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Brian Goodwin of Radstock.


Brian Goodwin has lived in London all his life and after some quite serious health problems decided to move to Radstock in Somerset a couple of years ago. The pigeons are now well settled in their new loft and are winning again at club and Federation level. Before his move down to the South West country, Brian Goodwin tried to kick his health problem into touch and enjoy his pigeon racing hobby. He installed the ETS system, but could only race four young bird races and scoring in all four. As in previous seasons Brian racing activities were short, but very sharp recording: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th Federation from the longest young bird race from Yelverton, setting a new Berkshire Federation record and 1st club 4th Federation Lulworth. Brian’s Federation winner was his good Maurice and Gregory Casaert pencil blue cock, ‘ETS’, and he was raced to the perch. Right behind ‘ETS’ on the trap to take 2nd Federation was the handsome blue cheq pied cock, ‘Claire’s Boy’, and he is a son of one of Brian’s favourite Federation winners, ‘My Claire’, and she was bred by Willy Thas. The Lulworth winner was the Litherland / Casaert blue pied cock, ‘Peanut Boy’, and he recorded 4th open in the strong Berkshire Federation.


While I was convoying for the London & South East Classic Club in 2008, my assistant for three of the old bird races was my good mate, Brian, and I must say he worked out of his skin for the three Classic races he covered with me that season. The life of a pigeon convoyer is a very hard one and Brian did a brilliant job as my assistant, in spite of his recent health problems. He told me, he really enjoyed the experience, especially going to Tarbes, but would never do it again! For many years now my good friend, Brian Goodwin, threaten to arrange some Continental loft visits for us to enjoy and finally the month of February 2008 saw us get on the Euro Tunnel train to kick off a two day pigeon trip of Belgium and Holland. The weather was freezing and to beat the traffic hold ups we caught the 03.00hrs train out of Dover. Brian has been commuting to the Continent and purchased the very best racing pigeons available in Belgium and Holland for the past 40 years, so he was the best man to arrange the trip. He is not a guy who messes around and in past years has purchase whole rounds of youngsters from the very top loft on the Continent, including Willy Thas, which have produced several Federation and Combine winners in recent seasons. Through the years he has been well known for racing the direct Emiel Deweerdt pigeons with brilliant success, but in recent seasons Brian has been over to Belgium and brought back several new strains, which have also performed very well. Our good mates, Darren Watson and Peter ‘Fat Wallet’ Mercer, came along for the trip and I must say they were a great laugh and their good company made the two days extra special. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been over the English Channel to Belgium and Holland, but had never visited pigeon lofts out there, apart from spending two days at the ‘Ponderosa’ in Holland, with Hans Eijerkamp and his family in the mid 1990’s. We visited several premier lofts including Schoors & DeWaele of Maldegram and Ronald Heesen of Laren.


I think in this great sport of ours, there are many fanciers who achieve success, but fancier who consistently achieve success over many years are not so common. One such loft that has achieved outstanding success at the highest level for well over 40 years is that of Brian Goodwin of Hanworth, near Feltham in Middlesex. As I previously stated in spite of one or two health problems, Brian, had a few races in his last couple of seasons in London and won the Berkshire Federation twice with old birds, winning ten of the thirteen old bird club races he competed in. One of his Federation winners was the blue chequer hen, ‘My Claire’, bred by Willy Thas of Melle, Belgium. These Thas pigeons are certainly racing well for the Goodwin loft and this game hen had a string of prizes, including 1st Federation Yelverton and 20th Federation Kingsdown. His other Federation winner, bred by Foxwood Lofts, was the chequer cock, ‘Mercer’, and he topped the Berkshire Federation from Yelverton.


