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Parkinson L.J.

 

Memories, yes, we all have them but on this occasion I am referring to an article called “Pigeons Past And Present” by Owen J Vaggers on page 32 of the BHW dated March 24th 2017. The article was about George Gregory of Knypersley and it was the photos that caught my eye. I remember going to compile this article and it was through Dave McGuiness that the contact was made. Dave was a big friend of George so made the arrangements for the visit. Chris Knowles also knew George very well and I believe had one or two of George’s pigeons. Chris met George through the Busschaerts that he wanted off Chris after he moved from Winsford and later Chris had some of the Wildermeersch off George. They were a really good team at Georges and what amused me that he had blue’s in one section and chequers in the other. The other pigeons that George later had were the Wildermeersch lines via Tony McDonough and the excellent fanciers Walters & Broadhurst, who I also reported on when they were the ones to beat in the Midlands.

 

Most of the information a scribe uses comes their way through topical subjects of the day and in 2001 I wrote an article called “Undermining the Sport” but since then have things really changed. This was the article and things have not really changed much to make a difference.

 

I was talking to a fancier some months ago about a problem within the sport and the thought came up to address the problem and see what reaction we get. This is not directed at anyone but has been brought about via the letters page and notes made over a period of time. Over the last few months I have asked the question "What percentage of people within the sport do you think are cheating"? For obvious reasons, I am not going to put names to comments passed but rest assured that if it is in these notes the comment has been passed. That question has brought a few raised eyebrows and responses that I never really expected and the general feeling is that there are about 10% of competitors in pigeon racing who CHEAT. When we use the word CHEAT we are referring to anything that is done within the sport that in any other sport would incur a strong penalty. In fact, you would not get away with what happens in pigeon racing in any other sport. For many years clocks were believed to be a source of cheating and probably still are today because we still use antiquated clocks in the UK. The major problem is that there are still many good Toulet puncturing clocks about that keep good time and are genuinely used by fanciers within the sport. But with one of these clocks there is still a doubt in the minds of many fanciers and the only way that is going to change is to drastically reduce the time allowed either fast or slow. I would assume that if fanciers had the choice they would use the latest clocks on the market because as time goes by more up to date equipment is always going to be an improvement on the old. You will always hear rumours about one clock or another that can be manipulated within the sport, it’s more a case of some are easier than others to those who are so minded. I like the new electronic clocking systems because they would help those within the sport who are not so fortunate either health wise or in fact have any kind of disability. Those are the fanciers who we should be thinking of and should be helped as much as possible even if financed by the Blackpool Show, all they have to do is prove that they are a worthy cause. We have given away for far too long, it is now time to look after our own and I believe that this new clocking system would be a great help to many. Going back to the Toulet puncture clocks, remember my notes from a couple of weeks ago when I reported in an article the story from a Sandbach a fancier. He was telling me what they used to do when he was a lad, if they did that then imagine what can be done today.

 

Drugs are obviously the biggest form of cheating, I have heard the term used that they are "Gaining an advantage". No matter how you look at it using a banned substance is cheating no matter what the competition. The RPRA have tried to resolve the issue through random testing but because of costs involved it has failed to make a significant impact on the sport, not only that it is proving the samples are correctly done. Years ago, there were many substances used on the Continent but because of the easy access they are now in the UK but stopping the use of such drugs is near impossible. The eye drops were a favourite at one time and the more watchful fancier could no doubt see it in the pigeons on marking night. The eye drops are good for one eye cold but then because of the content were found to improve the performance of the pigeons racing capabilities and control the moult in young birds. Many fanciers have been accused of using such illegal substances but thinking and proving are two different issues when it comes to banning someone from the sport. If an athlete is caught using them then they are banned from competition but the people who produce these drugs are getting ahead of the game. For the games that are presently in progress in Australia competitors are being randomly tested for the new drugs that have been previously unable to be detected. Unconfirmed reports are that there were 7.5% caught on the Continent during last season, I have asked a few questions that may lead to the facts for a future article. One thing you can be sure of in Australia someone somewhere will be using something in the hope that they do not get caught because the rewards are very high indeed. Whether we like it or not drugs are a part of sport and they will never be stopped unless everyone who won a prize of no matter what was tested. There are good solicitors about so proving anything is getting harder and harder because of technicalities that always arise in such cases. Can we beat drugs, I believe we can by sheer hard work but when it comes to a hobby there are only a limited amount who are prepared to put sufficient work in to reach their goal? The problem is getting people to stand up and be counted.

