by John Ghent
WHICH WAY TO GO?
I was made to re-think one of my original thoughts last week and remembered what a well known pigeon journalist said to me a few months ago: "do your research." Well, now that has been done I feel I am in a in position to put some meat on the bones of a particular snippet that was published a few weeks ago in Leicestershire Notes, specifically regarding the North/South divide in Leicestershire and the Midlands.
Here I sit, just off a Fosse Road, and within 4 miles of me I have 3 clubs to choose from, all in different federations flying different routes. One flys South with the Leicestershire South Road Federation, one is on the South West route with the Warwickshire Federation, and one flys North in the East Midlands Amalgamation. Now as anyone who reads the press knows, I am interested in South Road nationals and Internationals so that rules out one club in theory, the closest one to me actually, very frustrating, but for such a divided county this situation cannot be good.
A true Leicestershire Federation used to exist when the majority of the county flew North, and would send around 2,500 birds a week, and the Coalville Federation was sending fairly similar numbers from what I have been told. And there lies the problem, Leicestershire has always been a divided county, even when we all flew the same way. Add to the mix the South Road and the issue is just magnified, so what can be done?
Well, as I said at the start of my article, I thought the only option would be the South Road due to numbers but the East Midlands Amalgamation is actually sending more birds than the Leicestershire South Road Fed at the minute, and they cover similar areas, having clubs in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Therefore, we cannot say that the "North" is dying so to speak, although one or two clubs turning the other way would do some serious damage to he Amalgamation. However it has not happened yet.
The question I would pose is one of options. Before everyone jumps up and says that I am knocking organisations and the North Road in general, I am not, I simply ask this. What is the likelihood of winning the NRCC, the most prestigious organisation on the North Road, within Leicestershire and more specifically, whilst flying with the East Midlands Amalgamation, apart from when flying from Lerwick? Having looked at the recent results within the NRCC I don't need to tell people the size of the drag down the East coast is enormous. I don't think I could race in my club week after week, knowing that when the big one comes I don't have a prayer! How frustrating for a North Road flyer it must have been last year when all your work goes into one race, Lerwick with the NRCC, only for the birds to be brought back. If that had happened on the South Road then there would be another 500/600/700 mile race the following week due to the amount of options the South Road has, and lots of options are not always good to be fair, but in this instance I think they are.
Now let's look at the alternative organisation on the South Road, the Midlands National. The South Centre section was won in Leicestershire last year in over 80% of the races, and many Open positions were also scored, against bigger birdage than the NRCC. There are some excellent fanciers in Leicestershire and if we all pulled together, or at least had conversations about it, then something could work. The South Road scene in Leicester is far from perfect and I actually think if it is just club racing you are interested in then the North is currently a very good option, giving good distance in the programme, and having a correctly named organisation, the East Midlands Amalgamation. However, if anybody sends with the NRCC then I think you should look long and hard before putting the birds in the basket and think..."can I actually win this?"
I sent to my first race in 16 years last week, straight over the channel to Carentan with the British Barcelona Club, flying in the same section as Mark Gilbert, and in the same race as my mates in Taunton, Bournemouth, Staffordshire and Grimsby. If there were more options to fly these type of race on the North Road then I would have joined. I would love to fly from the Faroes, Saxa Vord, Lerwick, even Oslo.
Pigeon racing is a hobby that is meant to bring people together and it certainly does nationally. Leicestershire seems to have forgotten this and continues to lead a fractured existence. I hope this ceases some day and we can all come to some agreement on what is the best way forward. I am more than happy to facilitate any discussions, and as long as we are all open minded then I am sure conversations can at least take place. If we do not get any results from the conversations, then at least we can say we tried!
83, Newport Street