UNSUNG SUPER BIRDS - Part 2
by John Ghent
Due to the powers of the Internet some of my articles manage to hit the world-wide web before the fancy press and the more technically minded will get access to them sooner. Scott Summers is one of those and I was delighted to receive a phone call from Scott on the 1st November to take me up on my offer regarding "Unsung Superbirds". As members of the same club we have a certain rapport, the highlight of which for him was probably seeing me in a somewhat dishevelled state, trying to sell pigeons in the Winter Gardens, after a night out with the Summers, Dalbys and Aitchiesons, highly recommended but not before a full day's graft at Blackpool! Anyway, I digress. Scott called to highlight a bird which belongs to his Father, John Summers, and is a true "Unsung Superbird".
The cock in question is a quirky lad and has a knack of coming up against the odds. Differing massively from my last article on "Clapper" in the simple way that this pigeon is still alive, it was a great attraction for me! Coupled with the fact that the race point of Lerwick, the Barcelona of the North as far as pigeon racing is concerned, cropped up in the story, I was hooked and was itching to get to grips with the story! The best part for me was that the Summers family are Leicester based, less than 2 miles from where I live. So on the first Saturday in November I was off with a spring in my step to get the story of the 2nd "Unsung Superbird".
Here's the story of John Summers' "Mal's Boy"....
GB 04 X 28101, a blue bar cock of Busschaert lines crossed with Paul Partridge of Wales, that is the basic information of "Mal's Boy". This pigeon has flown the graveyard race point of Lerwick no fewer than 5 times into Leicester and his results are quite astonishing. John is a laid back pigeon man, he loves Lerwick and his season is geared towards this one race point, so much so that his son Scott tells me he rarely, if ever, has a clock set for any race point. John's "methods" are just about keeping the birds happy, working them well and allowing them to lead a natural lifestyle (just the way I like it).
"Mal's Boy" got his name after flying Lerwick for the first time in 2006 on June 25th, the birthday of John's late wife. As a 2 year old at Lerwick for the first time the bird took 1st Braunstone Premier Club, 1st Leicester Fed, 1st Ratby Club 3rd Coalville Fed and 3rd East Midlands Amalgamation. Now that's an excellent performance for a 2 year old and many people would have said "Mal's Boy" had earned his perch for that season but three weeks later, this time with the NRCC, "Mal's Boy" was back in the basket for Lerwick to take 8th Section 3, 36th Open from 1,941 birds. In 2007 he went back to Lerwick with the NRCC and came to take 58th Open from 1,203 birds. 2008 was "Mal's Boy's" leanest year when he came to take 200 and something Open, again with the NRCC, so the Diploma of Merit eluded him and John for at least another 12 months. The diploma is awarded for a bird placed 3 times in the top 200 from Lerwick. This is where the story gets interesting!
And so to 2009 when "Mal's Boy" made the all too familiar trip across the Highlands and onto the ferry towards the graveyard on the Shetland Islands in an attempt to win a Diploma of Merit. He was sent with confidence, how can you not send him with confidence after he had flown Lerwick four times, but the raced proved to be a disaster. John seems to remember there were only around 34 birds on the day from 1,627 in the convoy and "Mal's Boy" was not one of them. John went to bed contemplating and was up at the crack of dawn as soon as the hours of darkness were opened again, 4.30am, just hoping that he was not too far away. These are John's words: "I had just came out of the loft after tending to the other birds and looked up and he was walking down the roof of the loft towards the trap!"
Mal's Boy was clocked at 5.10am to take 36th Open and a Diploma of Merit for his efforts, three times in the top 200 from Lerwick, flying 521 miles into the South of Leicester, what a pigeon.
The preparation for the blue cock was simple. Three short races along with various training tosses from all points of the compass, with some single ups in all weather conditions, hardening him up for the task that lie ahead across the North Sea. He raced from Lerwick sitting eggs of 10 days, 8 day old babies, big babies and looking at his hen, so all different types of condition. His final preparation was Fraserburgh, right out on the East coast of Scotland, and the funny thing is he only once did Fraserburgh once on the day. I again hand over to John. "Whether these extra hours flying did him good I don't know but to me he is a once in a lifetime pigeon, five times Lerwick. Other fanciers may have disposed of him for nighting out at 350 miles. I'm glad I didn't!"
I'll bet you are John! It does make you wonder doesn't it, how many birds are disposed of when an extra few miles could just see them right. Worth considering for the future! I'd like to once again take the opportunity to thank Scott for the call and John for supplying the information about "Mal's Boy", a once in a lifetime pigeon.
Now I know my first two stories have been about Leicester birds but Scott was the first person that came to me offering up information. I am more than happy to give as many as possible their moment in the limelight, and will be doing more proactive research in the Winter months as the nights get longer and longer. However, again, all I ask is for names, phone numbers, photos, results, anything at all for me to get my teeth into to give us all a laugh, maybe make us cry little (admit it, you had a weep at the end of the "Clapper" story, I did!) and make the off season go just that little bit quicker.
So again, signing off......
83, Newport Street