Looking at the winners over the years in Middlewich FC.
Over the years I have spoken to many fanciers and they more or less all say the same thing and that is pigeon racing is on the decline. Yes it is and there is little we can do about other than look after those that remain in the sport. As far as clubs go I think most are in the same position, not enough members. However what I do believe is that there are still a lot of good winning fanciers about who are capable of winning in all types of competition. I keep hearing the same old thing, “My pigeons are not good enough” what a load of rubbish, defeated before they start. I say that because I was telling myself the same thing when I first started racing and that was the same with most others who I discussed it with around that time (early 70’s). Even so I did move to National racing and had some real good results being as high as 3rd open St Nazaire beaten by two pigeons flying 177mls less but there was a good gap that was in 2006. Not just by myself because there have been some other top National FC performances by fanciers from Middlewich over the years where the competition has always been good. My view on entering the National races did change to “If you don’t try you will never know” and for 12 of the first 14years of this century I did race in the National FC and had some good results with not much more than a handful of pigeons. Anyway going back to the Middlewich club there were something like 30 members when I first joined but there are now about 12 in the actual town itself, there are other fanciers from surrounding towns who race in the 5B club. I remember the biggest send from the club which was a coastal race won by Les Hollinshead when we were second. I was talking to Les some years later and he was unaware that the race with the most entries in the club was won by him. Yes, when you look back there have been some good members in the club at both racing and in the official capacity. In my early years with the club I took over with the late Bob Meachin as joint secretaries taking over from the late Roy Smith and out present secretary Alan Groom. After Roy passed away his son Mark carried on racing with his mother and still does. Mark is also one of those who is currently working hard to hold racing in Middlewich together. As secretary of the club I did not last long because Bob called it a day and with everything else at the time it was too much for me. But I did go back into the official side when I took on the job as secretary to the Mid Cheshire Fed in what were described as the glory days in the fed. When I did finish as club secretary the late Rhoda Groom took the position on and husband Alan once again took over and continues to hold the position to this day. In my early days it was watching and listening to people like the late Roy Smith and Alan Groom that I learnt the best way to get the jobs done in the best interest of the sport and then added my own ways which have always worked. Good officials are what all organisations in the sport need and if they don’t have them they can soon go downhill. Also in those early days there were some real characters and the one who comes to mind first of all is the late Bill Lyons. This was a fancier who really enjoyed going to the race points as the Mid Cheshire convoyer and always took his bacon and eggs for a cooked breakfast.
Middlewich FC members from the early 80's
Past fanciers like Denis Gleave made the club a good one because he was the man to beat but I have to admit in those days there were always fanciers about who did not like the way he won so much. Over the years Denis was probably the best racing fancier in the Middlewich club. Denis Gleave is one such fancier who has never let up in his quest to be top of the tree in the pigeon world, a few lean years maybe but those lean years have been better than most have had at their peak. Winning with racing pigeons is not all that easy but when it comes to a good stock man such as Denis the wins come far easier than someone with no real knowledge at all of how to breed good sound stock. Being a livestock farmer has obviously helped Denis along the way to making definite decisions on what to and what not to breed from. Many articles have been written on Denis by scribes from various parts of the country who have ventured into Cheshire where the land is flat and the farming is at its best and the pigeon fanciers are as keen and competitive as anywhere in the country. Through this article I am hoping to delve deeper into the knowledge that Denis has to offer to the pigeon fraternity. It has very often been said that Denis will tell you nothing; I suppose that depends on how much you talk to him and how deep into the archives we can go. I remember being at Blackpool a number of years ago talking to a Irish fancier who enquired where I came from, as soon as I said Cheshire he replied George Stubbs and Denis Gleave country, when it comes to sport, trust an Irishman to know where the best are. Denis is but a short journey from where we fly our pigeons so it is easy to visit, not spending hours covering mile after mile of roads which appear to be going nowhere as many scribes will tell you.
