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The NFC ‘Certificate of Merit’ Award

By John Clements


Almost everything in nature moves in cycles, be its the seasons - black spots on the sun or celestial orbits of every kind. The fitness or form of pigeons also is cyclical by nature. Form goes up and form goes down - the secret in pigeons is an attempt to regulate this form so that it coincides at a highpoint with the race date  you  have in mind. Ideally form should be on the way up when basketing so that if there happens to be a ‘hold over’ the form of the pigeons are  still improving while they are still in the basket.


No Control of the Weather

Of course all this is subject to things which we have little or no control - the weather being one of them. Still,  it is a good policy to have an ideal objective in mind so that we can set  the ideal situation against the shortcomings we encounter during preparation. Rarely does everything go smoothly and fits neatly into place all the time. It's rather like election campaigns - political parties campaigning for votes are acutely aware of the unexpected event  that could throw their carefully drawn hopes and plans out of the window. Pigeon racing is a bit like that. We have to cope with the unexpected as best we can.



Again - thinking of political parties and their similarity to pigeon racing consistency in both is highly prized - If a party  leader can win three elections  for their respective parties as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair did for their respective parties they are thought to be really good leaders. Even today many years after their period in office there are ‘Thatcherites’  and ‘Blairites’, but politics was so much simpler in those days when there was only two main parties. The same is true in pigeons - pigeon racing was once simpler than it is now, once upon a time we all thought in terms only of long distance pigeons - now there are sprint men, middle distance men, and long distance fanciers.   Nevertheless there is always something we all want; a ‘champion pigeon’.   if a particular individual pigeon can perform repeated  top performances this repeat performance  is regarded as being evidence of a superior pigeon - in short it is an authentic ‘Champion’.

‘Red Cloud’  a 2016 Certificate of Merit Award winner for Alwyn Hill flown into Section ‘I’  and clocked three times in the top 200 ‘Open’ places from Tarbes.


‘Red Cloud’

I enclose a picture of Alwyn Hill's 2016 NFC ‘Certificate of Merit’  pigeon ‘Red Cloud’ ;   an undoubted ‘Champion’ . This inspired award  first thought of by Tony Cowan is designed to find authentic ‘Champions’.  Tony tells me comments of the time he first broached the Cert of Merit idea -  many were of the opinion that there would be hundreds of pigeons that would qualify. How wrong they were. Only 32 pigeons have ever managed it . Less than the number of years it has been run.   It is not necessarily for outright winning but more for absolute consistency. Alwyn Hill’s 2016 Certificate pigeon called ‘Red Cloud’ has flown  in the NFC’s extreme distance event three times  - he was one of only two champions to qualify for a certificate of merit in 2016.  Any weak link - any doubt about fitness - any doubt about  ability - will be found in a pigeon asked to fly 676 miles on three separate occasions. . ‘Red Cloud’ met  these conditions. His Tarbes performances were :-

2014   156th open NFC Tarbes

2015   52nd open NFC  Tarbes

2016   92nd open NFC Tarbes

Tarbes distance to the Hill loft is 676 miles 1652 yards

Those in the know; those who are aware of consistency being of a higher  order  than a single top prize, look for these pigeons for breeding for it is such pigeons that can be the foundation of a future dynasty and because of this they are often commercially undervalued but for those who do value such things,  they are beyond  price.   Some NFC Sections have still yet to achieve a Certificate of Merit winner while other larger Sections may have earned five or more since the  the award began. The NFC Certificate of Merit has been going for 37 years. It started  in 1979 and has set the the standard ever since.







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