From The Chair By Chris Williams
Well where to start, we have lovely weather one minute then a certain “Mr Barlow” from Blackpool arrives at your door and from then on the sun takes a holiday, only joking Mick it was good to see you and Jan again but can we have the sun back please Ha Ha !
Prior to the change in the weather while taking refuge from the heat, which I don’t mind at all as long as I can go in an out which is quite easy when you are a pigeon fancier because “the path to the loft is one well-travelled” Or at least it should be, but as we know for some fanciers such a simple thing isn’t always easy, As life has taught me there is a world of difference between laziness and a genuine reason for not being physically able to do certain things, the beauty of pigeon racing is that it is a truly universal sport and if you are open minded there is always a way in which anyone can compete in and above all enjoy pigeons I saw a brilliant comic strip on the pigeon social media sight “Everything We Love about Racing pigeons” which illustrated perfectly that it isn’t about how much you physically can or cannot do but how much thought and care you put into how you do it.
Winning isn’t everything, yes we like to win races after all that is the sports primary objective but there is always the bigger picture to consider. What about the sports “forgotten fanciers”, the men and women who love their birds but for whatever reason don’t get the recognition or reward they perhaps should. Much attention in the pigeon racing press is given to winners, while I am not against giving credit to such individuals because in any sport there must be winners and losers that being said we must also remember to give credit to the fanciers who may not be well known for winning races but treasure the pigeon sport and its values of friendship and most importantly sportsmanship. A vital attribute for any true fancier !
According to The Colins English dictionary Sportsmanship is behaviour and attitudes that show respect for the rules of a game and for the other players. Such individuals are the foundation of the racing pigeon fancy as they just keep their pigeons and race them for sheer pleasure. In many ways these individuals are of a greater importance to it than the Champions, for without them the champions would not exist as there would be no pigeon racing at all. As all clubs be they Nationals, Classics, or local federations need sportsmen, individuals who turn up with their birds and return with their clock regardless of the outcome of the result and their position week after week.
I was speaking to a group of fancier friends who fit perfectly what it is that I am trying to convey to you, these fanciers are like clockwork no pun intended as week after week they bring their birds and are always full of cheer and congratulations for the previous weeks winner. To me these are real pigeon fanciers! I say this as a mark of respect and not ridicule because in my eyes pigeon fanciers of this ilk are the very vital heart and backbone of pigeon racing, for if there is no heart or backbone in the sport then how can it stand? Now that might sound daft coming from someone whose legs are not exactly towers of strength, but seriously for a moment let me ask what good is it for the “big names” to have “perfect pigeons” in their lofts and no one to compete with? In the words of St Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”, this is something to which the ordinary back garden fancier can relate to as every week they look forward to and love each race just for its own sake but often fall foul of the publicity machine which in my view for what it worth , is wrong. You see dear reader both in this world and great sport ours we all need each other, for no man is an island. Just as if there were no acorns the mightiest of Oaks wouldn’t exist. Pigeon racing too needs the small back garden fancier regardless of the fact if they win races or not, as I am willing to bet that nine out of ten times it is also these individuals who do the lions share of the work on marking and clock checking nights, while others will sit back saying “I wouldn’t do it like that”.
Now let me make it crystal clear before anyone jumps at me and says what do you do Mr Williams my answer is what little I can, because there are always those who could offer a lot and don’t even offer a little, and it has probably been thus since the first pigeons began to race competitively despite what some would have us believe. But then again life outside pigeon sport is like that isn’t it and has been as they say in certain parts of the world: Since God was a lad, and even then He was trying to show the world a different way and many know how that went!
World History is full of examples where small actions of seemingly “insignificant individuals” have changed the world for the better and in the pigeon racing fraternity it is the ordinary fancier that has the power to change and improve things for the better, the question is are we willing to try?
The same is true of the racing aspect of our sport because those that try are the ones who really enjoy the sport and if you enjoy what you do then you have already won and are a Champion!
For me part of the magic of our majestic sport is that if you keep persevering with a positive attitude your day will come.
The weekend of the 19th of June was one that many fanciers across the UK would wish to forget and yet on such a dark day there were still glimmers of hope to be found that lifted the human spirit, and dispersed both the metaphorical and in lot of cases, physical black clouds. Such a thing happened for our Club St Leonards & St Ives RPC. When 7 members sent 118 birds to Upper Heyford with the Dorset federation. The birds were liberated at 09:30 hrs in a light East wind. Leading the way home this week is the popular Alan “Disco Dancer” Johnson, taking 1st club 3rd Dorset Federation with a yearling check cock on a velocity of 1122.68. Regular readers of my British Homing world notes may recall from a previous article that last spring Alan was really unwell and in a lot of pain waiting for a hip replacement struggling to get around the loft, as he wished to do. The operation had been delayed due to covid, several fanciers within the federation gifted Alan youngsters to help him back on his feet this cock bird was gifted to Alan as a youngster by Brian Crutcher and has already won a 4th club 17th this year. It is always good to see a fellow clubmate succeed but it is all the nicer when it is one of the stalwarts of the club and fed who just races their birds for the sheer joy . “If Carlsberg did pigeon clubs” then they would all have a “disco dancer! Taking the next 5 positions on the sheet scoring 7th, 8th 9th 12th 17th fed is Mr Stuart Laws with a 2yr check hen attaining a velocity of 922.24, followed by a 2yr check pied hen on 922.15, next was a yrl blue pied cock doing 921.60, a yrl blue cock on 918.81 and last but by no means least a 2yr check hen this time on the going 897.20, unfortunately at the time of writing I have no further details of Stuarts birds.
Until next time, Good luck & please enjoy your pigeons.
A cartoon that I saw on “everything we love about racing pigeons which shows even the smallest action can have a big impact !
When getting the race crates ready at St Leonards and St Ives, many hands make light work, Ray Burdett does the lifting while Richard Batty hoovers the mats.
From left to right - Dad, Mum and Mick Barlow, I kept our “secrets” under my hat !