More views from Les. J Parkinson
Over the years we have attended a few of the BBC, National FC of BICC presentation evenings. I remember going to the BBC down in Bournemouth one year and had a cracking night, they know how to put a function on. Anyway, while searching my photos I found a good one of Jim Hooper and for the life of me I cannot remember who he was with. It’s one of those cases where I can see his face, without the mask of course, but cannot put a name to the face I can see in my mind. I then thought I know a man who will help me so called friend Nigel Langstaff and gave him an idea and he came up with Peter Wilcox and that is who I had in mind. Went around the houses but I think we got there in the end, it’s my own fault I should write names on the photos when I take them. I have to say I do know most of them on the photos I take. I remember the night and I can see in my mind those who sat with us on the same table. There have been many good functions on the south coast over the years for the National clubs. For anyone who wants to meet some of the top fanciers they are the functions to attend. With all the stuff that is going into the PC I bought an updated one a few months ago put the other to one side, thinking I would not need it again. That was a mistake because there is a lot on that PC, I was now looking for, so I have had it sorted and reconnected.
Even though I no longer have pigeons to race here, this is the time of the year when I am thinking about racing. Looking at the weather to see if it was improving enough to get them into training. It’s no good starting them on the road if the weather is not so good, when you start them you need to keep them going. Then when they have had a few tosses if the weather changes for the worse it is not as bad, at least they have had some preparation. Pigeons are not daft they get to know what the game is and can soon get into a routine and that’s what matters with anything in life, routine. I know some say they cannot do what they want because they have a job to go to but getting into a routine is reasonably easy whether you are a worker or not. The pigeons will always respond to a stable system, but as we know pigeon fanciers want to go into the loft more often than they should. How would you like it if every time you settled down to read the paper or watch something on TV, the missus or Mr whatever position you are in, came along with the hoover cleaning up. There are some good female pigeon fanciers out there, I am told they are much calmer around the pigeons, don’t know who told me that one. We have been to a few lofts where the ladies are the boss and I can tell you the pigeons always appear to be happy. What would we do without our better half’s in tow.
North West Classic
At one time I used to take a lot of pigeon photos, especially when I was the NWCC secretary in the late 90’s into the 2000’s. I came across some photos of past open winners with the club. In those days I used to take photos of the winners which was all part of being the PO as well. But like many more things in life we get to the stage where we have too much to do and little time to do it in so things don’t always get done as we would like them to. I have spoken to a few about the club in recent weeks and they are looking forward to competing in the club. Channel racing at club level is a dying game so such clubs as the NWCC are the better option. I have 4 photos from that period, all winning 1st section 1st open in good competition. Wayne & Roy Beverley won Picauville. Paul Hart topped the list at Niort over 500mls. Jimmy & Susan Dickens clocked a good one in the Falaise race while Roland King did likewise from Nantes. Diane tells me that there are 18 new members for the coming season and by the end of February she had sold 260 for the Gold Ring race with plenty of time left.
Mr & Mrs Dickens 1st NWCC
Roland King's NWCC winner
Wayne & Roy Beverley's NWCC winner
Paul Hart's NWCC winner
Also came across a couple of photos of Middlewich fancier’s past and present. I think because there were more members in the club, more helped with the jobs more freely, but today it appears to be the same few left at the club most of the time. The problem is with having 4 clubs marking at the same headquarters it becomes a strain on the few who are left to do the lions share. When this happens, it becomes hard work to the few, and some do get a bit fed up at times. There are of course fanciers who do their share of the jobs away from marking and clock nights. There are different ways of looking at these jobs which all must be done. There are not the characters in the sport that there used to be, one of those who was such a person was the late Bill Lyons. Bill was a fancier who served the fed well as convoyer. On marking nights, he would turn up with his bacon and egg plus tools for his breakfast the following morning. I found another photo of Yours Truly and the driver on the transporter with Mick Glynn, Brian Carson, Mark smith and Syd Latham doing the loading. The club would be sending 350 birds plus in those days and there were some very good fanciers competing, made it all worthwhile, mind you a few can be as competitive as a lot. A few weeks ago, I was looking for a photo and found it after I sent the article off. This one is of Middlewich fanciers on the same trip to Belgium but this time at the Gaby Vandenabeele Lofts. Whenever I have been to Gaby’s he is always on the phone, busy man.
