NEWS FROM SCOTLAND
Reports by Joe Murphy
After doing my write up on John & Ann Grieve I received a few complementary phone calls saying how much people had enjoyed it and I should do some more, in fact quite a few people ask me to highlight some of my own performances over the years as a fancier and not as a scribe. So I looked out the Pictorial of November 1993 where Billy Wortley done an article on us so I contacted Billy and asked his permission to use his article and he agreed. I thought this would be better than me writing about our achievements as this would be like ‘boasting’; so here is Billy’s story named;
Joe Margaret & Kevin
From Sartilly to Kirkcaldy; Joe & Kevin Murphy 1st open SNFC; ‘It is pleasing to admire a fancier enjoying an extra special season, but it is even more pleasing when the winning fanciers are personal friends. When I started writing for the fancy press, some 15 years ago, Joe Murphy took me by the hand and offered tremendous encouragement and it gives me great pleasure to reciprocate and record the achievements of Joe & Kevin Murphy and the Sycamore Loft in Classic competition during the 1992 season, with the highlight being them winning 1st open SNFC Sartilly (1) with champion ‘Mystical Rose’.
The Sartilly national was sponsored by Vetrepharm and a convoy of 3.293 birds were liberated on schedule at 5-45am into a light north wind, which turned westerly in the Midlands and was to take on a southerly influence from the north of England. As we stood awaiting arrivals news filtered through of leading pigeons timed and very prominent amongst these was Joe & Kevin Murphy having timed at 5-57pm from 515 miles. We waited with bated breath for the official result and were delighted when it was confirmed that Joe & Kevin had won the National, with a velocity of 1236 ypm, 21 ypm in front of the pigeon which was 2nd to the loft of Stewart Divett from Stewarton in Ayrshire. The national winner is quite an exceptional pigeon. She is a 1988 blue chequer hen which was home bred from a hen introduced from John Bosworth of Elphinstone when paired to a cock from Victor Lough of Dunbar. John Bosworth is, without question, one of the most consistent competitors in the country with his selector being the basket. His family is based on the bloodlines of Donaldson Brothers from Dunbar and the hen which Joe and Kevin obtained from John, (John gave Kevin a pair of eggs when we visited him and the hen was one of the eggs Joe M) is out of a hen containing these lines when paired to a cock which was 19th open SNFC Appledore.
Joe Murphy with some of the trophies won
Victor Lough is also a superb fancier with a small team selected by the basket but with generation after generation of winners. (Victor was going to put an advert into the BHW selling some late breds and asked if I would add a testimonial to it. I said I would have to see the pigeons first as I was not prepared to just add my name to the advert. When I went into Victor’s loft, he had all the late breds in one section. There was a red cock that controlled the top of a set of box perch’s and this was his domain. After handling the birds I asked how much for the red cock was and Victor tried to persuade me to pick another pigeons, but I was firm it was the red cock or nothing Joe M) The cock which Joe & Kevin obtained from Victor was sired by ‘Tempo’ which in turn was sired by ‘Champion Rhythm’. ‘Tempo’ scored 4 times with the SNFC and as a youngster was 24th open Stafford 220 miles, 3rd open Dorchester 365 miles and 7th open SNFC national from Worcester 262 miles, ALL WITHIN 7 DAYS. ‘Champion Rhythm’ won a Gold Award with the SNFC and won 7 times in the SNFC including in 1980 competing from 3 nationals and scoring prominently on each occasion. There is no doubt, therefore, that Joe & Kevin winner was ‘Bred for the Job’; and not to be eclipsed by her illustrious predecessors, consider the performances of this fine pigeon.
Joe with Mystical Rose
In 1989, as a yearling, she was the loft’s only entry from Sartilly with the Fife Federation and having been on the wing for 16 ¾ hours was timed at 10-45pm to be 8th open and was the only pigeon in the club on the day. She was entered for the Rennes race as a 2-year-old, but sat out for 3 weeks, but pleasingly was not adversely affected in condition or confidence. In 1991 she race from each of the Sartilly Nationals from the first race she was 1st club (Only bird on the day) 1st federation 1st Region C 20th east section 83rd open 3180 birds after 15 ½ hours on the win into a north west wind. From Sartilly 2 she was timed at 09-41 in the morning to be 144th east section 236th open 3673 birds. She was then prepared for the 1992 season with the same programme in mind but the cock which she had been paired for two years unfortunately died, believed to have been poisoned. To try to correct the situation, the partners tried to re-pair her, but she is aggressive and protective of her box and would not look at another cock. One evening, however, Joe noted a young cock making up to her outside the box and when it was dark he tried the cock in the box with her and anxiously returned to the loft early in the morning to find the pair together in the bowl and she laid on time to enable the partners to enter her for the national on 15 day eggs, which is her favoured nest condition. The national winner is now named ‘Mystical Rose’ and is the loft’s pride and joy.
Mystical Rose 1st Open SNFC Sartilly
The partners 2nd pigeon from Sartilly is a 1990 dark chequer cock which was 84th section 141st open. He is from a dark chequer white flight cock which was received as an egg from Wilson Noble of Fraserburgh and won 14th open SNFC Nantes for partnership. The dark cock is a particular favourite of Kevin’s who named him ‘Black Beauty’. This cock has tremendous potential; he is always active and builds immense nests. The partners 3rd pigeon from Sartilly is a blue cock which was 126th east section. The Blue Riband event in Scottish pigeon racing is the Rennes national and is flown 2 weeks after the Sartilly national. The convoy of 4501 birds were liberated at 6-15am into virtually no wind and the winner of the event was timed into Fife by John Honeyman & son of Kennoway. Once more Sycamore Lofts were up with the leaders; Joe & Kevin timed their first arrival at 9-11pm after almost 15 hours on the wing and quickly timed their section arrival at 9-30. Their leading pigeon is a 1990 blue chequer cock named ‘Rising Star’ he is bred from the partners Bobby Carruthers stock hen which has been the number one stock pigeon in the loft and was bred from Bobby’s Gold Award Winner 4057. The sire of ‘Rising Star’ is from Robert O’ Jones from Rosolven in Wales. The chequer cock was 39th section 53rd open from the event and Joe & Kevin’s 2nd pigeon was 55th section 75th open. The mealy cock was purchased at a young bird sale and was bred by Matt McLauchlan & son from Crosshill in Fife. When Joe bought the pigeon there was an empty pen but I can understand him making the acquisition as the McLauchlan loft is one of the best in Fife and indeed at the 1992 SNFC Presentation, the McLauchlan partnership stepped forward to receive the trophy for the best average in the East Section from all 5 nationals. (When I went to Matt’s he said to me ‘Just go into the loft and have a look if there is only one young bird in the nest then I want to keep it, if there are 2 you can have your pick and my choice was a young mealy Joe M) The mealy cock has been named ‘Matt’s Mealy’ and is out of a hen bred direct from Jimmy & Jessie Keir & son’s ‘My Little Lady’ which was 4th open SNFC Rennes. The sire of ‘Matt’s Mealy’ was 2nd Fife federation from Sartilly from a very hard race and is also the sire of a pigeon that was 25th open SNFC Niort. The members of the SNFC competed from Sartilly 2 and a convoy of 2915 birds were liberated at 08-30am into a fresh south west wind. Joe and Kevin timed at 1990 a blue chequer hen ‘Lady Janet’ at 7-42pm to be 1st federation 1st region C 4th east section 5th open and then timed a yearling red cock ‘Nick Faldo’ at 8-58pm to be 18th east section 36th open. The dam of ‘Lady Janet’ was bred by Billy Davidson & son of Coalburn and is a direct daughter of ‘Harry O’ SNFC Gold Award winner when paired to 913 which was up been 3 times from the national. The sire of ‘Lady Janet’ is a brother to Dennis Dall’s ‘Rowena’ 1st open SNFC Niort 697 miles and up 5 times with the SNFC including having flown Niort 3 times. ‘Nick Faldo’ is the most beautiful cock and was a late bred, racing from Sartilly carrying 2 nest flights in each wing. He had been spare all year and then took up with a late bred daughter of ‘Rising Star’ and went to nest. He had raced from 3 inland races and on the nest, Joe could see him advance into condition. He went to the loft late at night and admired the late bred on the perch; he was so tight of feather and ‘glowing’, his feather colour having deepened. When he went back to the loft in the morning he was covered in bloom, displaying what appeared like a white hood and Vee-type jersey over his head. Joe was so impressed that, notwithstanding the pigeon’s immaturity and lack of experience, he just had to enter him for Sartilly and he was basketed on 12 day eggs and was away to his 4th only race, from a distance of 515 miles.
This must epitomise ‘Observation’ recognising he was right to compete from the event. The dam is a sister to the Gold Award winner of John Ellis from Elphinstone and the sire is a 1983 cock which was on loan from George & Gareth Ranking from Blantyre, which on one side is the grandsire of the partners Gold Award winner ‘Red Rocket’. Joe and Kevin actually bred 4 from the pair, 3 cocks and a hen. These 3 cocks are named after famous golfers; - Nick Faldo’- ‘Colin Montgomerie’ – and ‘Sandy Lyle’ and the hen was named ‘Masonic Choice’. The hen was named by Joe’s great friend Brian Rogerson, who unfortunately died and the good hen ‘Lady Janet’ was named in tribute to Brian’s wife Janet who unfortunately died also from cancer aged 41 years.
Joe Murphy was reared in a pigeon household as his father kept pigeons before him and Joe assisted with loft chores. Without appreciating the fact this must have been the spark which lit the fire as, following, his marriage, he caught a stray and having reported it, kept it in the garden shed. Whilst he was awaiting the pigeon being claimed, his good lady Margaret cared for it and such was her interest. Joe decided to convert the shed into pigeon loft. In 1970 they joined Glenrothes & Leslie club, then moved to Kennoway the following season and in 1984 moved to their current address in Kirkcaldy. Competition in Fife is tremendously strong, evidence by the number of Classic winners which have raced into the federation in recent years, in Kennoway Joe & Margaret competed against such quality fanciers as Jimmy Hamilton of ‘Nan’s Pride’ fame and John Honeyman who won the Rennes National in 1992 with ‘Honeyman’s Dream’. Joe & Kevin currently compete in one of the strongest clubs in the federation. Joe & Margaret and their family are very close-knit family and when the children were small; if Joe and Margaret were visiting fancier friends then the children went with them. Kevin was always beside his father, watching points, and it naturally followed that he would enter the fancy. He is tremendously keen and puts a good deal of effort into the management of the team.
My Little Rachel
From the outset when Joe entered the fancy, he had ambitions to compete with the SNFC and in 1973 made the national result, when he was 84th young bird national. Over successive years he gained successes, including being 44th open Avranches, 10th open Nantes and 311st open Sartilly etc. Outstanding individual pigeons emerged including ‘Sycamore Perfection’ which race from Sartilly 7 times and was 75th 93rd and 96th all open positions with the SNFC. In 1988 when Donaldson & Downie won the Nantes national the Murphy partnership were up with the leaders to be 14th open with a fabulous black white flighted cock which was received as an egg from Wilson Noble from Fraserburgh, being inbred to ‘Black Rocket’ winner of 11th open SNFC Rennes from 663 miles after having been on the wing for 17 hours.
From the details of the winning pigeons of which I have written, our readers will appreciate that Joe & Kevin have made introductions from some of the top lofts in Scotland. Joe has travelled extensively in Scotland to see pigeons and has admired many of the classic winners in recent years. As he has developed his team of pigeons, he has worked towards obtaining the produce of Classic or SNFC Gold Award winners. (Still carry this same direction to this day 2020 Joe M) It should be understood that a pigeon must collect prize money from 5 national races to gain a Gold Award and consequently only the best, most consistent pigeons are awarded an elusive Gold Award.
Consider, however, some of the pigeons which the partners currently have. They have a blue chequer cock, a direct son of John Duthie of Methil Niort winning hen when paired to a red cock which was 26th open Rennes and together they won the trophies for the best average from the two SNFC prestige races. They have a dark chequer hen direct from Eddie Newcombe’s ‘Red Stamp’ that was purchased at Bertie Fletcher’s sale. They have introductions from Billy Davidson & son of Coalburn, a dark cock from 1st west section 4th open Nantes when paired to a son of their Gold Award winner and another red chequer from ‘Harry O’ the Gold Award winner when paired to the hen that was up 3 times from the national. They also house several pigeons from Dennis Dall including a pair bred direct from the SNFC Niort winner.
Joe & Kevin have introductions from John Ellis from Elphinstone including from ‘Lothian Lass’ which was up 7 times with the SNFC, from ‘Stumpy’ which was up twice from Rennes, and of course from the number one stock pair which is the dam of ‘Nick Faldo’. These are but examples, I could continue at length. A blue hen from Willie Davidson from Aberdeen from his good chequer cock which was twice 1st and once 2nd north section with the SNFC. A daughter of Larry Campbell’s of Aberdeen North section Gold Award winner, also a daughter of Robert Cormack’s of Winchburgh ‘Freckles’ etc. Direct introductions from Gold Award winners from the following Anderson & Brown from Kirkintilloch, Norrie Cochrane from Elphinstone, John McCallum from Kirkintilloch and Willie Dickson etc. Joe and Kevin share a close friendship with George and Gareth Rankin and have introductions from this loft also, including a grizzle hen which scored from Niort and bred a pigeon to be 4th open Niort when paired to ‘Red Rocket’ their Gold Award winner. They also have a pair bred direct from Mr & Mrs Jimmy Smith’s ‘Fortune Lady’ which has scored 9 times with the SNFC and if not the best must be one of the best 500 milers in the UK (She went on to win 10 times and was the first pigeon to ever do so in the SNFC Joe M)
Performance of the progeny on the road determines which lines to develop, but the partners are currently finding that first crosses are producing the best results. The birds are raced on the natural system and are housed in a conventional wooden loft. This loft had a flat roof, but during the 1991/2 close season the roof was changed to an apex roof, clad with pantiles and with roof lights fitted. There is a wire mesh ceiling fitted at the previous height to the roof whilst grid ventilators are fitted in the floor and the air moves perfectly in the loft and out through the roof. The nest boxes are of natural design with the fronts affording security to the pigeons and providing a darkened environment. The pigeons trap through the open bowl with bob wires being closed on a race day to stop the pigeon and allow the race rubber ring to be removed from outside the loft for quick timing. The primary loft is 30-foot-long, and the partners erected a new young bird loft during the season of a similar concept to the old bird loft.
During the winter months Joe and Kevin were troubled with cats, which restricted the amount of exercise they could give the team, but they now have a Jack Russell terrier which is certainly acting as a deterrent to our feline friends.
In 1992 Joe rose at 5am and cleaned the loft before going to work, Kevin then took over at 6-30 and flagged the racers at exercise. At lunchtime, the hens were put out to exercise and at 6pm they were back at exercise to the flag again when Joe came home from work. This loft exercise was complimented with as many training tosses as the partners reasoned were necessary to put them right. The partners fed Concord and Young Bird mixture from Force Limagrain of Falkirk and when the birds were at the 230-mile inland stage they added Natural Widowhood mixture. I should explain that Concorde is a mixture of beans, peas, and tares. During the current season they are feeding grains from the same source using a proprietary no-bean mixture. Young bird mixture and Concorde mixture, modifying the mix as they extend the pigeons at the 230-mile stage for ‘the water’. This extension includes concentrated road work to put the edge on them. At this stage also, peanuts are added to the mixture and Red Band is fed to induce condition. The entire team is paired during late February, and Channel candidates have as many inland races as Joe reason are necessary to put them right, but they would regularly have three or four races out to 230 miles. The condition of the individual pigeon determines which birds are entered for the respective events and if a pigeon is displaying condition then that would prompt him to enter it for the immediate race. This is best illustrated by Joe selecting late bred ‘Nick Faldo’ to compete from Sartilly.
Observation is all important, watching to identify each bird’s favoured nest condition and then setting the pigeon down in that condition for the Channel event. ‘Mystical Rose’ prefers racing to 15-day eggs and that is exactly how Joe and Kevin set her down to win the national. The nest bowls which the partners use are constructed from wire mesh to enable air to circulate and repel mite etc. A foam lining is placed in the bowl and the pairs then build their nests on the foam. The environment in which the pigeons are housed encourages the birds to build large nests which I would reason is used as a tool to make them that wee bit keener and put the extra edge on them. Pigeons are fed in gallipots in the nest box and hoppers on the floor, they are worked hard and fed accordingly. Joe emphasised to me the importance of feeding, you must be cautious not to overfeed and similarly if the birds are underfed then you will not get them to race from 500 miles and as he handles the team to basket them he is continuously observing to ensure they have the proper body to race from the channel.
Droppings are routinely sent to the Scottish Veterinary Investigation Service for testing and dependent on their findings, the birds are treated accordingly. Joe does not believe in treating the team if there is nothing wrong with them and respects the opinion of the Veterinary Investigation Service. The loft is kept immaculately clean, being scraped twice daily, and is scrubbed every Sunday morning during the race season, using alternatively Virkon S from Vetrepharm and pure bleach. For several years Joe & Kevin have used Vetrepharm products on Sunday they use Vetresan to eliminate bacteria, they give Gerdon Iron Tonic on Monday,, Vetreplex is given on Tuesday to provide a vitamin supplement and on Wednesday Rapide is given, which is concentrated Vitamin B.
Breeding from first crosses, the partners must obviously work the birds hard on the road to sort them out. Youngsters go through the programme to the young bird national and on occasions are then doubled back into the Auchtermuchty Classic which is an extreme distance young bird specialist race. Circumstances determine how far thy go as yearlings, some only go to Stafford which is 230 miles whilst others go to the channel, ‘Nick Faldo’ scored from Sartilly during the season past as a yearling late bred and ‘Mystical Rose’ raced from Sartilly as a yearling and was also on the wind for 16 ½ hours. Joe told me of another yearling which went to SNFC Nantes and was 93rd open. As two-year olds they must ALL GO to the channel to earn their perch.
It was my pleasure to be at the SNFC Presentation when the partners received their trophies. The presentation was scheduled to have been made by SNFC Vice President Dougie Stuart but as he had as his personal guest, the one and only Jed Jackson, Jed was invited to make the presentation. In his own, unique, articulate manner. Jed spoke of appearing on a television programme several years ago, which also featured schoolboy Kevin Murphy and when interviewed Kevin had spoken most complimentary of Jed Jackson. At the Scottish National presentation Jed reciprocated and, with genuine warmth, congratulated Joe, and Kevin on winning the national. The partners were presented with the Vaux Tankard, The Chris Catterall trophy, and the Vetrepharm Trophy. Joe and Margaret Murphy had reason to have a double celebration at the SNFC presentation, as the function coincided with their Silver Wedding celebrations.
There is little doubt that the partners put a great deal of effort into their pigeons and richly deserve their success. It must be appreciated also that Joe contributes a weekly article to the fancy press and has been SNFC PRO. He has expanded much effort publicising the successive national winners and how pleasing it is that he should now enter his name amongst the elite of Scottish pigeon racing and win a National. To Joe Margaret and Kevin, I offer my congratulations Billy Wortley.
