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“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT

 

‘Show Racer World’ – Number 7

 

Mr. & Mrs. Alan Spedding of Cumbria

 

I must start by saying, it was great to see my ol’ mate, Alan Spedding, up there again on the ‘specials’ table, winning Reserve Best in Show at the 2017 BHW Blackpool Show with a beautiful Blue Chequer. It was on a ‘Many Miles with Mott’ video tour of Cumbria and Scotland that I visited the Show Racer loft of Alan Spedding, soon after he had won Best in Show at the Old Comrades Show for the second time, and I must say, I have always found him to be a very nice guy. He started up with the Show Racers in 1988, taking over the birds when his relation, Donald Spedding packed up, and previous to that Alan raced pigeon with some good success. Donald was a professional singer and had to sell his team of birds to peruse his career in entertainment, and when he had his sale; Alan purchased two pairs back to start him self set up. Donald Spedding was very successful with his wonderful team of birds and is rated by some as one of the best Show Racer fanciers ever in the U.K. Alan told me; Donald was a brilliant stock man and had a natural gift of knowing which pigeon to pair together, to produce winners. He still spends a lot of time at Alan’s loft and his advice has help a lot with their recent success in the National shows.

 

Alan is a member of a big Show Racer society in the north west of England and it has lofts as far apart as Blackburn and Carlisle. As well as winning Best in Show twice at the Old Comrades, the Spedding loft has won B.I.S. twice at the Louella Classic and had a winning pigeon on the top table every year it was staged. The first pigeon I handled on my loft visit was the champion blue chequer hen that had won Best in Show at the Old Comrades Show a few weeks before. To say she was beautiful would be an under statement, she was perfection! She was a latebred, being out of a half brother, half sister mating and won the Old Comrades in her first season showing. Her dam, a blue chequer hen, was the nest mate to the champion blue chequer cock, ‘Mr. T’, winner of Best in Show at the Old Comrades in 1994. All these National show winners were bred down from Alan’s famous blue cock, ‘The Irish Blue Cock’, bred by Harry Spratt of Ireland.

 

Alan Spedding only keeps about 15 pairs of Show Racers and has no real stock birds, as he likes show all his birds. He pairs them up on 14th. February, to give them three or four weeks rest after the B.H.W. Blackpool Show and takes two rounds of them all. The premier birds in the loft are bred from more and ‘The Irish Blue Cock’ and ‘Mr. T’ might produce ten youngsters in one season. They are fed different corn at different times of the year, ‘four seasons’ when breeding, ‘moulting’ mixture and ‘best racing’ mixture during the show season. The loft is nice and big, being very spacious, with roomy wire flights. I noticed on my visit that the doweled nest box fronts had no landing flaps and it was furnished with lots of standard box perches. The Speddings don’t use any type of deep litter on the loft floors, but fresh clean shavings are scattered over the perches and in the nest boxes. Alan cleans the loft out at 6am every day before going to work and his wife feeds and cleans out again at mid-day. He says his birds are fed at lunch time, because in the winter months, he thinks the birds don’t feed right by electric light, and tend to loose body. The partners breed 50 young birds every year and these are graded before the show season starts. Alan told me, they have a hit list, two hits and they are gone! He usually starts showing with about 15 young birds and has been very successful on this method.

 

The next pigeon with looked at on our visit to the loft in Cumbria was the Old Comrades champion of 1994, blue chequer cock, ‘Mr. T’. This wonderful pigeon was five years old at the time and Alan said he had two more show seasons left in him. He won firsts at the Old Comrades three years on the trot and won Best in Show in 1994. Alan had a dream several nights on the trot, about a week before the Old Comrades and in this dream ‘Mr. T’, won B.I.S. at the Old Comrades Show. On penning his birds in the N.E.C. the following Friday, he told all the show lads about his dream and they all had a good laugh. Can you imagine the looks of amazement on their face on the Saturday when they walked in to the show arena and saw ‘Mr. T’ had won Best in Show! Really spooky! We also looked at the blue cock, ‘The Irish Cock’, and Alan told me he was the backbone of his loft, being a champion breeder. This cock was bred by Harry Sprat in Ireland and gifted to Donald Spedding in 1987, as a squeaker. As well being a ‘gold mine’ at stock, he won many firsts in the pen, including B.I.S. at York.

 

Alan told me there is no secret to his outstanding success, but worked to a regular routine and tried to stick to it. When he raced pigeons he raced on the widowhood system and works his Show Racers on a similar brake down system. The day after the show they are broke down and then built up with corn and seeds to the next show. He never over shows the birds and likes at least two weeks between shows. They get regular baths in the flights, with them have one as near to the show as possible and they get multi-vits in the water three days before the show, as part of their build up.

