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By Brian Dearn


The first race of the 2018 season for the Lancashire Social Circle was held from Carentan when 36 members entered 70 pigeons in this two bird event, that were liberated at 12 15pm following a one day holdover into a north east wind. This race was part of the mass liberation organised by the North West Region to commemorate the end of World War 1. The race itself was a testing one for most of the fanciers taking part in the race, but I must say the Circle members did very well timing 12 day birds on the winning day and a further 15 the following day. Heading the field on this occasion was Gerry Clements from Manchester flying almost 290 miles timing in after 6 hours 50 minutes to record a velocity of 1243 with a 2y old cheq cock, not the fastest from the liberation but one that will be well up among the top pigeons. Gerry wins the Briggs Trophy along with a Frank H Parsonage Award and the Albert Hitchen Award. The Circle has a total of five awards presented to the LSC by past members in the form of bequests of money invested and are presented for a number of different categories.

The last Cut Glass and Silver Parsonage Award, awarded in1989

The Parsonage Award came about in memory of Frank who was a dentist from Prestbury and following his death in 1974 his birds were sold and at the bequest of his sister the money raised a total of £1300 was presented to the Lancashire Social Circle to be invested and with the interest from it the winners of the races and the combined average winner receive an award. As you can appreciate back in the 1970's the interest was far greater than it is today, and in the early days of the award it was taken in the form of Cut Glass or Silver. I enclose a photo of the last of these awards taken in the form of Cut Glass and Silver won in 1987. Gerry only races widower cocks and has his system off to a fine art and while the trend these days is to race both sexes on a roundabout system, Gerry is adamant that on a good racing day widow cocks will out shine the hens. Before I start to explain his system, this season things have changed a little as Gerry has been in hospital having a operation on his lungs that had made him look at pigeons and how he is keeping them in a totally different way. Gerry paired all his pigeons, stock and widow cocks at the same time mid February and floated the eggs from the stock under the racers. Once paired he gave the cocks 3 x 30 mile training tosses to loosen them up, then for a week they were trained everyday from 30 miles and if the wind was from the south they went to 50/60 miles. All the 40 cocks rear a youngster or two from the stock birds or if there is not enough selected pairs rear their own. No club racing takes place, but the pigeons are sent as trainers with Denton HS, or Congleton, Cheadle and sometimes with Manchester FC that race mid week. This means the pigeons have to think for themselves and break to make their way back to their home loft at Audenshaw Manchester. The whole race team would have between 3 to 6 of these race experiences before their first channel race. Pigeons are never trained or even let out of the loft until the outside temperature reaches 10 degrees. The hens are never shown to the cocks before they go to a race, but spend until lunchtime the following day before being separated. This season, where he use to fly the cocks out twice a day, morning and night because of his health problems he has been only letting them out once in the morning once the temperature has reached 10 degrees, which in the early part of the year could be as late at 10 30am. What Gerry has found is the cocks now fly for two hours and rest, for the rest of the day ready for their fly the following morning. At the time of my visit the cocks did 1 hour 55 minutes. He is adamant rest is the best thing for them and once they have been fed he leaves them alone to rest from lunch time onwards. The evening feed is extended as the days lengthen with the feed being given later and later making sure they are awake until late in the day. This Gerry feels makes sure his team are still looking for home until the last hours of darkness, and is sure the reason many pigeons arrive home very early the next morning is because in their minds it's their bedtime. Gerry is a great observer of pigeons and an even better motivator of them, and picks up on the slightest thing. An example of this at the time of my visit was a pigeon being prepared for the next race has been given access to the box above him from which the cock of that box has been lost, so is busy trying to retain both boxes. A second pigeon has had the front of his box moved forward with only his small opening for access as the pigeon in the next box along is trying to take his box and as he can't get into in now as there was only the small opening to get in which the owner of the box was stood guard over, this wound up and the pigeon trying to clam two boxes as he couldn't, while at the same time kept the owner of the box standing guard and can't move. (see photo with this article) Gerry has some fabulous performance pigeons with everyone having to earn its perch and race until its five years old, and even though very large sums of money have been paid for some of the stock this is no reason they are treated any different. Gerry's best ever breeding cock is a pigeon call Hercules and to date he has bred 15 winners in the very top competition, one weekend Gerry had three races on from over the channel and 4 out of the first 5 pigeons to the loft were sons of Hercules. One won 5th Sec 18th Open NFC, the second was 1st Sec 3rd Open North West Classic Club and the other two were 1st 2nd MNFC Yearling Classic. For many years Gerry raced the Busschaert pigeons that handled a little too big in the hand for me (but who am I to say they were to big) he also has some Willy Thas pigeons that have proved their worth along the way and some fabulous pigeons from Van Den Driessche. His present family that are now becoming a force to be reckoned with have taken a number of years to establish and are a combination of his best stock pigeons including Hercules, The 606, The 42, and The 91 closely inbred and then out crossed with another inbred family of pigeons based around a pigeon called Top Star who is the sire of a national winner and the grand sire of three national winners. The Dam of Top Star is Kathy and she was the winner of Ace YB and is also the dam of three national winners for three different fanciers in Belgium. When Gerry approached R & X Verstraete to buy pigeons from Top Star, he would not sell any so a deal was struck up that each would inbreed their own lines and exchange pigeons, now this has be achieved and the two families have been crossed the results are starting to show.