Denis Gleave's old lofst at the farm Denis with Eddie Froggatt
Denis has been at the top for more years than I care to mention so he deserves his status as a top fancier. There are many fanciers who get to the top to receive the accolade of a winner but then fall into the also rans category as so many do. This falls down when the fancier who gets to the top then slips and still receives the same accolade as that of a champion racer of pigeons. Unlike many, Denis has never slipped very far from the top, in fact if he has slipped one place then that is all. Denis' racing goes back some 40 years to when he first obtained pigeons from the late Harry Mather of Northwich that were at the time his base strain. To those he added others as so many do including a few from odd local fanciers. This is the pattern that many new starters do and for Denis the new introductions from the locals worked but for many it is their downfall from the word go. As always time goes by and Denis brought in the old Jack Mansfield lines that soon brought success followed by pigeons in the late fifties from the legendary Hughie Cropper closely followed by the Tom Lightfoot pigeons. It was a hen from the Lightfoot lofts that turned out to be an early gem, especially when crossed with the Cropper pigeons which made the name of Denis Gleave a household one in the pigeon world. Other pigeons to come along were from such strains as the Le Producer Dordins from Brian Jones of Crewe and previously mentioned the Busschaerts that have taken so many fanciers to the top of the tree. Then there's the highly successful Janssen’s that have been so wildly used around the world in winning lofts, Stichlebauts, Krauths, Verheys, Desmets, George Josefs, De-Weerdts were all brought in to test. More recently the Meuleman from Beverdam and Janssen from Piet Manders. Many visits to the continent where the Van Wanroys also came from. The Staff Deysldoorf the winner of 16x1st Dutch National. This fancier is known to have supplied pigeons to many of the top continental winning lofts over the years just one more to mention and that include the Kuypers plus the Decroix from Colin Harrison of which have been crossed with the Van Wannay and Staff Deysldoorf only ever bred 1 good one winning many prizes but has since crossed with other families included Busschaert’s. They have flown very well, in fact the 1992 hard Nantes Northern Counties the winner was Van Wanroy x Decroix. There is no sticking to one family here the theme is move with the times by bringing the present day winning families leave no stone unturned. Even though all those strains have been tried the Busschaert’s & Janssen’s have produced many winners, probably more than any of the others. No doubt if Denis had not brought in so many families he could very well have had the right to name his pigeons after himself after so many years of winning. There have been many pigeons housed at these lofts that could well have bought record prices, pigeons such as 'The Bomb' a Great Northern winner to name one of his classic race wins. Then there’s 'Ringo' out of Harry Mather stock whose dam is a first open Great Northern 1963 when Denis was 1stx2nd with 2nd being “HC” who in 5 consecutive years racing with the strong Middlewich 2 bird which at the time had a competing membership of anything up to 138 collected 3 x 1st and 1 x 3rd and 1 x 4th all being channel races We must not forget 'Jodie' 23 x 1st and there are no doubt more that would be worthy of a mention with these pigeons that have won so well over the years. 'Jodie' is one of the Busschaerts that have reigned so long in these lofts, which originated from Colin Harrison of Norwich who actually bred 'Jodie'. The Busschaert lines consist of 'The Broken Toe' 'Little Black' 'The Rosten' 'Jupiter' 'The Favourite' 'The Lady Bird' and not forgetting 'The Klaren' lines that have been such a dominant force in the winning Busschaerts over the years. Feeding Moulting mix and Breeding mix from the local mill then depurative through until they hatch and back o breeding until racing-then continental mix for racing. Denis has tried Dufky, Verselaga, De Sheemacker and Bosmolen and has found that there is nothing between them. He also uses a bit of red band and Hormoform and pointed out that when feeding it is not wise to give young birds red band when racing. It is also not wise to overdue the red band and Hormoform when rearing he has found that too much tends to make the young birds grow too