Update on the Present Time
I was told by the doctors that I had pigeon lung and gave the birds up, however Kevin became involved in the sport and started up in 1995. He won his first SNFC diploma in 2000 and since then has won 121 SNFC diplomas. In open positions in the SNFC he has won 11 times in top 50; 3 times in top 20 and 2 in the top 10 positions in the national races. I the section he has won 37 times in the top 50; 18 times in top 20 and 12 in the top 10 from SNFC races. His best performances are as follows; ‘My Little Rachel’ won 77th sect C 271st national open Maidstone and then flown Clermont. She won 2nd section C 4th open SNFC Alencon flying 573 miles with 431 members sending 1355 birds. A niece of her won 1st SNFC Roye in 2016 for Jocky Scott of Kennoway. Another niece won 19th open Ypres & 18th open Clermont; a nephew won 86th & 134th open Alencon flying 573 miles. Another nephew won 76th open from Roye in 2019 and a niece won 41st Ancenis flying 635 miles being the furthest flying bird 2016. A cousin won 4th open national from Clermont and loft cousin won 19th open national Clermont and he was 15th birds in the Barcelona Challenge Loft race loft in 2013. ‘My Little Rachel’ is dam granddam of winners including 2nd section B 34 open Coutance young bird national BBC with 138 members sending 944 birds in 2015, she is also dam of 40th Bergerac a distance of 434 miles against 950 birds for Mr & Mrs Gower. She is dam of 55th section C 194th open Bedhampton from an entry of 6065 birds SNFC; she is dam of 8th section C 26th open SNFC Falaise 2017 last bird timed on day. She contains the best of SNFC distance blood.
‘My Little Rachel’ is from a direct son of Robbie’s Boy winner of 1st section 1st open Falaise for Gilmour Brothers of Leven the hen he was paired too was purchased at Ritchie and Whyte of Fraserburgh entire clearance sale, she was a yearling red hen a daughter of ‘Last Chance’ winner of 12th north section Alencon, 1st north section (Only bird in race time) winning 42nd open SNFC Tours flying 721 miles she also flew Tours as 2 year old. The red hen is dam of 523rd open SNFC Bovingdon; 18th open Ypres 19th open Clermont 86th and 134th open Alencon flying 573 miles. 319th open Littlehampton in 2016; a cousin won 4th and 19th open Clermont the Red Hen was a TOP STOCK HEN. ‘Last Chance’ lines won 31st open INFC St Allouestre 2016 for S Hughes. Dam of 348 a winner of 62nd open Liege and 129th open Buckingham from an entry of 3876 birds in 2019.
‘Morning Star’ blue hen winner of 1st club, 2nd federation 8th section C 10th open SNFC Clermont flying 539 miles. Her sire was an inbred son of Mystical Rose, bred from a ½ brother/sister pairing to Mystical Rose when paired to a direct daughter of Mystical Rose. The Dam was a daughter of Mark Doran ‘Nan’s Boy’ winner of 48th, 104th, 150th Falaise, 32nd, 59th and 132nd Alencon and 24th open Huntington.
‘Chequer Hen’ - Won 6th section C 19th open Clermont flying 539 miles from an entry of 1500 birds in 2013; She also won 6th section C 18th open Ypres in 2014 competing against 2404 birds; A brother to her won 11th section C 86th open from Alencon in 2014. A half-sister won 4th national Alencon flying 573 miles in 2013; a cousin won 9th Narbonne & 15th Barcelona in 2013 and a cousin won 4th SNFC Clermont in 2012. ‘Rocket’ – SNFC Silver Award Winner for Kevin; he won 422nd open Eastbourne 4243 birds flying 419 miles; 59th open Falaise 1619 birds flying 542 miles; 305th open Newbury 4501 birds flying 360 miles; 94th open Ypres 1243 birds flying 454 miles; 106th open Ypres 1780 birds; 108th open Clermont 1102 birds flying 539 miles. 86th open Alencon 532 miles 1204 birds. He was lost going for his SNFC Gold Award.
‘Rocket’ sire was a son of ‘Dax Doffer’ winner of 1st open Dax when paired to a Ritchie and Whyte hen bred from their 2nd North Section 16th open Tours 721 miles.
I am very proud of Kevin’s efforts and I believe he has the makings of being a Top Class fancier --- Time will tell !!!
I hope you have enjoyed Billy’s loft report and it will allow younger fanciers to know that first and foremost I’m a pigeon man, and secondly a scribe who loves to give credit where it is due. You will see from the above story I have highlighted all the names of the great fanciers I obtained birds from. I believe in giving credit where it is due, hence the reason I took on the task of being a scribe who loves to write about ‘Good Pigeons’. Joe Murphy
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