“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
Mr. & Mrs. Graham Evans of Brentford.
The Three Borders Federation held one of the season’s fastest old bird races from Exeter, when the 548 bird strong convoy was liberated at 12.00hrs in a strong south west wind. This was the last old bird race on the 2016 season and Mr. & Mrs. Graham Evans of Brentford had a brilliant race, recording 1st, 3rd Isleworth Club, 1st, 3rd Federation.
The partner’s Federation winner was their outstanding six year old widowhood blue pied cock, ‘Thor’ and he has a list of top performance to his credit, including: 2016: 1st club, 1st Federation Exeter (548 birds), 2012: 1st club, 1st Federation Honiton (1,017 birds), 1st club, 4th Federation Yeovil (2,055 birds), 1st club, 17th Federation Honiton (850 birds), 2011: 1st club, 17th Federation Kingsdown (1,966 birds), 4th club, 21st Federation Kingsdown (1,090 birds) beaten by four loft mates, 2nd club Kingsdown. What a brilliant cock!
In the course of a racing season I write many times how delighted I am to see good workers in our sport do well racing their birds! In the normal run of things, secretaries, chairman, presidents and dare I mention, pigeon writers, find it very difficult to compete properly with their birds, because they put so much of their pigeon time and effort in to their pigeon jobs. Graham Evans took over the Isleworth SRFC secretary’s job in 1995 when my late aunty, Beat Penn, retired and has worked hard in the office ever since. Graham has proved to be an exception to the rule and in spite of being club secretary and Three Borders Federation delegate for the very strong Isleworth club; he is very successful racing his pigeons.
Graham races a small team of cocks on the widowhood system and likes racing up to 300 miles, and told me he doesn’t dislike long distance racing but hates the long wait at the loft for arrivals. The cocks have about four inland races before being split in to two teams, one for inland and the other for racing from France with the Combine. He feeds a standard ‘widowhood’ mixture and never breaks the racers down, but always shows the hens on marking night. He is a great believer in supplements and uses Travipharma products. The cocks are well trained before the first Federation race and during the season have regular daily exercise sessions around the loft to keep them race fit. The Evans partners have a smart 16ft x 5ft racing loft which consists of an 8ft section for the widowhood cocks and the other 8ft half of the loft houses the young bird racers, and all clocking is on the ETS System. Graham tells me he is a ‘scraper’ man and he says a fancier can find out a lot about the health of his birds from their droppings, and has never used deep litter, although can’t see any thing wrong with the idea.
The top racer in the Graham Evans loft in the 2011 season has been the handsome blue pied cock named ‘Apollo’ and this season he has recorded 2nd club, 2nd Three Borders Federation Newton Abbot (1624 birds) and 1st club, 4th Three Borders Federation Kingsdown (1090 birds). This widowhood cock has some other good wins, previously recording: 2nd Federation Yeovil, 24th Federation Yeovil, 1st club Yeovil, 1st club Portland, 2nd club Truro and 2nd club Exeter. A very impressive tally of premier sprint positions!
Other top racers in the loft at this time are: ‘The Decimal Point Cock’ winner of 2nd Federation Wincanton (1040 birds), 18th Federation Kingsdown (1089 birds): ‘Zeus’ 1st club, 21st Federation, 38th SMT Combine Bergerac (450 miles), being the only bird clocked on the day of liberation in the club, 13th Federation West Bay (2400 birds): ‘Rhys’ 1st club, 5th Federation, 7th SMT Combine Alencon, 1st club, 13th Federation Wincanton (1991 birds), 2nd club Kingsdown, 3rd club Falaise: ‘Athena’ 1st NW sect, 2nd open L&SECC Guernsey, 8th NW sect, 55th open L&SECC Guernsey, 13th Federation Wincanton (2414 birds): ‘Artemis’ 1st NW sect, 10th open L&SECC Guernsey, 5th NW sect, 38th open L&SECC Guernsey, 12th Federation Kingsdown (1234 birds). A top performer for the Evans loft in 2012 was the two year old widowhood blue pied cock, ‘Petty Boy’, and he won 1st club, 10th Federation, 28th SMT Combine Yelverton (2,000 birds), 2nd club, 21st Federation Taunton (1,082 birds).
