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Clive Gammon: A Teacher who became a Friend
by Terry Thomas
Let's ‘begin at the beginning!’ He would be pleased I used this introduction! I was gazing out of the window at the Pembroke river below. "What are you looking at, Thomas? Pay attention boy!" It was Gammon. Boy, when he shouted, you stood to attention!

He soon established that I loved fishing and understood why I rode my bicycle many miles in search of the elusive bass in the surf at Freshwater West. Like any good teacher, he had found a way to make conversation with me, for I was a very shy pupil and very nervous when it came to reading.

Eventually, he invited me to join him and his mates on a fishing trip, which was a great success. He did not drive, so his wife would pick me up at the house and drive us to fishing venues for the day, returning later to collect us. The car was a Vauxhall Victor which we called "The Batmobile". We became fishing" butties" and it was a regular thing for me to call, on my moped, at their house in Llanreath, which overlooked the Milford Waterway, to discuss tactics and new ‘marks’ to fish. We pioneered Tope fishing from the rocks at Barafundle. He published the catches in the Angling Times and later wrote in The Field, and Creel magazine. He also wrote a weekly column in the Daily Express.

People wanted to come and fish with him. Consequently, we had many famous speakers to the school such as John Arlott and Bernard Venables (Mr Crabtree from the Daily Mirror). Eventually, he was invited to write books on fishing. “Tide of Fish": fishing around Pembroke, earned him great recognition. It is still well sought after in old book shops and sells for a couple of hundred pounds these days - if you can find one! It was a wonderful time, but I had to leave for teacher training in Caerleon. Clive quit his post at the Grammar, to move back to his place of birth, Swansea, and lecture at The Swansea Teacher Training College. Incredibly, we boarded the same train to our future lives and said our farewells.

We corresponded now and then, but various commitments prevented us meeting up to fish together again. Gammon went on to work on sport in general for the Sunday Times. An American Magazine used him to cover football stories in the UK. He had many offers and eventually took the top job in America, working for Sports Illustrated Magazine. He covered all sports, including five World Cup Football Tournaments, the Olympic Games and Motor Racing - where he became friends with racing champion James Hunt. Other friends were footballers Pele and Beckenbauer. He told me he was the only pressman to interview Maradona. the famous Argentinian footballer. Clive also reported on Muhammad Ali's famous fights. Use of the magazine's private jet and travel by Concord were just a few "perks" of the job.

His main love was fishing and covering fishing stories around the world. The TV series "The Golden Maggot", where he fished with rugby legend Gareth Edwards, will be remembered by most people. After working in America for 20 years, he decided to retire and returned to London, where he was soon snapped up by the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday to do investigative articles. Soon afterwards, he returned to Caswell Bay on The Gower Peninsula, where he was able to work from home. At this time, I too had been doing some freelance writing for fishing magazines in the UK.
Clive Gammon
Clive Gammon
We met up again at the AGM of the Bass Fishing Society - which he’d helped establish years before. Drinks flowed freely in the bar that night and so began part two of our fishing adventures.

Needless to say, we spent lots of time in Ireland, meeting up with his mates there. We covered together many stories for UK magazines. In 2006, he set up a trip to Malaysia to revisit the place where he had caught a record fish. Unfortunately, the boat he was on drifted from the jetty and he dropped into the water. He was rescued but had damaged his knee. I would phone and ask to speak to "Long John Silver", such was our friendship. The decision was made to get the operation done in New York by a top surgeon. Of course, they chatted about fishing. The surgeon had never caught a salmon. The promise was made: "I will get you one!" Chip, the surgeon, asked "Can I bring my brother-in-law along?" Who was this guy? Incredibly, the brother-in-law was the son of Gammon's previous American Editor. What a coincidence!!

Six months later, we were back in Ireland. I was asked to Ghillie and guide them. It’s difficult enough to catch a salmon anytime, but Clive decided it had to be an extra special event: it had to be done on America's Independence Day. It took a couple of days but, taking time-differences into account, we managed the task and Chip had his first ever salmon on Independence Day! I too was delighted, as the story was published in a top Irish Magazine. It was a privilege for me to have my name in print - Photos by Terry Thomas; Story by Clive Gammon - next to the Master Writer. To me he was not famous; he was my friend and fishing mate.

I last saw him when we ate at Verdi's Cafe, Mumbles, before he moved into Sheltered Accommodation in Swansea. He knew then that he would never wade in the surf again or stand waist-deep in a fast flowing river.

Clive Gammon was a kind and generous man and, most of all, a good friend.
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