TARBES v BARCELONA
A Response from Alan Baker
Why is Tarbes more popular? Is it because it's more comfortable? I don't believe either side’s viewpoint can decisively win the argument, after all they are two completely different courses with different types of competitor. If you think of it in footballing terms, which would be better, to win the Premiership or the Champions League? (Of course the ultimate would be to win both competitions). As a football supporter, if your team finished in the top 4 and qualified for the Champions League next season, if you could pick would it be to win the Champions League or the Premiership?
Though I'm no longer a great fan of the round ball game (I can see diving swans at the ballet) I would choose the European trophy but I think there is probably an even split or more who would rather win the domestic league.
But I think there is perhaps a far more fundamental reason buried in our psyche why we fail to take on Barcelona and that is we are an Island nation that has never wanted to be part of mainstream Europe. We think we are not the same as our cousins over the pond. As time has gone on we have learnt that we do need to work with our neighbours for our all round benefit, but of course there is a large proportion of the population that still thinks that's cobblers!
In the fullness of time if pigeon racing survives in its current format I think our position will soften and more and more will compete, and with this, successes will come and will build momentum for larger British entries. It certainly has in our acceptance of the amount of Europeans that come to live in our country, something that was not acceptable 25 years ago.
But to win Tarbes NFC is something most distance men aspire to; to win from Barcelona against 27,000 European birds is a dream and may be achieved in the next decade, even with small numbers. The British winners over the past few years have been excellent and well up; fingers crossed for even higher placings. And let's hope for an Irish bird in the BICC result sooner rather than later. What a day that will be!
In pigeon terms Barcelona for me has to be the ultimate but if I do not have the skill to prepare a bird for Barcelona then it makes sense to perfect my skills at 556 miles before I manage to get to 709 miles. I love both races but to get good birds from 709 mile, that must be something!
Elimar - February 2014