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Lion Brewery Mid-week Club. 25-01-18

“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.

 

‘Lion Brewery’ Mid-Week Club.

 

The ‘Lion Brewery’ Midweek club held its big annual open show at the pub in Ash the day after Boxing Day and in spite of very bad weather conditions on the day, the event was very well supported, with 150 birds being entered. Steve Howard, Richard Nicholas and me judged the four classes, which were all handled. The quality of the birds entered in the show were first class and it was very refreshing to handle the pigeons, with most open shows these days being through the wires, but this was not surprising, as whether it be racing or showing at the ‘Lion Brewery’, it’s always premier quality. Russ and Liz O’Cuneff had a shocking journey driving in snow from their home in Tilbury in Essex to compete in the show, but all the long holdups on the motorways were worth it in the end, as their entered some super pigeons and recorded ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Best Opposite Sex’. Russ and Liz won my class, the old cocks, with a beautiful red chequer and the ‘Best in Show’ was won by Stevie Howard’s old hen’s winner, a wonderful blue chequer hen. Bill Young won the young hens class and I’ve known Bill for many years, and it was a pleasurer to see him again at the ‘Lion Brewery’. He stewarded for me at several National shows a few years back, including the RPRA Southern Region and the NEHU South Shields Show, and we went to Blackpool together. He is on several of my YouTube films and didn’t know it until I told him at the ‘Lion Brewery’ show. Bill has been missing from the sport for a while because of personal problems, but back in good form now. A great bloke! Derek Human won several cards, including first in the young cocks class. Several generations of the Human family have raced pigeons with outstanding success in the Hampshire area for many years. My ol’ friend, Derek Human, must have one of the best racing records in Classic and National in the south of England, including 1st open NFC Tarbes. His son, Adrian, has had brilliant success racing pigeons at his own address and of course raced his famous champion, ‘Ransdean Reliance’, to his loft in Petersfield.

 

The club has a ‘Ladies Choice’ special prize at the open show, when a lady from the pub’s patronage looks at the birds and picks out her favourite out and this year it was judged by a six year old girl named Selena French. Selena is very interested in the pigeons and visits the pub on race marking days with her family. She did a great job and picked a young cock owned by Ron Gammage to be her fancied pigeon on the day. The club’s ‘Show Trophy’ was won by Mike Armitage and Ron Gammage was runner-up. The class winner were: Old Cocks: 1st Russ & Liz O’Cuneff, 2nd Russ & Liz O’Cuneff, 3rd Ron Gammage, 4th Malcolm Gaiter, 5th Bob Oakey, 6th Derek Human, 7th Russell Blundell, 8th Matt Brazil: Old Hens: 1st Russ & Liz O’Cuneff, 2nd Mike Armitage, 3rd Malcolm Gaiter, 4th Mike Armitage, 5th Russ & Liz O’Cuneff, 6th Ron Gammage, 7th Mike Armitage, 8th Les Penycate: Young Cocks: 1st Derek Human, 2nd Mike Armitage, 3rd Mike Armitage, 4th Derek Human, 5th Russell Blundell, 6th Les Penycate, 7th Mike Armitage, 8th Bill Carr: Young Hens: 1st Bill Young, 2nd Ron Gammage, 3rd Malcolm Gaiter, 4th Derek Human, 5th Malcolm Gaiter, 6th Mike Armitage, 7th Bill Young, 8th Derek Human.

   

 

The ‘Lion Brewery’ Midweek Club at Ash had another successful season racing out of Hamworthy in 2017 and one of the main plus’s for me with the ‘Lion Brewery’ Midweek Club is they race mark on Wednesday morning for all Wednesday inland races and the birds can have a good 100 miles fly for only 70p each and not have a night in the basket. Great training for the long distance events! This 100 miles mid-week racing is proving to be a great help in getting pigeons ready for the main National and Classic events and ‘Lion Brewery’ members have figured high in several open results in the 2017 season. The subs are £25.00 and all young fancier under 18 years of age don’t pay any sub, but pay the full price for their birdage each week. That’s another plus for the ‘Lion Brewery’ Midweek Club in my reasoning, is having Mick Worsfold as club secretary! Mick Worsfold is a ‘straight down the line’; no nonsense sort of gentleman and everything is spot on with him. We have been good friends for many years and must say it’s great to have him at the helm! Mick races his pigeons in partnership with his wife, Pauline, at their home in Bisley and their record Channel racing over the years is second to none, winning 1st open Combine (twice), 1st open British Barcelona Club (twice) and 1st open London & South East Classic Club (twice).

