“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
‘Show Racer World’ Number 4.
Ron McCarthy of Rhymney.
I remember received the phone call, a couple of years ago from my good friend, Colin Carter, to inform me that the ‘master’, Ron McCarthy, had packed up his pigeons the week previous because of one or two health problems. Ron, then 81 years old, was going to retire from the Show Racer scene a year or so previous, but was persuaded by the lads to carry on, but then decided to call it a day! His 30 bird strong Show Racer team went up to the north east of England and are now the property the Wheatley family of Middlesbrough. This really was bad news as Ron was the ‘master’ of the show pen and his wonderful record in Society and National shows must rate him as one the greatest showmen of all time in the UK! Colin told me we will still see Ron about at the main National Shows as long as he can get a lift to venue and he will still enjoy the sport as a spectator. We look forward to seeing the ‘master’ again next winter!
Mr. & Mrs. Ron McCarthy of Rhymney won Best in Show at the 2009 BHW Blackpool Show for the record fifth time with a wonderful young dark chequer Show Racer cock, now named ‘Colin’s Cracker’ and he was bred by Colin Carter of Churchdown. He was bred from a cock loaned from Ron McCarthy which is also the sire of Ron’s Champion ‘Blue Boy’ winner of BIS at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2006 and the dam of ‘Colin’s Cracker’ was Colin’s good dark hen, winner of many firsts including ‘Champion Hen’ at the Edinburgh Show, plus is dam of many winners. Ron McCarthy’s good wife, June, passed away in March of 2008 and she was greatly missed at that year’s Blackpool event, as she had never missed a show and always enjoyed Ron’s success. Ron McCarthy had one of his best Blackpool Shows ever, also winning BOS, four fists and lifting ten BHW Trophies.
On one of my ‘Many Miles with Mott’ video tours of South Wales, I visited the premier Show Racer fanciers, Ron and June McCarthy of Gwent. In Ron’s 60 plus years in the sport, he has won many top positions, including B.I.S. Cardiff Charity Show, B.I.S. Show of the West, B.I.S. Birmingham Mail Show, B.I.S. Midlands Show several times, B.I.S. R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show several times, B.I.S. B.H.W. Blackpool Show (a record five times), Supreme Champion at Blackpool and Supreme Champion Young Bird Southern Classic Show. A fantastic loft performance in classic shows! Ron says, although it was many years ago, he rates his wonderful blue chequer cock, ‘Sparky’, as his best champion pigeon. He won thirty six firsts and many times Best in Show at Classic and National events, including BIS at the ‘Peoples Show’ and BIS at the ‘Show of the West’ held at Swindon. This wonderful cock was winning in the ‘golden’ era of showing in the late 1960’s, when Harry King and other Show Racer ‘superstars’ were at their best.
Ron kept about 16 pairs of Show Racers which were paired up on February 14th and bred about 40 youngsters each season. His loft was over 55 years old, starting out as a chicken shed, and was 22ft x 8ft with a flight on the front to bath the birds and keep the loft dry. Ron told me a good loft should be comfortable for the fancier and the pigeons. He had been with pigeons all his life as his father was a fancier, and his first few pairs of birds were housed in the coal house. Ron’s best bird over the last few years is his White Mealy cock winner of two firsts at the British Homing World Blackpool Show, including Best in Show and Best Opposite Sex; at the R.P.R.A. Southern Region Show, Best in Show; at the Royal Welsh, Best in Show and first at the Monmouth Open Show, plus many other good wins for the Rhymney loft. A once in a life time pigeon! The birds were fed on farm beans and peas, mixed with maize and a pinch of Linseed each day. Ron didn’t feed anything special for the moult, as the birds got the same corn all the year round. He liked to pair grandparents to their grandchildren to produce good Show Racers. He liked a bigger pigeon for stock, with strong head and good body. Ron tried deep litter for about six months, but his wife, June, hated it and Ron wasn’t too pleased either, he always had to clean his glasses after coming out of the loft, with the dust. He told me, he enjoyed scraping the loft out every day and most of his birds were tame. Ron McCarthy is one of the very best showmen in the sport today. A brilliant fancier!
Jimmy Fitzpatrick of Cambuslang.
A good friend of mine in the Show Racer world is someone I admire for his skill in producing so many show champions, is Jimmy Fitzpatrick of Cambuslang, near Glasgow. ‘Wee’ Jimmy is in partnership with Roddy Fleming and Gary Coutts of Aberdeen, and they have won countless classes and trophies at every Classic show, including B.I.S. R.P. Old Comrades Show (twice), B.O.S. Old Comrades (twice), B.Y.B. Old Comrades (three times), many premier prizes at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show and three times Champion of Great Britain. Jimmy has kept show pigeons over 30 years, previously racing pigeons with his father, and 1971 won three races on the trot in the very strong local club, with over 55 members competing. At the end of the 1971 season Jimmy attended his first classic pigeon show and fell in love with the wonderful show birds he saw. He got rid of his racing pigeons and made his start in Show Racers, with a gift pair of eggs from Charlie Hanner. Later Jimmy met the ‘Master’ show man, Don Spedding of Cumbria, whom he considers to be the greatest stockman of them all!
Jim’s show team is housed in a smart six section loft at Cambuslang and the inmates enjoy an attached 24ft. aviary. The 25 pairs of Show Racers don’t fly out, but are fed in the flight, to encourage them to exercise. Jimmy told me, he let all the birds out once, to try and get them flying out and they were all alright until they went around the house roof out of sight of the loft, and they were lost. Wood chips are used as a litter on the loft floors and the loft has heaters which are used on the night before the big show. The birds are paired up at the end of January and are fed a Channel mixture of beans, peas and tares. Jimmy makes up his own seed mixture and feeds groats when rearing. This loft competes in about 40 shows in a season and Jimmy maintains he has no favourite colour, but only likes good type. The birds get a bath the day before the big show, but just prior to travelling, the birds drinking water is withheld as the partners maintains their droppings are dryer for the show pen. He likes to enter a team of about 40 pigeons in the Classic and National shows, and has judged all over the U.K. In fact the first time I ever met Jimmy, was when he was judging the Devon & Cornwall show in the West Country, with Alan Spedding of Cumbria.
One of the partner’s best pigeons in recent years is the wonderful Red cock, ‘Red Rum’, and he is off Harry Spratt of Belfast bloodlines. This cock has won countless first prizes in big shows and is a champion breeder, being the sire of Classic winners. The many quality stock birds owned by the partners are housed at the Aberdeen home of Gary Coutts and about 150 youngsters are bred each season. Jimmy is a very hard man when it comes to selecting young birds and is happy to retain just one youngster from the whole season’s production. He maintains that when competing at National level only the very best stock will do. There you have it, Jimmy Fitzpatrick of Cambuslang!
The late, great Norman Perry of Port Talbot.
I was very sad to hear of the passing of the premier Show Racer fancier, Norman Perry of Port Talbot on Saturday 9th April 2016. He was a member of the long list of top fanciers from South Wales and through the years I and many others have given him many first at National shows. Norman Perry and his wonderful Show Racer team were ‘world class’, winning ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool Show three times. He won Best in Show at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2012 and his wonderful Mosaic hen went on to be ‘Supreme Champion’, which was a wonderful performance. At the 2009 BHW Blackpool Show Norman won ‘Supreme Champion’ and when I met up with him in the Winter Gardens on Saturday morning; he told me he was very proud that he had won. I first met Norman about fifteen years ago, when I was judging at the RPRA Southern Region Show and he won Best in Show with a Mosaic Chequer hen, bred from pigeons obtained from his good friend, Ron McCarthy of Rhymney. Norman has since gone on and won BIS at the Southern Region Show (twice), BOS at the RP Old Comrades Show and the top honours of ‘Supreme Champion’ and BIS at the BHW Blackpool Show for the first time in 2005. Norman had been in the sport since he left school and had kept Show Racers for about twelve years, being a north road racer before that. He changed over codes, to showing pigeons because his job as a postman didn’t allow him the time to race his birds properly. He was very keen on the long distance racing and won Lerwick twice. He paired his 25 pairs of show birds the weekend after the BHW Blackpool Show and kept mainly the very successful Ron McCarthy bloodlines. He had nine pairs of stock birds and bred about 50 babies each season, retaining half these for the show pen. Norman’s set up was made up of three lofts, with flights and the birds were fed on a Young Bird mixture. His club was the Monmouth Show Society and he entered only club events and three National shows each season.
I can remember at the 2006 RPRA Southern Region Show, when Norman won one of the classes I was judging. I normally judge the Show Racers and that year there were four of the best show men in the Show Racer world sitting on the side lines, 3ft. away watching me handle their birds, in the form of John Robilliard, Colin Carter, Ron McCarthy and Norman Perry, winners at that time, of seven times Best in Show at the B.H.W. Blackpool Show between them. I love a challenge! Norman won the class with a wonderful red hen and Colin was second with another red, which I think I’m right in saying won B.I.S. the week previous at a society show. The BBC ‘Inside Out’ television cameras came to the BHW Blackpool Show to film me judging in 2007 and the class winner which was featured on the programme was the smashing mosaic cock, ‘The Inside Out Cock’, owned by Norman Perry. A fancier with a big presence in the Show Racer world!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keith mott.com)