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Jim Emerton chats to


of Cleethorpes

1st Section 12th Open BICC Barcelona International 844 miles - July 2014

Marco & Cath Wilson's Barcelona cock

2014: 1st North Section 12th Open BICC Barcelona 844 miles

2013: 11th Section K 235th Open NFC Tarbes Grand National 712 miles

2012: 22nd Section K 380th Open NFC Tarbes Grand National

2012: 24th Section E 184th Open BBC Bordeaux 598 miles

2010: 20th Section K 440th Open NFC Tarbes Grand National

Plus other prizes


How does it feel to time on the third day at 844 miles from the Barcelona International, for you and your wife?

It was a great feeling to know that our single entry had survived that extreme distance unscathed. My wife called me and said ‘got him!’ When we have a return from any of the Channel races, Cath is more excited than I am.


You have won the section in the BICC, and the Jim Emerton Trophy. Will you enjoy attending the presentation?

We are certainly looking forward to it.


Have you named your champion, and please detail his preparation and previous form?

Yes, WOII after my son’s recent promotion. He was sent to Barcelona feeding a large young bird and paired to two hens covering three nest boxes. He had not been racing – this was his first race – but he had been trained all over: Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Wigan and Catterick and so on.


Are you to use him at stud in your strain?

No, he’ll go again next year.


What does the Barcelona International mean to you and your wife?

It is the most important and prestigious race that we have competed in.


How did you develop your interest in long distance/marathon racing?

I’ve always been keen on the Channel, from my early days in Paignton winning Luxembourg twice with a wonderful grizzle hen bred by the late George Bunker, one of the greatest distance men in Devon.


Who do you admire in the sport and describe your early influences?

I admire the great distance and sprint men of the sport. In my opinion it is hard preparation to win a short race compared to a longer one and the time and effort that sprint men put in is admirable. We are open hole and give odd chucks and that’s pretty much it. Dave Gardener is probably the most consistent all round flyer in our Federation. Rolly Russling is one of the men to beat as are Fox & Horsefall. Without Paul Horsefall, our clock chairman, we would struggle. Our first bird at our first attempt in Tarbes was bred by Dave Gardener from his Van Camp/Van Hee family. Another Tarbes bird clocked was bred by Bob Pickering from his Franklin family. Bob also bred a yearling hen that won 1st Open Cannapville for us from his top Channel cock, ‘Little Miracle’.

My earlier influences were Roger Desmet Mathys, whom I have known since my army days. Others are the great Johann Schroeder, auctioneer of Germany, De-Baere Bros, Willequett and August Taverne of Belgium. I remember Eddy Merckx’s bicycle in a glass case in his lounge above the fireplace! I admire many top distance men and enjoy competing against them as a small team fancier.


Are you keen on wildlife?

Yes, I am very keen on wildlife and spend many hours with my dogs out on Robbo’s farm.


How do you organise the loft chores?

The lofts are cleaned every Saturday. Cath looks after the daily checks. She lines everything in newspaper – the floors and boxes – and waters daily and cleans the bath regularly.


Is Barcelona your proudest time in pigeons?

No, my proudest moment was when we nearly won the YB National and the late Adam Drinkall sent me a text message from his hospital bed, congratulating us on our 1st Section K 4th Open victory, a very proud moment and something we will never forget. This young bird was bred by John Beckinsdale of Wales, one of the first pair of Silver Shadows he sent us.


Are you a small back garden loft?

Yes, and we treat this as a hobby. We do not use antibiotics or medicines. Young birds must build up their own immune systems. This is the key to developing a family or type, particularly when my average number of young birds has never topped 20. I do not, because of past experiences, bring in multiple YBs from various lofts and new introductions, regardless, should be separated and monitored prior to bringing them into the team. To reiterate, I have never used antibiotics or treatments other than spot worker or vitamins. I have very few problems with disease in my small team. I do however advocate Tricho capsules on return from racing.


Do you have a family of birds and what are the origins?

My family is based on Franklin-Mathys-Old-Delbar with the odd cross of Padfield brought in recently from John Beckinsdale, and Daryl Lumpstone Mathys, so a bit of a mixture.


Do you use any special foods or supplements to hit form?

Gerry Plus and barley, Versele Laga Extreme Distance and loads of maize.


Do you prefer International racing, and is it the best available?

Any racing really, providing it’s over the water.


Are you interested in pigeon books?

Not really, but I do like the Van Hee writings.


Have you future ambitions in the sport?

To compete again from Barcelona and Agen.


How can you improve the big picture of pigeon racing?

Improvements mean change and people don’t like change. The sport seems to be going to syndicate type racing. Whereas this can be a good thing in, for example, International racing or to compete in the mighty Up North Combine and National racing, the small team set-up can still be a force to be reckoned with.


Have you any other interests outside the hobby?

My family and Lambrettas. My son-in-laws also have them, so we can enjoy the ‘ride-outs’ and building and restoring them together.


Will you submit your Barcelona performance for all the available awards?

No, it was just nice to get him home and win a cup and card.


Finally, thanks for contributing to this interview and congratulations once again on your epic success. Is there anything else you wish to add?

I’d just like to say to fanciers, you do not need big numbers – just a few quality birds and a bit of help from your wife and, most of all, make sure you enjoy it all year round.


Elimar - August 2014