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Jon Walls of Eastbourne talking to Jim Emmerton.

 

John Walls

 

1 Please tell us all about yourself Jon.

My name is Jon Walls, I now race pigeons in Eastbourne, East Sussex, following a 25 year absence from the sport due to ill health, we currently fly what is termed South Road, although because of where we live it’s actually west, unfortunately without a lot of distance, unless we fly across the pond that is. I used to live and race from Brighton in Sussex, against some of the best flyers on the South Coast, back then I flew north road, with the longest race point then was Thurso for our Federation which was 554 miles to my loft, at the tail end of the 90’s I developed a heart condition that led to my first heart attack, now six more heart attacks later and two spells in hospital for open heart surgery, I feel fit enough to start again, the rest, as they say, is history.

2 What prompted you to keep pigeons and/or other livestock?

2) As a lad I was brought up in a tough family on two of the toughest council estates in Brighton, namely Moulscoomb then Whitehawk, I am one of a family of nine so there wasn’t a lot of money around, so I asked my dad if I could keep this couple of collared doves that had decided to befriend me, dad agreed, so I went to the local greengrocer and scrounged a couple of old wooden orange boxes and made a dove cote, after a few days I went to feed them, someone had wrung their necks and left them in the dove cote for me to find, I was heartbroken, but it strengthened my resolve to keep pigeons, I got my first loft, we’ll old shed, in 1982 after befriended local fancier Tommy Turner, who died in the last few years, God bless you Tom, I listened to the fanciers of the day, John Tripp, Kenny Abbott, John Palmer, Johnny Bonwick, the list is endless, and my love for the sport was ingrained in my heart.

 

3 Why do you love the idea of pigeon racing?

3) Well what’s not to like, or love, it is something that gives back what you put in, the birds all have their very own personality, add to that the fact that every time you hatch a youngster, you believe it’s to be your future champion, to watch them grow from a tiny squab to a beautiful athlete of the sky, amazing.

4 What is your ambition in the sport, Barcelona Int?

4) I started up again this year, not really knowing what I wanted, but very quickly I realised that I wanted to race the distances, and ultimately I want to time a bird in race time from Barcelona, I’ve been very, very lucky that good fanciers have gifted me some very good birds, such as Jan Aardens, Padfields, Janssen and my favourite breed, Kirkpatrick, I do also have a few others such as Busschaerts, Meuleman but I have been given these by very good flyers,, I have also purchased a few.

5 Did you like my books and others or DVDS??

5) I have to be honest Jim, you sir are a key factor in my wanting to fly the Barcelona race, I enjoy a good read, and after reading your books, it has given me some excellent insight into how to go about the system.

6 Where will you source your stock??

6) As I said earlier, I have been extremely lucky, the people in this sport are still as great as they ever were, unfortunately I don’t have the money being on a disability pension to pay fortunes for a bird, I’d like to think that one day, my birds will be good enough to repay some of the kindness that has been afforded to me, having said that, I am always on the lookout for good distance blood, I wouldn’t mind laying my hands on a kit of your strain Jim, cheeky eh.

 

7 How will you prepare your race candidates??

7) I train my birds quite hard before the season starts to take any winter excess fat off them, although now I will be flying distance, I will certainly be leaving a bit of fat on them, I think my real answer to this question is, I will continue to read and listen to the people that have done, and bought the proverbial tee shirt, then go from there, I am a Millennium novice after done and said all, I will let the birds tell me when they are ready, having said that, young birds will have to have flown/raced at least three 100 milers, yearlings will have to have flown 400 miles, then two year old upwards will go all the way, it’s harsh, but they have to earn their perch, that’s the plan anyway.

8 What is your mental approach to the game?

8) Being a former local football player, and having managed five different clubs winning 21 trophies over an eight year period, I am quite competitive and won’t suffer slackers, although I feel it is just as important to acknowledge those that beat me, learn off them, and try and beat them next time.

9 Have you any sporting hero’s?

9) Well I have many sporting heroes mainly in football, but also in boxing and tennis as I enjoyed those sports as a young man also, people like Bobby Robson, Sir Alf Ramsey, Alan Mullery, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Cassius Clay, Manni Paciou, Giant Haystacks, there’s way to many, in the pigeon world, I have heroes such as Johnny Hojka, Tracy Andrew, Tommy Turner, and lots, lots more.

