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Joe Murphy 22-02-19

The Joe Murphy Column

Received an email from Brian Donnelly of Dundee who wrote, ‘Hi Joe, hope you are keeping better. I wondered if you could mention in your column that due to health issues, John Duthie of Dundee has decided to part with his entire team of pigeons. The birds will be sold by auction on 10th March, 2019 at Newbridge Bowling Club, Old Liston Road, Newbridge EH28 8SS. Birds on view 1pm, sale starts 2pm. Thanks for your assistance with this matter and good luck to you and Kevin for the coming season, yours in sport Brian’. This was a big shock as John has had some outstanding results over the years winning a SNFC Gold Award in 2005, then winning the SNFC Gold Cup from Reims in 2010 and doing the double in 2013 from Alencon. On checking the national results John has won 24 diplomas in the past 2 years proving the quality of the birds on offer.

Race Team Sale

 Received an email from David McArthur, who informs me that due to unforeseen circumstances all of Martin Conlin of Grangemouth race team of birds will be sold. The venue is Laurieston club house: 42, Grahamsdyke Street Laurieston FK2 9LU on Sunday 24th February 2019. Viewing from 12-30 - 13-30, and sale starts at 13-30, all information will be on the pens please contact Martin Conlin for any further details on 07745052200.

Pages from the Past

This week I continue with articles written fellow scribe Gareth Watkins which I have to say found most interesting and this time highlight the loft of Tony Twyman who won 1st BICC Barcelona at 718 miles, with 'Little Sarah'. Gareth writes ‘Here we have another successful loft at the distance that did not depend on large numbers of pigeons racing to an extensive range of lofts. At the time of his win from Barcelona in 1989 the 8ft x 8ft old bird loft and 8ft x 3 foot young bird loft housed just 14 old bird racers plus 3 stock birds along with a young bird team of just 10 pigeons! ‘Little Sarah’ winner of 1st BICC Barcelona: 1904th open, 364th hens, 10th East England CC Orleans. 49th Open Montluçon: Flew channel 10 times: Dam of ‘Orleans Girl’ - 1st East England Orleans, 5th Beauvais & 15th Clermont.

JohnWills, The late Brian Williams and Tony Twyman. All winners of International races with the BICC   

TonyTwyman and son Justin being presented with the Barcelona trophy by Silvere Toy

TonyTwyman Lerwick Cock


Tony Twyman Little Sarah 1st BICC Barcelona

Tony Twymans Thurso hen top racer and stock hen. Dam of 1st Barcelona


The Foundation

The loft was founded on four main pigeons and these were: - a blue cock purchased from Louella for £12. This blue cock was a grandson of “Whitehaven King” winner of 1st Open VauxUsher International from Beauvais competing against 22,000 pigeons. He went on to fly Lerwick on the north road and Barcelona on the south road as well as being the progenitor of many of the Twyman’s best racers. The second founding influence was a blue hen purchased from Joe Bradford bred directly from Joe’s great long distance racer “Jubilee Lady” winner of 1st, 21st & 143rd open from Palamos at 700 miles. Next we have another Joe Bradford pigeon, a blue cock named “Joe’s Boy”. This cock was a grandson of 2nd & 4th open Palamos for Joe Bradford and he proved to be the sire of “Little Sarah” the 1989 Barcelona winner. The Bradford pigeons were based to a large extent on birds from Cheshire fancier Joe Shore of Comberbach who was regularly clocking good pigeons from Pau at 700 miles. There was also a strong influence of the bloodlines of Frank Cheetham’s 700 mile family in the make-up of the Bradford birds. Frank Cheetham, who hailed from Pontefract in Yorkshire, had a fantastic record of wins at National level with the NFC. Pigeons such as “Sunny Bank Fantastic” and “Sunnybank Incredible” set the Yorkshire long distance racing scene alight with their exploits from Pau in the 1960s.

Tony Twyman's ‘Thurso Hen’ top racer and stock hen and Dam of 1st Barcelona.

The final piece in the genetic jigsaw that made up the Twyman master plan was a red hen purchased at a BICC auction organised by Tony Cowan and Ted Bennett. This red hen was bred direct from “La Oscura”, the 1978 winner of 1st open Barcelona for Cyril Galyer. The sire of the red hen was bred by Bob McDonald of Fraserburgh from his old “Cripple Cock” family of 600 700 mile pigeons. The red hen was knocked down at a ridiculously low price of £10 and turned out to be a bit of a character as she was lost off the loft for a number of years before being reported. She was then taken back to the Twyman loft only to go AWOL a number of times before finally settling down and producing some outstanding long distance racers for Tony and son Justin. So as you can see from the above, the Twyman’s set their stall out to win at 700 miles by purchasing their foundation pigeons from fanciers who had a track record of winning at the distance that they themselves wished to win. The resultant pigeons produced from this strong genetic base were small wiry characters that weighed less than 16 ounces but possessed the hearts of lions. ‘The Lerwick Cock’ flew Berwick, Fraserburgh, Thurso 3 times plus Lerwick. Turned south at 8 years old to fly Beauvais, Orleans, then Barcelona International 718 miles, homing injured. He scored from 100, 200, 430 and 500 miles, 2nd Thurso twice beaten by his own daughters. Sire of two Thurso winners in one nest, 2nd BICC Pau, 196th open, 40th Hens and 1st East England CC Orleans.

The Loft

As mentioned earlier this was a small affair literally “shoe horned” into the Twyman’s back garden. The old bird section measured 8ft x 8ft with a small 8ft x 3ft x 3ft young bird section. The only ventilation in the loft came via an 18” x 8” trapping pop hole high in the front of the loft above the entrance doorway. That was it, and this housed an old bird team of 14 birds plus three stock birds and a young bird team of just 10 birds so there was certainly no fear of overcrowding.


 The old birds were never separated but allowed to remain together 365 days a year. They were also allowed an open loft 365 days a year and could often be seen raking the skies in the cold winter months. The birds were never forced to fly but chose to take voluntary exercise for up to 90 minutes at a stretch throughout the year. Young and old were exercised together and all were hopper fed on a good Liegeois type mixture containing different kinds of peas, wheat, safflower and white dari. Red Band conditioning seed was used as an aid to quick trapping and to exert a measure of control over the birds. Multivitamins were added to the drinking water on the birds return from races and fresh lemons were often added to the drinking water in order to boost the birds’ intake of vitamin C. Tony regularly treated the birds for cocci and worms with the first course of treatment just before the commencement of the year’s breeding programme and a second course 10 days before basketting for a long distance International. The Twyman’s were avid road trainers and their training programme started in late January with a few tosses from 20 80 miles and this was continued through to May when the birds were entered in their first race of the season from around 180 miles and always from France. Tony liked to get the birds into as many channel races as possible in preparation for their tilt at the Internationals so the birds were super fit and the hope was that the birds would hit ‘super form’ on the day of the race. The favourite nest condition for entrants in the International races was sitting eggs due to hatch. Young birds were never raced in the year of their birth but did undergo an extensive training program. This started with a first toss at 50 miles single up and these single up training tosses continued throughout the summer, autumn and early winter months. Their first race as yearlings was from 180 miles or more across the English Channel. This extremely rigorous regime produced iron hard pigeons which were super fit and always close to 100% fitness throughout the year. Pigeons that were taught from an early age to be independent and were capable of thinking for themselves an essential prerequisite for birds if they are to succeed in International racing.

