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Joe Murphy Column 23-01-18

The Joe Murphy Column

Received an email from Raymond Baker of St Tugdual in France in the middle roughly of Brittany he is directly in line with Exeter if you go onto Google maps. He has agreed that when the season starts he could be contacted regarding the weather in his area which is not far from the Channel. Ray wrote ‘Hi Joe, reading one of your articles a few weeks back, I thought you might like to be made aware of the fact that here in France during your racing season that one of the towns near to the centre of France has a Hot Air Balloon Festival with a 1,000 balloons taking part, now what week this arose I can’t tell you, but I remember saying to my wife, on seeing it on the French TV. I wonder if that will affect some of the UK pigeons. Where the festival was, what day or weekend it was I cannot tell you, but on reading your columns, think you were referring to a race from Bourges. If the balloons cross the birds path after liberation, this maybe the answer to your problems, with today’s technology you can check it out via your phone or laptop on Google, it may coincide or may not it will certainly open your eyes for future race programmes from here in France. Hope this is of some help to you and the Scottish fanciers in the future, Have a good Christmas and good flying 2018, Mr Raymond Baker’. His next email informed me that he managed to get some more information on the above and it was from Chambley Planet ‘Air France 54890 with a 1000 balloons every other year since 1989. I checked this out and Chambley is just south east of Paris and direct south of Bourges. However the dates for the 2017 program was from 21st to 30th of July with the balloon flights taking place every day, twice in the cool part of the day, early morning from 06-15 am and late afternoon from 18-30 pm, subject to weather conditions. The web site says this is the Biggest Gathering in the World. In almost thirty years, it earned a privileged spot among the major international gatherings around the world. There are over 12,000 hot air balloon pilots in the world, about 200 gas balloon pilots, less than twenty pilots of “Rozières”, and maybe a hundred airships pilots. This community is supported by approximately 40,000 permanent crew, casual and trainee pilots. Considering that less than 70 countries around the world have an aerostatic activity and that three-quarters of the pilots never leave their country or their region, the bet is ambitious to unite more than a thousand pilots and balloons, every other year in Chambley, France! Every odd year, they enjoy being here, sharing this big party and offering a festival of colours to thousands of spectators.

Outcome; on checking Google map Chambley is direct south of Bourges but the Up North Combine held their race in June so therefore the Air Balloon event could not have effected them as it took place in July 21st. However this is something else that race controllers and advisors (including fanciers) can now look into as I’m assuming many had never given events like this a thought. My thanks to Raymond for his email

A Special Thank You

Tom McEwen of Elphinstone has asked if I would put in a special ‘Thank You’ to Paul Stobbs of Stonehaven Lofts from Co Durham. Paul has now bred Tom & Scott a dozen pigeons direct from his champions and they have certainly hit the ground running; breeding winners from the start. Tom and his son Scott were invited down to Co Durham to view Paul’s birds and they could not get over the quality within his stock loft; which Tom says was ‘Truly Outstanding’. Prior to Christmas Scott received a text message from Walker Couriers saying they would be coming to him the following morning with 2 pigeons; this was a real surprise as they had not expecting anymore pigeons from Paul. On opening the boxes they found a 6 year old hen and 4 year old cock bred direct from Paul’s champion ‘Bob’s Choice’ his Queen’s Cup winner. They could not get over the quality of these birds and Tom says the hen is possibly the BEST HEN he has ever handled in his lifetime of keeping pigeons. (This is some statement as he has seen and bred some quality hens over the years including his 1st open SNFC Tours winner ‘Petite Rose’ Joe M) The Stobbs hen is a top winner bred from a Queen’s Cup winner and she has bred many winners for Paul during her time. The 4 year old cock is also ‘Different Class’ and are a credit to Paul. Tom finishes off by saying that Paul Stobbs is a credit to the sport and is one of the nicest and generous fanciers he has ever met and he cherishes their friendship.  