10 Who are the key Barcelona men, and why?

10) I have to say you Jim as you are the inspiration for my way of thinking now, but you cannot mention the distance racing without mentioning Lee and Kevin Buddle, Mark Gilbert and many more, these are the fanciers I can currently only dream of becoming.

11. Do you believe in good sportsmanship today.?

11) personally, all sports are nothing without good sportsmanship, there will always be those that believe they have a god given right to win everything in sight, and if they don’t, they feel they have been done down, I prefer to accept and be magnanimous in defeat, and would hope that those I compete against would do the same to me, I remember my old dad saying to me once, “it’s good to give” I would like to think that if ever I have birds worth anything, I would give or exchange them.

12 How can we improve the sport?

12) I think the obvious answer to this one is to introduce new blood into the sport, I would like to see complete transparency in the sport, too many people still think pigeon fanciers have this secret society, it’s important to listen and learn from other.

13 Do you like British pigeons over Continentals?

13) To be honest, I don’t really have a preference on this one, the birds should answer the question themselves, obviously it’s great to see the British guys doing well, but ultimately, it’s about the birds.

14 How does a marathon pigeon navigate?

14) Haha the age old question, the obvious answer has to be the love of home, is it the sun, is it the earth’s magnetic field, personally my thoughts are that each bird is completely different, sitting eggs, feeding a small youngster, feeding a large youngster, I don’t really know, it’s like the question a lad once asked his dad, he asked “dad how do I understand a woman” his dad replied, “son, why do they make a pizza round, deliver it in a square box, and eat it in triangles, when you can work out that one, then son, you will understand a woman” I suppose how a pigeon homes is just the same, and ladies, please don’t take that as an insult, it is meant as a compliment.

15 Do you love nature and the wild?

15) I love all nature, to the extent the only creature I will kill is a wasp, and that’s because they hate me, I even love hawks and falcons, in the right places, but it makes me so angry when I see what humans are doing to this planet, we blame everything else, but the bible said that man will bring about his own destruction, and that is what is happening, hopefully it will be realised before it’s too late.


16 Are you focused and dedicated to tasks?

16) I remember something else my old dad said to me when I was a very young lad, he said “Son, just remember everything in life comes at a price, that price is, you will only get out of life, what you put in” I have always stood by that statement, and I always will, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

17 Do you think that birds are over-priced?

17) That’s a difficult one, I suppose birds are worth whatever the seller asks, and whatever the buyer is prepared to pay, I do think the pigeon sport nowadays is very money orientated, hence why I prefer to give a bird rather than sell it, as I’ve already said, I have had some excellent help from fanciers such as Sue Gore, Dave Gash, Fred Hutton, Peter Mawby, and especially Micky Browne who has become a very good friend, I hope they don’t mind me mentioning them

 

18 Is empathy with birds important?

18) I love spending time with my birds, and I’d like to think they like spending time with me also, hopefully that will go toward them wanting to bust a gut to get home, they will certainly need that bit extra something to want to fly all that way.

19 Will you aim for the top?

19) I think everyone in every sport, should aim for the top, another one of my favourite quotes from my dad was “son, if you aim for the moon in everything you do, if you don’t quite make it, you will still be among the stars” that is so true, I hate losing, but that doesn’t make me a bad loser, after this first season back, only flying young birds, I am still a novice, hopefully that will change next season, if not, it certainly won’t be for the lack of trying.

20 More comments on any aspect of the sport

20) I will be joining the BICC in November, for me this is the best club for flying nationally and internationally, I will continue to fly in my club, the Eastbourne and District Homing Society as we have a fantastic atmosphere within our club, I will continue to try and encourage some younger blood to join our sport, I intend doing a few more loft visits next year, and go to the shows where I can to meet likeminded people and pick their brains, and to close, I would say to anybody and everybody, good luck, and hopefully one day I will be able to say a big thank you to all those people that have helped me restart, and welcome to all those that haven’t, God speed.

 

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