A TRIBUTE TO GEOFF SNELLING OF ALDERSHOT.
I was very saddened to hear of the recent passing of Geoff Snelling. With his passing, the sport of pigeon racing has lost yet another one of it’s greatest small team long distance fanciers. Geoff’s loft was only small, but his performances competing at the top level were big over many years. I have known Geoff for many years, going back to the 1970’s and found him to be a nice, kind and quite man.
Geoff had been in the sport since 1969 and got hooked on pigeons when feeding flown out strays at the bakery where he worked. He obtained birds from most of the local fanciers around the Godalming area and said Arthur Engel let him have some good stock at no expense. On starting up the performances of Eric Cannon and Alec Martin both of Godalming drew his attention to the sport and said he had some birds from the north of England in those early days which were moderately successful around the middle distance. His first club was the Godalming & Dist. FC, with most of the members encouraging him, but in particular Bill Marshall. He said he made many mistakes early on, but hopefully he had learnt by them. His biggest mistake he said was probably lack of attention to detail. His first loft was a converted shed and looking back on it, said it was a terrible shambles.
I arranged to make the 25 mile drive to Aldershot, Hants to visit Geoff Snelling who had enjoyed an incredible season in 1980, winning many major positions including 1st open Southern South Road Amalgamation (8,687 birds) Saintes and winning the Ash Vale R.P.C. Old and Young Bird Averages, the Solent Federation three longest races Average, and the Southern SR Amalgamation Average. Geoff's 1st open Amalgamation winning pigeon was his yearling red grizzle cock called 'Magri' which won the Amalgamation by 31 ypm, earning him an RPRA Southern Region Award. 'Magri's' sire, a Denys Brothers grizzle, was bred by Bernard Miles from the two champion stock pigeons 'Grey Flight II' and 'Little Mo', both from Denys Brothers in Belgium. The dam of the Amalgamation winner was a red chequer hen bred by the late Alec Martin of Godalming from his red Janssens family which were highly successful. Geoff raced his pigeons on the natural and widowhood systems, 'Magri' won the Amalgamation on widowhood.
One of Geoff's best hens at that time was the wonderful blue chequer pied hen, 'Joanne', and her racing and breeding record was out of this world. On the road she won:-1975: (YB) 4th club Weymouth. 1976: 1st club, 9th Surrey Federation, 21st SMT Combine Niort. 1977: 2nd club, 47th Surrey Federation, 77th SMT Combine Niort, 8th club, 35th Surrey Federation, 93rd SMT Combine Bergerac. 1978: 35th Sect, 371st open (8,659 birds) Nantes NFC, 22nd Sect, 114th open (4,515 birds) Pau NFC. 1979: 101st Sect, 204th open (10,567 birds) Nantes NFC. 1980: 1st club, 15th Solent Federation, 30th Southern SR Amalgamation (6,815 birds) Bergerac, and she was the dam of many prize winners including 'Bright Eyes', granddame of 'Noble Saint', great-grand dam of 'Troy' and is a sister to 'Little Annie', winner of 3rd club, 3rd Surrey Federation, 3rd SMT Combine Le Mans in 1979.
Geoff's family was based around Eric Cannon's pigeons, combined with his champion stock cock 'Vaguely Noble' which was bred by Louis Massarella from champions 'Whitehaven King' and 'Premonition'. The 1988 Cancer Research Amalgamation event saw 2,821 birds entered for the 280 mile race from Tours. The race was a stiff one after liberation in a NE wind, only two pigeons recording over 1000 ypm. Winning pigeon was a two year old Widowhood blue chequer cock owned by Geoff Snelling and he named his new champion 'Heron Wood Researcher'. His latest Amalgamation winner was bred down from 'Magri' and the sire of 'Researcher' was Geoff's good blue chequer cock 'Heron Wood Hat Trick', the winner of nine times 1st club for the Snelling loft. There you have it, the late Geoff Snelling, a brilliant fancier and very nice man! Geoff Snelling RIP.
Keith Mott (November 2021)