End of the Year

Had a phone call from Brad Foster from Canada whom I send some pigeon information to for his Canadian Pigeon Magazine. Brad informed me that he had 4 ½ feet of snow in the past few days (emailed me the next day to say he had another foot of snow but the temperature was up a bit) plus the temperature was minus 31 degrees his brother in law was worse than him as he had 6 feet of snow and the temperature was minus 40 degrees. We through it was cold here in Scotland but we could not live in weather like that. Brad also informed me that he went out to the loft to feed his birds and noticed one hen would not come down from the front of the nest box. When he examined her; her foot was frozen to the wood: never in all his life time has he ever had this happen to one of his pigeons. The hen must have done a dropping and then stood on it and her foot has frozen to the nest box.  He like everyone else has to go out and empty his drinkers or they would be frozen solid by morning. It is funny the weather plays such a big part of our lives; not just now but also during the racing season.

This week’s photographs

Linda Brooks forwarded some pictures of the judges at the SHU show these came prior to Christmas but I had already sent my articles away to the pigeon press.


The other picture is from Jim Hannah of ‘Belle’ the Winter’s family best in show winner.

I have also scanned a photograph of Mae & Ian Henderson with the SNFC Gold Cup see obituary report. 

Good SNFC Birds

 Receved a nice email from George Briggs from Dundee who wrote and thanked me for mentioning his blue cock in this feature in my column: George said ‘Hi Joe, I was going send the information on the cock to you but I was sick after losing him at Falaise. His brother a slatey cock SU 14 DF3383 won 440th open from Portsmouth & 67th open 21st section C from Eastbourne in 2015 and in 2016 he was 268th open 69th section C from Buckingham; but then I lost him at Ypres. Another yearling brother also a slatey cock won 39th section C 144th open in the same race unfortunately he was lost the following year from the very first training toss. But that’s pigeon racing Joe as you well know another interesting item regarding the above birds they were all bred from the same stock pair of birds from Stuart Maskame of Peterhead. Thanks again Joe and I hope everyone is well and good luck to you and Kevin for the 2018 season yours George’. My thanks to George and may I wish him all the best for the new season. While speaking to Jim Hannah the Scottish photographer who sends me some pictures for the column; I told him that I was going to a feature on the winners of the SHU Dewar Trophy for Scotland’s Bird of the Year. Jim says he has some pictures of past winners of this award and will try and look them out. The first winner of this accolade was back in 1973 to the loft of W & D Ree of Broughty Ferry by Dundee and believe it or not the 2017 winner is Gerald Macpherson of Broughty Ferry which is quite remarkable. Gerald’s winner is the 1st yearling to win this honour during the past 34 year history. I have a list of the Dewar Trophy Winners however could do with some help regarding the following winning fanciers and their birds.

1974 Dave Rose of Aberdeen; 1975 & 1979 Newcombe Brothers of Macmerry; 1980 Willie Peat of Dundee; 1982 Mackenzie & Reid of Pittenweem (think this was Kelly); 1983 W Ferguson & son Stevie of Annan; 1985 & 1993 John F Bosworth of Elphinstone; 1986 Mr & Mrs Mark Goldie of Dumfries; 1987 W Davidson & son David of Coalburn (think Harry O) 1990 Mr & Mrs Jim Seaton of Dumfries; 1991 E Hodgson & son of Annan; 1992 Brown & Black from Dalkeith; 1995 George Bell of Coldingham; 1998 Richard Combe of Elphinstone 2001 Jackie Brown of Dundee 2008 J & G Caird of Monifieth; 2012 G Dalgliesh & son of Ecclefechan; 2014 R S R & R J Rome of Annan;

IF ANYONE can help me by giving me details of the above Dewar Trophy winners I would be very grateful. For example performances of the birds; if they have some breeding details and if they have a photograph of the fanciers with the trophy it would be great. I have contacted a few of the past winners and have received some information on their winners. I’m quite enthusiastic about doing this feature as it is a BIG part of the history of Scottish pigeons and these birds and fanciers deserves to have their details recorded in the history of our sport.


