“On The Road” With Keith Mott
Alan Clements of Basildon
Alan Clements lives and races his very successful team of pigeons in the pigeon racing ‘hotbed’ of Basildon and holds his own against the very best fanciers of Essex. Alan came to my home in Claygate recently to have some birds photographed and I must say his pigeons are a credit to him. The pride of his loft is his good blue hen, ‘Caroline’, she is a ‘Hall of Fame’ winner, recording: 2016: 1st club (only bird on the day), 4th Essex & Kent Combine Thurso (510 miles): 2017: 3rd club, 22nd London North Road Combine Thurso (542 birds): 2018: 1st club (only bird on the day), 27th London North Road Combine (566 birds) Thurso, 2nd club Wetherby 9(180 miles), plus several other premier positions. ‘Caroline’ looked and handled as good as her racing performance, she was beautiful!
Other top racing pigeons in the Clements loft today are: Blue chequer cock, ‘Phil Boy’, the winner of 1st club, 25th Essex & Kent Amalgamation Newark (1,868 birds), 5th club, 30th Essex & Kent Combine Thurso 510 miles (only 39 birds home in race time). This game cock won five top club positions and flew Thurso three times: Red chequer cock, ‘Johnny H’, this young cock won 1st club, 1st Essex Central Federation Sleaford (1,452 birds) in the 2018 racing season: Blue hen, ‘Treble Three’, won 1st club, 87th Essex & Kent Combine Ripon (1, 763 birds): Blue cock, ‘Rosa’, another outstanding 2018 young bird and winner of 1st club Sleaford (105 miles).
Alan was born in West Thurrock in 1947 and was one of five children in the Clements family. The young Alan and his elder brother, Derek, kept many pets over the years, but always came back to their pigeons. As young boys they converted an old Chicken shed in to a loft and at that time there was no money so they scrounged pigeons from where ever they could get them. They didn’t know what a pedigree was and fed their birds on cheap chicken corn! The brother’s dad had to join the Aveley RPC so they could race their pigeons and Alan can remember not getting any birds home in those early days. Things changed when Derek started work, as three good pigeon fanciers, Arthur Lowe, Harry Murrel and Teddy Osborne worked at the place of his employment and they gifted the two lads some better pigeons. Alan said they were great times and Teddy is still racing today, and is the secretary of the Grays pigeon club. The Aveley pigeon club had 44 members at that time and although the youngster enjoyed their racing, it took them six years to win their first race. Alan said he will aways remember that first winner, it was a young bird race and he won it with a little blue chequer hen. Derek was always very keen on shooting with his dogs and still enjoys that sport today. Alan said in those days pigeons only had ‘one eyed cold’ and ‘canker’, not like the many problems they get today! Top racers in the local area at that time were Hermitage Brothers and the young Alan spent many hours at their loft, and they gave him some good pigeons and advice. He started work and then could afford some good quality corn and purchased some more good stock birds. When bringing in ne birds he never worries about strains or pedigrees, but looks for winning bloodlines. Alan says he made plenty of mistakes in the early days, the main one being over feeding.
After 60 years in the sport, Alan’s present main racing loft is 12ft x 6ft with 16 nest boxes and has two other smaller lofts for the hens, and young birds. He thinks dryness is the main factor of good loft design and has used deep litter on the loft floors for many years, which he thinks is great. The birds are paired up in January and are raced on the roundabout system, and the hens are show to the cocks on marking day. Alan feeds ‘Bamford’ corns and feeds the racing cocks twice a day and the hens are on the hopper. He likes to keep the birds fit and well all the year round and they race from 74 to 500 miles. Alan keeps a very small team of pigeons and loves racing every Saturday, but could not race in the 2000 season, because he was badly injured in a car accident and did not work for two years. Alan breeds 40 young birds every season for racing and these are put on the ‘darkness’ system from weaning, and are raced to the perch. They are trained well and are if they are in good feather condition will race through to the longest race (200 miles).
The main families kept are Busschaert and De Klak Janssens, but pedigree has no bearing on pairing up, the birds paired on what Alan thinks go well together. Alan’s good friend, Johnny Haggerty, moved to Clacton in 2003 and Alan looked after his birds while he re-located on the east coast. Johnny was winning a lot of races at that time and the team included his outstanding dark chequer cock, ‘28’, which had club wins in double figures and seven Federation wins. While the birds were in his care, Alan was allowed to breed from them and these are the base of his Busschaert line today. Other base pigeons were purchased from the Ponderosa UK Stud and J. & S. Evans clearance sale. The premier Laindon racer, Phil Wood, also gave Alan some good stock birds in the early days. Alan said, ‘Phil was a great pigeon racer, winning the ‘Hall of Fame’ award and is a true gentleman. He no longer races, but still keeps a few birds and breeds winners for other fanciers’. Several good stock birds were obtained from good local fanciers including, Mick Tukley and the late great Jimmy Richards.
The principal Alan Clements stock pigeons are: Busschaert blue chequer cock ‘59780’: son of Johnny Haggerty’s champion cock, ‘28’: blue chequer hen ‘25242’: 2014: 17th Combine Thurso (510 miles), 2015: 15th Combine Thurso, blue hen ‘11758’: 2016: 4th Combine Thurso, 22nd Combine Thurso, 27th Combine Thurso, blue chequer hen ‘12331’: 2016: 51st Combine Thurso, 2017: 2nd Combine Thurso, blue chequer hen ‘11754’: 2017: 24th Combine Berwick (306 miles), 37th Combine Perth (387 miles) and an outstanding breeding red chequer Busschaert hen which has never raced.
Alan tells me he has a terrible Sparrow Hawk problem around his loft in Basildon and has had lots of pigeons killed by these predators. He recent purchased a flying drone, which he sends up into the sky several times a day in the garden and that seems to be frightening the Hawks away. He maintains the recent decline in the sport in recent years is because no young people are coming in due to it being far too expensive to start up and it has become to professional. Alan says he doesn’t keep written records of his performances, apart from the bird’s prize cards and keeps the information in his head. He enjoys every race long or short! Alan enjoys the breeding side of the sport and although he likes to see a bright eye on his breeders, he has no interest in the eye sign theory. Alan has very strong opinions about the transportation of our racing pigeons and says with the hot weather climate changes in recent year, the metal race crate are not a good idea. He is not a great fan of using corrugated cardboard sheets on the floor of the race crate and maintains you will never beat wood shavings.
That’s our article for this week! Alan Clements, a great north road racer and very nice man.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT