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LEICESTERSHIRE NOTES

by John Ghent

This latest Leicestershire Notes, probably the last one before the season starts, is one I have been looking forward to for a little while. I have brought "The Farmer" out of retirement and have asked him to help me put together a little piece which you will read about shortly. I cannot believe the weather as I sit here, my heating is on full blast and I am shivering as I have tonsillitis at the minute, must be all the excitement with racing allegedly just four weeks or so away! I don't envy the flyers who's federations are starting on April 6th, although as we all know the British weather is unpredictable at best and in 2 weeks time we could all have our sun hats on.

 

Just to tidy up a couple of little bits: the Leicester Harrow South Road Flying Club has moved headquarters to the Thurmaston WMC and now has 21 full flying members, rivalling the South Leicester Flying Club and I can see some monumental battles for Federation honours this coming season. It is sad to see more North Road members defecting in one sense but times change and it would be nice to see lines of communication opened between the North Road Fed and the South Road in the coming season to see if something can be put together to bring us all under one umbrella again, although I can only see South Road flying as the way forward I believe. The Leicester South Road Fed held it's Breeder/Buyer and the Chairman Graham Brown reliably informs me that over £1,200 was raised so a massive thank you to all involved, I unfortunately could not make it as it was my daughters 10th birthday, so I saved money in one way, and my wallet took a severe pounding in another, £36 for 4 people at the cinema, scandalous! We would also like to thank Hill Top Service Station in Earl Shilton near Leicester who have once again kindly offered to sponsor the Fed transporter for another season, your continued support is very much appreciated.

 

Now many of you will know that due to health reasons "The Farmer" retired from these pages but this is something we have put together, he providing the info and I provided the typing. I hope to do a few more like this, I am sure it will provoke much quality conversation during the racing season amongst some of the elder statesmen in the fancy. This first write-up is about a character of the sport that I wasn't fortunate enough to meet, but as soon as I asked my Grandad who we should do a write-up on, he did not hesitate with the reply, "Stan Ludlam." My Grandad and Stan lived very close to each other so here, in "The Farmer's" words, is a bit about Stan.

 

"My Life with Luddy..."

 

To say that Stan was a character would be an understatement as some of these little stories will show. Stan ran a green grocers just off Aylestone Road, it was the front room of a terraced house and he lived in the back room with the kitchen off it. The lofts were out the back in a terraced yard, much like the streets of Newfoundpool, Tudor Road and Woodgate. He had been a fantastic ballroom dancer in his day, until he was in a car crash and the accident really damaged his legs, so pigeons took over, as they so often do in these circumstances! I first met Luddy shortly after starting back in pigeons, I had a few babies, about 6 if I remember correctly, flying round nicely and suddenly this kit came and swept them away! I worked out the location and entered the rear of this terraced house and there stood Stan, after brief introductions he asked if that was my pigeon on the hospital roof, I replied yes and his words were, "I get told off if the pigeons go up there, I'll just fire a shot near it to scare it off." You can guess the rest! The bird rolled down the slates, off the gutter and landed next to the hospital, never to be seen again!

Gary Farmer, my Uncle, 3rd generation fancier and Lacey Ghent, my youngest daughter. Will she be the 5th generation of fancier in the Farmer/Ghent family?

 

Stan was well known around the pigeon fraternity across the whole of the UK, it was in fact Louis Massarella that really got him involved in racing so he had great connections from the start, and he was not afraid to have a go in any open race so people knew who he was! Stan once had a pigeon that flew Lerwick, Thurso and the Faroe Islands in one season, he would train anywhere as well. He offered me a training toss once, I took him up on the offer, dropped the birds off to him and went to work. I came back home at 1.00pm and not a feather, at 4.00pm a blue hen dropped, wings sagging, absolutely shattered. I went round to Luddy and asked him how many he had. "The lot dropped at 10.00, what do you mean you have none?" I asked him where they went and then it hit me........."South, he replied, 60 miles South." We were in the Leicestershire North Road Fed and Luddy had sent the birds South, priceless. I never did get another one back.

 

Luddy loved his distance racing and the pigeon "Down Under" scored well at Thurso, he scored in one of the Midlands Amalgamation races that my bird "Clapper" scored in as well, and he got his name as he nested under the loft. Stan had to rake him out to clock him in or basket him for a race. The birds were fed anything that Stan had lying around, cheese, bread, chips, they were glorified street peckers really, but they knew how to race.

 

I have countless tales and fables about Stan, the cock that used to return with his legs seized up and would shuffle down the roof before lodging itself into the gutter and then coming down to the loft, the time where myself, Cliff Merry, Stan and Arthur Russell all pooled a pigeon each of Stan's for Thurso, I was clocking in and Stan's bird came first but as it dropped in the loft my pooler turned up, again you can guess the rest! However, the funniest moment with Stan, which still makes me cry with laughter to this day is this one. Stan had an American visitor coming over and he was going to tell the visitor that his pigeons would go over to the hospital to eat whatever they could find! Stan asked me to wait for the American to go round the back, then take a doughnut, which Stan had provided, shove it over this cock's head and chuck it up. Well.....that it was I did. As I made my way into the yard to meet the visitor, Stan jumped back with astonishment and pointed to the roof, the American was overjoyed, taking photo after photo of this pigeon picking at the doughnut around its neck, I couldn't contain my laughter!

 

So there we have it, the sport is all about people like Luddy, and although he was a pain in the backside sometimes, falling asleep in our living room on many occasions much to the fury of my wife, I am very pleased that I was able to call Stan Ludlam a friend of mine.

 

"The Farmer"

 

With clubs and Feds having bigger radii than ever before I thought it would be good idea to explore different methods of competition to give everyone a chance regardless of loft position, overfly and money. So I want to hear from anyone who is doing something a little different in Leicestershire or further afield. We have just launched a League Championship in The South Leicester and I will keep the league tables up to date thought his column. If anyone wants to know how to implement a league table into their own organisation, whether it be a club, federation, or classic, then I will be happy to advise and assist however I can.

 

Finally a note in a cracking young bird sale which is due to take place at The Old Aylestone Social Club on April 7th. The Monsell Flying Club have arranged the sale, Mick O'Rourke and Ray Dalby have assured me there will be some class babies on offer, so I would very much advise people popping along to take a look, and hopefully the weather will be better by then! The sale is due to start around mid-day with penning up in the hour or so beforehand.

 

"Mush"

83, Newport Street

Leicester

LE3 9FU

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