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The Learning Curve

With Gary Dodd Birkenhead

Sat in the “hot bed” that is Holy Cross gardens Birkenhead on the Wirral peninsular resides a small loft which is starting to build a huge reputation. Centred amidst some fifteen or so other lofts within the allotment area is Gary Dodd, a self-confessed pigeon enthusiast. A mild mannered quietly spoken man who has spent thirty years in this illustrious hobby of ours. Racing his pigeons into an area where if your bird turns twice, or backs off the landing trap once you are beat.

 

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GARY DODD holding GEORGE 36 Cock RPRA Award Winner

 

Gary Dodd has the “Midas” touch with regard to sprinting (Gary’s personal speciality) and has honed his skills with his pigeons over the many winters studying what others have learned through their own experiences. Gary leaves nothing to chance and examines plenty of information from literature to DVD’s or just straight talking with other fanciers of the same ilk as Gary.

 

During my visit he was going over a DVD that was about the throat theory, Gary is sure this works along with the eye orientation that was first initiated and shown in the USA by Jim Jenner in one of his films “secrets of champions”. Quick orientation and motivation for Gary are a must in his pigeons. Gary is convinced that along with quick eye orientation and the throat theory you can judge your pigeons to a degree prior to the best judge which is the basket.

 

The rapid fire trapping that is required when racing into this hotbed would probably spoil a day’s racing for some. As soon as the birds arrive Gary explains “you know your fate”, there is no hiding place, if you get the first pigeon onto the gardens you can then carry your hope forward to the strike at the club in the hope of success, however if you are not in the first bunch you know your position before you get to the club house.

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Gary Dodd with his number one Stock Hen from S & B Goulding Liverpool

 

Flying and racing his pigeon in the strong Birkenhead Club Gary can be confident that if he can win this extremely competitive club the bird is capable of doing damage within the federation and invariably this is true most weeks. Flying for in excess of £200 weekly the Birkenhead club is by far the largest within its federation, the North Wirral Federation who has these days aligned itself with the West Cheshire Federation forming the West Cheshire and North Wirral Amalgamation which can now boast upwards of three thousand pigeons during the young bird season. “On a personal note it’s not only refreshing but a great achievement for the two federations to amalgamate the way they have and both sets of committee’s should be congratulated and even applauded in coming together to secure and give a further competitive edge to pigeon racing onto the Wirral peninsular”.

 

Gary Dodd started with his pigeons in 1986 and was grateful at the time to Billy Odlum.

Gary had been given pigeons by Billy (now in his eighties) to break in (or out depending where you are from) and race. Gary’s previous loft was at the Arrow Park Allotment’s, the pigeons were broken out at their new lofts and Gary joined the then (and now defunct) Woodchurch HS winning the inland averages at his first attempt.

 

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The racing lofts of Gary Dodd (L to R Old bird loft and young bird loft)

 

Moving to these allotments Gary joined the Birkenhead club some sixteen years since.

Today’s pigeons are a far cry from those that Gary started with some thirty years ago, the systems are different and the methods employed have been honed and sharpened, but as Gary stated they need to be to stay near the top in this club and federation. Today’s pigeons, systems and methods eminate from various fanciers and the different experiences that Gary has gone through over the seasons to arrive where he is today.

 

Today’s pigeons that inhabit these lofts are a blend of different pigeons that Gary has acquired from various sources and friends. Gary classes Steve Milner (The S & B Goulding Partnership Liverpool) as a good friend and he has been able to get pigeons from Steve as far back as 2009, Initially buying some of Steve’s pigeons from a sale and also since having birds direct, these birds have been responsible for birds taking the first three in the federation in an unfavourable North West Wind and included his good “slatey cock” that not only won four club races but also bred eight individual club winners, he was also responsible for pigeons who won multiple minor prize cards.

 

Gary has also introduced pigeons from various other fanciers such as Harry Crowther from the North East of England, Harry’s birds have had an influence here especially when crossed and have influenced a lot of Gary’s results emanating with his 2015 RPRA award winner. Gary is not scared to travel to find pigeons and another fancier who is prominent within Gary’s loft is Paul Carter of Yorkshire, his pigeons have also made an impression when introduced; these birds again were responsible for prize winners along with breeding me yet another RPRA award winner.