Bill Lyon's and shaun Devanney
Some Middlewich members in the early 70's
More Middlewich members loading the transporter and below on a trip to Belgium
Craig was telling about the Show Pigeons that he now has in his loft with thoughts on an addition to his racing. He has bought some real crackers; Elizabeth was very impressed with them when we called to see the family one day. His aim is to start them at the Nantwich and Royal Cheshire Shows which are in June and July, so a bit more competition for these shows. What Craig was saying is that he has had trouble breeding them but is hopeful that they will settle down a bit more. Show pigeons are not as easy to look after as racers, we had some many years agon from a couple of fanciers, the first were from a top showman who we met on a visit to South Wales. He had a lot of Mealies in his team and they were a treat to look at. It was while we were at this loft that Elizabeth took to the proper show pigeons. We were staying in a touring caravan that we had on the car park at the pub that Roger Pleece had. Elizabeth mention show pigeons, and this is where he took us, mind you on that trip Roger was so helpful and took us to a few places. As I have said before Elizabeth liked showing and we would go out 7 days/nights a week showing. I have found a couple of photos of two good Dordin’s that we were showing at the time. We had a blue hen that we called “Elimar Queen” who won, I think, 34 x 1sts in the show pen. She won in all classes, as a YB, Old Bird, matched pairs, BIS, as a young bird she won in several classes and was only beaten once. We entered her into a show that Malc Ikin judged, she looked a picture and didn’t get a card. It’s not very often Elizabeth would question the judges, but she did on this occasion asking Malc why she didn’t get a card. Malc looked at Elizabeth and said, “She’s a show pigeon” the reply was quick, “I didn’t think show pigeons could race and fly the channel” I must admit she was raced as a young bird and had three races as a yearling finishing up at Rennes but was not raced after that. Here sire was a winner of 4 x 1sts plus 2nd Sartilly beaten by a loft mate, 3rd Nantes, so had the breeding to race the channel. We also had a blue Dordin cock “Elimar’s Choice” who had over 20 x 1sts in the show pen and he flew Pau. The year he was sent to Pau he was singled up from all land race points by Bill Lyons. He was entered into the Pau National that year and took 3 days so was night right for the job. However, I learnt a major point about distance racing after this race, and that was to make sure they have plenty of oils in the build up to such races. “Elimar’s Queen” & “Elimar Choice” won at least 6 x 1sts as a matched pair; I was surprised when I looked through all the show cards. It was not only the Dordins who won prizes the Krauths and the crosses were also winners in the show pen as well as on the road. It was once pointed out that we have won many more show cards then racing the pigeons, but they don’t even compare. I say that because when I saw my first good pigeon hit the loft from Pau to finish 45th Open I stood in front of the loft with tears on my cheeks. And when we were 1st section L 3rd Open St Nazaire with the National that was also a great feeling, the two pigeons in front that day were 177mls shorter but the better pigeons on the day.
Elizabeth & Les with a top show man whose name I cannot recall
The two pigeons above won so many 1sts in the show pen and were Elizabeth's favourites.
Don’t shout if you have heard it all before, there will be plenty about who have not. Prior to 2000 there were some real good gatherings in the winter months, and the shows were the part of pigeon racing that Elizabeth liked. At one time we would go out to the shows and mostly 7 days a week, this would include Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes and the pens were mostly full. These were good social events with a lot of enjoyment from meeting fanciers from other clubs. The biggest shows were the ones held by Nantwich and Audlem when we would see up to 230 birds in a class. It was the same with presentations, the rooms were always full. We would have someone off the TV to present prizes for the Mid Cheshire Fed. About shows, I was once asked how we got the pigeons looking so well. We did try all sorts to make them look their best but at the end we just went into the loft with a torch and took them off the perches, had no lights in the loft at that time. At one stage we basketed them early in the day, putting them into show baskets in a warm place but it did not make much difference. The winter gatherings are mostly much smaller now and for many clubs the shows are non-existent.
There has and always will be a lot to be said about the location where pigeon lofts are situated. One thing is for sure they are located at the fancier’s home address or on an allotment but never far away. Position on occasions does win the day but is there an alternative to make racing pigeons have an even balance. No matter what angle you look at pigeon racing from it is never always going to be fair. However, we do like a challenge and getting pigeons to win against the odds is always going to see a competitive streak in any person who participates in competition of any sort. We can train all we like but pigeons are partly directed by the weather conditions on the day of liberation. As the saying goes, “The wise ‘person’ lives in the east” As we know that old saying does not always come out on top because we have all seen top class fanciers winning against the odds, that’s why they are top fanciers in the first place. I don’t know if it has changed but when we were last in Malta it was first on the clock who was the winner. The difference in Malta is it is only a small island and if the pigeons are 1 degree offline, they can overshoot and end up coming back into Malta or missing the Island altogether. This may seem a strange system to some, but all areas will have their good and bad days. The point I was starting to make was, should there be breaking points to areas to even things up. This is something that has been talked about on and off for many years. Could there be such a thing as a breaking point at the start of your fed, you would need two such points considering where the wind is, east or west. No matter what we do in pigeon racing there is always going to be a challenge.
Lostock members from many years ago