THE ELIMAR INTERVIEW
JIM EMERTON CHATS TO
CONVOYER OF THE WELSH SOUTH ROAD NATIONAL
What attracts you to the powerful and onerous post of convoyer?
I enjoy the friends you make on your travels, also looking after the birds in the best way possible in the transporters we have. What isn’t nice is when you get abuse off your own fellow fanciers, as we all know anyone can make a mistake. [The person that never makes a mistake doesn’t do anything.] As the well known partnership of Preece Bros of Cwmtillery once said to me, these fanciers that are complaining want to look at themselves in the mirror first before opening their mouths. One of the best phrases I hate to hear is, ‘Oh, these birds have only had one toss but they will be alright, they will come with the batch’. Well, I can tell you a lot don’t, they get left at the race point and just ruin the race for others. Then it’s the convoyer’s fault!
Please describe your many duties for us Phil.
Get the birds to the race point as soon as possible, try to keep the birds clean and dry, a fresh supply of water, and as much fresh air as possible. If you have to feed do it at around the same time every day.
What do you think when people tend to blame the convoyer for their poor race results?
Look at yourself in the mirror first, and above all make sure your birds are well trained for drinking etc. Only this weekend people were complaining that their birds were thirsty when they homed. What do they expect when the birds have been flying for over 6 1/2 hrs? One of the problems we have is to get birds to drink early in the morning; if you have a 6.30am lib most birds are not interested in drinking before that.
Liberation sites vary. Which are the best and why?
The ones that the Welsh South Road Fed and Welsh National use are pretty good: Frome, Salisbury, Lyndhurst, Bedhampton, Littlehampton, inland, and Carentan, Falaise, Tours, Niort, Guernsey and Messac across channel, are all good. I’m going to Le Mans next, somewhere I haven’t been before,
What are the sleeping and eating facilities like for you abroad?
The same as they are inland. 99% of fanciers wouldn’t do it. Eating facilities are OK if you like feathers, shavings and droppings in your food!
Any exciting or colourful anecdotes or stories for us Phil?
There are loads and way too many to comment on. There was one event that I will never forget. We were coming back from Nantes, I think, many years ago, well before the new roads were open. We came into a small village on a Sunday and there was a fete being held there. The French are well known for their flags. When we came into the village our transporter was too high for the flags and bunting so there were panic stations. The crowds started to scream and shout and point at the bunting etc. Well, we weren’t going to reverse all the way back so one of the guys in the crowd had a brainstorm and decided to climb up the front of the wagon and sit on the roof, so the one on top started to lift the bunting as we came to it while another on the road directed us along the main road. This went on all through the village and we got out the other side with no damage. We stopped at the end of the road and the guy on the road stuck his thumbs up and said OK. We proceeded about a quarter of a mile down the road when we heard a banging on top of the cab. Yes, you’ve guessed it the guy was still on top! It’s a good job he did bang as there was a low bridge coming up. There would have been a bit of a mess.
Please tell us about your own racing?
I fly with my partner Hillary. We have flown together for ten years now, winning the Welsh SRNFC 3 times and being second twice. We’ve also won the Spanish National Club of Wales twice, plus the averages in both the Welsh National and the Welsh SR Fed. I couldn’t have done it without her. Hillary has also done really well showing dogs taking 2nd in her class at Crufts, and had another bitch winning three best in shows.
How are decisions on liberations made and what is your role in this?
Decisions are made between me and our race controller Mike Parker. He does most of the phoning to different feds that are crossing us plus the weather man. I am at the other end doing the same. Hopefully we come to a decision. We usually do. This year has been one of the worst I can remember.
What is a perfect transporter?
One with natural airflow. I have no problem with vented sheets. Plenty of room up the middle for watering and feeding, all baskets the same so that you feed one and it’s the same right through the transporter. Somewhere away from the birds for preparing our food, and good sleeping accommodation. It’s not much to ask for is it? I go to Blackpool every year and see fanciers buying the best birds, the best lofts and the best baskets they can. They bring them home, breed what they can, then come the first race they are willing to put them in any sort of crate they have in the club. As long as they go on the transporter, no one cares. Lo and behold if they come home in a bit of a mess though.
Can we improve the food given to the racers?
As regards food for the birds, I have no complaints with what we use. 99% of it’s Gem Widowhood, a very good mix.
Any comments Phil on other pigeon topics?
I think I’ve said enough. I just hope we can do something about the birds of prey. Spring Watch is on TV at the moment and that’s all they are on about. It turns me sick.
How do you wish to be remembered?
As a good fancier and convoyer.