The Goodwin loft bred many winners for other fanciers and the Charlie and John Cudmore partnership of the Bedfont club won the Federation twice, once with an old bird which also topped the UBI Combine and the other was a youngster. The young bird was a Willy Thas blue hen named, ‘Katie’, which won the Federation from Kingsdown and she was bred by Brian from direct Belgium stock birds. The partner’s old bird UBI Combine winner was a Willy Thas blue chequer hen named; ‘Christine’ and she won the combine from Fougeres in France, being sent sitting 12 day old eggs. She was also bred by Brian and on her build up to her Combine win she had a couple of inland races, recording 2nd club Kingsdown. The Cudmore’s had a brother to ‘Christine’, bred by Brian and he had been to Bergerac (450 miles) four times with the Classic and had been home four times on the day of liberation, flown natural.


When living in Hanworth, Brian raced in the very strong Spelthorne club and won many firsts every year, including 1st. Berkshire Federation four times in the last four seasons with young birds. When I asked Brian if he raced on the ‘dark’ system, he replied ‘I tried the system one year and didn’t like it, so race the young birds completely natural. They don’t look as good in the feather, but he finds the natural birds race just as well as those he put on the ‘darkness’. Brian’s champion blue cock, ‘The 22 Cock’, recorded 1st club, 1st Berkshire Federation, 2nd open UBI Combine Poole, 1st club, 4th. Berkshire Federation Wincanton and was the champion young bird in the Spelthorne club. Brian won the Berkshire Federation twice with young birds in the that season and the first was their little Casaert blue chequer cock, named ‘The Casaert Cock’, and he topped the Federation from Lulworth. Brian has had several outstanding racers from Maurice and Gregory Casaert who live at Nichin, on the Belgium / French border. The second Federation winner that season was bred by Brian’s good friend Freddy Vandheede of Zingem in Belgium and this handsome blue white flight cock, now called ‘Freddy’, won from Exeter. The Vandheede loft is outstanding on the Continent in middle distance racing, but Brian has had young birds off him every season since 2003 and they have been outstanding at all distances.


Through the years, Brian Goodwin has been well known for racing the Emiel Deweerdt pigeons with brilliant success, but in recent seasons Brian has been over to Belgium and brought back several new strains, which have also performed very well. In the 2006 season, Spelthorne club members, Don Herbert and Peter Mercer, won 1st and 2nd open UBI Combine Wadebridge and both these two young birds were bred from Brian’s Willy Thas stock birds. The Goodwin loft housed several Schoors – De Waele of Maidegem in Belgium stock birds which had bred some good winners since he imported them. Brian bred a blue pied cock from these birds, named ‘Bert’, for A. Hand & son of Feltham and he won 1st club, 1st Berkshire Federation, 4th open UBI Combine Saintes. The Hand partnership are relations of the late Feltham fancier, Bert Hand, who was well known many years ago for his good work for the Old Comrades Show. ‘Bert’ is a wonderful looking cock and was bred from a grand-son of the champion Schoors – De Waele blue white flight cock ‘Den Bonten Vincke’.


I have known Brian Goodwin for over 40 years and you couldn't ask to meet a nicer guy. This Middlesex pigeon racer won 1st open SMT Combine Bergerac (450 miles) in recent years, with this being his fourth 1st open Combine winner in 45 years in the sport. He has won the SMT Combine an incredible four times – from Penzance, Melle and the longest old bird Bergerac race (twice). Brian's latest winner was a little blue Belgian hen raced on the roundabout system having had several good Channel races before winning the very strong SMT Combine from Bergerac. Every now and again he has a trip to Belgium and brings back a few fancied young birds. The blue hen was one of these imports, being purchased at a little loft in Belgium, and he doesn't even know the breeder's name. The loft has won the Federation countless times through the years, with the highlights being - 1982: 1st open SMT Combine Melle (smash) 363 miles; 1983: 1st open SMT Combine Penzance 260 miles; 1989: 4th open SMT Combine Alencon on (young bird smash) 280 miles; 1991: 1st open SMT Combine Bergerac 454 miles (won the Combine by 43 minutes); 1996: 1st open SMT Combine Bergerac 456 miles. His biggest thrill in pigeon racing was when he won the Combine from Penzance in 1983 with his Deweerdt blue cheq cock called ‘The Crippled Cock’ that won the Combine after having half its foot bitten off by a dog and won three times 1st Federation in his great racing career.


