by John Ghent
Leicester Continental Club Pre-Season Report
Well, if you're going to start a new club and want a decent night to kick it off you may as well go for the best I suppose! With that in mind and after a lot of hard work by many members of this newly founded duplication club, April 4th 2014 saw the first annual moot take place with none other than Mr International, Mark Gilbert, and the craziest pigeon man around, Roger Lowe, make the journey up to Leicester to give us an insight into their pigeon year.
The Old Aylestone Social Club was the venue and we had people travelling from as far afield as Ireland, Wales and North Nottinghamshire to make this a cracking night for all parties. Club Chairman Chris Sutton put together an excellent compilation of questions for the two star panellists which took us right from the end of the racing season, through the moult, onto breeding and weaning, into the race season and finally finishing off with young bird racing and general health. Mark and Roger gave some excellent tips on what to do and what not to do but as always there were some clashes of opinion between two pigeon men, just shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat, some things that these two very successful fanciers do are at totally opposite ends of the scale. There was however one constant, dedication. Both fanciers obviously work very hard for the success they achieve and no doubt they will both be near the top of the results come the first race next weekend and I am sure both will hoping to be right at the very top when the Nationals start in full flow come the end of May!
Several top names in the pigeon world attended to hear what Mark and Roger had to say including Frank Bristow, Jerry Wright and Dean Pallett.
As well as the panel giving us an excellent insight to their 12 months of pigeon husbandry, there was a superb sale of young birds which were auctioned off by Micky Lennon who I am sure has a job at Sotherbys waiting in the wings if his auctioneering technique continues to be so impressive! Birds were donated by Frank Bristow, Mark Gilbert, Roger Lowe, MNFC winners Jerry Wright and Micky Lennon, sprint aces Dalby Bros and Mick O'Rourke, the list goes on and on. The total raised on the night was in excess of £1,500 and £1,000 of that is going straight into the prize pot for 2014 to be shared out across 7 races plus the Leicester Continental Super League which will reward the most consistent fanciers over the course of the season.
L-R:- Club Chairman Chris Sutton, Mark Gilbert and Roger Lowe
Before I move on to give a full run down of the prizes on offer for the season the club needs to say a big thank you to both Mark and Roger for making the trip up to Leicester, the night didn't finish until 11:45pm so a long day for them but you can see the passion they have for the sport and I think they could have gone on until 2:00am if we had let them! Also, three club members who really put in a lot of effort for the cause were Mick Lovell, who organised the venue, Dick Oram, who did a cracking job with the pens and getting the babies sorted for the sale, and last but not least our technical director Gaz Marsh, who got the PA system all set up and supplied it for the club to use free of charge! Myself, Chris Sutton and Alistair Ewart, club President, were extremely pleased with how smoothly the night ran and we are now looking forward to the first race for the club which is MNFC Carentan on May 24th, will you be involved?
From L-R:- Chairman Chris Sutton, Roger Lowe, Mark Gilbert, President Alistair Ewart and Secretary John Ghent.
That brings me on nicely to the itinerary for the season and to have a look at how the season will work, now we know the final prize money figure that we have available! Our aim when setting up the Leicester Continental Club was to make it fair for all involved, whether you be a big sender or a small sender, and also to keep paperwork and complication to a minimum. With this in mind we did not want to have lots of different pooling options or have lots of forms to fill in during the season so the format is as described. The Leicester Continental Club will duplicate back from all 7 MNFC races; Carentan, Fougeres, Ancenis, Vire, Bordeaux, YB Chale and YB Carentan. In each of these races there will be two results; firstly a straight race result where each members first two birds will count on the result, no nomination needed, and secondly, a single bird nom race. The straight result means the best pigeon in the club on the day will win the race in the Continental Club, there will be ten equal prizes paid out to the first 10 pigeons in the result, meaning at least 5 fanciers will win prize money in each race, it currently stands at £16 a place, meaning getting into the top 10 is the goal for the fanciers and consistency is the key! In the single bird nom, a text message or phone call to myself will nominate the pigeon, the list will then be emailed to all officers by 8:30pm on the Friday before liberation so no paperwork again, just how we like it! There are 4 places which will be paid in each race for the single bird nom, £27 for first place, £21 for second, £13.50 for third and £6.50 for fourth. So for the big senders the straight race means no nomination needed from the team and the small team men like myself have the single bird nomination to go at, all included in the one off entry fee. Also, the first 50% of birds in the straight race result win points for the fancier which go towards the end of season Super League, more points are awarded the further the race distances get so everyone is in with a shout whether you are a sprint fancier of a long distance guru! The fanciers who finish in the first 10 of the Super League will receive prize money, £150 for first place, £100 for the fanciers finishing between 2nd-5th, and £90 for the fanciers in 6th-10th places. We have 16 members and if you finish in the top 10 over the full season you are guaranteed to get at least your money back, although you will probably double your money if you finish in the top 10 of the Super League, how many other clubs can boast that? So in the full season we have 108 prizes currently on offer with £2,600 to be won, not bad for a 16 member club! Finally, club Chairman and Internationally known photographer Chris Sutton has kindly offered to photograph and frame the winning bird in the straight race for each and every race, an excellent donation from Chris which is worth hundreds of pounds. So just be aware that myself and Chris will be hunting you down the day after the race to come and get your photograph taken so we can get everything ready for the wonderful reports you will see, courtesy of yours truly, in the fancy press!
All that is left for me to say is good luck to all members for the coming season and if you would like more information on the Leicester Continental Club please do not hesitate to get in touch, email is best but try the mobile by all means, after 7:00pm is easiest for me to answer. Speak soon.
Press Officer and Secretary of the Leicester Continental Club