 

One response I got when I asked the question that I totally agree with is that there are about 10% who can successfully use drugs with the racing pigeon but there are a lot more who have tried and failed. The use of drugs will in the long term have an adverse effect on the pigeons that will be the downfall of a loft and are not worth anyone dabbling into if they are genuine fanciers. In the questionnaire that I now put out I have added the question "If random drugs tests were carried out on your pigeons, would it reveal any substance, illegal or otherwise". I am awaiting the response from fanciers. I obviously would not expect anyone to admit to it but I would like to know if there would be a substance which does not necessarily mean drugs. We have recently seen the case in Ireland where one of the most respected fanciers in the sport stepped over the line, not with drugs I might add. When temptation is there some people will never be able to resist taking advantage and I am not saying it with all clubs but where there are a few members only, temptation is always going to be there. This raises the question of the smaller clubs, there are some good small clubs but on the other hand there are those where there have been many suspect performances over the years. Some of those suspected are no doubt genuine but there will always be a doubt. Any cheating in any club is always down to the rest of the members because they are the ones who put the temptation there in the first place. Over the year’s fanciers who have put up good performances with good pigeons have quietly had the finger pointed at them but are genuine, that will never stop. So, what do we do to try to avert any temptation in the smaller clubs, one way would be to put a starter point of members attending marking and clock nights. Then in the season if that point was not consistently met the club be refused RPRA membership for the following year. Standards would have to be raised which would effectively raise the standard of competition within the clubs. No matter what the size of the club you can always get someone trying to cheat but you must remember that the greater the competing membership the lesser the chance of something happening. We know that there should be so many fanciers there for marking etc. but from the stories we hear that does not always happen, that is an area that desperately needs addressing for the better of the sport. Where there are large amounts of money involved there is always going to be doubt in the minds of those who stick to the straight and narrow and race pigeons because they are genuine fanciers. There are still many fanciers about who are quite happy to go along at their own pace sending the pigeons every week for their own personal enjoyment. Those are the fanciers who keep the sport going because not everyone is always going to be a winner, no matter what the competition is. Why not let me have your thoughts on the subject and we can give a few thoughts out to the rest of the readers. There will not be any names used regarding info received and published.

 

I remember writing the article and the response was more or less none existent, so what does that tell me??? Have things really changed, not but we have got the ETS system now in use and most fanciers have come to terms with this move forward. I say most because there are still fanciers about who are still not prepared to accept moving forward with the ETS system which is a shame because it has improved pigeon racing. Why has it improved the sport, well I have talked to many people who have it and they tell me their pigeons are nearly always more relaxed and less stressed when they return from the races, which has to be a positive. Drugs, yes, they are still with us but when anyone is even remotely caught but getting a conviction is another matter, who do we blame for that?? Cheating in the clubs where there are not the people policing it properly is still happening and I have to say I don’t totally blame the person cheating I also blame the officials and members for not making sure things are not done unless there are sufficient people present during all marking of pigeons. If I was so minded when I was secretary of the Mid Cheshire Fed I could have had a field day. Why, because I was left on my own waiting for Catteralls to collect the birds at all times of the night and I had every chance to collect a rubber or two to put in the clock on race day. However, I could not even be tempted to do that, if I cannot win a prize fairly then I don’t want it at all. Will these things ever change, I very much doubt it because where there is money and prestige to be gained someone somewhere will seek to take advantage of what is on offer.

 Belgium trip

I like to include a photo and this week I include one that was taken on a trip to Belgium probably 20yrs ago at the lofts of Gaby Vandenabeele who is always on the phone. I suppose some of the photos I use may have been used since the trip but they make you feel better.

 

Les J Parkinson. 11 Rushton Drive,

Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0NJ.

01606836036 Mobile 07871701585.

Email elimar908@btinternet.com

web site www.elimarpigeons.com

northwestclassicclub@btinternet.com

gcolr@btinternet.com

Chris photos

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