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Life goes on

Gentleman Goddard



A chill wind hurried the wintery January clouds through patches of blue as we assembled at Randall’s Park crematorium in Surrey to bid our farewells to a giant of angling, John Goddard. These occasions are always odd. Sad, of course. Very sad. However, sometimes there can be an element of, well, joy.

This was one of those. John, in pantheons of angling, is utterly irreplaceable. But the joy comes, not just for the knowing of the man but in the celebration of who and what he was to us game anglers. Throughout the service I just simply could not shake the visions of those giggles that he made – chortles sometimes – and the laser sharpness when he found the fish that he wanted (very evident even in his 80s) – and the sheer decency of the man. John’s attention to detail for your well being, when acting as host, when you fished together, was every bit as precise as when he laid siege to a trout or grayling.

John was the embodiment of decency, a gentleman. All that and more, swam through my mind as words were said, hymns sang and lessons read.

Old friends were there; some I hadn’t seen for years. That in itself is a celebration. I hadn’t seen fly-tying legend Stewart Canham for years. There he was, and, as I found out subsequently, a neighbour in Dorset.

FF&FT’s own Neil Patterson and Peter Lapsely, too. Dear chums. My old friends, Pete Cockwill and Peter Gathercole, Tom Saville, Timoth Benn, Jack Simpson …

Then there were the words. Brian Clarke delivered one of the most moving tributes to a friend you would ever wish to hear. Brian, being the consummate wordsmith he is, articulately and appositely, delivered a glimpse of a man way beyond fly fishing. Brian gave us the essence of Goddard. It was rare, lovely, humorous and moving.

Bernard Cribbins read a Joyce Greenfall poem that I offer here. Bernard’s choice was just sublime, his delivery impeccable and emotional. 

Life Goes On, by Joyce Greenfell
If I should go before you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice.
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must: parting is hell,
But life goes on, so sing as well.


John, I will sing in the fact that I was so fortunate to have known you; and that you inspired us all to quest. Adieu, my friend.

Existing comments


The Goddard suspender buzzer...wow what a pattern..This has accounted for a large majority of not only my biggest trout but also the fittest and overwintered. It can be used with utter confidence. Then there is the G&H Sedge...wow..virtually never fails What a legend this man is! For those of us that cannot fish as frequently as we would like we can at least fill many gaps in our knowledge, from the generous contributions that JG has given us via his books and articles in FFFT Will be greatly missed

By zvaresk on 2013 01 26


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