Brian first became interested in pigeons at the age of 10, after following his big brother, David, to his friend's house in Isleworth, where they kept pigeons in the back of an old television. Young Brian started catching pigeons under iron railway bridges, with a torch, at night and built up his first flock. Some years later, after upgrading his team, he started racing in the very strong Isleworth Club and won from Exmouth (150 miles) with 196 birds competing. The late Johnny Sampson of Isleworth gave him a lot of good advice and help in those early days. He maintains he owes all his success to Johnny, as he told him how to feed, train and race his birds. Johnny gave him a pair of eggs which produced his winner, with the nest pair recording 1st and 2nd Club Exmouth. Brian used to enjoy showing his birds, winning Best in Show and Best Opposite Sex in the West Middlesex Federation Show in years gone by and he won the club's Show Shield, many times. There you have it, Brian Goodwin, a great fancier with a brilliant racing record!


Pat and Angela O’Sullivan of Enfield.


Pat O’Sullivan was born in Killmallock, County Limerick, Ireland in 1938 and had a few pigeons as a teenager, which he housed in a box hanging on the back wall of the family house. When I asked Pat about his first racing pigeons, he said, ‘our family moved to London in 1954 and I got a job in Islington, until I moved to Enfield in 1966, and it was at that time I got my first race birds, as we now had our first back garden. I obtained my first birds Mr. Gray of Walthamstow, who was leaving the sport and I also purchased his loft and clock. My first club was the Enfield Highway club, which was very strong at that time and I did quite well as a novice. In 1968 I sent to Thurso with the Gray pigeons and won 1st club, 36th open London NR Combine and in that same season won 21st open Combine with a young bird. At that time Went Brothers were the premier local fanciers, with their wonderful ‘Steptoe’ family and I wanted to emulate their brilliant performances in the London NR Combine. In those early days I was too impatient and rushed things too much, racing every bird in the loft every week. Patients are a major factor behind successful long distance pigeon racing’.


Pat recently had to pack up his brilliant loft of pigeons because of health problems, but had been a pigeon fancier for nearly 50 years and was mostly noted for his wonderful performances he had put up over many seasons, racing north road from Lerwick (588 miles). Pat was the proud owner of the famous blue hen, Champion ‘Limerick Lady’, and she flew Lerwick five times recording: 1st, 2nd, 5th and 19th open London North Road Combine, plus 1st, 1st, 10th, 14th section North Road Championship Club, 1st, 2nd North London Federation. She won an RPRA Award, 1st, 2nd, 4th club Berwick and 2nd club, 79th open NRCC Thurso. Pat recently told me, ‘‘Limerick Lady’ was a granddaughter of Champion ‘Braveheart’ and her preparation for the Lerwick race was two club races from Berwick and Perth. ‘Limerick Lady’ won the combine when she was eight years old and died in 2014 at the age of 15, and filled her last pair of eggs in 2012. She was my favourite pigeon and left some wonderful offspring to carry on the Lerwick winning dynasty for me’. She was the dam of several premier Lerwick racers including: ‘Celtic Pride’ who raced Lerwick (588 miles) four times winning of 4th, 9th, 11th, 14th open London NR Combine Lerwick, 3rd, 9th, 11th, 14th section NRCC, plus 4th section NRCC Perth, 7th section NRCC Dunbar and 13th section NRCC Thurso. Another wonderful daughter of ‘Limerick Lady’ was the blue hen, ‘Celtic Spirit’ and she won 1st club, 1st Federation, 1st London NR Combine, 1st section, 14th open NRCC Lerwick (1,674 birds). There was no birds’ home on the day of liberation and ‘Celtic Spirit’ was clocked at 13.00hrs next day, and won an RPRA Award. Pat says ‘Limerick Lady’ was part of a continuous line of 1st Combine winners going back to 1960 and her grandsire, Champion ‘Braveheart’, won 1st, 9th, 15th, 24th open London NR Combine, 1st Federation and 3rd section NRCC from Lerwick. ‘Braveheart’ was the grandson of ‘Bridget’s Boy’ winner of 1st open London NR Combine Berwick and he in turn was the great, great grandson of Champion ‘Steptoe’, the winner of 1st and 2nd open London NR Combine Thurso’. A wonderful family of long distance racers!


