efforts ultimately be rewarded with that elusive golden place?

Meanwhile Serbia were faltering in four sections, only one of their star players, Radovic Goran, was mounting any sort of resistance in E section, and that was coming late as usual! Russia were running away with two sections, B and C, but they were well down in the other three. Would they hang on in the face of the closing pack?

The final hour proved England's undoing and saw them slip from an almost certain medal slot, down into 5th points position behind Belgium, only losing fourth place on weight and a bronze medal by 3 points!

Once more, big fish had played a major part in one of the favourite teams downfall. Italy too suffered, as did France, who's tactics may well come under scrutiny later. One team who surpassed all their expectation was Holland and you can hear their manager and captain, Jan Van Schendel, give an audio interview with us about their success. It must be pointed out that many of the Dutch side come fresh from a World Clubs triumph in France.

What does it all mean?
These championships will always be remembered as a lesson to us all, that in angling, all things are possible to all anglers! As the top side have dominated for decades, the smaller, less fortunate nations could have been forgiven if they'd just given up and stayed at home. They didn't... they've looked, listened and learnt. Now, given a venue which does not favour the high-profile skills of the top sides, they are able to compete on a more balanced playing area. Look at last year's Euro's in Cavo Lama, Italy! The venue was teeming with fish and favoured the highly skilled/professional sides, unlike this years more uncertain and erratic natural venue. The big sides not only carved up the team medals, but they also followed suit in the individuals as far down as 10th place. The best placed 'minnows' were down in middle double figures, even Germany, who haven't had much to shout about until now, finished in a lowly 13th spot. Their individual success in the Czech Republic will spur them on to greater goals I'm sure, and Holland, who've been quietly creeping up behind everyone, are really starting to mix it up with the 'big boys'.

It's this uncertain factor which creates a more level playing field for the smaller sides. It's also one of the biggest factors in every anglers day-to-day competition, without it angling would in serious danger of becoming just a highly professional, highly sponsored and HIGHLY LIMITED attendance sport! It's the uncertain and erratic nature of our 'quarry', because of the many things that affect them, which makes this sport so special. No other sport faces these problems, problems which are affectively out of a competitors hands.

This years event has produced one of best angling results possible... for angling! It may not have been the ideal result for some people, but it certainly will add imputus to those nations wishing to progress in the sport, both at world, european and most importantly, at home level. Russia, along with teams such as Serbia and Lithuanian have shown the way... expect others to follow!

A final comment from correspondent Kevin Pack
“There are no easy games anymore” a phrase well used in British sporting circles is now officially applied to angling championships. However there is no intention to compare the past, or the current England management, with any of the dodgy England football managers of recent times because there is none. 2008 has demonstrated that many of the ‘lesser’ teams in International events, are now very much on their way to catching up, most obviously in access to the quality and quantity of gear, but also, they are now rapidly gaining the knowledge, skills and experience to compete at this level.

Mark Downes' point about taking the anglers away from their equipment on the bank is dead right, these events usually demand five or six top 4's or 5's and three or four running line set-ups (how many anglers in the UK have that amount of gear?), yet most competitors at both World and Euro level now have these.

The Hungarians were possibly the first of the old 'eastern bloc' countries to come to the fore on the world stage. Former double world champion, Tamas Walter, commented that "we should not underestimate the Russians". They were a creditable ninth at the last world championships, they now have the funds to ensure they are very much here to stay on the world stage.  

This particular correspondent also recalls China competing at the World Championships in Belgium (2004), again, very much with three whips and a stool. Could we be talking about a victory for them in ten years time I wonder?

There is no arguing with this weekends results. In the previous thirteen runnings of the Euro Champs, Italy head the table with a total (individual and team) medal haul of 18. They are followed by Belgium on 16, France on 13 and England on 12. None of these teams won either a team or individual medals this year, although I wouldn't bet against them coming home empty handed from Italy in September!