big. Minerals, grit and Picksteen blocks are also used. When racing they get depurative until Tuesday morning, not really bothered as long as the pigeons have at least a couple of days on Depuratives. Young birds race on Dufky feed plus vitamins in the water every other week but does not give them too much because you can give them vitamin poisoning. Treat’s for canker, worms and coxi around Christmas and after the course is finished he takes samples of droppings to the vets just before racing. He likes to worm them once every six weeks during racing. Denis did like to keep wild birds from drinking in the water especially starlings which are reported to be well infected with salmonella plus many other diseases. Denis was also a great believer in Widowhood but still likes to race the hens. The intentions were always to race a bigger team on the natural because of the different hens, which have performed very well over the years. The lofts at Byley did not change in a good many years, which could well be one of the reasons that the pigeons are so content. The main racing loft which was 32ft x 8ft has stood there for as long as I have raced pigeons that is with the exception of the night the wind decided that both pigeons and lofts were in its path therefore it ended up on its back in the field. After that happened posts were put behind to strengthen it just in case the same thing happens again. Each section in 8x8 and contains 9 widowhood boxes that are not all used otherwise there would be nowhere to put clock. This loft later went to see more winners go through the doors when Mike O’Hare and Ron Woodward bought it after Denis passed away. There was also a 12 x 6 widowhood loft with fourteen boxes again not all filled, all twelve pigeons won in this loft and it is a bit more closed in and this is also the loft where ''Champion Jodie'' raced so successfully too, there were generally two empty boxes. Then there is the old hut that Denis had converted to house a team of fifty youngsters. Yes Denis was a good fancier and one who set the standard for others to chase. Don’t get me wrong Denis never won them all but he was nearly always the one at the top of the list by the time the season had finished.
Denis's new loft after moving from the farm
Also in those early days we had the likes of Tommy Smallwood who I am told was the first to race widowhood cocks in the 1950’s in Middlewich. I think it was the year after I joined Tommy clocked the only bird on the day from Nantes which was a light chequer cock. Tommy had a good nest pair 05 & 06 this Nantes winner was one of them. Frank Healey was a big friend of Tommy’s and I remember he had a Red Cock that was a real good pigeon, amongst others, Frank raced in the avenues an area of the town where there were quite a few to compete against. Son David racing with wife Lynn have kept the Healey name on the results for over 20yrs. I don’t think David’s intentions were to follow in the footsteps of his dad but a dark cock stopped off at their house and Lynn decided to look after it. This dark cock led to a loft of pigeons and they had had many good results over the years. Another name and still flying member is Sid Latham who was racing pigeons to the orchard when I first started but for many years has raced them to the same place where Kelly Hough had a loft. Son Peter is also still race with wife Dawn. The Latham family have been racing pigeons in Middlewich for more years than I can remember and Sid’s daughter Joyce is now racing with his dad to keep the loft going and is also an official with the club. Another long standing name in the club is that of the Wilkinson family who were racing under the name of Wilkinson Bros when I first started but I know for a fact that the family were racing in the 1920’s when they were a premier racing loft in the town so the best part of 100yrs winning that I have information on. The present Wilkinson’s flying are David & son Craig with David still at School and racing from his parents back garden in Warmingham Lane when I moved into the town. Others still racing are W Wilson & Son who have been racing here for many years Mr & Mrs Dudley Niblett have been winning for a good few years but Dudley had pigeons and parted with them before starting again and not looked back since. As I have said there have always been good workers in the club and young Robert Carson is one who helps Secretary Alan Groom with the results, don’t think Alan is into modern technology.
Robert Carson left.
