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J Emerton Chatsto Rob Rothwell 06-11-18


1 Rob ,how did your passion for pigeons begin?

HI Jim I was brought up around pigeons my fathers had them all his life and that's where I spent most nights after school down the pen with dad, Saturdays was always the day to look forward too.

2 Where are you situated, and what clubs will you race in?

My lofts are situated in a small town called Oswaldtwistle in between Accrington and Blackburn. At the moment the clubs I race in are Oswaldtwistle homing society and the Midlands National Flying Club, with the aim this season of joining the National Flying Club and possibly the BICC and BBC with a few local flyers to really push the boundaries of distance.

3 Describe for us your ambitions in competitive racing and who are your influential people in the sport?

My ambition is to be the name on race day who people are looking for when there's not many birds about. Since I really decided to have a crack solely at channel racing the ambition has always been to be consistent and build from there and once I had a team of birds that was coming consistently try and push on further and to be as consistent as Brian Denney has been over the years from Tarbes.

montage of the family of pigeons I’ll be building on hopefully to fly the extreme distance races

4 Is Barcelona Int on the agenda and how far is your distance?

I think for anyone that considers Barcelona it starts off as a dream especially when your mapped distance is as far as what the birds would have to fly up here but that's another target that will hopefully become reality once I’ve found the system that works for me and the birds I have and when I have a really strong team out to Tarbes and possibly some of the shorter International races as building blocks being 26 years of age hopefully iv plenty of years to work it out. That's the fascination for me because whatever my ambition there's always bigger and further targets to aim at through to Barcelona which at a rough guess will be around 880 miles so your record distance might be under threat Jim ha-ha.

5 What origins are your birds, and where will you go for fresh blood?

The family I have at the moment came from a local flyer who was fantastic locally out to 500 miles which was mostly based upon the old Billy Walkinshaw from Ireland unfortunately that's all the info I could get off him before he passed due to cancer, plus a few Jan Aardens. But most recently over the past couple of seasons iv built a stock team on Matt Rakes Birds closely related to "Indy" and the "Van Geel Super pair “plus others, one line in particular I’m hopeful for the really extreme distances is the daughter of "Owd Barca" which flew 4xs Barcelona at around 830 miles and 3xs Perpignan at over 700 miles into North Holland so the bloods there. As a type in my eyes thee ideal being small to medium which in my head facing a hard head wind should be better than big birds being able to cut through the wind easier and they've a big desire to get home, only time will tell but if I keep sending them further and further the birds capable of the longer races will show fingers crossed!! with having several lines in the Rakes family hopefully I should be OK for a cross for a while plus the old blood I have which have which have serious desires to get home only this year my good dark cock was timed in the dark after flying over 15 and a half hours in a strange race and 2 weeks later was timed for 2nd fed when there was only 3 day birds, I worked it out he'd flown over 1000 miles in 3 races within a 4 week period and over 37 and a half hours flying never nighting out he could be the main candidate for Tarbes this time he never seems tired. but I’d like to see us doing more like the European lot do get friendly with a few close by distance men and pair best to best and split the youngsters proven blood going back in must be the way forward. if I look to bring any birds in id probably look for a small hen not too different to my own in shape but full of top distance bloods through the generations and then pair her to an inbred cock of my own.

my owd cock give me one of the biggest thrills to date sole entry in MNFC Ancennis at 444 miles and watching him drop was surreal

the good dark cock as spoke about above 1000 miles in 4 weeks

Is stalwart Frank Kay a pal of yours? Yes I Know Frank well, I first met him when he reported a youngster of mine in 2012, I am not going to lie when we made arrangements to go pick the bird up I was a little excited to see Franks birds and have a talk with him as he was doing something as I say was only a dream pushing the limits, being a busy farmer we didn't stop too long but I remember something that'll always stick with me when we once took the youngsters training to franks and I think it was day 2 from Barcelona about 19.00 hours and we was talking away and I saw a pigeon rocketing down to Franks trap the look of excitement on Franks face was brilliant I thought I’d seen a Barcelona bird drop Frank set off at the run only to find it was a hen he'd left out ha-ha, sure enough he rang up a couple of days later he'd timed. I've been to franks many times since and the simplicity of his system always amazes me and then when he started clocking yearlings at Tarbes just shows he knows his stuff.

6 How will you learn the craft of marathon pigeon racing -in books/film/people or where?

I think I will have read every article to date on Long distance racing and more than once, including all your little snippets. Many have different ways but one thing they all have is a simple system and good birds, and for me I think the best way for me to learn the tricks of the trade is with little bits of help and trial and error. other than that the basic ideas are a mixture from what I’ve picked up from several sources, I'm friendly with Alan Parker who has been a very good distance flyer, Frank as mentioned, Stuart Goldstraw at Congleton has flown some very good pigeons and Matt Rakes who's give me a lot to think about system wise has a wealth of knowledge, but one thing I keep trying to do is pick their brains for little things that could help me on my quest.

