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Gordon & Delia Marsh of Southwater



Gordon & Delia Marsh of Southwater.


I recently had an email from my ol’ mate Gordon March of Southwater, up-dating me on his recent racing success and I must say looking at the photo it is great to see him looking in such great form. Gordon said in the email, ‘these two photos are of my grandson William and his father is my son, Robert. You may remember Robert was my partner when we won our first London & South East Classic Club race and then Robert went on to get a decree and two masters at university, and now works for the F A. Hopefully young William will be the 5th generation of pigeon fanciers in our family. The cups are our 2017 tally, when we won ten firsts, eight at the Horsham Flying Club and two at the Worthing 5 bird club and won: ‘Ace Fancier’, ‘Ace Pigeon’ and ‘Old Bird Average’. We are now having a go at building a team to challenge in the B.I.C.C and the N.F.C.’. Gordon and Delia Marsh have been good friends of mine for a number of years and I wound describe them as two of our premier good workers in our sport, but they have also been very successful racing their pigeons for many years. They race in one of the strongest clubs in the south of England, the Horsham RPC and are very proud of the fact that have been top prize winners in the club in the 2016/15/14/13 racing seasons. A wonderful achievement! The club has some big birdages, up 500 birds some weeks and only the member’s first two birds on the clock count in the prize list. Prior to the 2017 racing season Gordon and Delia lifted 25 club trophies and two South Coast Federation trophies those four seasons. The partners told me they intended to take a step back from club racing in 2017 to concentrate on building a team of birds to compete in the longer races, but cur come to temptation and raced on their usual weekly basis. They say the Horsham club has a fantastic membership and will continue to support them as much as possible.


Gordon and I served on the London & South East Classic Club committee together for many years and we were both vice President and President of that great club. He maintains that too many people join committees just to pursue their own agenda and leave when they are unable to do so. Members empower you to manage! It is for each of us to ensure we make decisions that will move the club forward, whilst keeping it on a sound financial footing. I second that!


Gordon had the good fortune to take early retirement from work and use to races as Marsh & son, but his sons don't take part in the running of the pigeon loft, they prefer football and computers. His wife, Delia, is now his pigeon partner and is known by many fanciers, as she started the C.H.A.S.E. Charity Show, which was run every winter at Horsham. Gordon says, she is an excellent stock woman, having spent her life with horses and can pick out a fit pigeon in the basket, and tell him which one will be the first to the loft. Delia is very much a dog lover and Gordon told me, ‘Delia and her rescue dogs participate in a big way in dog agility. Qualifying for finals with the Kennel Club and U.K. Agility takes them all over the country. ‘Megan’ has won many first prizes and reached championship status, and both dogs have qualified for U.K. Agility finals several years running. It’s amazing how much pleasure you can get from dogs thrown out by irresponsible people’. In the time that they have been married, they have had pigeons and she has built lofts, cleaned out lofts, trained pigeons, and taken care of them when Gordon has gone away, clocked winners, chased cats and looked good on presentation nights. Gordon says, could I ask for more?


Gordon and Delia race on the ‘roundabout’ system and their small team of old bird racers are paired up in early January, and they are allowed to rear one youngster per pair. The first round in the race loft is quite often eggs transferred from the stock birds. Ten days after the second round of eggs are laid the birds are separated, with the cocks remaining in the breeding section with the nest boxes closed and nest pans turned over. The females go into a section with a gilled floor and ‘v’ perches. Gordon tells me, ‘the roundabout system is very simple, but very affective for the cocks and the hens in races at any distance. My hens go out, then the cocks go along the corridor to the hen compartment and then the empty nest box section is cleaned out and food is put in the pots for the hens. After an hour or so the hens are called in to the breeding section and fed. The cocks are then let out for an hour of exercise and the hens go back to the ‘v’ perch section. All the birds are exercised twice a day and fed in the nest box section. I only train if I think they need it and both cocks and hens race most weeks, and on marking night the hens are allowed to go in with the cocks for a few minutes. On their return from the race I let the pairs stay together for about an hour or may be a little longer on the long distance events. I never repair the birds in the racing season. Prior to pairing up the stock and race birds are vaccinated and treated for worms, canker and salmonella and the young bird get the same prior to the start of their training and racing. My young birds are raced on the ‘darkness’ system’ and get about 30 training tosses before racing the full young bird programme’.