The Carson team are Robert and his mother Carol with father Ted also racing pigeons with the 5B. There have always been good fanciers in the club past and present with the O’Hare & Woodward team taking over as the leaders after Denis passed away. This has been the loft to beat and has been one of the Premier winning lofts here in Cheshire in recent years is that of Mike O’Hare & Ron Woodward. I say premier with ease because they are winning in club, fed, classic and national racing and have just won the averages in Section L where there are many top fanciers competing. 2014 has been another good year for Mike & Ron whose classic & national performances have improved year on year whilst still being a dominant team racing in the club races. As a scribe it is quite easy to judge fanciers on their club performances because there are some in small clubs and big clubs alike who win but we then have the federations and combines to make further judgements on just how good they actually are. Making that judgment on Mike & Ron is quite easy because they are local to me and I see their performances week on week. The next stage of assessment is to look at them against other lofts who also keep a bigger than average team of stock. So taking into account the number of races they compete in from club to national level they are on par with the top lofts in the country. They have reached the point where they can send a team that can compete against anyone and be confident that they are really competing for top honours in top competition. They are no doubt the modern day loft to beat in the local clubs and if you are looking for any races through to national level theirs is the one to look at. Ron has always been in pigeons with his father being the late Albert Woodward who raced successfully into Winsford. Mike is a staggered affair with pigeons because he used to have them in his early days and as many do when they have a growing family he parted with them. It was not until some 30yrs later that he made the decision to come into the world of racing pigeons once again. It was 1992 when Mike rejoined the sport but it only lasted for 3yrs before he took up a contract to work in Hong Kong. That spell lasted for two and a half years and then when he returned to the UK thoughts were once again with the pigeons. His first choice were birds from the likes of George Litherland, Tommy Shaw and Jim Dutton, the latter being purchased while Mike was on leave at home in 1997. While Mike was working in Hong Kong he was receiving the Pigeon Sport so kept abreast of the times in the sport. The pigeons from Jim Dutton were obviously quality pigeons because the 10yo “Witte Cock” was a real class pigeon. Other pigeons introduced were those of the late Frank Garner off his Mike Fitzhugh lines that had flown so well for Frank. By this time Mike was becoming keen and he visited lofts on the continent where he inspected pigeons from lofts in Belgium, Holland & Germany before making any purchase. Mike was impressed with the De Klaks of Borgman Bros and also the much sought after Houbens. There was no doubt that on this trip Mike was getting more and more into pigeons and eventually purchased three De Klaks from Arnold Lietzing. The tour carried on and when he retuned home he set his mind on the Houbens so went looking to see who had the pigeons he wanted. His search ended at the lofts of Martin Mitchell where he purchased 5 Houbens for stock and ordered a further 6 young birds to race in the 1999 season. These new introductions performed well and started Mike on the road to success with several prizes won in his first year back racing after working in Hong Kong. This first success was with the Mid Cheshire fed where he won the young bird average in 2000.
There are so many ways to race the pigeons and these lads are not afraid to make changes if it means that they will keep ahead of the game. They take one round off the widowhood team before racing starts but the stock birds probably three rounds, after all they are their to breed the race teams of the future. The stock birds are rotated to try and find the best possible pairings you could leave them together but they know that the pigeons are bred right so they need to get the best out of them. When the young birds in the nest are about 17 days old the hens are removed with one of the youngsters and the cocks are left to finish rearing the remaining young bird. Although they have a good team of pigeons there is still plenty of room; they are nowhere near overcrowded and that makes for a happier team of pigeons whether stock or racing. This racing loft is cleaned out daily while the stock lofts are either deep litter or grills. Mike and Ron necessarily spend a great deal of time with the pigeons one way or another since the racing team need to be exercised twice per day morning and evening and the young birds exercised in the afternoon. Feeding systems are tailored to suit the distances being raced as you cannot use the same feeding methods to cover all distances. On this subject they said, “There is a difference between distance and sprint birds in general but there will always be exceptions. Lynford Christie would never beat the Kenyon runners over a marathon no matter what he was fed.” Feeding pigeons is very important no matter what distance you are racing the pigeons at. At one time the pigeons were hopper fed but that has all changed now because the feed is tailored to the needs of the pigeons depending on what races they were being prepared for. The race team are treated for Canker, Cocci and Respiratory at the start of the season and are then routinely treated approx every 3 weeks as a precaution. The day after the race they are treated for one day with a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Nyfuramycin, especially after two or more days in the basket because infections passed on in this type of racing can be a major problem. Just a few bits and pieces that the partnership were doing during their reign as top fliers in the club. The last season they flew together in 2014 saw them win the Section L averages so finished on a high note. Ron is now racing on his own but has held his own with a team of yearlings so no doubt more to come.
