They said it could never happen.
First Brexit, then Trump won the Whitehouse, now the unthinkable in the Newcastle District Anglers Association crown – a season-ending tie.
Heading into the final round last weekend, the Graham Dorse Memorial, John “Balco” Balcomb (son of “Honest Gordie” Balcomb from Charlestown Tacklepower), was sitting on 45 points, in front of Shannon “Ganghook” Denning (38), and all but declared a certainty to take season honours by NDAA spokesperson Craig “Rolled” Oaten.
(All nicknames are fictitious and bare no resemblance, intentional or otherwise, to characters or events depicted.)
“If Balco didn’t fish and Shannon came first or second, Shannon could knock him off, but it’s looking pretty good for Balco,” quote unquote rolled Oaten in the lead-up to the season-ending showdown.
But Denning came from the clouds last weekend, in a comeback rivalling Jordan, Lazarus and Farnham, to pull off what Craig described as miracle.
If not a miracle, then at least an unprecedented tie, which has left the coveted NDAA crown hanging in the balance, awaiting a countback.
In scenes that give an insight into what a slick operation the NDAA is, the winner will not be decided until Oaten gets back from Sydney this week, where he’s been working, and attends to the paperwork.
“Johnny came into the final round seven points in front but Shannon has ran first last weekend, Balco came sixth, which only gave him four points so they ended up on 49 points,” Craig recounted.
“I’ll have to work out who’s won it, but I’ve been down Sydney working this week so I’ll make them suffer for another weekend and it will be good.”
Talk of tie breakers was in the air last weekend as the race went down to the wire.
“People were theorising that maybe they’d have to run down to the beach and whoever caught the first fish would be declared the winner,” Craig quipped.
There has never been a tie in the illustrious history of the NDAA.
The most notable achievement to date in the many years the Fishing Page has been covering NDAA action was the Bradnam-esque efforts of Adam Hodges, who won it six years in a row from about 2007.
Interestingly the trophy has been sitting in the window at Charlestown Tacklepower where Balco works, after they were able to wrest it from the grip of last season’s winner, Jason Bandy.
“I’m not saying he has, but it looks like Balco’s made a pre-emptive strike and it may have backfired,” Craig jibed.
“Thought he had it bag, maybe – can’t be beat. But it looks we put the mocker on him.”
All jokes aside, Oaten was quick to praise the possible champion, Denning, although we still have to wait before giving him an official rap.
“He’s a good all-round fisho who knows what he’s doing,” Craig said.
“His old man and uncle used to fish NDAA years ago, so it’s in the bloodline.”
Conditions were “lumpy” last weekend, but a lot of fish were weighed in.
The Graham Dorse Memorial is an open event, meaning you can fish where ever you like.
“Shannon fished down south around Catherine Hill Bay and got trag, squire, tailor and bream, one just over a kilo,” Craig said.
“Mick Price and Balco fished together up around Nelson Bay and got some really good trag, up over 2kg.”
Price beat Oaten, who fished the rocks of Fingal Bay, by half a point.
“I basically got snapper, drummer and tailor. Only small tailor, but a fair few there,” Craig said.
“And some really good bream. I bagged out and they were all around the 700g to 900g mark. All fat, real good looking bream.”
Bob Hodges, fishing the rocks at Nelson Bay too, was veterans champion and landed mainly drummer and luderick.
Brian Downey took super vet honours. No juniors or ladies fished.
“A couple of blokes went wider off Newcastle and got a few jew,” Craig said.
“But the wind was a pest.”
So now, just like when they announce a new Pope, we wait for the smoke signals from Oaten central.
Once he’s worked out where he stashed the paperwork, and done everything around the house his missus wants done after a week away in Sydney, he’ll get to do a fish countback, and we’ll have our new NDAA champion.
In the meantime, we’ll all have to find some way to get to sleep, and this fishing commentator is not ruling out alcohol.
Stay tuned next weekend for the big announcement.
Meanwhile, the new NDAA season starts with the rock comp on August 5 and 6.
Conditions are again looking cold but sunny this weekend, with lots of winter species on the go and plenty of bait about.