He moved into his present Enfield home, a nice Victorian style house with a 150ft garden, in 1979 and established his wonderful present day family of long distance racers. His main loft, which housed 24 pairs, was a three section 18ft x 9ft structure with a full length corridor and his young birds were housed in a four section 20ft x 6ft loft, with 80 perches. Pat told me, the birds were gives plenty of room and there was no overcrowding in his racing establishment. The yearling racers had their own 10ft x 6ft loft with 12 nest boxes, which was never full up, with plenty of spare nest sights. The stock birds had six nest boxes in a nice spacious 10ft x 6ft loft, which had two aviaries attached for the inmates to get out in the weather and enjoy a bath. The birds were raced on the natural system, with very little training as they flew well around home and got an open hole 24/7. Pat told me, ‘I pair up on St. Patrick’s Day (17th March) and I mostly rely on short racing to get them ‘match’ fit. The yearlings get about six training tosses from 15 miles and the old bird racers only have two or three short tosses. I feed a traditional mixture of peas, beans, maize and tares, and mix my own condition seed, which the birds love. Grit and minerals are available for the birds at all times’. Pat bred 40 young birds every season, plus a few latebreds and the early bred babies flew the whole young bird programme. They were fed the same as the old birds and were never put on the ‘dark’ system, racing natural to the perch. Pat was very keen on training the young birds and they got as many tosses as he can give them, and a few were selected to fly the NRCC Berwick Young Bird National. He had no views on eyesign, but liked to see a nice rich eye on a pigeon, and never showed his birds in the winter months.


Some of the top pigeons in the loft in recent seasons were: ‘The Saxa Vord Cock’ this handsome blue pied has a long list of premier performance, the best being: 4th section NRCC Saxa Vord (633 miles), 8th open LNRC Lerwick (588 miles), 16th open LNRC Lerwick, 10th section NRCC Lerwick, 16th section NRCC Lerwick, 1st club Stonehaven: ‘Lady Braveheart’ this game blue hen is a granddaughter of Champion ‘Braveheart’ and winner of: 11th open LNRC Lerwick (588 miles), 12th section NRCC Lerwick, 3rd section NRCC Saxa Vord (633 miles): ‘Lerwick Braveheart’ a grandson of Champion ‘Braveheart’ and winner of 11th open LNRC Lerwick (588 miles), 19th section NRCC Lerwick, 1st club Scotch Corner, 1st club Elgin, 2nd club Stonehaven, 2nd club Thurso (500 miles): ‘Celtic Lad’ a son of ‘Celtic Spirit’ and winner of 11th open LNRC Lerwick (588 miles), 12th section NRCC Lerwick, 13th section NRCC Thurso (500 miles), 28th section NRCC Perth, 1st club Stonehaven: The fantastic blue stock cock, ‘The Last Son Of Braveheart’ and the sire and grandsire of many premier 600 mile racers.


