I recently came across an old account book which went back to 1952 and the Society’s first generation.

Now, I would probably count myself as second or third generation following in the footsteps of Ted Greenham as Secretary and then Les Hitchen as Chairman and its within that time frame that I now write.

I suppose what I brought to the Society was a new face with new ideas and plenty of enthusiasm. During that time we acquired more fisheries, extended and updated the competitions for both freshwater and sea, acquired “Lucky Dip” for the sea anglers, made excellent contacts with the Water Authority and other organisations, rejuvenated the newsletter with contributions from Dick Walker, Fred Buller, Neville Fickling etc. and of course “The Poison Quill” – was his or her identity ever sussed?

Membership steadily grew as did the Season Tickets – a necessity at the time to generate funds, but, control always remained with the Full and Associate members. During this period of growth an eye was kept open to provide game fishing on the Lune or Wenning, larger waters including Stockydale and Baubles also lagoons in South Ribble for ‘specimen/general coarse. With the prospect of high rentals or purchases ahead I approached the Civil Service Sports Council. As it turned out, I was not the only one putting forward similar ideas to the C.S.S.C..

A few weeks later at Minster House on Vauxhall Bridge Road I was being introduced to Ron Isles from West Midlands Region and basically told that to get funding we would have to form a Governing Sports Body and introduce a National Coarse Championship and if successful National Sea and Fly Championships. I believe that they are still going strong.
Becoming Chairman of the Angling Council (the requisite Governing Sports Body) put our own Society well on the map and I again tried to get the principle accepted at Headquarters that if an excellent opportunity appeared in any Region that funding be provided by C.S.S.C. conditional upon the water being made available to any C.S.S.C. member. Already on the cards was the possibility of our own Frank’s Pool and West Midlands had their eyes on the L.M.S. stretch of the Severn taking in Henry’s and the Stink Hole – don’t ask!

Anyway, with an ever growing family commitment, being self employed in addition to the Civil Service, duties as Blackpool Councillor, school governor, etc. something had to give. No longer could I travel up and down the country – the mill stream on Windsor racecourse one week, the Clyde estuary the following. No longer could I attend four meetings a week. No longer could I go fishing several times a week.

It was not easy trying to work all that around my job as H.A.S.S.R.A. secretary but it would have been totally impossible had I been the typical ‘sit at my desk and push a pen’ Civil Servant. Starting with my Chairmanship of Stanley Park A.S. everything went in just over eighteen months including the total funding of Frank’s Pool by the C.S.S.C..

The most heart wrenching decision was to hand over Chairmanship of our own Society at the Annual General Meeting. At that time I made a vow to myself which I have solemly kept, and that was to keep in the background and never interfere or pass judgement on the way or means by which the Officers and Committee take the Society forward.
There have been changes to the Society and hefty financial commitments to cover and now with local H.A.S.S.R.A. assistance the Society is still alive, and despite rumours from time to time, so am I .

So, up to now all you have read about is Mike Japp, but, amongst it all lie a wealth of hidden secrets, embarrassing tales, characters and personalities…..
Oh! Go on then, just a few quickies and if you like them, there are plenty more to write or talk about if I’m encouraged.

Well, if I was to tell you a tale of how a single fish made the difference in a Regional competition between what was North Fylde and Merseyside at Salwick you would probably think of Martin Spencer but you would be wrong. At that time Martin would have been in his little black wellybobs holding his sixpenny net that mum had bought him at the newsagents. The hero of the day was an angler of greater stature, nowadays found loafing a couple of afternoons a week in the doorway of a certain tackle shop in Anchorsholme Lane.

Now big John was the last to be weighed in. The competition was finely balanced. It all depended upon John’s solitary Tommy Ruffe. A crowd gathered around with keen anticipation. Someone shouted out the weight, “ 1 ¼ ounces.”. The Merseyside team looked somewhat bemused. The Tommy Ruffe flew through the air, splashed into the Lanky, and apparently was seen by several to sink quickly, in fact very quickly, nose first into the mud . Steve Ball who can be counted upon to be 100% straight and honest flew into a blind rage. John almost wet himself laughing. I had to intervene as Steve was becoming more ferocious and John infuriatingly found it all the more amusing. Worst of all I couldn’t overrule the result or disqualify John Giller as the fish had been weighed by the opposition and not challenged, and of course the fish was no longer available for inspection. So we did what we always did – went for a pint.

