From the Chair goes inside the mind of a Marathon Man.
Chris Williams talks to Jim Emerton.
I have always held firmly to the belief that the sport of racing pigeons like life itself is a continual learning curve in which we are all on a quest for knowledge, a wise man far greater than I once said “seek and you will find, Ask and it will be given to you .
Jim Emerton is a name that is synonymous in the sport of Long distance/ marathon pigeon racing not only for his race record but also his evocative and at times philosophical mastery of pros, which he uses to engage, challenge and inform readers As part of my quest for racing knowledge. Jim invited me to submit questions for him to answer, so come with me as we go “inside the mind of a Marathon Man” as I sit down with Jim and talk pigeons.
1 There is no doubt blood plays a vital role in the foundation of a loft, but I would be interested to know your thoughts as to why a fancier will excel with a certain strain while another will fail to get the best out of them?
1 The essence of performance with birds of any name or origin is found in the prowess, system and methodology, peculiar to the individual fancier. The corollary is that certain lines of birds from prepotent parents can be superior as racers-we call them golden or no 1 pairs. I concentrate on these types. Clever fanciers realise potential of their birds in race reality.
2. in recent years particularly in the UK and Ireland interest in the longer races with the BICC has increased, but how does a fancier go about sourcing these pigeons? should we look to the continent or closer to home?
2 Pigeons are a mixed bunch of diverse genes, and you should aim for the top to produce your own champions in racing. However, befriend and deal with the top men at your chosen distance-look to the UK, ask the good men to help you. I went to Denney/Donaldson and Robinson for direct birds from the ace pigeons. Be wise, perceptive and shrewd when making decisions, and part with little money. Esoteric knowledge is key. Who are the top men, when it gets tough?
3 Do pigeons which compete at National International level differ from those at club and
3 Some birds will perform at all levels of competition with speed/endurance and navigation. Nick and I use the BICC prog as training before Barcelona International, where every bird is sent over 710 miles to fly west. Wise to start at club level and work the same family up to the highest echelons of the sport-prove self and birds at all levels. The hard evidence is in the survivors both man and bird.
4 Do you think it is possible to compete at National, Classic or even International racing without participating at domestic club level
Each of us has our own definition of the perfect pigeon with certain things we like to see in a bird so what constitutes a perfect pigeon in the eyes of Jim Emerton? What is it about the pigeon sport that has led you to devote most if not all of your life to it?
4 I like people to start on the bottom rung, learn the game, love it and go to the top, which is the creation of a strain.
5. Each of us has our own definition of the “perfect pigeon “with certain things we like to see in a bird so what constitutes a perfect pigeon in the eyes of Jim Emerton ?
5 My DIABOLOS was perfect for me being a champion racer/producer who created a dynasty of good birds out to 879 miles Barcelona-71 to 879 miles. From my no 1 pair, I retired him at 2 and he died at 22. GB 83S35305. A dominant cocker was lovely to I and hand.
6. What is it about the pigeon sport that has led you to devote most if not all of your life to it?
6 Pigeons are in my spirit and psyche for the past 67 years. As sporting birds, they transcend people, objects and life itself, rewarding me with mystical experiences of awe and wonder.
7. Has there ever been a time when something which you once held to be a truth has been inaccurate , for example are there any theory’s which you once questioned which you now regard as fact or indeed maybe the opposite is also true ?
7 Find truth on every level of analysis of the sport-probe all the cliché, false beliefs, wives tales, delusion, illusion and fantasy-what is the nature of the beast behind all subjective theories like eye sign-look for human bias and falsehood?
8. How much of the racing pigeon potential is down to its genetic make up and how much is the fancier responsible for?
8 Man and pigeons are a subtle fusion of nature and nurture all lifeforms are influenced by external stimuli up to cosmic level-the microcosm within the macrocosm-make the right decisions now.
9. Who has been the greatest influence on you both as a fancier and a writer.
9 As a Mensan/Intellectual I have been influenced by the great writers in the literary world, poets, philosophers etc. Liam Ocomain was the pigeon writer, friend I admired for his probing, ethereal, evocative and diligent work-a beautiful and great soul!
10. Of all the disciplines which make up the great sport of pigeon racing what is that turned you toward long-distance and Marathon racing ?
10 Marathon racing is the supreme test of endurance, stamina, skill, knowledge and class of man and the individual bird. The revered Barcelona will not be mastered-behold the only thing greater than thyself. The formula 1 of racing-no delusion with this point lads.
11. I am a lover of history anyway but I am always spell bound by the amazing exploits of the fanciers and pigeons from yesteryear are the pigeons of today not as robust as their forbears if so why?
11 Modern men and systems create weak, drug dependent birds, where sprinting is the modus operandi. Bring back nature, distance and severe testing of all birds beyond 500 miles and raise the immune system in the natural elements.
12. Why are certain fanciers so secretive is this not harmful to the future of the sport , for example a novice or even a fancier that is looking to improve his or her results buys a book or DVD and maybe even pigeons from fancier “A “who claims they attain top results by Step 123 and the novice follows the same principles thinking that they too are on right track only to be bitterly disappointed while fancier A comes out on top but it is later reviled that in reality fancier A uses a totally different approach
12 As ego- defence mechanisms, fanciers protect their secrets as they fear others. All my knowledge is out there in my 8 books on Amazon. It is a competitive element that drives secrecy.
13. Are pigeons an extension of the fancier’s personality?
13 My birds are an extension of my own psyche-they influence me and i empathise with them in harmony and synchrony-it is beautiful an experience.
14. Piet de weerd favoured pigeons that were vigour’s and often wriggled in the hand what are the character traits you look for in a long distance or marathon pigeon candidates does it have any bearing upon performance .?
14 I like quiet, calm, introverted hens that sleep in the baskets-they survive the rigours of racing better than nervy birds. Keep all you birds calm, clean and contented.
15. What factors need considered when purchasing new stock ?
15 Study the fancier when obtaining birds-is he genuine or a fly con man. Keep costs down and go direct to the champion man and bird. Use your intuitive brain and nose.
16. When studying results is it the amount of birds in a race or the quality of the competition . we should look at ?
16. Go and join the big boys of International events laden with quality in numbers and at the highest distance, and as soon as you can over 20k birds if you can.
17. Science has tried over the years to explain just how pigeons home but is pigeon racing an art or a science ?
17. Pigeon racing is a fusion of psychology/physiology/hard science/art and the total human personality in synthesis with external objectives around pigeons.
18. You have always struck me as a deep thinker , who looks at the sport and perhaps most importantly the pigeons themselves from many different perspectives , in your opinion are fanciers so intrenched on certain issues and facets that they miss the bigger picture, such as enjoying their pigeons ?
18 In the final analysis, be hedonistic and enjoy the sport-have a blast and a buzz.
19. Do you have any thoughts on the darkness system ?
19 Darkness systems can be good for young and old at different distances, especially yb distance races. We do well without it at marathon level, and the systems are unnatural. I like free birds in the sky.
20. I might be putting you on the spot here but as a long-distance specialist if you could pick three fanciers as contender for the greatest of all time who would they be and why?
20 Of all time we have Mark Gilbert 500 to 700 miles, Neil Bush over 700 miles and Trevor Robinson over 850 miles. All these individuals have great hard, objective, empirical results over aeons of time. They are the best in their chosen areas of competition.
21. If you were to start from scratch and money was no object which famous pigeons past or present would you purchase
21 I would buy Champions Woodsider/The Tee and Lancashire Rose as great marathon birds in history.
Yes Chris, have a great career as a writer of profound insight, originality and deep sensitivity and thank you dearly. Jim Emerton.