Belfast Telegraph

Tough-tackling Jamie gets hooks into big one for third time

On the Box: Billy Weir

If it's history you want, then you have to show a little more patience, guile and cunning than your average rugby player, and a big handful of maggots is also helpful.

One of the highlights of Sky's summer bereft of football is Fish-o-Mania, five hours of fin and frolics held at the Wembley of angling, Cudmore Fishery in Staffordshire, where we were in the capable, and clean, hands of presenter Rob Palmer for the day.

Palmer is more used to commentating on the Spanish football, but this was more Reel Madrid and Eel Clasico, while Gerry Arconada-Armstrong's place was taken by Sky's resident angling aficionado Keith Arthur.

His insight was invaluable as the 'action' got underway, revealing that "fish have got fins, they swim around the lake", but some had taken other forms of transport to get there, Palmer revealing that Steve Jackson was the furthest travelled having made his way from Somerset.

This would have been news to Herr Markus Billen from Cologne, and I've checked, it is in Germany, which is a considerably longer cast than to Somerset, and Palmer was aware of this as, unlike rugbyists, he pondered the possibility of a draw.

"As we have a German here it should go to penalties," he guffawed, but there was no laughter for Steve, known as Wacko Jacko and whose wife, and I am not making this up, is called Janet.

He was in a bad way, the victim of a drain cleaning incident that had left him with a dislocated thumb, but he was determined to beat it even with Sky's five roving reporters humming the way you make me eel when they walked past.

Try as he might, he couldn't compete with the main man, Jamie Hughes (left), a two-time Fish-o-Mania champion and aiming for an unprecedented third title, and described as "the Lionel Messi of fishing today".

It was certainly messy, Jacko regretting his decision to wear a white glove, but Palmer confirmed that Janet had "no wardrobe malfunctions today" and at the final weigh-in it was a one-horse and many fish race, Jamie joining Nerys, Emlyn, Geoffrey and Yosser in the annals of famous Hughes from Liverpool.

He was soon a boy in the wet stuff, in time-honoured fashion leaping into the water with all the grace of a tin of salmon before squelching onto the stage to lift the trophy and a cheque for £50,000.

"It's Usain Bolt-like," argued Arthur, which it wasn't, although the vision of the Jamaican trying to run the 100m in a pair of gold wellies is one I find hard to shake off, but Jamie was the real star, a history-maker, landing the big one for a third time and getting a thumbs up from Jacko. Painful.

"It's been a long haul but he's a legend in the fishing world," said Palmer, now counting down the days until he's back in the Nou Carp…

Belfast Telegraph

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