 

Donald Spedding of Cleator Moor

 

Donald Spedding was one of only a very few fanciers, who I’ve never met, but we finally met a couple of years ago, when we both judged at the BHW Blackpool Show and I had previously heard about his brilliant talent with the Show Racer from the fanciers I’ve met over the years. I recently had a phone call from Don congratulating me on the current Show Racer series of articles and I took advantage of the call, and asked him if he fancied being part number seven. Don is only part time in the sport these days, being a busy professional singer, but spends as much time as he can at the Show Racer loft of his cousin, Alan, who is a very successful fancier in his own right.

 

Don was born in Cleator, Cumbria and his father and uncle raced pigeons for many years. He first became interested in the Show Racers during his National Service days in Oswestry and used to visit an old fancier named Mr. Simpson, and he had some lovely birds. After he finished his Army Service, he watched the Classic Show results and saw that at that time Bill Meader of London was the top man, so wrote of to him for a pair of birds. Bill, ever willing to help, sent him a blue chequer cock and a blue white flight hen. The hen won for Don and he was ecstatic! He had many birds over the years from Bill Meader and visited his loft in Leytonstone many times. Don told me, Bill was a brilliant show man, who taught him a lot about showing and breeding winners, and remains a great friend to this day. He was lucky to live near Keswick, where the great H. E. Dalzell lived and obtained quite a few birds off this wonderful fancier’s, winning blue chequer family. Harold Dalzell had won Best in Show at the G.Y.A. twice, at what Donald says, was the height of the showing era in this country.

 

Donald had his small loft in Wath Blow at this time and was visited by many fanciers from all over the U.K. He said, too many to mention, but people like Bill Meader came to see the birds and later when he moved to his present address a young Jimmy Fitzpatrick come down from Scotland many times to visit. In Don’s opinion, ‘wee’ Jimmy has developed into one of the best, if not the best, Show Racer fancier from north of the border!

 

The Spedding loft housed only ten pairs of birds, which were paired up on February 14th and he was always very selective with the pigeons, always looking for something to get rid of. Don told me, that he only had a small loft, so could only keep a small team and kept a family of blue chequers, which he enhanced by introducing a cock from Harry Spratt of Belfast. He called this cock, ‘Harry’, and he was bred down from pigeon he obtained from Don Spedding and a dark hen from Graham Rougvie. This champion breeding cock produced many fantastic pigeons to win at National and Classic shows. Don also obtained a young blue cock he fancied from Harry Spratt and he went on to become the famous breeding cock, ‘Irish Blue Cock’, and he is the sire of Alan Speddings loft today. Donald told me he had many great years showing his birds, but one of his biggest thrills was the year he bred his champion mealy hen, ‘Lady Di’. She won seven Classic shows in succession as a young bird, then went on to be Best in Show (1,300 birds) at the G.Y.A. as a yearling. At the G.Y.A. she beat Bill Meader’s, Champion ‘Princess Asti’, winner of 30 firsts and many times Best in Show. Don says his greatest thrill was showing in the 1970’s and 80’s when showing pigeons was at it’s height in this country. He won Best in Show at the mighty G.Y.A. Show seven times! The two great fanciers, Harold Dalzell and George Greenshield, had both won it twice, so it was a wonderful thrill to win it seven times.

 

Don did inbreed a lot in those days. He gave the birds special attention when moulting, with Linseed and plenty of baths to help the new feathers burst out. He told me he has met many lovely people showing his pigeons through the years, some now gone and some still with us. People like Ron and June McCarthy, still going strong after many years of success at the very highest level, Tony Baugh, Danny Ferguson and Russell Davidson, who he has known for many years. Keith Foley of Bideford still keeps in touch with Don. He says, John Robilliard of Cornwall was a great show man many years ago and there he is still there setting records at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show a couple of seasons ago. He maintains the number of premier shows has dwindled in recent years and the camaraderie doesn’t seem to be in the sport, like it used to be years ago, although the quality of the birds and fanciers is still very high. Don still goes to the Blackpool Show, enjoying the day out, and the pigeon chat with his fancier friends. He says, his cousin, Alan and his wife, are now showing the Spedding pigeons with outstanding success, having won Best in Show at the ‘Old Comrades’ Show twice. The two ‘Old Comrades’ champions were both typical Spedding blue chequers in the form of, ‘Mr. T’ and ‘The Old Comrades Hen’, and both were bred down from the ‘Irish Blue Cock’. Don still goes down to the loft regularly to see the birds and enjoys his limited time with them. There you have it, Donald Spedding, the champion Show Racer!

 

That’s it for this week! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on keithmott1@virginmedia.com

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

 (www.keithmott.com).

 

 

 

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