The day Ivan Marks visited Risby Park Fishing Ponds

For those of you old enough to remember the Late Great Ivan Marks, here's a story you may not know...

How quickly time passes. Years ago I had the privilege of working with one of angling’s all-time champions, Ivan Marks. If you are the type of person who believes that you should never meet your hero… think again. As a lad, I would eagerly await my Angling Times every week and seek out the results and features about Ivan. ‘The People’s Champion’ made headlines week after week as he battered the competition on the Welland and Witham. These weren’t 40 peg club matches either. 200 plus fields of class anglers would turn up week after week to try and compete. But few succeeded.

Fast forward 30 years – I had the pleasure of working with Ivan on roadshows promoting Whizzo Groundbaits. Ivan would take the stage and captivate the audience with his stories and enthusiasm and would regularly have to be reminded that it was time to wind up as the bar staff wanted to go home.

Risby Park Fishing Ponds Ivan MarksThat was 2004. That same year Ivan came up to Risby to present the prizes at the Whizzo Youth Classic. Most of the youngsters had never heard of Ivan but soon realised they were in the presence of a great angler as he walked the bank and chatted with them.

2004 was also a sad year for angling. Ivan’s failing health and heart transplant success came to an abrupt end. His funeral was a true measure of the man’s popularity. Originally the service was going to be at the Leicester crematorium – but last-minute numbers meant that it had to be moved to Leicester Cathedral. A fitting end to an amazing man.

The crowd on the day was a who’s who of angling. From world champs to celebrities and the angling media, there will never be another show of respect so great for someone involved in our sport.

The amazing thing is. For all his success and angling skills. Ivan never made it into the England World Championship team. Despite winning the qualifying rounds (that’s how they selected the teams back then) Ivan never got ‘that call’, his theory was’ “my face didn’t fit”.

During the roadshows, anglers would ask time and time again. What was the secret to your success? Every time the same reply came… “Be willing to do it daft”, he said. That always stuck in my head. When everyone around you is doing the same thing, try something different. It worked for Ivan.

To read the full report from 2004’s Whizzo Youth Classic that saw the winner put over 100lb in the net in 5 hours on his second visit to the Folly Lake >>>CLICK HERE<<<

You’ll also see opposite that there’s a book all about Ivan’s life available from Amazon. I’ve ordered my copy today. Waiting for it to be delivered will take me back to my childhood, the sound of the Angling Times coming through the letterbox.

Happy times