Percy and the Summer League Match
If you are of a nervous disposition or of queasy constitution then perhaps it is best you don’t read on because although this story ha been recounted many times over a pint in the pub, it has never been put in to the written word. Who else would the story evolve around but Percy, aka Codshead, Greengrass and sometimes Fagin! When I first set out match fishing many years ago, in and around Cambridgeshire we had a thriving match scene including a popular a Summer League Series being held on our rivers. The matches were two-hour matches and I think I am right in saying there were six events. Anyhow as usual Percy and the Pimpernels had several teams entered in the series and us lads had to help out the oldies by preparing bait and carting their tackle to their pegs. For this we got to watch the maestro’s in action. Several of the matches were held on the Cam at Waterbeach below the Lock. This venue has quite steep banks and so anglers would have to climb down and wade at the water’s edge. Sometimes the banks were that steep that you could look down on the angler from 7 or 8 feet. We used to lay on the bank as we didn’t want to scare the fish or was it because we were scared of the grumpiness of ‘Codshead’ “stop fxxk arsing around” this was due to fights breaking out as it was usual for lads from rival schools to punch each other – nice. Percy had recently won the ‘All England’ and was at the height of his angling career. He drove a brand new yellow Volvo Estate, which after 2 weeks was completely trashed inside, just like his old Bedford van. He would smoke huge cigars in competition with his brother George who always seemed to have one bigger. One evening we were over at Waterbeach and Percy had drawn the high bank. It was one of those July evenings, which started out warm but soon became windy and overcast. Percy had got loads of new tackle and had for the only time I can even remember the neatest tackle box. Usually it is just a load of tubs and bits and pieces, but no this time it had all been sorted out nice and neat. Because it was windy Percy had set up an 18” waggler and barked at me to get him an “AAA shot” from his new shot box. I got hold of the box but could not open it. Anyone that knows me will tell you I am not the best at practical things. Could I open it – no, Percy grew ever impatient. Barking orders at me. This made things worse as I was a nervous type and shy disposition, my hands started to shake. Then just as I thought I was going to get banished from any trips, the lid flew open and all his shots fell in to the long grass. I picked up a few and put them back and handed Percy the AAA shot. He muttered something but I did not get a whack or anything and we are still friends. Anyhow after about ½ hour Percy sent me and this other urchin down the river to see how his brother George was getting on. It was getting cooler and as this lad and me dodged the cowpats a few spots of rain fell. Nothing really was happening and some of the adults were walking the bank. George was also walking along the bank; he had already given up and was coming to see how his brother was doing. So we turned back with George helping him with his tackle, as he puffed on his cigar. (I once tried smoking a cigar bit I could only get hold of ones called Tom Thumb, I nicked it from my Granddad's stash. We arrived back at Percy’s peg and lay along the bank. Percy was doing quite well catching skimmers and Roach and so we had to be quiet. The trouble was there was this horrible smell. We kept checking ourselves to see if we had trod in the cowpats and true enough I had some on my wellies, so I tried scraping it off with a stick. Job done, I settled back with the others to watch Percy but still there was this smell. There was about ½ hour to go before the end of the match and as the light faded it also started to rain harder. As Percy had won the ‘All England’ he had not only got loads of tackle but was sporting a brand new all-in-one Waterproof suit. Now very few people had these although of course they are now commonplace. As it had been fairly warm earlier on Percy had taken down the top part of the suit, hood and all and tied the arm bits around his waist. These quilted suits are quite bulky. So Percy looked as though he had got this great green nappy around him. Unbeknown to us when we had gone off Percy had been called short. Not unusual for our Percy. Anyway he suddenly stopped fishing placing his rod on the rest and started to undo his all-in-one suit to put it back on. This is when it happened. As he manoeuvred the suit across his shoulders the hood bit sort of flew up and over his head ……along with all that which he had done earlier! One missile flew past his ear just clipping it and fell in to the water with a plop. It hit the water and momentarily floated downstream and then just like a submarine slowly sank as it gathered pace with the river flow. Us kinds went berserk, as kids do. Urrrrr Percy urrrrr and at the same time rolled around on the grass like demented animals. George was being sick in to the grass cigar flung away, and all Percy could do was shout at us. “Shut the fxxk up” “Shut up”. Urrrrh Percy as we saw another object perched on the edge of his keep net. This lad and me didn’t get taken out to the following match, which I thought was bang out of order. Apparently, after many years of telling this true story, I was told that it was not the first time Percy had done this and there are a number of other colleagues that have suffered through such an unfortunate event. Some even received counseling such was the horrific experience. I was reminded recently of the time when we used to fish knockout contests against other teams the finals were held abroad, the sponsors were I believe DFDS they were very popular throughout the country. CFPAS LTD had quite a record in the series and made it to the Southern Area Semi-Final. We had to fish a very swollen River Thames at Oxford and if my memory is correct we missed the boat by about 6 oz. Whilst disappointed at the time, looking back it was a magnificent feat particularly as we were fishing against Trev’s Browning and Starlets. Anyhow a few years prior to our big run we were drawn against a team from at Tydcote. The venue was I believe the North Level. The section chosen was across two fields, which meant a long walk. In bright sunshine we began our trek and I can honestly say that the walk with all our tackle and baits was made lighter by what we thought was a vision of loveliness waving to us in the distance. There in the distance was a farmhouse with a local lass hanging out her washing. We had to cut across the sugar beet field in the direction of the lady. At first it was a curious attraction in that however those with good eyesight were soon seeing that the said lady was very scantily clad indeed! Bearing in mind that when we first set out she was just a small blot, you can imagine that as we got nearer we got keener. We drew closer and I have to say I did mutter to myself that se was without any clothes at all! The thing about it was that this was a vision of loveliness – an hourglass figure. Strangely though her movements were somewhat momentous and she did seem to taking an age in the garden still we naively thought it was perhaps because she had seen many men lately being stuck in the middle of nowhere, you know sheep for company etc. All though was revealed as we finally got to the fence of the garden. Their flapping in the cabbage patch was our vision. Yes a life-sized blow up lady ‘Ann Summers style’ being used as a bird scarer presumably having no other use! Oh and yes we did win the Knock-Out Contest against the Fen Boys!