L.J.P. with O'Hare and Woodward
Going back to Alan Groom here is an article that I wrote on him in 2000. The new Millennium started in the same fashion as the last one passed with Alan Groom steeling the limelight in our local area. After the first few weeks has won more than most are going to win all season so here is the story on Alan Groom the man to beat. 40yrs as a secretary, 27yrs being with the Middlewich 2B, many winners to his credit, more trophies than anyone wants to clean, same loft since the dark ages. In the last 3yrs the highest prize winner winning 135 prizes in the club alone against over 20 flying members sending as many as 400 birds per week, 112 federation cards, well over 40 x 1sts notched up. And remember we are not talking about the continental prize allocation this is Britain where if you are not in the first half dozen you get nothing. Alan's a present day Chairman, clock setter has tried his hand at race controller and as an official with the Mid Cheshire Fed. I think we better find him something else to do to try and slow the pigeons down. We can go back 16yrs to the October1984 edition of the pigeon racing Gazette then controlled by the Bishop family from Weybridge in Surrey. That was when I first compiled an article on Alan Groom that was headed a successful Widowhood flyer, things haven't changed because that is still the case today some at the turn of the Century 16 years later. I said earlier same old loft. Yes even the lofts have seen no major change; there are no new modern day ideas about how a loft should be. No tiled roof, the lofts are the same as they have more or less been since Alan has flown his pigeons in Middlewich in the 60's. At that time we were just changing to long trousers and the barbers was a place we only went when dad laid the law down, if he was lucky. The next time that I looked in on Alan regarding performances was he topped the Three Counties Combine at Sartilly with a Geoff and Jane Aspin who bred the exchange Dark Busschaert 2yo cock which raced to the coast in 1995. Then in1996 was 3rd Middlewich FC Weymouth 218 birds and went to fly Rennes and Nantes that is where he spent a rare night out. Then in 1997 he collected 1st club 11th fed Gloucester 1962 birds during the sequence of going to every inland race being clocked on several occasions collecting good pool money. Then this excellent pigeon won 1st club 1st fed 1st Championship 1st Cheshire Combine 1st Three Counties Combine Sartilly against 13,947 birds.
Alan Groom's Combine winner
Performances come and go to all fanciers but this was a far cry from the very first Federation race that Alan won as an up and coming member of the Shrewsbury HS. That was on the 21st May 1955 and like most things connected with his pigeons Alan still has the federation result even today some 42 years later. On that occasion Alan was an easy winner by virtue of being the only fancier to top the 1000ypm barrier and was not an out of the blue win because it was pooled ABCD picking up the biggest share of the pools. It was interesting to note that the rings issued in the year of that win l was starting school and were NURP54M8396. This was not only Alan's first club winner but also the first occasion that he had collected a top Federation honour in the Shropshire Fed. At that time the heading read "Result of the race from Frome on 21st May liberated 11.40am, wind Strong WNW, Showerey and cold, no of birds 682". As with the club Alan's was the only pigeon recording a velocity in excess of 1000ypm. The race was certainly a hard one because in the club the last pigeon was on 526ypm with the last club on the fed result recording a winning velocity of 917ypm which was over 100ypm behind Alan's excellent winner. When you take into account that the race was only from Frome into Shropshire you get the true picture of how hard the race was. The race was that hard there was 97ypm between the first ten on the fed result from such a short distance, Alan has hung on to the club and the federation cards as well as a result to show for his first winner in pigeon racing. This is another case as pointed out at the start of this article, still there. Again at the start of the article I pointed out about the fact that there was no real change in the lofts, that is correct but the pigeons have changed as with any loft from one strain to another. Let’s start with the first pigeons that Alan brought into his lofts from Clem Williams of Baschurch. A.J. Bloss, Bonmere Heath, W.G.H. Dicken Ellesmere, Peter Cross Wallasey. Bert Bloss bred Alan a blue hen NURP53BFC164 that won his first race from Monmouth as a YB in the Shrewsbury HS. Peter also bred Alan that first Federation winner mentioned earlier from Frome. Then in 1974 Alan purchased 2prs of Dordins from John Icke of Woore who had one of the very best teams from this family in the UK at that particular time. In fact if you take a look at the winning Dordins of that time John probably provided fanciers some of the best racers they ever had. These pigeons went on to win Alan many prizes