This very successful Enfield long distance loft of pigeons were based on Went Brother’s ‘Steptoe’ family and Frank Blackmore’s ‘Westcott’ pigeons, and went way back to the 1960’s and 1970’s. Pat brought in the odd cross and one very successful introduction was ‘The Siggers Hen’ and she was the dam of ‘Dream Maker’, winner of 1st open Combine Lerwick and ‘Rocky’, winner of 5th and 8th open Combine Lerwick. When I asked Pat about line breeding, he said, ‘yes I like to line breed, but not to close. I like to bring in the occasional cross; both ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Dream Maker’ were first time crosses, as was ‘Steptoe’. I am a great believer in late breds, but you must be very patient with them and I have produced some premier racers from late bred youngsters. My good hen, ‘Celtic Pride’ was bred from Champion ‘Limerick Lady’ when she returned from Lerwick in July and she went on to fly Lerwick four times for me. A wonderful late bred hen that was give good patience’s and schooled to great successes’. ‘Braveheart’ was a champion breeding cock and his sons and daughters have won 3rd, 3rd, 5th and 8th open London NR Combine and three of his children have bred three 1st open LNRC Lerwick winners. A fantastic record! He had several premier grandchildren including: ‘Irish Rose’ 2nd open LNRC Lerwick: ‘Celtic Warrior’ 2nd open LNRC Lerwick and ‘Joyce’ 3rd and 4th open LNRC Lerwick. His grandson, ‘Celtic Star’ won 1st section North Road Championship Club Thurso in the 2014 season, with only five birds clocked in the section in race time and won an RPRA Award.


The O’Sullivan loft won many premier prizes from shorter races over the years, but only the long distance achievements were really rated by Pat. He won: 1st open London NR Combine Lerwick four times, 1st Federation Lerwick seven times, 1st section NRCC seven times (four times Lerwick, twice Thurso, once Fraserborough) and 1st open London NR Combine Berwick. Pat won seven RPRA Awards, all for long distance races. He was very proud of the 117 diplomas he has won in the LNRC and in 2011 the NRCC organised a centenary race from Saxa Vord (634 miles), and clocked three of his four birds entered to record 2nd, 3rd, 4th section. In the 2013 season he sent eight birds to Lerwick and clocked seven to record 2nd, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th open London NR Combine. Pat told me, ‘before I began to send to Lerwick my ambition was to win 1st club Thurso and I won the first time I sent. In 2014 I won 1st section NRCC Thurso and that now makes 20 first, with no duplications. The 2014 season was my 20th year competing from Lerwick and I have clocked in from every race’. Pat done very little South Road racing, but won 58th open BICC Tarbes (583 miles) and clocked from Barcelona (717 miles) in the 2012 racing season. His first love was racing from Lerwick (588 miles)!


Pat had been retired from work for ten years and told me at the time that his family didn’t take an interest in his hobby, but would give help when needed. When he was younger he was much more active in the local club and only held the chairman’s post in later years. His biggest thrill was winning his first Combine win with over 1,000 fanciers and 10,000 birds competing. The same year Pat won the famous ‘Tommy Long Trophy’ in the London NR Combine for the best average in three old bird race, Berwick, Stonehaven and Thurso, with a combined birdage of 25,000 birds. Pat said, in those days winning the ‘Tommy Long Trophy’ was every fancier’s ambition and it was like winning the FA Cup in football. A most fantastic feeling, he says! In 1982 and 1983 he won all four of the Combine race in the club, three old bird and one young bird, quite a milestone achievement for the O’Sullivan loft. Pat thought the sport has progressed in recent years and with the widowhood system and special feeding, the birds were much faster, especially in Federation racing. The introduction of ETS has made the sport better, especially for the older and disabled fanciers. Pat maintained that people who are interest in long distance pigeon race are still very successful racing on the natural system these days, as on a long fly it all evens out on whatever the system. Pat told me, ‘I think Mark Bulled is our top local fancier. When he raced North Road with his late father years ago they were our best local fanciers and now Mark is racing South Road on his own his performances are fantastic. To win the National Flying Club from Tarbes, flying in to Harlow was unbelievable’.


Well that’s the Pat O’Sullivan story and I hope my readers have enjoyed this article on this great fancier! As I previously stated, Pat had to leave the sport recently and clear his wonderful team of pigeons because of bad health. I can be contacted with an pigeon matters on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com


TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)          


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