   

 

I had a chat with my ol’ mate Mick Worsfold at the winter open show and he outlined some news of the clubs 2018 season. The Mid-Week marks on a Wednesday morning (09.00 hrs to 11.00hrs) for an afternoon race from Hamworthy and in recent seasons has adopted a rule very good rule: ‘Bad weather, no mark, no race, no holdover and no unnecessary expense’. Mick tells me the club had a great season and only missed a few races through bad weather, but most clubs had some difficult races, especially the young birds. He is correct when he says, ‘I don’t know why, but sometimes we have bad races on good days, which is pretty general in our sport today. One major problem racing from Hamworthy is the birds having to fly right across the full length of the New Forest and the Sparrow Hawk and Peregrine Falcon attacks they have to suffer. It is very possible that we will have to come out of Hamworthy for the 2018 racing season and race further inland from Blandford’. Since Mick took over as the club secretary six years ago the ‘Lion Brewery’ membership has risen from about 12 member to well over 50 members and on some races the birdage has been over 450 birds in the 2017 racing season. The birds are convoyed with the Bromley Mid-Week pigeons by Tom Firmanger on one of the BICC transports and the birds are liberated at about 14.30hrs.

 

Mike and Lyndsey Armitage were the club’s premier prize winners in 2017, winning 9 x 1st, 2 x 2nd and 5 x 3rd. The ‘Lion Brewery’ Mid-Week Club has its HQ at the ‘Lion Brewery’ PH set in the wonderful Surrey countryside at Ash and it is common knowledge that the pub has been run for the last 38 years by the premier pigeon racing partnership of Mike and Lyndsay Armitage, who have won both the BICC and L&SECC in recent seasons. The pub is a marking station for the NFC and BICC, and has been the home of the ‘Lion Brewery’ Mid-Week Club since 1980. Mike’s wife, Lyndsay, has a great interest in the pigeons and works very hard for all the clubs who are based at the pub in Ash. The very smart lofts are sited in the pub garden and Lyndsay has her loft of all white racing pigeon in the garden of the Armitage’s house next door to the ‘Lion Brewery’. Other ‘Lion Brewery’ top prize winners were: John Waldron (two firsts), Mick & Pauline Worsfold (one first), Joe Deville (one first), Paul Johnson & Partner (two firsts), Russell Ayres (one first), Reynolds & Hack, J. Eastwood, Farr & Woodhouse, George Burgess and Gerry Francis. The 2017 average winners were: Old Bird Average Mike Armitage 1455: Young Bird Average John Waldron 1748: Combine Average Mike Armitage 1497: Old Hens Average Mick & Pauline Worsfold 1738.

 

Mike Armitage started up pigeon racing in his home town of Hull over 60 years ago and has been an outstanding fancier over the years, winning many premier racing honours, including: 10th open NFC Pau, the first ten positions in an open race and 1st open Federation many times. Years ago he liked sprint racing, but is now in to channel racing with the BICC and NFC. He has been a publican for nearly 50 years and has been 38 years at the ‘Lion Brewery’, a wonderful little pub set in the Surrey countryside at Ash. The ‘Lion Brewery’ is very much a pigeon pub, with several clubs being based there, including the British International Championship Club, which has been there at Ash for over 20 years. He told me when the BICC first came to the ‘Lion Brewery’ it had 164 member and now it has progressed up to over 1,600 members, which he maintains is full credit to a great management team. Mike has three lofts totalling 160 ft. smartly set in the pub garden and all the birds are trapped through open windows to the ETS system. Mike has in recent seasons erected a new loft in the pub garden and I must say it looks very smart. The main 50ft Belgium style racing loft was purchased from Johnny May of Worcester Park after his recent retirement from pigeon racing and is kitted out with slatted floors, Perspex roof lights, German up and over nest boxes and the ETS. The families raced are Fountainhead Janssens and Busschaerts, Roger Lowe’s Hartogs and the fantastic Marriotts obtained from John Grey of Hull in 1977. The Marriott pigeons have been outstanding for Mike over the years and the 8th open BICC Le Ferte Bernard winner on that brilliant weekend was a Marriott blue chequer hen, raced on the semi-widowhood.