I don’t know what it was about John, but the simplest outing with him always brought problems – like the inaugral Secretary’s Outing to Horns Dam with coach plus pub meal. Whilst the lunchtime weigh-in might have been a pain in the butt it was always looked upon as an ideal moment to wander up the road for liquid refreshment. Anyway a good day was had by all – particularly Mike Foy and Jim Wacey carp anglers extraordinaire – and so we piled into the coach on route to the pub at Goosnargh where our repas awaited.
It might have been the beer at lunchtime or natural mischievnous but the hood of our Treasurer Paul Crowe’s waterproof jacket proved too tempting to John Giller. Gathering all the ashtray contents from the coach he surreptitiously emptied the fag ends etc into the proffered hood. As we left the coach John complimented a similar sized Paul Crowe on his jacket and asked him if the hood was okay, did it look good and did it fit well….of course there was another “almost” ruck as we tried to calm Paul down and sympathise with him as he tried to dust himself down and pick out the spent matches and butts from his afro bushy hair. So we did what we always did – went for a pint.

There were others that brightened up what could have otherwise been routine days. Just as John could always be counted upon to be mischevious, Ivan Chatburn could always be counted upon to be unpredictable.

Of course there was the famous ‘war dance’ at Greenhalgh when the pegs were about four feet apart and pegged alongside Ivan I decided to fill in my swim with largish balls of peat and jokers not realising his well shotted down float was behaving like a cork in a maelstrom. Into the pond jumped brown-eyed Ivan, shouting, cursing, kicking the water and splashing about with both hands. The smoke puffing out of his pipe was reminiscent of an old Mersey tug. Then of course there was the moment at the Departmental Championship when he not only represented North Fylde on the Severn, but, also in the merriment at our hotel in Worcester.

Of course Ivan used to enjoy a drink and a pipeful of baccy with the lads. He also had a penchant for rocking backwards and forwards in his chair in the lounge bar, pint in one hand and pipe in the other. On this particular occasion he was a little too aggressive with the rocking action and much to everyone’s keenly anticipated enjoyment, Yes, Yes, Yes! …. Over he went with his pipe half way down his trachea and the full pint over his head. Those were the days.

Well enough of match angling as I suppose today’s fad is Carp angling and a few words about Staining pre-Franks Pool may be of interest.

It was no secret at the time that the “wildies” were introduced into the Mushroom ponds during the society’s early years by Derek Ducket. For those amongst us not suffering from Alzheimers you may recall this was a member, who was also Secretary of Duple A.S., that challenged Treasurer Harry Walsh annually to provide a breakdown of individual rents – sometimes it became acrimonious but it never happened.

What was a secret was how “spikey” – an 18 pound plus carp – came to be “caught” in the Centre Pit by Bob Wilby and Dave Armstrong. It was almost 1am when tucked up warmly in bed with my beloved the telephone rang. “Mike, we’re at Staining and we have caught a whopping big carp. You won’t believe it. Can you come out and have a look?”
A good half hour later saw me stumbling across the field in the pitch black with a set of scales and yes, it was a cracking fish AND caught at Staining to boot!

Later that week Bob Gledhill asked me to call round. He was not at all pleased despite showing me the photographs that he had taken of the Staining monster and the column he had prepared for Saturday’s Gazette. Tearing up the photographs and his copy he wanted to hear the truth. Not being party to what had actually happened I was somewhat out on a limb. It turned out that until a few days previously “spikey” had been swimming in the K.E.W. pit at Wrea Green! Having seen the K.E.W. pit I really do think the Centre Pit was more upmarket and eminently more suitable.

Officially how “spikey” came to Staining is still a mystery….

No mystery, however, surrounds the introduction of a couple of hundred mirror carp between 4 and 6 inch into the Swan pond. The pond had been unfishable for years and with a huge work party, fifty yards of corlene and a dozen house bricks the weed was removed. Thousands of small crucian were removed. Bill Roe planted a handful of reeds and threw in a lump of lily root. By the second season many of the carp had reached about 10 ounces and the reeds had spread to over 25% of the pond.

If memory serves me right we bought the fish from a farm near Skipton as “for the table” thereby not having to pay VAT.. So eat away ….

Anyway, by now you must be rather bored with my diatribe and I haven’t even touched on sea angling, charter boats nor Lucky Dip and of course characters no longer with us such as Jim Boardman, Eric Morley, Frank Bagot and others. Perhaps another time ….

Remember that Treasurer’s account book that I mentioned earlier? A book of revelations; eighteen members, £2-10 shillings rent for Marton Mere . Waters also included Preesall,

River Wyre at Cartford and others. Also affiliation to Northern Anglers brought access to the Lancaster Canal. Good housekeeping or what?

My sincerest best wishes to all friends and former colleagues and to all those other members that have been more fortunate!