Old Photograph

In my column of 5th January I had an old picture of a fancier standing outside his loft having a cigarette. I received a phone call from a fancier saying he thought it was Norman Fysh of Southampton who was a great friend of Cyril Medway who won 1st open Palamos twice. Normand and Cyril were without doubt 2 of the best long distance fanciers in the history of the BBC with great results from Palamos and Pau.  My thanks to the fancier called Dave for his call and conversation about good long distance pigeons and fanciers. I also received a phone call from Raymond Hood of Kilbirnie in Ayrshire who thought the photograph of the fancier was Mr Davidson of Kilwinning who timed in his famous pigeon ‘Faith’ from Barcelona which was a British record at that time. I spoke to my old friend Hendry Mair of Irvine about this but he cannot remember if it was Mr Davidson or not but he does think that this achievement was the spark that installed the 1000 mile club into Scotland (which you were a member of Joe all those years ago) Great memories as was Hendry and my trip down to see the famous Jim Biss of Brundall.       


Vi (Violet) Allan of Easthouses; Vi was the wife of Joe and they had been married for 56 years and had to son’s Stewart and Douglas. The boys made it home prior to Christmas and they caught up and had some special time with their mum before she slipped away. Vi was born on the 12th March 1942 and Joe and her married on the 1st April 1961. Stewart now lives and works in London while his brother Douglas stays in Budapest in Hungry. To Joe and the 2 boys we send our heartfelt condolences at their sad loss and may Vi rest in peace.

Ian Henderson of Gilmerton Edinburgh; It was a shock to hear of 80 year old Ian’s passing. I remember visiting him and his wife Mae in 1987 when they won the SNFC Rennes Gold Cup race with their Cattrysse based pied hen. The winner was named Pride of Midlothian and won with a velocity of 1081 from the 542 miles race; she also won the Louella Car nomination. Ian flew in partnership with his father Jock and his mother lived to the good age of 100 years old. Unfortunately Mae passed away 10 years ago however Ian continued keeping the pigeons and although he only had 30% lung capacity he would walk his dog 2 to 3 miles a day. Mae and Ian had 5 sons Derek; David; Gary; Allan and Iain. They also had 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren to whom we send our heartfelt condolences at this time. I’ve included an old photo of Mae and Ian receiving the SNFC Gold Cup for winning Rennes in 1987; rest in peace my old friends.    

Joe’s Joke

A young lady was going on holiday in a cruise ship and wrote in her dairy a daily update, which is as follows;

Day One: Packed all my nicest dresses, swimsuits, short sets. Really; really exciting. Our local Red Hat chapter - The Late Bloomers decided on this "all-girls" trip. It will be my first one - and I can't wait!
Day Two: Entire day at sea, beautiful. Saw whales and dolphins. Met the Captain
today -- seems like a very nice man.
Day 3: At the pool today. Did some shuffleboard and hit golf balls off the deck. The Captain invited me to join him at his table for dinner. Felt honoured and
had a wonderful time. He is very attractive and attentive.
Day 4: Won £800.00 in the ship's casino. The Captain asked me to have dinner with him in his own cabin. Had a scrumptious meal completed it with caviar and
champagne? He asked me to stay the night, but I declined. Told him I could
not be unfaithful to my boyfriend.
Day 5: Pool again today. Got sunburned, and I went inside for a drink at piano-bar,
stayed there for rest of day. The Captain saw me, bought me several large drinks. Really is quite charming. Again he asked me to visit his cabin for the night. Again I declined. He told me, if I did not let him have his way with me, he would sink the ship... I was shocked.
Day 6: Today I saved 2600 lives?????.Twice.

 Please continue to keep the news flowing; to Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. REMEMBER THE J IN THE MIDDLE or log onto and - Pigeon Racing the Basics! Who wish my weekly contribution portfolio on pigeon topics from Scotland

© Compiled by Joe Murphy