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Norfolk playing its part in the perfect therapy on the fishing bank

PUBLISHED: 10:35 22 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:23 10 August 2017

From left to right, Oliver Harper, Marketing Manager Angling Direct, Mike Smith, John Armstrong and Andrew Matthews all of FFS Eastern Region.

From left to right, Oliver Harper, Marketing Manager Angling Direct, Mike Smith, John Armstrong and Andrew Matthews all of FFS Eastern Region.


As a youngster I was a keen fisherman. Really keen.

At weekends I would cycle five miles to a mate’s and then another two miles to the local river. Weekdays after school I’d head two miles down the lane to the North Level Drain.

I loved it: the fishing was enjoyable, but so was being so close to nature: I have hand-fed birds that pecked away at my groundbait. I have sat entranced by all sorts of things; tiny, perfectly-formed pikelets, the farmers in the adjacent fields going about their work. And making new friends. Everything about fishing was good.

I learned from it and I am totally unashamed to plug an initiative that helps those less fortunate than I was to learn from the sport and enjoy it.

Mike Smith is part of the Eastern Region Fishing For Schools (FFS) team who have linked up with Norfolk fishing tackle business Angling Direct. He takes up the story...

“Fishing for Schools (Eastern Region) is part of a nationwide project that helps pupils who have difficulties with learning and have often been excluded from school. The project uses fishing as a teaching method to help disaffected pupils with a variety of subjects such as geography, entomology, biology, science, art and even maths.

“Additionally it promotes a wide range of skills such as teamwork, and improves concentration spans and behaviour. The project has been active for 10 years but the eastern region was launched last summer as part of the regionalisation of the national Fishing For Schools project. Norfolk-based qualified and experienced instructors in conjunction with schools deliver a structured series of courses. Teachers have already noticed that as a result of the courses there are improved concentration levels and better communication skills by the pupils. FFS instructors have seen pupils become more interactive with each other and start to work as a team when they go out fishing. The courses are continuing to develop and cater for the needs of children who have become disaffected from mainstream education.

“The eastern region is delighted to announce two supporters who have made major contributions to helping the project. Norfolk-based but nationwide tackle retailer Angling Direct has kindly donated a substantial amount of fishing tackle so that pupils will be able to use both coarse fishing and fly fishing tackle free of charge. Rods, reels, lines, nets and protective glasses were all generously given. The high quality tackle will give pupils the opportunity to put into practice the skills they learn in classroom sessions given by our instructors Mike Smith and Jim Gill. Oliver Harper, Angling Direct’s marketing manager presented the tackle to members of the FFS ER team at Angling Direct’s headquarters in Norfolk. The tackle will have a really positive impact on the pupils who will be able to use high quality equipment. Without the generous help from Angling Direct the Eastern Region would have been struggling to maintain the standard of teaching that we wanted to achieve. Pupils will be encouraged by the donation. To have the opportunity to learn with high quality materials gives disaffected children a sense of worth.

“FFS(ER) also received a generous donation from Thetford-based company The Shadwell estate company. A very generous donation that enabled FFS (ER) to deliver a series of courses to Thetford Academy during the last two months. The course focused on children who had been excluded from mainstream education because of behavioural issues. The teachers have already seen pupil behaviour improvements. Sessions covered fish behaviour, feeding habits. In addition fly tying helped the pupils improve their knowledge of entomology, and hand eye co-ordination. A day outdoors is planned so that pupils can learn fishing skills thereby putting into practice the knowledge they have gained about insect life, fish feeding and knowledge of water.

“The eastern region is now focusing on developing further courses for the school year commencing in September. Thanks to Angling Direct’s generous help and Shadwell’s donation this project is going to benefit pupils who need it most.”

These fine people have an Open Day (already full) for invited schools at Lenwade on October 5 – it is worth getting involved because I really can vouch that fishing can do wonders for young people.


Jacob Murphy’s transfer to Newcastle United for a princely sum of £10m, plus some more in the future, shows exactly what Norwich City’s position is in the bigger football picture.

And it is exactly the same as most clubs: to continue to operate, they must develop players to make a profit on transfers.

It’s a very simple philosophy: in the case of all players – homegrown products or purchased – the task is to improve them until they are able to make a profit and then, when someone is interested in their services, decide whether they are on the market, and for how much.

Murphy was homegrown and, for the money Newcastle were prepared to pay, could be sold.

It simply all made sense for City.

What Newcastle are buying is not Murphy’s past, but his future. You pay millions for a 30-year-old and you are buying his past – then you cross your fingers and hope his career doesn’t go into a decline.

Newcastle’s estimation is that Murphy’s best is yet to come. It may, or it may not. There are no guarantees in football: remember Francis Jeffers? Or Federico Macheda?

During his time as Celtic’s assistant head of first team scouting, David Moss said: “◾Although we can only spend approximately £2.5m we are still seeking players who can compete against some of the best teams in Europe in Champions League games and also have the potential to be sold to the Premier League or other top European teams within one or two years. We therefore operate in a high-risk market as we cannot afford the ‘ready-made’ players and need to identify young and ‘unproven’ players.”

Last month, Moss moved to Huddersfield as their head of football operations. Which was Stuart Webber’s role at Huddersfield before he joined Norwich City as sporting director... just before Huddersfield were promoted to the Premier League. Just saying.

Life will go on without Murphy because Webber’s job is to find less expensive players who, in a year or two, will be able to turn a profit. And if they do, it is because they are good. Which can’t be bad. This is the way it is for clubs like Norwich City.

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