 

Mike and Lyndsay Armitage have had many premier successes in National and Classic races through the years, but one of their best was a few seasons ago in the London & South East Classic Club.  They sent six widowhood hens to the London & South East Classic Guernsey old hen’s classic and had a brilliant race, timing in five of their entries to record 1st, 7th, 26th, 75th and 91st open. Wonderful pigeon racing by any ones standards! Mike’s classic winner was his good yearling blue hen, ‘LuLu’, and she was raced on Mike’s widowhood method, which he says is really a jealousy system. This game hen won the old hen’s classic by over 50 ypm and also beat the young bird classic winner! She had every ‘Lion Brewery’ Mid-Week Hamworthy race and three Federation channel races on her built up to her Classic win, and was not stranger to success having won several premier prizes for the Armitage loft. Her sire is Mike’s good racing cock, ‘Centenary Boy’, winner of 1st club, 365th open Nantes Centenary Race (65,000 birds) in 1999 and he was bred Roger Lowe’s Hartogs and Mike’s old family of Marriott. The dam of ‘LuLu’ was one of the premier stock hens at the Ash loft, ‘The Taylor Hen’ and she was bred by the late Colin Taylor of Kent. The Armitage partnership have won 1st open British International Championship Club from Le Ferte Bernard and have won the London & South East Classic Club three times, and although I've visited their home many times, one of the most recent as a pigeon writer was when he won the Classic from Alencon , with 3,252 birds competing. I was chief convoyer and press officer for the Classic at that time, and drove down to the ‘Lion Brewery' to see his winning pigeon. Mike's winner, a Fountainhead Janssen blue chequer cock was raced on Mike's own semi-widowhood system. This handsome pigeon, named “Wonder Boy” by Mike's young son, Tom, had won five races previously and raced in the Weymouth mid-week race on the Wednesday, before winning the Classic on the Saturday. The Armitage loft had a brilliant weekend winning 1st and 10th open L&SECC Alencon, 8th open BICC Le Ferte Bernard and 1st club Sennen Cove. A fantastic loft performance for one weekend!

 

The Armitage pigeons are raced on Mike's own semi-widowhood system, whereby he can race both cocks and hens in different races on the same day. He pairs up on 14th February and the pairs are split in the normal widowhood way after their first round of youngsters. The cocks are raced and the hens trained in midweek, with them seeing one another two or three times during the week. Mike says he never breaks the racers down, but the racers are mostly fed on a first class widowhood mixture. He works very hard with his birds and they are so tame that prior to ETS, sometimes they used to land in the garden on their return from a race, and Mike could pick them up and clock them on the lawn. He keeps a bit of condition seed in his loft coat pocket and the birds follow him around the garden, looking for a tit-bit, which he gives them by hand. The stock birds are housed in nice big aviaries. He feeds all ‘Gem’ corn and never breaks his racers down. He pairs his stock birds up on 10th December and the races in February, when they rear a single youngster before going on the widowhood system. At the end of the season Mike breeds a select few late breds off his best racers which are retained for stock. Mike breeds about 60 young birds for himself to race and these are put on a semi-darkness, which Mike says, they are taken off earlier than the conventional darkness pigeons, as he like them to moult as normally as possible. Mike uses the ‘Lion Brewery’ Mid-Week for training his youngsters and says, ‘a 100 mile race every Wednesday is brilliant education for them and then they race the Classic and National races’. Mike's lofts and pigeons are a credit to him!

 

That’s it for this week! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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