Well, it's been eventually announced that Steve Gardener has not been selected for the 2014 World Championships in Croatia, effectively consigning him to retirement. Personally, I think it's a big mistake. Stevie may well have stood down voluntarily from the Europeans to allow younger blood to come in, but he was still up for the World's. His knowledge, information gathering, technique and BRAIN will be sorely lacking from this years team...and they may well regret it.
Croatia will be an extremely difficult venue to overcome and will now rest on lead members Alan and William to come up with a plan fit for Gold. Congratulations to Callum for being selected. This can only benefit his future experience. Let's hope this decision does not come back to bite England!

Here are the comments from the England management as per the Press Release this afternoon:

Mark Downes said: “This year one of the most difficult decisions me and Mark Addy have ever had to make was to leave out Steve Gardener. Steve has had an amazingly long and prolific International career and has played a major part in building Team England's success. However, we now feel that the time is right to give the next generation the chance to develop their own long careers. We both wish to thank Steve for all of the hard work he has afforded the team over the 13 years we have been co- managers and the part he has played in helping us secure 6 gold medals during that time.”

Dick Clegg, OBE, International Events Manager of the Angling Trust commented: “Has the curtain finally come down on England's most capped International World Championship coarse angler! Steve Gardener has been left out of the squad to compete in Croatia this year after 27 successive years since he was first selected by me in 1987. That year England won in Portugal and Steve has been part of 11 more gold medal winning teams since then. It is not difficult for me to summarise what Steve's contribution to the team has been in all those years, dedication, team spirit, ability, professionalism and above all his willingness to put team success before individual glory. In other words he has been the ultimate team professional.” Amen to that!

MA.com Postscript: There can be few anglers in the world who can command such a respect that Steve Gardener has. His dedicated and selflessness to the England banner for 27 years is a lesson to all who wish to equal his stature. I have been fortunate to include him as a personal friend and never been in doubt of his ability, to not only listen to those of a lesser ability, but also to pass on his knowledge to them. There will be many throughout the world who will not understand the decision to not select him, and that includes me. Stevie may well be of an age where some consider him surplus to requirements, but who is there to fill his shoes?

With no disrespect to our current squad, the likes of SG don't come along very often. We were fortunate and privilaged to have had such a person within Team England for so long. Indeed, I believe there was more than enough 'left in his tank' to remain a little longer and help guide and integrate the new additions into the squad. No doubt the world will be shocked to hear this sad news.

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