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A HISTORY OF THE SEA ANGLERS MATCH FEDERATION

( updated 30th Jan 2010)

In 1980 a small group of shore match anglers had become dis-enchanted with the standard of beach competitions which were mainly roving events with the prizes usually consisting of goods such as television sets and washing machines etc. For too long matches had been organised by individuals, and organisations who were totally unaware of what the match angler required in a match. Matches that took out a large proportion of the anglers’ entry fee and gave poor prizes in return were rife throughout the country. This group of match anglers decided to form the Sea Anglers Match Federation amidst a blaze of publicity. Opponents feared the impact SAMF would have and the Media concentrated on the fact that cash prizes were allowed rather than the important changes in match rules. These rules were drawn up by anglers who actually fished the matches, and they were based on the already excellent rules used by the East Anglian matchmen, the main changes were:

  • At least 90% of entry fees to be returned to the competitors and 100% of the pools.
  • All matches were to be pegged or zoned
  • Fishing positions will be drawn by the anglers
  • All matches stewarded
  • Duplicate baited traces to be allowed
  • Matches fished to Ministry size limits with allowances for different areas to raise size limits for species of fish in need of protection
  • A balance sheet to be produced by organisers
  • No bait bans

Clubs were allowed dispensation to vary the rules because of local area differences as long as they complied with the basic structure of the new rules.

The dedicated group of match anglers who founded SAMF were Clive Richards, Steve Gillett, John Ryder, John Browning, Alan Yates and Peter Yates. They held a planning meeting at Clives home and agreed that Clive was to be the Chairman, Alan the Secretary and Peter the Treasurer. Thus the first SAMF committee was born and the first official meeting was planned for that Autumn, to be held in London . That first official committee also included Stan Gowan, John Arnold, Dave Burrus, Barry Cowell, Garry Dunk and Keith Jarvis.

The first year of SAMF was spent mainly building on the ideals of match anglers and getting a match calendar organised. SAMF subscriptions were £3 for individuals and £5 for clubs, however funds were tight at first with profits from raffles being the main fund raiser. The search for sponsorship was a priority at the time with Nigel Forrest of Breakaway Tackle Co. being the first with sponsorship of the federation bag labels. Later Alan was to obtain 5 years of sponsorship from Richot Brandy.

The first Newsletter was sent to the growing membership by Alan in May 1980 who reported that the controversy surrounding the formation of SAMF was fading with members joining from all round the country, and several clubs joining as well.

A number of affiliated clubs were organising competitions to be fished under SAMF rules, and the first match to be fished under these rules was the Angling Times Sea League Stewards Match at Sandwich. All participants agreed that the new rules made match fishing more streamlined and interesting. The winners were Tony Libby of Deal, Dave Andrews from Thanet and Richard Tunnicliff of Dover.

The first major open to be fished under the new SAMF match rules was held by the Thames Estuary Match Group at Southend on 13th April. 123 anglers fished and the winner was Barry Tillson of Southend who took away £460 in prize money and pools. A very big payout in those days.

The Angling Times sponsored league was launched in 1980 under the SAMF ‘umbrella’ with the final due to be held on the Isle of Man and this league is still the major league for teams being called the National Sea League.

The Forward Chemicals World Sea Angling Championships was held at Fleetwood on the 15th and 16th November 1980. This was the biggest match to date with over £6500 in prize money. The match was won by the SAMF chairman Clive Richards who picked up £2300, and at the time this was one of the largest cash prizes ever to be won by a sea angler. The running of this competition was to be taken over by SAMF the following year and eventually became what is now known as the UK Masters Championships. The UK Masters is still the only truly nation-wide competition where anglers have to qualify in heats run by members all over the British Isles.

The first Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 31st January 1981 at the ‘Y’ hotel in London. The most important item on the agenda was to finalise the constitutional rules of the federation. The reports from both the Chairman and Secretary concentrated on the successful first year of SAMF and their thoughts for the future. The accounts showed a balance of £222. Tony Gittins of the United Kingdom Surfcasting Federation gave a short talk of interest to the casting members of the federation. The committee was elected with the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer remaining the same. The committee was re-elected with the additions of Richard Penny, Richard Burdett, Jim Whippy and Tony Bonsels.   

That year saw the beginning of the SAMF Irish Tourist Board National Pairs Competition held in Dingle, County Kerry. Anglers had to qualify for the first two annual competitions which is still being run today as the Daiwa Irish Pairs. The final was held on Ballinrannig strand and was a first for SAMF with all fish being weighed and returned alive to the sea. Nod Farrel and Barry Graves were the overall winners. 

The 1981 Forward Chemicals Masters was held at Pakefield but the sponsorship was soon to be lost. This saw the beginning of the UK Masters Finals as we know it today which has been held every year since. Alf Dayes was the first Masters champion winning the 1982 event at Lowestoft. A full list of winners can be found on this website. The Masters has a rota of circulating around the country i.e. South East, South West, North East, Anglia and the North West. Each region has its own area representative which looks after the interests of local anglers and running qualifying events, these area representatives form the present day committee.

Those difficult early days of SAMF were successful in forming the present day federation with many things remaining today i.e. the Irish Pairs, The National Sea Leagues and the UK Masters Championship. Since then there have been a number of changes to personnel but each new member of the committee has brought new ideas to the federation. The Federation is now involved in organising challenge matches against the Belgium and Dutch national squads and the Combined Armed Forces, including the army, navy, airforce, police and the fire service. Our Chairman, John Amery ran a big fish competition on the Yorkshire coast, sponsored by Daiwa, and only recently did John hand the organising over to local members who keep the competition going. We run an annual memorial match in the name of one of our members, Nigel Robinson who tragically died whilst fishing in the Irish Pairs Competition, and some proceeds from the match are held in a fund in his name and is there to help our members in times of need. We supported in the past the Anglers Legal Fund and the NFSA Conservation committee by making annual donations from our members subscriptions.    

Since our initial break away from the National Federation of Sea Anglers, SAMF became an associate member of the NFSA before its demise and continues to work closely with the newly formed Angling Trust on a number of issues such as:

  • Having a common set of match rules
  • Support their policies on a number of issues i.e. youth training and conservation
  • Our chairman, John Amery sits on a number of committees and is currently chairman of the Marine Group. 

SAMF is still seen as the major body in the shore match fishing scene and is the yardstick by which most organisations now run their beach competitions. We have had a consistent membership growing to 400+ anglers but these numbers have diminished over the past few years, however the committee is determined to ensure good membership numbers and attract as many new members as possible.

PAST EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

CHAIRMAN  
SECRETARY
TREASURER
Clive Richards 1980 – 85
Alan Yates 1980 – 88
Peter Yates 1980- 83
Mike Perfect 1985 – 88
 
Linda Yates 1983 – 88
Chris Clark 1988 -94
John Amery 1988 – 94
Jean Amery 1988 – 94
 
Nick Haward 1994 – 98
Jane Haward  1994 – 98
John Amery 1994 onwards
Andy Steele 1998 onwards
Mary Steele1998 onwards
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