Gerry Clements with his winning yearling from Carentan with the LSC   -  Cock looking for second nest box (see text)

Ray Bullen was second clocking a yearling, the only yearling on the result from the 27 pigeons timed in doing 1235, but well fancied as this cheq cock carried his nomination for the Brian Dickinson Trophy. The Dickinson trophy is won by the member with the best velocity timing in a nom pigeon from every race. Ray's pigeon can be described as a bit of a nuisance in that it is very dominant and as he has a bottom nest box tends to clam the floor space and also the drinker as well. At times Ray has to lock him in is box in order to give any race birds a chance to have a drink on their return. He is going to give him a perch near to his nest box to clam and look after, and should he leave it another cock will take it on, Ray hopes this will keep him occupied and out of trouble ? His sire is a pigeon from Menne and Daughter from Germany with his dam being a Heremans-Ceusters from Graham Mackay, in fact the sire is at the stock loft of Graham and Tommy Duffy where both Graham and Ray are sharing the youngsters. I recall last season they entered a one loft race together with these pigeons and picked up a few bob between them.

Ian Cooper takes third place timing a two year old doing 1207, the story behind this pigeon is, he was a gift pigeon from Tommy Hume of Sandbach. Ian bought a youngster from the local breeder buyer sale presented by Tommy and he very kindly gave him the pair and this was the nestmate to the one he bought. On the same weekend as the Circle race Ian won his club from the same race point so this result was the icing on the cake. Ian was flying 277 miles to his loft at Northwich with this cheq w/f cock flying sent sitting as this season he has raced his birds totally natural and has seemed to do just as well with them. The reason for this is he was very late pairing up and as a result has not bred any youngsters, so his young bird team consist of gift birds from friends. I asked Ian had he had any problems with the health of the youngsters as they have all come from different sources and up to press they are all fine and in the best of health and he looks forward to a great season racing them.



Ray Bullen 2nd Carentan with the only yearling on the result - Ian Cooper 3rd Carentan with the LSC - Bob Smith 2nd Messac and Best Average from First and Second races

Bob Smith was fourth on 1163 and Bob timed in his second pigeon shortly after to win the Best Two Bird Ave winning the Webster Bros Trophy with a velocity of 1039. Alan Bamford was runner up to Bob for the two bird ave. with two great pigeons timed just 17 minutes apart that were 7th 8th on the result. But back to Bob's performance he timed a 4y old widowhood cheq hen flying 291 miles to Burtonwood. Bob feels with the sport of pigeon racing you are learning all the time, because there are so many variables that affect your performance, so you have to be ahead of the game and be alive to change in the weather, environment, breeding, feeding, training and loft design, and most importantly review your own performance honestly and act accordingly. Both cocks and hens are raced on widowhood with the hens achieving more than equal success, The hens exercise to their own section with an aviary fitted and enter a closed section through the ETS trap and then go into the adjacent aviary which is closed up when the cocks are out at exercise. Hens see their mates about 10 minutes before basketing and for up to about an hour on their return from the race. The aviaries fitted to all the lofts, stock and racing sections all have showers fitted for the birds and when turned on these spray the bird with a gentle mist that the birds love and lay there with their wings up as if they do when it's raining, all very natural.

Tom Owen times a 2y old blue hen flying 304 miles to Halsall near Ormskirk with a velocity of 1131 that wins the fifth diploma. Tom tells me once the racing season is over he likes to keep all the young birds in the same section to become his yearling team for the following year and in the winter months unbeknown to him this blue hen must have moved in and paired up. So he left her in there and she has flown very steady all season coming better and better as the season has gone on and the distance has increased. She was sent with full confidence and carried his nomination and is from what he describes as from his mongrel line of pigeons. Stephen Beardmore follows in sixth place with a 2y old blue hen on 1069. The Dam of this hen was purchased at an auction sale at Northern Premier Auctions and the sire was also purchased from an auction sale of a past member of the Circle Mike O'Hare when he and his partner held a clearance sale and is one of their best Vandenabeele pigeons. Last season as a yearling she flew Fougeres in a Two Bird Nomination race which she won picking up £150 and was sent to this one again with full confidence being his nominated pigeon.


  Tom Owen 5th LSC Carentan                                                                                                        Stephen Beardmore with Bob Smith

L.S.C. Messac

The second race was held from Messac when 35 members entered 66 pigeons for this 400 mile race to most lofts. With good weather in France but with a north east wind to contend with the birds were liberated 06 30 for what was to be a testing race on a hard but fair race day, for the second time in two weeks Gerry Clements took the top spot timing a yearling cock flying 8 hours 35 minutes with a velocity of 1334 this being the only yearling on the result sheet from the 30 birds on it. Gerry wins the W E Evans Trophy for first Messac along with a Parsonage Award and the J O Shone Award. To add to his collection of silverware Gerry also wins the Peter Titmuss Second Thoughts Trophy for the Best Two Bird Ave with a velocity of 1215 and also picks up the Mary Hammond Rose Bowl for the Best Ave from the first and second races velocity 1294.

Gerry holding the winner of the second LSC race from Messac

Bob Smith moves up two places from the last race to take second spot with a 4y old blue widow cock that was his second pigeon two weeks ago from Carentan when he was 12th on the result doing 1324.Following the success of Stephen Beardmore in the last race flying into North Wales Malcolm Parry-Jones dose one better and takes third diploma with a 2y old on 1237. Both Stephen and Malcolm changed their flying rout from flying north east over to Belgium about three seasons ago and joined the Wrexham Fed and became members of the National Flying Club in order to get their birds flying south and as we can see this has started to pay off for them. Roger Sutton from Congleton is fourth with a 2y old blue cock and was one of six members to time in both their entries and his performance was such he was Runner Up to Gerry Clements for the Best Two Bird Average on 1143. Alan Bamford following his success in the first race keeps up the momentum by taking fifth place with blue cock on 1204. Then it's over to Norden Rochdale where we find John Dearden on the east side of the Circle who times a 2y old cheq hen in sixth place 1182.


Roger Sutton with Tony Merrick at the Carentan marking  -  John Dearden 6th Messec with the LSC

Brian Dearn

Tel. 01254 772515.