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“On The Road” With Keith Mott

 

Looking back at London & South East Classic Club winners (Part 1.)

 

Over the last couple of months I have taken on the massive task of re-writing the stories of many of the winning London & South East Classic Club lofts that I have covered over its 26 years life time. I have made up lots of special montage photos to accompany the 25 articles series and that in its self was a massive job. This part one article is an introduction to the series and I will be submitting these special articles to the British Homing World at odd times in between my usual weekly stuff. The part two article is the full story of the coveted ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ and its winners. I hope my readers enjoy this look back at some of the history of this wonderful old Classic club!

 

The London & South East Classic Club celebrated it 25th anniversary in 2012 and through those 25 years since its formation by a small dedicated band of fanciers in 1987, the club had been steered to be the quality organization it was right up to the end in 2013 by some outstanding Presidents and Committee workers. London & South East Classic Club Presidents were: 1987: John Painter, 1991: Paul Eisinger, 1994: Alasdair Muir, 1996: John Tyerman: 1999: Ron Firman, 2006: Gordon Marsh, 2010: Keith Mott. 2013: Brian Doick. The main idea of forming the L&SECC in 1987 was to have a 550 miles south road race annual with early morning liberation, with the intention of clocking the winning pigeons on the day of liberation. I wasn’t around at the very beginning of the Classic, but many of the founder members are still very active in the sport and are still very successful. My first personal recognition of the L&SECC was in winter of 1986 when the late Colin Osman, the then editor of the ‘Racing Pigeon’ paper, invited me up to a big pigeon ‘moot’ held in a posh hotel in central London and if my memory serves me well, the ‘moot’ featured the late Frank Tasker and Dave Allan. The famous London black cab driver / pigeon fancier, Johnny Barnham, offered to take me up to the ‘smoke’ in his taxi cab and in the back of the cab with me that night was two late great friends of mine, Dickie Brooker of Claygate and Gerry Byrne of Kingston. All the conversation on the journey up to London was about the new club they were forming with some other fanciers, called the London & South East Classic Club. I can remember Dickie Brooker and Paul Eisinger touring all the shows in the winter of 1987 with a little stand, promoting the newly formed L&SECC and their action was a great boost to the Classic’s membership in the beginning, which eventually grew to over 600 members, making it one of the leading Classic clubs in the UK!

 

The London & South East Classic Club presented any pigeon that recorded three positions in the first fifty of the open result in the longest old bird race a ‘Merit Award’. These beautiful diplomas had the pigeon’s photo and full race details on, ready to be framed and hung on the wall at home. These wards were very hard to win and through the years only a small number pigeons have achieved it. One of the main trophies in the L&SECC was the ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ competed for each season in the Tours Yearling Derby and was won by the first nominated yearling on the open result. When the old London Columbarian Society disbanded a few years ago their magnificent array of trophies were donated to other clubs and the ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ was donated to the L&SECC by the Society. This wonderful trophy was solid gold and was insured for £5,000. In the forth coming series of Classic articles I have dedicated one too the coveted ‘Brooker Gold Cup’ winners and another to the Pau / Tarbes ‘Merit Award’ winners.

 

Two of the best pigeon racing administrator I’ve met in my 47 odd years in the sport was Peter & Christine Coles of Thakeham, secretaries of the London & South East Classic Club. I served on the Classic committee for all my time I was associated with the club and I remember we held our November committee meeting at the Leatherhead Social Club, and at the end of that meeting a ‘bomb shell’ letter was read out from the classic secretaries, Peter & Christine Coles. They had just returned from a three week holiday, visiting their son in the USA, and used the time to reassess their future with the Classic, and decided after 14 years in office, they would resign as classic secretaries at the AGM in the New Year. It was a disappointing surprise for the meeting, but seeing the situation from Peter’s side, he worked full time as a foreman bricklayer on site and spent all his spare time doing the L&SECC job, finding no time to do other things. Before Peter took office 14 years previous he was a premier widowhood racer in the Horsham area, winning many firsts in the Club and Federation, but since he had been doing the secretaries job, he told the committee he hadn’t won a race. The committee thanked Peter & Christine for all their brilliant work over the previous 14 years and wish them all the very best for the future! Peter Coles was rated by many as one of the best secretaries in the sport and was missed very much in the L&SECC.

