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Andy Parsonspart2 J Clements 19-10-18

Andy Parsons Certificate of Merit

Part two


John Clements


Continuing from my article in part one about 'Proud Mary' the Andy Parson pigeon of this year that won an NFC Certificate of Merit,  there is much more to say and discuss but I made a mistake in Part one. The previous Parsons Merit Award winner  was a Dark Cheq pigeon called ‘Big Sam’ and not the pigeon I mentioned ‘Red Cloud’ which is as it happens a pigeon from a previous multiple Merit award winning fancier - Alwyn Hill. I hope we all make mistakes at some time or another but this unconscious mistake,  has, if by some godly will joined two fanciers - both Cert of Merit award fanciers in the same article. The pigeon world is stranger than we can perceive. Certificate of Merit Pigeons also have qualities of reliability beyond our limited understanding. There is no one who can say for sure how one might breed such pigeons.  Certainly money can’t buy information of this kind.


Crossing the Rubicon into Long Distance

Getting back to the Parsons story and how  Andy crossed his personal Rubicon to decisively decide in 1988 that National Long distance racing was going to be his future direction.  As we now know a whole new world then opened up at the time. . This whole new world had to be further explored.  One essential idea was to somehow learn from those who were already doing it.  Already Andy had made contact with George Burgess who helped him a lot but he wanted more. 


Fanciers who have read Part One will know this friendship with George Burgess is ongoing for indeed a pigeon from George Burgess is in the pedigree of 'Proud Mary' but Andy was ambitious and newly fired up so there needed to be even more successful fanciers to learn from for his learning process to continue. One of these was the partnership of Mr and Mrs Cannon of Wormley.


The Cannons

The Cannon’s were the right choice for not only were they dedicated fanciers who targeted longer races they were also a couple who had dedicated their lives to the study of breeding and realised it was not just a matter of buying or importing the most expensive pigeons but of developing a family of reliable pigeon that could home repeatedly from long distances. The study of breeding is and always has been the creative side of the sport. Many fanciers have said - Racing is ‘Silver’ but Breeding is ‘Gold’ - this  statement is as true as it always has been but many either can’t or do not have the patience to put a study of breeding into practice. Racing is still the only priority  for most fanciers.


Andy found it difficult to get a response from the Cannons until Reg Jarvis the then secretary of the NFC and a friend of Andy intervened on his behalf, but even then for the first two visits he did not enter the lofts. Individual pigeons were brought into the house for inspection without going to the loft to see them. Finally an unattractive  youngster was presented that Andy was told “would do him some good”.  Andy was not particularly  impressed but took it nevertheless and true to the word of Eric Cannon it did breed some really good National  pigeons in races over 500 miles.



Creating a Breeding System

Initially the Cannon pigeons and the Burgess pigeons were kept separate. This separation of the two families lasted for three seasons with little racing success from either. Andy then tried a move that was to prove not only inspirational but magical. He moved one Burgess pigeon  into the Cannon family and one Cannon pigeon into the Burgess family.


These crosses worked like Magic - immediately the offspring began winning and losses reduced dramatically - it seemed as if a magic spell had struck but the truth is much more usual. This was a crossing of two inbred families resulted in two breeding  lines - The Burgess with one Cannon and the Cannon with one Burgess. These two lines were the  Parson ‘Red Line’ and the Parson Blue line.  As a breeding plan this was a master stroke for it meant the two families could continue producing top pigeons that would score from Tarbes for many years. This was of course providing each initial inbred  family was numerically dominant and subject only to a single cross from the other.

The Parsons Racing loft

The Parsons Racing Loft is unusual - There is a Brick built loft housing the nest boxes at the rear and an aviary in fromt almost completely covered with Louvres in front. A trapping is done through the aviary.  I suppose the louvres help to deter interest from Hawks.


Contentment without Complacency

Breeding and the cultivation of top long distance pigeons by understanding the intricacies of breeding is is a private passion for Andy Parsons. He has made a study of it and his results show he has made great progress but he is not complacent for he knows this aspect of the sport is not an exact science any everyone who tries it is feeling their way. Nevertheless Long Distance pigeons - Breeding and the study of how to improve is a source of containment . Andy Parsons is certainly a contented fancier.


One example of his thinking  is the case of an inbred hen  that returned on the Monday when the race was won by the previous Saturday. Because she was an inbred pigeon Andy immediately recognised her value for future breeding. She did of course fulfil just what was expected of her. She bred many top Tarbes pigeons when crossed - pigeons that were much better than herself when it came to racing but vastly inferior when it came to breeding. Most fanciers find it difficult to think in these terms. Most fanciers find it difficult to think in the long term where not everything is known or understood but this kind of thinking  it is necessary if you are to be consistent and successful over many years. 


‘Merit Award’  Fanciers

There are a few British fanciers who do think in this way and strangely enough a consistent thread amongst most of them is that many have won an NFC  ‘Certificate of Merit’ in their careers. Many of these have made a notable contribution to the Parsons loft. Fanciers such as Len Painter - Keith Bush - Eric Cannon and John Wills. 



Strain Building Today

This is no coincidence that reliability and top pigeons are connected.  Those who notice such things also note NFC Certificate of Merit pigeons are now ridiculously cheap when compared to the thousands of Euro’s  spent acquiring  supposingly superior Continental birds.  The new creative fancier is no longer over influenced by market hype - He  is a down to earth fancier who has a long term breeding plan.  This is certainly not the  gangster method.   Andy Parsons, earning his second ‘Certificate of Merit’ within five years,  is probably one of  the foremost examples of this new emerging creative - strain building fancier today.