Hard not to smile at news that the Mirror newspaper is now the official national media sponsor of the UK’s richest angling event, Mega Match.
The reaction of float tubers will probably be a little more pointed.
“Eugene Duffy, Managing Editor of Mirror Group Newspapers commented: “The Daily Mirror is delighted to become the official national media sponsor for Mega Match This. We know many of our readers are keen anglers and believe this competition will give the sport the profile it has sometimes lacked in the past.
“Angling has more people regularly taking part than any sport in the UK but this hasn’t always been reflected in the media. The Daily Mirror will be an enthusiastic supporter of the competition and looks forward to a long association with Mega Match…
“Phil Briscoe, Managing Director, Maver UK added: “I’m absolutely delighted that The Daily Mirror has come on board in support of the competition and of angling in general. Regular updates on the competition in the Daily Mirror will raise the profile of angling…”
How much better this would sound if we weren’t talking about the same Mirror Group whose flagship newspaper was party to a lamentable misrepresentation of float tube fly anglers just a fortnight ago.
United Utilities water company, understandably anxious to avoid having killer shrimp inadvertently introduced to its waters in the north of England, recently banned float tubing on those same waters.
Rumour has it that the company had to make frantic Internet searches to ascertain what the hell float tubes were, when the vessels’ potential hazards were first brought to its attention. Unfortunately, this seems all too apparent in the press release it issued at the time:
“A craze sweeping the UK, has seen anglers use ‘floating tubes’ – large inflatable tyres – to fish on water.
“The tubes, which are easily transported are thought to help the species spread by transferring eggs between rivers and other watercourses such as reservoirs.
“We have confirmed we are banning the use of floating tubes at all its [sic] recreational reservoirs across the North West.”
By the time the Mirror – apparently happy to treat the UU release as gospel – had got to work, it had become “a new fishing craze from the US” that was behind the spread of the beastie.What’s more, their story led off with a photo of a different species of shrimp altogether…
I emailed their online editor on 24th February, complaining that the tone of the article unfairly portrayed float tubers as a bunch of gung-ho rednecks, solely responsible for the killer shrimp’s potential for catastrophe and I offered the following in support of my contention that a 12-year-old with half-an-hour on Google could have got a better grip on the story:
(a) far from being ‘new’, the float tubing ‘craze’ dates back to the invention of the inner tube for vehicles in the late 19th century in America and has been around in the UK for between 25 and 30 years
(b) The last time ‘large inflatable tyres’ were used to fish on water, Churchill was probably still at Number Ten. Those prototype tubes began to be modified in the ‘50s and the modern day float tube has moved on considerably.
(c) Far from such tubes being the sole culprit in transporting the shrimp from one water to another, the creatures can be carried on any watersports gear and possibly even on the legs of birds, which could render the UU ban redundant.
Surprisingly for an “enthusiastic supporter” of fishing, the Mirror is yet to provide me with a reply.
Not that this stops me wishing Mega Match every success with its new national media sponsor. I only hope that the sponsorship contract nails down precisely what is meant by “raise the profile of angling”.