Graham houses his eight pairs of stock birds in a small loft and he pairs up all his birds, racers and stock, at the same in the second week of January, as long as the weather is not to cold. The main families kept are Van Loon / Janssen and Meuleman, and most of Graham’s stock came from Ken Wise, with some coming direct from Reis and Gerard Schalkwijk of Holland. He breeds 25 youngsters to race every season and these are fed on a good standard young bird mixture. These racers are trained three times a week throughout the racing season and being raced to the perch are not encouraged to pair up, but Graham says, with a big 8ft racing section they do mate up. He has tried the ‘darkness’ system, but maintain although they look great and race well, he has trouble getting them to moult their last two flights at the end of the year. The Evans’ young birds race the whole programme through to 180 miles.
Graham use to run his own engineering supply company, but it became to stressful, so when his wife started her own dog walking business he went in to partnership with her and this gives him plenty of time with his pigeons. His wife is very keen on horses and owns several, which takes up a lot of her time. He was born in Chiswick and was told by his family that his grandfather was a good pigeon fancier in Wales, but had passed away before he was born. The young Graham became interested in pigeons at the age of 14 and was became ‘hooked’ on the hobby when watching his friend’s dad exercise his birds around the loft. He went home and asked his dad if he could have some birds and with the answer being yes, the old green house in the garden was quickly converted into a little loft. His first stock were obtained from Shepherds Bush and Petticoat Lane markets in London, with the odd reported stray that the owner would gift him. Graham’s first race winner came when he was 16 years old and that was from Avranches in France. His biggest mistake in the novice days was obtaining too many different strains of pigeons from different fancier in stead of concentrating on one or two good winning families. He told me the first pigeon fancier to help him out was Billy Bellchambers and he bred him six excellent youngsters to race, and remembers he was very keen on martial arts at that time, being Bruce Lee mad, and became quite good at the sport over the five years he was in it. The first two top fanciers who came to his attention were Howe & Perkins and Billy Bellchambers, who raced brilliantly from France in all types of weather, and the young Graham almost lived in their back gardens in the early years. Graham’s first strain of pigeons were Bruin Perking’s ‘Captain’s Pride’ Dordins and these raced well and won many shows. He has now been in the sport of pigeon racing 41 years and is still a member of the Isleworth SRFC, the first club he joint when he started up.
The Evans loft has won many premier prizes through the years, the highlights being: 15th open Cancer Research Nantes Race (8614 birds), 1st club, 1st West Middlesex Federation, 2nd SMT Combine Le Mans (8700 birds): GB 92 T 28510: 1st SE Combine Rennes (1695 birds), 3rd SE Combine Rennes (1929 birds), 11th SE Combine Nantes (1698 birds), 19th SMT Combine Rennes (6594 birds): GB 92 P 44081: 2nd SE Combine Rennes (1896 birds), 9th SE Combine Nantes (1876 birds), 18th SE Combine Rennes (2079 birds): GB 95 T 07778: 1st SE Combine Nantes (1698 birds), 12th SE Combine Rennes (1896 birds): GB 93 N 89740: 1st SE Combine Rennes (2079 birds): GB 92 T 28540: 8th SE Combine Bergerac (1149 birds), 17th SE Combine Rennes (1876 birds): GB 07 P 27065: 1st club, 1st Three Borders Federation, 4th SMT Combine Wadebridge (1722 birds). Graham tells me the loft won two RPRA Awards in the 1995 season and another one in 1996, but one of his biggest thrills was sending five hens to the first L&SECC Old Hens Guernsey Classic in 2008 and winning 1st, 5th, 7th, 11th NW Section, 2nd, 10th, 27th, 40th open, then sent four birds to the second L&SECC Old Hens Classic that same season to record 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th NW Section, 21st, 38th, 46th, 55th open. The following season in 2009 he sent five birds to the L&SECC Old Hens Guernsey Classic and recorded 1st, 2nd, 3rd NW Section, 10th, 16th, 21st open. A fantastic racing record!
Graham enjoys showing his birds and maintains it prompts the fancier to check on the bird’s general heath and condition in the winter months. I can remember the wonderful shows the West Middlesex Federation held at Isleworth in the 1980’s, which attracted big birdage and I judged at them most years, and enjoyed every minute of it! Graham tells me he won BIS at the Federation Show in 1988 with his good pigeon, ‘Young Rob’ and still has the special he won that day, which was a photo of his winning bird. One of the reasons he stopped using the ‘darkness’ system with his babies was the moult and he tells me he thinks this is a very important time of the year. After racing has finished and the full body moult has started he gives the birds regular baths and changes the feed to a good moult mixture. I hope my readers have enjoyed this article on Graham Evans, a great all-rounder, worker and pigeon racer!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)