My first introduction to Percy
I was very fortunate to have Jim Legge, a long serving member of CFPAS LTD, as my grandfather he use to take me fishing from the age of 4 years old. I was shown the basics and spent hours on the hundred Foot River at Earith, but when it came to Junior Match fishing I struggled. Following a Preservation Junior Match at Baitsbite in 1968 when I was 9 years old, I went home having caught only an Eel and a small Perch, very despondent. My mother said “whatever’s the matter with you?” “I am fed up with other kids beating me”. They go and have lessons with this bloke called Percy Anderson! Without me knowing she phoned Percy to ask how much he charged for lessons, he of course replied “I don’t charge, bring the lad to my shop next Saturday morning and I will have a look at his tackle and see how it goes from there. When I was told I remember thinking I wish I had kept quiet, as I felt very nervous. Saturday came and off I went to the shop with all my tackle, which would have fitted in a washing-up bowl. But I was proud of what kit I had, when I walked in to the shop, Percy towered over me and said “yes son what do you want”? “I am here to see you about lessons and for you to look at my kit, with a huge cigar stuck in his mouth he said “come through here son, he opened my basket and said, “ok son these floats are shit, useless” and promptly snapped them all in half and threw them in the bin. I thought shit, my favourite floats gone, and Percy went across the shop and came back with a large handful of floats, Benny Ashurst stick floats, Ivan Marks wagglers and zoomers. All I could think was how was I going to pay for these floats. Then the line on my reel was changed; Percy threw in a selection of shots and hooks to nylon. “There you go son, that will get you started, I said, “how much has this cost”, “go on get going dear boy. “Thank you Mr. Anderson I said, (“Oi its Percy”). Percy then spoke to my mother and said “now we are going to a match at Littleport tomorrow, Ian can come and watch and start to learn, she agreed and we went home, now I was so excited I did not sleep all night. I was up at 6am and nervously waiting outside the house to be picked up by Percy. This very smart Sunbeam Rapier car pulled up, out got this smartly dressed man who walked up the driveway. “Good morning, are you Ian Darler”?, “yes” I replied. My name is Lacy, Percy’s brother, you are with me today. I was very nervous. I was soon made to feel at ease. Lacy as everybody knows is a gentleman and soon had my full attention. “My brother always arranges things and gets other people to run around for him” he said. When we arrived at Littleport Lacy walked me over the bank, I could not believe the size of the river, Lacy explained how to tackle the venue. I had never seen floats like these bloody great things. Swan shots locked on the line, casting fifty yards, (what a day). I spent weeks going with Lacy to matches, but always seeing Percy at matches, he would always give me instructions of things to do, make, or find out about. Then came my first unforgettable match day out with Percy. Now thinking he would be similar to Lacy, I soon had a culture shock, F this, F. that and just about F for everything else as well. The match was at Clayhithe on the Cam, a very cold day, Percy was drawn past the trees by the Pillbox. Percy never let me forget this day, he was off to a flyer catching good size Bream from the whistle, I soon found Percy seldom took food and drink with him and relied on everybody else to feed him. I know of a certain Mr Tweed that does this!! “What have we got to eat son”? He ate my sandwiches, cake and drunk half my flask. A couple of hours into the match I started to feel extremely cold, now Percy had a huge wicker basket and when I came around I found myself in it, “are you ok son”? “I feel ill, he packed up, tipping back a huge net of fish saying “you little so and so I was winning this match”, that made me feel better! He said “Next time you go fishing in the cold bloody well put a pair of your Mum’s tights on to keep you warm, even though I felt ill, I thought you’ve got to be kidding, 9 years old and wearing tights. Percy was still swearing all the way back to the car telling every angler on the way back “Yes had to pack this little bastard passed out in the cold, when we got back to the car park Percy said “next time bring yourself more food and drink! I thought bloody hell – you ate everything I had with me, make sure you wrap up son, (no thermals in those days). I did not go with Percy or Lacy then until the weather improved. Then came the next Preservation Junior Match in the summer, fully briefed by the Andersons and bait proved by Percy, I went into battle, drawn below the old sewer on the Cam. I caught a good bag of Roach, Percy checked my method as he walked the towpath, and stood behind me for a while. I was concentrating like never before, when he shouted “feed the fu—kers you little bastard, if you think you keeping that bait to night fish on Burwell Lode tonight you are wrong, cause I will chuck in at the end of the match. Percy moved on to the next victim. Lacy then turned up, “Hello Ian how is it going”?, “well I thought I was doing ok, but Percy just had a real go at me”. “That’s my brother, he means well”. At the end of the match I weighed in and came 6th, I was excited to get in the prizes. Percy said, “If you’d fed the bastards how you were told you could of won it”. A few minutes later Percy came up to me again this time saying, “well done son, much better, but you must listen”. I continued with Percy and Lacy for six more years, learning the angling skills with other talented youngsters (Graham Tweed was probably the best!) I remained good friends with both Percy and Lacy. There was never a dull moment with so many funny incidents and stories.