Barcelona 1989

When ‘Little Sarah’ put up her epic performance from Barcelona the weather conditions on the weekend of the race were far from ideal. In fact all organisations racing on the continent that weekend decided to return their convoys to their home lofts and yet the Barcelona International convoy of 25,502 birds were liberated on the Saturday morning to face the near 700 mile journey home from north east Spain against a strong north-west wind and persistent heavy rain showers. Conditions in the English Channel were atrocious with visibility down to less than 50 yards along with a heavy swell. Despite these conditions, ‘Little Sarah’ battled on to be clocked at 12.37pm on the Monday, the third day of the race, to win 1st Open BICC and 1,904th open International beating pigeons entered by some of the top lofts in continental Europe. This fact was certainly recognised on the continent as a number of offers were made to purchase ‘Little Sarah’, such was the awe and respect shown for ‘Little Sarah’s’ performance in the prevailing conditions.

Gareth Watkins you can read more of Gareth’s articles on


Good SNFC Birds

I start with Double SNFC Nantes winner Jim Sanderson of Pathhead in Midlothian who has a blue pied hen SU15P 2826 that has won 3 times in the national. Her performances are as follows; In 2016 she won 130th section B 322nd open from Littlehampton competing against 4482 birds entered by 510 members flying 364 miles; (while checking the result in the year book her ring number is down as also winning 340th open but as a red cock which is obviously a mistake) In 2017 she won 32nd section B 106th open from Bedhampton a distance of 356 miles competing against 6065 birds submitted by 634 national colleagues and in 2018 she won 8th section B 22nd open from Reims a distance of 545 miles to Pathhead flying against 382 birds contested by 129 participants.

My next pigeon is a chequer white flight hen SU12NW 1519 raced by A Watson of Laurieston in the North West federation this hen requires one more diploma to gain her SNFC Gold Award. As a 2 year old she won 11th section D 176th open from Ypres competing against 2024 birds and flying a distance of 449 miles; then in 2015 she won from Alencon a distance of 547 miles being 5th section D 52nd open from an entry of 1416 birds. In 2016 she was sent to Reims competing against 1330 birds sent by 355 members and she won 8th section D 106th open flying 570 miles. Then in 2018 she won 7th section D 56th open from Liege Gold Cup race flying against an entry of 1072 birds sent by 327 members and flying a distance of 532 miles, we wish Mr Watson all the best with his hen in 2019 and hope she wins her Gold Award.   

We now move to Longforgan just west of the city of Dundee to the loft of Davie Nicoll whom many of you may remember had an outstanding mealy cock a few years back that had a fantastic racing record. I don’t know if this is a son from him but this mealy cock SU15DF 1481 has won 4 times in the national so far. In 2017 he won 128th section C 501st open from Bedhampton a distance of 397 miles competing against 6065 birds submitted by 634 national colleagues. He was then sent to Ypres and won 38th section C 135th open from an entry of 2320 birds entered by 409 fanciers. In 2018 he won 88th section 233rd open from Maidstone against 3001 birds sent by 444 members and he was flying a distance of 393 miles. He was then set up for the last old bird race of the season from Roye with 186 members and was to the fore winning 5th section C 9th open from an entry of 747 birds flying 526 miles.

Joe’s Joke

A lesson on how consultants can make a difference in an organization. Very impressive!  
Last week, we took some friends to a new restaurant, 'Steve's Place,' and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I observed that he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup I inquired, 'Why the spoon?' 'Well,' he explained, 'the restaurant's owner hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all of our processes.  After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently   dropped utensil.  It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour.  'If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift.' As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he replaced it with his spare. 'I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now.' I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, I saw that all of the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So, before he walked off, I asked the waiter, 'Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?'   

'Oh, certainly!' Then he lowered his voice.  'Not everyone is so observant.  That consulting firm I mentioned also learned that we can save time in the restroom.    By tying this string to the tip of our you-know-what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39%.  I asked quietly, 'After you get it out, how do you put it back?'  'Well,' he whispered, 'I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon.'


Please continue to keep the news flowing; to Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. REMEMBER THE J IN THE MIDDLE or you can also view online editions on: - - Pigeon Racing the Basics! - or

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