Gordon Marsh was born in South Wales, but only lived there for a year and has now spent most of his life, living in West Sussex. He from a racing pigeon family, his grandfather had pigeons, as did his father and both his brothers. Gordon says, he was born into pigeons and as far back as he can remember, he was always in the pigeon loft with his dad. The loft was up on 6ft poles, with double door trapping and it had a cabin, with easy chairs and paraffin stove to make tea on. He spent hour up in his dads loft and it was in 1965 that Gordon got his own place, and started up his own loft of pigeons. His first stock came from his fathers loft in the form of a complete round of youngsters and he recalls that Jed Jackson gave him a really nice pied hen, which was surplus to his requirements. Gordon's first major success was with a young blue cock, which recorded 2nd club, 3rd Federation and was well up in the S.M.T. Combine result from Avranches. When I asked Gordon, who was the first fancier who drew his attention to their performances in the early days? He quickly replied, without question my boyhood hero was Jed Jackson of Worthing. He would wait outside Worthing station just to see Jed get off the bus, with his dog in one hand and his basket of birds in the other. Gordon told me, that even 50 years ago Jed was a hard man to beat and of course went on to win the Pau Grand National. Gordon's first pigeons were mainly Logan's, Barkers and Kirkpatrick crosses, as raced by his father and his father before him, and they won at all distances. He joined one of the best clubs on the south coast, the Worthing & Dist. H.S. and his loft was set up for the natural system, with just two sections. He wintered ten pairs of old birds and bred only 12 youngsters, which had to race the programme. Gordon maintains, he was a well-trained pigeon fancier long before he was ever let loose on his own, but has made many mistakes since and hopefully learnt from them. His two biggest mistakes were undoubtedly, in the 1970s, making winning his one aim, forgetting that he loved to be around pigeons and being impatient.


Gordon’s present loft set up is three sections for racing and a small section for stock birds. The loft is a traditional wooden structure, with a pan tile roof and has stall and open door trapping. He maintains, the most important factor in any loft design is good ventilation and getting rid of the warm, stale air is a must. The pan tile roof provides an excellent way to ventilate pigeon lofts. Gordon uses deep litter in his loft, because it suits his management and he has never had any problem with it. He says it comes cheap; he just pinches Delia’s horse bedding! The old birds are flown on a basic roundabout system. Years ago some of his best results were won on the roundabout system up to 300 miles and then re-pair for the long distance events, but he never re-pairs these days. Racing his birds on this method has been very successful for the Marsh loft, having won 1st Open London & South East Classic Club (twice) and 1st Kent & Sussex Palamos BBC on this system. He feeds a basic mixture with peanuts, linseed and Hormoform added to suit the requirements of the season and the condition he wants to get them in. Gordon says, feeding is an art, but you need to watch your birds at exercise, as they will tell you when you have got it wrong. He never breaks his pigeons down.  Most of his yearlings go to Tours (300 miles), with some going on to Bergerac (450 miles) and all the old birds go to the longest race points. Years ago when on natural he tried to discover how individual birds do best at the longest races and set them up that way, but the norm going to marking sitting 10 to 14 day old eggs.


He likes all pigeon races and enjoys winning at any distance, but in recent years has only really raced club racing in the Horsham RPC. He told me, one of his best pigeons ever was a dark chequer cock, bred down from the old Marsh pigeons in the 1970s and he flew Thurso seven times (twice on the day), winning on three occasions, also winning 2nd and 3rd  on two other occasions. His first London & South East Classic Club winner was also from the old Marsh stock and she was a yearling chequer pied hen sent feeding her first ever youngster. Over the years you own many good pigeons, but some you never forget. Gordon says, he has had many thrilling experiences with his birds, but one of the best must be seeing his pigeon on the loft at just after six, on the day of liberation from Thurso and half an hour later seeing his hen arrive, to take 1st and 2nd club, only two birds on the day. Winning 1st open London & South East Classic Club twice ranks highly in his most thrilling experiences category.


Well, there you have it, one of the sports gentlemen and his lady, Gordon and Delia Marsh of Southwater. I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.