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Saltneyloveforsportgone 07-11-18

Why has my love for the sport gone?

Hi all, my name is Alan Foster, a 23 year old who was once a lover of the sport of racing pigeons. This is my story of how I have fallen out of love with the sport.

I was first introduced to the sport of racing pigeons when I was around 9 years old. I was brought into the sport by my Nan Eileen Jones. My Nan was the wife of John Jones of Ledsham who passed away when I was young. Seems like a life time ago now.

John Jones was my Grandad, however as he left us when I was only young I only have vague memories of him. I always think he went too soon and wish he was still here today so I could have got to know him properly. It would have been special to me for him to have been the one to show me the ropes of how to race pigeons like he did in the good old days.

Grandad John Jones


John & Eileen Jones raced from the Farm in Ledsham, with 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. The two boys began their journey in the sport of racing pigeons racing with their dad and my grandad John. I’m sure those of you that know me and knew my grandad will know who the two boys are. Brian and Geoff Jones who are flying on their own, experiencing some of the joys the sport has to offer.


Brian Jones who lives in Little Sutton is well known in these parts for being one of the best flyers of his time in this area. Having had years of success in the Hooton & District Club who fly in the West Cheshire Federation, and further success in the likes of the Beeston Castle Two Bird and the Chester Two bird Clubs.

Brian Jones (R)


Geoff Jones who I know first-hand tries harder than any other flyer I know to win races. I don’t know anyone else with the determination and drive Geoff has to do well in the sport; I don’t think I ever will. But even though he may not be as successful in the racing side of the sport as he wants, he certainly knows how to show a pigeon.

Two Sayings that will never get old to me:

Geoff Jones

Brian “Racing Pigeons is easy; it’s all about what you feed them.”

Geoff “Showing Pigeons is easy; it’s all about what you feed them.”

Simple as that then, it’s all about the food, or is it? We all know what pigeon flyers are like; every flyer has a different way of doing things, secret tricks that they won’t share.

Some people find this a bad thing; to me I find this intriguing. The not knowing of how someone does what they do. The younger generation don’t realise that these top flyers have got where they are today through trial and error experiments. A lot of flyers don’t realise the best flyers today have been where they are once. The likes of Brian will tell you he used to be at the bottom of the result every week until he found the right bloodlines and feeding systems etc? to use.

Back to how I got into the sport. When my grandad passed my Nan moved from the farm to Great Sutton where she set up a loft with the ambition to do what John had tried for years to do. Winning the Nantes Classic race in the Beeston Castle Two Bird Club was a dream of his. After a few years racing on her own with the help from Brian and Geoff she finally won the race john so dearly sort after doing. A Blue Hen she called Jubilee Jones was the one to do the business.

It was after this achievement she tried to get myself involved with the birds, I spent most weekends there anyway and she thought it was a great opportunity to guide me to carry on the family tradition. Like any kid at first I was scared of the birds, I could barely hold a pigeon let alone catch one. So over the years I got more and more confident and more and more interested in the sport and the way it worked and sure enough I fell in love with the birds. I went from not being able to hold a pigeon to do everything from feeding, training and racing them.

Our Shed at Great Sutton

It was a few years ago now my Nan was taken ill and had to take a back seat with the birds, it was now I tried so very hard to be successful and keep the birds there for her. In a way that was one of the few things left that reminded her of john. However with me being young and still in school I had to make the hardest decision of my life which was to give up the birds as I just couldn’t cope. Still to this day I can’t thank my Nan enough for getting me involved with the birds.

Without families getting their kids involved with the birds these days we would soon have no sport left, we are hanging on by a thread. The bad press we as a community receive doesn’t help the public and their opinion of pigeons. This puts people off from trying this hobby out. Pigeons are seen as a nuisance of the sky rather than a pet and quite simply an athlete. This is something we as a community need to help change and put across our great sport in the correct light and help show people these birds are amazing with what they are capable of doing. This is one of the reasons I am quickly falling out of love with the sport.

Unlike so many of the flyers of today my love for the sport didn’t have anything to do with winning. It was the amazement of how a pigeon could find their way home and the joy they felt in doing so, to me there is no better site than seeing a pigeon that has raced its heart out to get back home. Watching the birds pitching out of the sky gliding round clapping like their on top of the world has always amazed me and brought me great joy.

This is something as a community we seemed to have moved away from, I’ve heard stories of flyers giving up on their birds because they haven’t come home quick enough or the birds has flew around the loft for minutes before landing. This is an unhealthy philosophy to have. What you have to realise if we were took 200 miles away and told to find our way home we wouldn’t know where to start.

This is another reason I am beginning to lose my love for the sport, forget winning, forget the money, forget the selfishness this sport has become and let’s go back to the good old days of racing pigeons. Reignite the true meaning of the sport and take account of how it became possible.

On a more upbeat point, what has been my most memorable performance? This occurred in the year of 2013 when my pigeons performed the best I could ever hope for. A 383 mile race from Messac in France, where I sent 8 pigeons. I had 6/8 pigeons within 20 minutes. Winning the club, the fed and the Amal with a pigeon that was bred from a gift pigeon I received from a top bloke and flyer Anthony Wright from Rhos. A performance I don’t think I will ever replicate in my life time but not because I don’t think I could find the pigeons for the job but because clubs are moving away from channel racing due to cost. The real reason is because the birds are not there to send.

The Amal Topper "Legs 11"

This brings me to my next reason I am falling out of love. I am a big believer in channel races; I believe these are the races that take a special pigeon to perform. But with the recent years causing flyers to go towards the sprint game and allowing their distance birds to slowly decline until all the bloodlines have gone.



Some of my typical Channel birds of old “Janseens”

Sadly I lost “Legs 11” the following year from Hereford which to me was 83 miles. I’ve never been more disappointed in all my time in the sport. But a pigeon as good as her wouldn’t just get lost, more than likely she was dead. Which brings me to my next point as to why I’m moving away from the pigeon game? BOP are becoming a more and more distinct problem in the sport, we are sending our birds down the road and time after time we are having reports of BOP hitting the birds as they come out of the wagons at lib sites, yes this is nature and there’s nothing we can do about it but as the recent numbers states the BOP count for the UK in 2018 is at a record high. What can we do about it, Nothing!!??

It was soon no longer liable for me to race at my nans due to ill health and time commitments just not being there. But I was thrown an opportunity I just could not turn down. Geoff Jones my Uncle along with his daughters my cousins Carla, Ashlee and Jamee as mentioned previously offered to break my birds in and allow me to race with them in an attempt tokeep me interested I guess.

Carla, Ashlee & Jamee


We took 12 days to break the birds in and move the loft. It has since been two years and we have got down to one bird of mine left which is no more than a pet and will see his life out as a retiree. Snowball an 09 Roland Janseen who didn’t have the best time, as a youngster he was my first pigeon to the loft 5 weeks in a row until he made a mistake which as a result ended his racing career. He was reported in Bristol 4 weeks after he went west. Found in a pub garage he was kept in a budgie cage and christened Gerald by the pub goers. Until we were able to pick him up, a damaged wing which we all know as wing lock ended his racing career. He was my first pet pigeon and one I have managed to create a great bond with, to which I am worried once he’s gone my love for the sport, will finally die all together with him.

But don’t get me wrong there are a lot more factors than above stated as to why the sport I once fell in love with has changed so much to force me out. I don’t know whether I will ever get that love back?

I hope this was an interesting read and I appreciate it if you got this far. Help bring the sport back to the glory days of old and help bring new flyers in and help those who have become disheartened and lost back into the sport.

Yours in sport

Alan Foster