during the mid to late 70"s and at one stage more or less all the pigeons in the loft were based on these lines. There were also the odd Boeyken lines brought in that were a great cross and did very well with Alan's very good Dark cock of the late 70s and early 80s being three quarter Dordin and a quarter Boeyken. The Dark Cock won first prizes every year through his racing career with the exception of 83 when he was 2nd club 10th fed Dorchester recording a velocity of 999ypm, 2nd club 17th fed Plymouth vel 844ypm. This showed what a good hard day pigeon he was, he also won 3 x 1sts open races from Worchester that is where Alan's reputation as a Worcester flyer came from, things have changed since then. At Alan's loft it might look from the outside that time has stood still but when you look at the stock there is from time to time new stock purchased to keep the family on a winning track. In1984 there was a change from the Dordins when Alan brought into the race team the Verheyes from Marshall Kendrick who at the time was one of the top fanciers racing into the Shavington area. There was early success with these pigeons recording good results and they started to beat the more established Dordins nearly every week. This led to more introductions from the same family and also some from Louella these being the "Black Tony" lines which made first class cross with those from Marshall, it is a known fact that the crosses were even better. These were not a team to win for a few years because they are still winning for Alan today, every year Alan looks for something to beat these. Alan then purchased 6 young birds from Terry Edwards from Winsford being mostly bred down from the Stan Heath of Tarporley Janssens which like any other pigeon brought into these lofts flew very well for Alan. There was also one Blue Chequer Busschaert Cock which has been possibly one of the best racing cocks in the Middlewich 5 bird club and even when the birds were held over he has left the opposition in his wake. This excellent cock goes back to the Melvin Bratt birds that Melvin won so well with over the years, Melvin purchased the original birds at a sale in Gee Cross many years ago. In 1996 Alan had 3prs of VDB that originated from Bailey Bros of Rugley plus some other that came from John Kirk of Warrington. Some have crossed very well with the Verheye family. They have also produced winning lines with the Janssens of Stan Heath of Tarporley. The first year he bred off the VDB Alan won 1st Picauville Middlewich 2B and a Blue hen was 2nd Club4th Open in the Picauville race of 99. These are the lines that are doing most of the winning in Alan's present day team. There is a good 1998 Chequer Pied Verheye/VDB that as a young bird won 4 x 1sts plus other prizes with her nest mate winning 4 prizes as a youngster then in 99 collected 3 x 1sts. When it comes to how many birds we house there can quite easily be a fluctuation from year to year but at the moment. But in Alan's case the number housed have never really altered a great deal and started with a team of 32cocks on the widowhood system which Alan has never changed from. Alan did have a few paired up in a small loft but they did not suit the system so Alan put a few youngsters in there for the darkness system. As pointed out the widowhood system is the one that Alan settled on and in the early 80!s perfected the system and was highest prize winner in 82 & 83 and has never looked back. In that small loft referred to Alan weaned 25 y.b.s into this loft in 1999 and when it came to training there were 20 left for the first race in July. By the time racing had finished in September there were still 18 left and between them they had won 24 prizes with 3 flying Picauville. The number of stock birds has increased slightly and now there are 8/10 pairs of stock to go with the widowhood cocks that are paired in mid January to rear around 60 youngsters which are raced hard down to the coast. Then after racing has finished the cocks are allowed a further nest to settle them down for the winter months. After they have reared their first nest and settled down again, they are given approx 6 training tosses before the first race then no more training. However they are exercised for 30 to 40 mins around home which Alan has found sufficient to keep them fit, mind you local fanciers have often commented on how well they fly around home. Alan likes to race the pigeons every week on the land but select those to go across the channel and if they have shown no real signs on land then across they go. The young birds are a different proposition because the receive plenty of training plus being exercised around the home each afternoon
Alan Groom's Racing Loft