7 Who are the experts in your field?

For me I think the experts are the people at the top year in year out same as I always hear people saying you need a lot of luck over 700 miles but the same names are always at the top, I mean look at Brian Denneys record out of Tarbes over the years, Mark Gilberts record and especially the season has just had in my eyes it can’t all be luck because surely no one can have that much, but one things for sure they’ve good pigeons and they know what they’re doing, Bush Brothers have flown very consistent over the years and quite often team performances, Jim Donaldson another consistent flyer, these are just a few names in the sport I admire and class as experts because their names are always there.

8 How do you discover a good bird?

For me I think the only way to discover good birds is by using the basket in my eyes it’s the only true way of finding if you have a good bird whether it be a good racer or breeder, send the bird and test what you have.

9 Is strain creation of value to you Rob?

Strain creation is definitely something I'm aiming towards, I seem to have come to the conclusion over the years when you've a mixed batch of birds a team performance is unlikely on hard long races some favour the conditions and some don't that's just my opinion, plus I think it’s the easiest way to be consistent instead of trying to go keep buying success id have more satisfaction breeding and creating my own success. But on the other side I hear stories of the old distance flyers in our area and the old Barkers was very popular around here and in years to come id love for are family to be mentioned as much as they are and be as successful.

10 What is your perception of the BICC?

I think the idea of the BICC is fantastic that's why it seems to be growing, there the only club where you really get to push the boundaries not just the distance to contend but also the drag into Europe, there giving opportunities to really see what we've actually got in the shed and what there actually capable of. It’s just unfortunate where the marking stations are situated possibly the reason the MNFC and NFC get more birdage with marking stations being further North, one things for sure if there was to be a marking station in Lancashire id support it and I know a few other that would do too.

11 Do you dream about pigeons in your inner life?

I've had many a dream usually of timing a good one from the channel, I often sit and think what if, pigeons are always on the mind there's never a day where I’m not reading or talking pigeons

12 Are you a trophy hunter or a commercial man?

We've had and held a lot of trophies locally over the years it was nice at the time but I think recognition of great achievement at the extreme distance would be fantastic though I’d rather be known as the man that pushed the boundaries and went for greatness. as I said earlier consistency would be my own preference over winning a national and never be heard of again.

13 Are mates important in the sport?

Definitely, I think the bonus of having a friend with the same ambitions are bouncing off each other I've a very close friend(Paul Taylor) who's big hopes at the distance and where always talking about the long 700+ races and one things for sure if we both sent and he beat me I’d be trying my hardest to make sure it never happened again, it’s gives that extra push to work harder.

14 What are your methods for distance/marathon racing?

As to system with my father always being a keen sprint man I've never known much more than widowhood but I'm very tempted after talking with Matt Rakes on trying the natural system because hens have always flown well for me plus I think it gives that extra incentive with natural instincts and with having a young family I think I’d get away with being less regimental. My youngsters have never been pushed much further than 120 miles for a good few years now reason being in 2013 we'd a smash from 172 miles I won the club with half hour and had 2 missing out of 11 when a lot of people was wiped out the following year all but one of those 11 went down at the channel my best channel pigeons only had a few races so in my eyes it did no favours and I don't fly darkness, plus in 2015 I timed 2 yearling hens that was unraced as babies out of a very hard Niort at 520 miles so as I see from experience for me personally they don't need hammering down road as babies.
None of my birds are ever rationed and are usually fed the same mix from April right through to the distance with fats being added as and when I think they'll need the extra fuel only other think is a little barley with their mix until the last few days before basketing.

15 How do you feel about club politics?

To be honest I think it’s all got a little stupid no members should be turned away if the sport is to carry on, we had it for 9 seasons where we was knocked back and voted against at are local club. It seems to be the only sport you get knocked at for being good especially in clubs and federations and I don't know why it should be the extra incentive to try harder.

16 Can you help the sport in general-how can you do it?

I think there's many ways the sport can be helped we need to pull together and work together, one thing I’d like to gain by racing is show people it’s doable don't be afraid of having ago, years ago people competed from the first race to the last race but now a days most won't send to the shorter channel races because a lot of the new quicker birds seem to struggle so a lot just fly sprint which is a shame.

17 Do you understand the spiritual nature of distance racing?

There's nothing more enjoyable for me than sitting there in front of the loft late at night thinking am I going to get one and then you see a flicker it’s the most special feeling you'll get knowing you've bred and prepared that bird for the job in hand and it got home. I'll quite happily sit there for hours or days waiting to see that pigeon drop that's where I get my enjoyment only problem being like this year I found a cock sat on the loft at half 4 from a late liberation it was still dark I timed him in and being so early id no one to express the excitement with ha-ha

In the pictures you'll see me and dad at the lofts

18 Have you comments to add about anything else of interest to the many readers?

If you’re thinking of having a go at channel racing and you don't mind waiting then please give it a go we've won many sprint races and the buzz is short lived you time from the channel and the emotion will stay with you for a long time.

All the best to everyone for the coming season