 

Pigeons are one thing and friends are another, a close friend and ally to this loft is Eddie Butcher (Central Lofts) who races his pigeons in Dagenham Essex, this is another loft that has had a profound impact on Gary’s loft especially with regard to young bird racing, helping Gary to complete an average double by winning both his club and federation young bird averages in 2015.

 

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Typical racer housed at the Dodd lofts

 

It has been no secret that Gary has dedicated his spare time to finding pigeons and learning the basics of how to handle treat and race different pigeons from different lofts and back grounds. Always learning is a phrase that comes across very strongly when talking and listening to Gary Dodd on his ideas and methods. You have to understand what you have, get them fit, keep them healthy and motivate them.

 

Gary’s loft is formatted in such a way that it allows him to operate his system. He races cocks and hens, his old bird race team normally amounting to no more than twenty pigeons, with his young bird team totalling usually around thirty youngsters. The old bird loft is configured to enable Gary to remove both cocks and hens from the nest box section, this depriving both sexes of their box, this is one of the key motivators for Gary.

 

A couple of fancier’s one close and one not so close have influenced Gary and his methods. Alan Pollard of Uddingston Glasgow made a huge impression on Gary on a visit he made to the Glasgow loft. Gary was visiting with a view to buying some Jansen Van Loons, but Gary had missed the boat somewhat as most of the birds that were for sale had been sold relatively quickly. Gary recalls that the disappointment of missing the birds was to be replaced with some priceless knowledge, Gary stayed in Glasgow that evening and sat with Alan that evening talking pigeons “I Learned more in that one night listening to Alan Pollard than I had learned in years in the sport” quite a statement coming from this fancier.

 

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Gary with one of his stars in his main racing section

 

 

 

Hens section to the left and the cocks section on the right

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Roy Parkinson (Roy & Jean Parkinson partnership Birkenhead HS) is another fancier who has brought Gary to the fore with his motivation. “Everything I know, use, and learned about flying pigeons on the widowhood system I have learned from RoyGary recalls. Roy was the first person to teach me how to drill the cocks and get them on the system long before racing commences. Gary’s cocks will remain quiet and docile until the nest bowls are turned over thus triggering the signal that the hens would arrive in the section shortly. This system although not unique to Gary is rare throughout the locality and is executed with some impact in his races. With his sights firmly set on eight inland races for the old bird season and eight inland races for the young bird season this is more than enough racing Gary insists as the channel racing around this area at the moment is not that great with regard to returns and hold overs etc.

 

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Cocks in their boxe

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The young bird racing loft of Gary Dodd

 

Young bird racing is quite straight forward at this loft. The youngsters are darkened and trained they will be raced natural for the first four races, with the sexes separated for the last four races. Only thirty youngsters are housed and raced at this loft and with some devastating affect winning both club and federation young bird averages in 2015.

 

This small set up (with regards to numbers of pigeons housed) sits in a corner of an area of allotments which contains some fifteen different set ups “you know your fate early in this place“is home to a diverse strain of pigeon that has been moulded and bred to suit the way that Gary fly’s, although paying tribute to his fellow fanciers who have helped with experience, information and of course the main ingredient the pigeons, Gary is humble enough not to mention himself. Probably the main ingredient that has cemented these birds to perform as a team is the man himself Gary Dodd although he forgets to mention this when talking about his birds.

 

The thirty year journey that this particular fancier has taken has been one of consistent and improving performances that have now brought him to the fore of sprinting locally at club level and also at federation and Amal level. His hobby has been his main interest and on reflection on bad traps, bad returns and some losses Gary is quite pragmatic when he says “it’s only pigeons” a phrase that a lot more of us fanciers should adopt or think about when participating within this hobby. Gary is thankful to those he has mentioned as they have assisted in his journey within this sport or as he put it they have each been part of the arc that formed my learning curve.