The biggest change over the years has been the way that the pigeons are trained because for many years the were taken on the back of the Alan's old scooter which kept Alan mobile for many years, come to think of it what ever happened to the old faithful scooter. The training of Alan's birds is now in the hands of Fred Hollinshead who has been a great asset to Alan and is very grateful for it (mind you he never looked safe on that scooter loaded up with baskets). It is a known fact that when Fred changes his car the size of baskets is taken into account. Going back to the lofts which as l pointed out earlier are nothing special, they are just plain lofts that were built for the job and Alan has no desire to change them. If you see Alan's loft you will realise that all the extravagant lofts in the world will not beat good management and top birds. The corn is purchased in bulk in the early part of the year, there is little seed added to help them with the moult. The corn as pointed out is bought in bulk in the early part of the year and is always Natural which are also the make of the grits, pick stones, picking bricks and vitamins that are used for these birds. The vitamins are given on a Wednesday for both racers and stock with the pick stones and blocks being in front of the birds all the time. Feeding is the usual widowhood method which is depurative on a Saturday and Sunday and they are built up during the week. The build up depends on the last weeks race and weather if it is cold they will eat more. Feeding is done through both pots in their boxes and troughs on the floor depending on the circumstances at the time, the young birds are well fed too well fed sometimes and are treated like the widowhood cocks being built up during the week During the racing season the birds are treated for worms, canker, and cocci as and when Alan thinks they need it using one product one year another the next if you keep using the one product the birds will get immune to it. All old birds get the same treatment before pairing up.
Inside Alan's widowhood section
The one major set of products that Alan likes are Harkers because he believes they are the best on the market. However for vaccination Alan uses Colombovac because that was the one that he first used and therefore has stuck to it. This is mainly because in the first place it was a one dose vaccine and not two which is done for the old birds in November and the youngster in late May early June depending on Fred's training arrangements. Just a bit on the young birds that are housed in a 8ft x 8ft loft with 75 box perches. On their racing Alan said that the young hens raced every week right down to Weymouth if they are fit and in good feather. The young cocks being the future race team are treated somewhat different because a few are selected and stopped about three weeks depending on the weather and how many empty box perches there are in the loft. There is also the small loft for the darkness youngsters that are the backbone of most young bird teams in the modern day racing loft. Alan's last word, "I was reading a write up the other week and this chap said that he was a club secretary, what he didn't like was that there were too many non workers fining fault with the efforts of the few willing workers. I know how he feels". Pigeons are Alan's life and his very understanding wife Rhodda knows that because she to works very hard for the sport and has been secretary for the local club for longer than I care to remember. Alan is a bit sharp at times but the local fanciers now know him and the fact that he is just about as hard working as they come when it comes to the local organisations. He has now been top dog for a few years and I wonder who will come along and take his crown. Here's one for you to think about, in January 2000 Alan has 32 w/h cocks and all are prize winners on the road consisting of 13 yearlings and 19 older birds.
At these lofts the motto is "Racers must win and breeders must breed". Having competed against Alan for so long I know what a good pigeon he races and as I complete this loft for posting the 2000 season is just about to get under way and as we all know locally if you beat Alan you will more than likely be in the prizes. That was part of a report done some 16yrs ago and Alan still gets a few in today and is still the secretary of the Middlewich club. As mentioned earlier we moved away from club racing to the Nationals and I have to say I did enjoy it. However I felt that I was missing out and so moved back to club racing and competed a full season in my last season’s racing. The only problem was the numbers had gone down considerably and at times it was a struggle but we came away with 7 trophies. The last time prior to 2014 we raced a full programme was in 2000 when we had what was said at the time a record send. That year I think we won 11 trophies including the fed grand averages and it makes me wonder what we could have done in all those years between had we raced in the Club instead of the National. You will always get good winning fanciers who appear year after year in all clubs and I would liked to have seen more of the members having a go at the bigger races because I believe more members from the Middlewich club could have and still could do well in national racing. Sitting here looking at these pages I think to myself I could go on but I think it’s about time to stop.