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Keith Mott writes about winning fanciers past & present


OF 1987

The last S.M.T. Combine old bird race of 1986 was the Blue Riband race from Begerac 450 miles, and it saw Vince Durrant of Godalming win 1st S.M.T. Combine with 2,439 birds taking part. The Combine winner was a handsome two year old Louella bred mealy cock 'The 62 Cock' which was raced on the Widowhood system.

For the first S.M.T. Combine race of 1987 members sent 3,929 birds to Rennes 220 miles, and Vince won the Combine for the second time with a red chequer 'The 13 Cock', a son of his Bergerac Combine winner, ' The 62 Cock'. He races the majority of his birds on the Natural system because he likes hens for the distance races, especially on a hard day. He keeps a few Widowhood cocks to try and be competitive in the short, sprint races. The majority of Vince's pigeons have come from Ron & Chris Cox of Farncombe and his wife's grandfather Stan Edgington. He has introduced a pair of Vanhees from Louella Pigeon World, the cock being the Bergerac Combine winner 'The 62 Cock'. He likes the old birds to race as far as possible, Bergerac, Pau National and Palamos with B.B.C.

Because of industrial action at some English ports, the S.M.T. Combine Nantes (1) race was diverted inland to Wadebridge, where members sent 4,452 birds. The race turned out to be a family affair, with the Ware family of Isleworth winning 1st & 2nd Combine, in fact, George Ware said the two birds came together, it was just a case of quickest on the trap won the Combine. John Ware won 1st Combine with his yearling Krauth blue cock 'The 31 Cock'. John started racing pigeons in the Hounslow H.S. in 1950 with the Brutons from Jim Biss. His birds were mainly Krauths, which were housed in a 16ft loft. He is a pensioner, and is greatly helped with the management of the birds by his wife. John's nephew, George Ware, was 2nd Combine with his good three year old 'Blue Boy' which had previously won 17th S.M.T. Combine Nantes in 1985.

The third S.M.T. race was from Rennes (2) when members entered 4,449 birds. This race was won by the Sunningdale 'Ace' Fred Elliott. His winning bird was a yearling dark pied Busschaert Widowhood cock called 'Euro Bird' which was bred by Fred's good friend Mervyn Patt of Devon. The Elliott team is mainly the Burger and Busschaert strains, which have won the Federation countless times for Fred. John & Rose Wills of Feltham won 1st Lourdes B.I.C.C. 567 miles, in 1987 with their good Burger blue pied hen 'Rose's Choice' and she was bred by Fred Elliott.

Second Combine from Rennes was won by Eric Matthews of Ashford, recording his second West Middlesex Federation winner of 1987, lifting the Old Bird Average and Continental Average in the Federation. Eric's Rennes winner was his two year old blue Cattrysse Widowhood cock 'Zug' which is a grandson of his fine cock 'Solitaire', three times 1st Federation. Eric enjoyed a great season Channel racing in 1987 winning 1st club, 1st Federation, 2nd Combine Rennes; 1st club, 6th Federation Nantes; 1st club (only bird on the day), 2nd Federation Marmande.

The Cancer Research Amal Nantes event was the Combine's fourth race of the 1987 programme and this race is fast becoming one of the top races in the Channel racing calender, the 1987 event saw 5,420 birds entered. Because of adverse weather on the Channel the convoy was held over until the Monday when the third Cancer Research Amal race got underway at 09.00am in a south wind. In spite of the light following wind returns were very patchy, with some members not clocking. The eventual winner was the popular Major Honey of Mitcham, with his yearling gay pied hen '45', bred by Danny Moulton from his Cattrysse bloodlines. The Major had been in the sport 35 years but said he has won very few races, he just enjoys his pigeons. He clocked a bird on the day from the Pau National in 1964, but was very upset when a cat killed the pigeon the following week. He was loft manager for the late, great Alf Pays of 1st Nantes N.F.C. fame for seven years and the Major has won several good races in his time, including 1st Federation Avranches YB in 1978.

Second Amalgamation was won by Barry & Pat Mackett of Surbiton with their good two year old blue hen 'Tricia'. This great hen was bred from the very best John Pepper of Beckenham bloodlines and has scored several times on the Channel including Bergerac in 1986.

For many years the S.M.T. Combine's longest old bird race was flown from Bergerac 450 miles, but in 1987 it was flown from Marmande about 30 miles further than Bergerac. Members sent 2,852 birds for this Blue Riband race and although leading pigeons recorded over 1200 y.p.m., day birds were very few and far between. Well known Knaphill fancier the late John Furness, won the Combine with his handsome two year old Burger pied cock 'Serenade'. This bird won several good positions including 2nd club Nantes in 1987. 'Serenade' was raced on Widowhood and was bred from the cream of the Furness Burgers including 'Melody' and 'Bernadette'. The Furness pigeons won the Federation countless times, but in 1977 from the young bird event, he created a record by winning the first 13 positions in the very strong Surrey Federation, with 2,437 birds competing. He sent 26 birds and his heart must have been in his mouth as 16 dropped on the loft together and he managed to clock 13 to set a fantastic record. The Furness loft housed three main families, Hansennes, Kirkpatricks and Burger's. The Hansenne pigeons being best for long distances and hard days. The birds were raced on Widowhood and Natural with a lot of attention paid to correct feeding and training.

The Combine's 1987 young bird event was from Wadebridge but after being held over until the Monday because of fog, the convoy was returned home.

Back in the 1980’s, the then secretary of the R.P.R.A. London Region, Vic Farrant, organizised some Cancer Reseach Amalgamation races for the south of England Combines, including the S.M.T. Combine, and next week we are going to take a look at some of the winning pigeons. I can be contacted on telephone number: 01372 463480.





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