 

Birkenhead Homing Society 2016 Race Results

 

Pos

Member

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

Total Prize

Replica cash

Pools

KO

Gold Ring

Nom

Total

1st

CASEY & RAINBOW

3

3

5

5

7

£72.00

£15.00

£342.13

£44.00

 

 

£473.13

2nd

MR & MRS HURST

3

2

2

 

2

£44.00

£15.00

£592.70

 

£100.00

£15.00

£766.70

2nd

GARY DODD

 

3

4

5

3

£44.00

 

£312.42

£45.00

 

 

£401.42

3rd

GARY ATHERTON & SON

3

1

2

1

1

£40.00

£15.00

£508.05

 

 

 

£563.05

3rd

VINCENT LEVY

1

4

1

2

1

£40.00

£5.00

£280.49

 

 

 

£325.49

4th

R & J PARKINSON

3

1

 

 

2

£30.00

£15.00

£516.04

 

 

 

£561.04

4th

T. WALTON & SONS

2

1

1

2

 

£30.00

£10.00

£473.44

 

£300.00

 

£813.44

5th

T. ANDERTON & SON

1

2

1

1

1

£26.00

£5.00

£320.19

 

£500.00

 

£851.19

6th

BRIAN HUGHES

2

 

1

1

2

£22.00

£10.00

£109.32

 

 

 

£141.32

7th

YATES & ROGERS

1

 

 

2

 

£12.00

£5.00

£153.78

 

 

 

£170.78

8th

NEVILLE SHAKESHAFT

 

1

1

 

 

£10.00

 

£53.12

 

 

 

£63.12

9th

PAUL STEWART

1

 

 

 

 

£8.00

£5.00

£66.89

 

 

 

£79.89

10th

P.M. JONES

 

1

 

 

 

£6.00

 

£131.54

 

£300.00

£44.00

£481.54

10th

MILNE & DAVIS

 

1

 

 

 

£6.00

 

£107.02

 

 

 

£113.02

11th

R. SCARISBRICK & SONS

 

 

1

 

 

£4.00

 

 

 

£100.00

 

£104.00

11th

PHIL DIXON & SON

 

 

1

 

 

£4.00

 

 

 

 

 

£4.00

12th

E. WOOD & SON

 

 

 

1

 

£2.00

 

 

 

 

 

£2.00

13th

J & K STENHOUSE

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

£16.40

 

 

 

£16.40

 

W.ODLUM & SON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

£8.88

 

£500.00

 

£508.88

 

J.F.MOORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

£44.41

 

 

 

£44.41

 

Average Winners 2016

G. DODD WINS OLD BIRD AVERAGES

CASEY & RAINBOW WINS CHANNEL AVERAGES

V. LEVY WINS YOUNG BIRD AVERAGES

 

Secretary-Treasurer Mike Gough

  

Birkenhead 2016 Show Results

 

1st Show Judged by Alan Atkinson

1st  Joe Johnston £85, 2nd  Mark Jones £15, 3rd  Eddie Wood £10, 4th Eddie Wood,

Peter Jones, Peter Jones, M Gough, J Roberts

 

2nd Show Judged by Robbie Thomas

1st  Steve Farragher £75, 2nd  Peter Jones £15, 3rd  Joe Johnston £10, 4th  Joe Johnston,     Tony Anderton, Mark Jones, Mark Jones, Peter Jones

 

3rd Show Judged by Wesley Ellis

1st Jason Roberts £85, 2nd Kenny Stenhouse £15, 3rd Roy Parkinson £10,

4th Roy Parkinson, Peter Jones, Roy Sandland, Milne & Davis, Vinny Levy

 

4th Show Judged by Will Saggers

1st Joe Johnston £75, 2nd P & P Jones £15, 3rd Jason Roberts £10, 4th Steve Farragher, Mark Jones, Milne & Davis, Tony Anderton, Jo Johnston

 

5th Show Judged by Brian V.Jones

1st Jimmy Darcy £50,  2nd Tony Anderton £50,  3rd Joe Johnston £15,

4th Joe Johnston £10,  Jimmy Darcy,Joe Johnston, Kenny Stenhouse, Kenny Stenhouse

 

6th Show Judged by Alan Shinton

1st Kenny Stenhouse £100,  2nd Kenny Stenhouse £15,  3rd Alan Brown £10,

4th T.Walton & Sons, Gary Dodd, Gary Dodd, Brian Little, Steve Farragher.

 

7th Show Judged by Tommy Hayes

1st Jimmy Darcy £75, 2nd Jimmy Darcy £15, 3rd Milne & Davis £10, 4th Jimmy Darcy,

T Walton & Sons, Jimmy Darcy, Kenny Stenhouse, Mr & Mrs Hurst.

 

Congratulations to all the prize winner and a big thanks to all the judges for their help, it has been a great success, thanks again Mike Gough.

  

Please forward all results and or information to Alan Shinton alan@crest-enviro.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B.I.F.S.

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strays@rpra.org