 

On one cold winter’s night in the mid 1990’s my phone rang and it was good friend, John Tyerman, who at the time was the President of the London & South East Classic Club. After a few minutes ‘chewing the fat’ about the sport in general, Johnny asked me if I fancied joining the Classic’s convoying set up and assisting Doug Went, who at that time I considered to be one of the best convoyers in the country. Although it was a job I had in the back of my mind, that I would like to have a go at, I had to think about it long and hard, because at that time I was suffering badly with Pigeon Fancier’s Lung, and pigeon convoying was not the obvious thing to do. I decided that with a bit of common sense, using a mask and coat, and with all the feeding and watering being carried out on the outside of the Classic’s lorry, I should get away with it, and if it did affect me badly I could resign at the end of the season. I first started when Doug Went and I convoyed the first Classic of the 1997 season from Alencon, which had a record entry at that time of nearly 2,400 birds. Doug Went was one of the greats of convoying racing pigeons, with many years experience on the South and North roads and I must say, working with him for 18 months taught me a lot about being on the road with the pigeons. I took over as chief convoyer for the young bird Guernsey Classics in 1998 and I think the best liberation site we visited in the early days was Bordeaux. It is very spacious and has full facilities for the pigeons and convoyers. This site is the main lorry driver’s stopover car park in Bordeaux and has a truckers hotel and petrol station, so it’s easy to water the birds and for the convoyers to get a meal and shower. This site was very near to a river and, like Pau, was prone to early morning mist.

 

I must say that in my time as a convoyer, I’ve never seen a perfect pigeon transporter or been to a perfect liberation site. We don’t live in a perfect world and we can always find something to criticize! I personally like the old fashioned baskets, the like of which we used in the L&SECC for many years and were used by Catterells Pigeon Transport of Blackpool who served our sport so well for many years, before packing up about fifteen years ago. When Catterells ceased to trade they sold off their vehicles and the L&SECC purchased one of them, fully kitted out with wicker baskets. But time moves on and the baskets are now thought to be out of date! I was well aquatinted with the new transporter, as it was the 7.5 lorry that Gary Haslem and I used when Catterells transported the London Classic’s birds for a few seasons. In those days, Peter Coles was our hard working secretary and my good friend, Steve Appleby, was my race advisor, and they were two of the best at their pigeon job in the sport. When you are in France with the pigeons it’s nice to know you have a good team behind you at the home end. I had nine great years convoying and visited all the main race points in France, including Pau six times and Tarbes twice. I loved convoying the pigeons through France to places like Tours, Bordeaux and Tarbes, but it is very hard work, and is a young man’s game! I retired from convoying at the end of the 2010 season, as I thought at 60 years of age I was getting to old for the pressure and sleeping rough in Lorries.

   

   

 

I recently asked my good friend and a founder member, John Tyerman, about the early days of the L&SECC and he told me, ‘my recollections of early discussions about the possibility of the formation of the L&SECC go back to the many evenings spent  with  Dorking  club  members John Painter and Alasdair Muir in the  Royal Oak pub which was then in 1986, the HQ of the Dorking Columbarian Society. John Painter was in fact the prime mover in the early discussions to form a Classic Club to cater for the South East of England, but with the express proviso that we did not encroach onto the CSCFC or the Midlands National boundaries. Paul Eisinger had been to one of our Dorking shows and he too showed great enthusiasm about the possibility of forming a new Classic club. He in turn spoke to the late Dick Brooker and Gerry Byrne, and eventually an open meeting was advertised in the fancy press outlining the plans for the new Classic and inviting interested fanciers to an open meeting, if my memory serves me correctly, at the Sutton United FC in January 1987. This was chaired by Paul Eisinger and around 50 people turned up to discuss the possible formation of the new Classic. The meeting went well and following discussions it was clear that those present felt a new Club should be formed, to be called the London & South East Classic Club with it’s HQ at Sutton United Football Club. A Committee was formed and further adverts attracted members from Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire and the London area. John and Linda Tyerman took on the job as first Secretary with Paul Eisinger as Chairman, and a race programme was formulated for 1987. Funds were raised through pigeon sales and Catteralls of Blackpool agreed to convoy our Classic pigeons for £30 a basket, picking them up from the Sutton HQ. The first season was very successful and the Club attracted many more members keen to join the new Classic Club. Later a vehicle was purchased and racked out as a transporter with John Tyerman, Jack Baker, Colin Puddicombe, Dave Lurkins and Brian Buckland all being involved in early convoying duties. In later years, Doug Went and Keith Mott took on the main role of Convoyers and when funds became available a second hand transporter was purchased from Catteralls for £10k. This vehicle gave several years of good use and was later sold by Allan Still to a pigeon Club in the Middle East for £12k. So no loss incurred! We had some very good workers in the Club with Terry Smart being one of the early Secretaries, later followed by the late David May and his wife, Christine, then by Peter Coles and Terri Hoskin. Ian Crammond  stored the vehicle free of charge at his property in Fontwell, and also did a lot of fundraising  plus obtaining much early sponsorship, so without these hard working officials the Club would not have been the success it was for many years.  In addition many other fanciers have loyally served on the Committee for those 25 years, all of whom have been totally dedicated to ensuring the ongoing success of the L&SECC’.

 

That’s our article for this week and it marks the start of our 25 article series looking back at some of the history of the great London & South East Classic Club. I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

(www.keithmott.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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