July 3, 2018
It is fair to say that across all organisations racing has been choppy. However for the avid distance flier June and July is the business end of racing and many will have nursed their main charges through early events hoping for a supreme effort in the main Nationals. Additionally one or two unexpected candidates will have pushed themselves into the frame and with extremely warm conditions forecast in late June and July there will be surprises. Wishing you all good fortune in the remaining old bird Nationals.
With our members flying between 490 and 523 miles to Ancenis which really does test the calibre of our stock.
Marking took place on Wednesday the 13th when 44 birds were entered by 13 members which may seem low but this simply reflects the very tough national programme we have already experienced. Several lads remarked how birds continued to drift in from Messac with some carrying the odd injury indeed I have at least 4 latecomer’s all of which I suspect have sustained damage from overhead power cables. However their recovery rate is swift and hopefully they will carry no long term ill effects.
It was welcome news on the Saturday that the birds had been liberated at 6.10am in very favourable conditions at the front end of the race. Followers of Solar Activity/Magnometer data would have been aware of the weather frontal changes being predicted. Well this was certainly the case for the longer flying lofts in the top end of Section K and North East where we experienced thunder storms and prolonged heavy showers in the crucial final 60/70 miles. However it was no surprise when word came through that Jeff & Matthew Walton at Coxhoe had timed at 16.55 pm to win the Sportsman FC and their second Section N win in two weeks with a 2yo hen flying 509 miles & sitting 14 days eggs, Having only her second competitive race. She flew NFC Coutances four weeks ago. Her sire is from Peter Virtue of Cockburnspath & grandson of Virtue’s Pride 2010 SNRPC National winner & her dam is a Jos Thone’ hen via Brian Long flying 509 miles.
Close behind taking 2nd and 3rd positions in the Sportsman and Section N was yours truly, Bob Mckie at Chopwell with 2 celibate cocks at 17.26 & 17.45 pm flying 523 miles. (Longest flying loft in overall Open result) The first bird Timba a 4 year old Chequer Cock from the best of Brian Denney x Peter Virtue lines. Racing only in national events Timba has scored in 4 out of 5 races. I had actually set him up for Tarbes but 10 days before Ancenis he seemed very fresh with “Hot Feet” and booked himself a ticket. My second bird, Virtue a Jan Aarden is a grandson of Virtue’s Pride another brilliant racer/breeder for Peter, the dam being bred by Patrick Bros. Virtue along with Timba will be prepared for Sigogne if they hold their form. My 3rd bird on the day is a son of the Driver x with another excellent Virtue stock hen & was 6th Club.
Bob McKie 2nd & 3rd Section N Ancenis pictured with Rod Adams
In 4th club were Malcolm, Heslington & Jones of Wingate with a celibate hen that was previously 2nd Sportsman Coutances. These lads are having a cracking season winning the NE Greater Distance Club Le Mans race a couple of weeks ago with “the Quiet Woman” the hen that was 1st Sportsman out of Coutances this year.
Taking 5th place we have Barrie Blackett from Butterknowle who timed at 18.23 pm. Barrie also had two early morning arrivals on the Sunday. Brian Caley from Framwellgate Moor takes 6th club timing at 20.29 pm
Barrie Blackett of Buttonknowle 5th Sportsman FC Ancenis pictured with Rod Adams
In the final analysis we had 7 birds home on the day from the 44 entered which after 3 nights in the crates was a great outcome. Several other members also recorded arrivals on the second day. Also in Section N Ray & George Anderson at Washington entered a strong team of 14 birds and take 4th Section N with another four good birds home on the day. Top flying all round.
Jeff & Matthew Walton win the £100 sponsorship prize from Paul Stobbs of Stonehaven Lofts fame in addition to taking the Vanrobaey Feeds prizes of corn (their new line of Lady Mix No 56) and a range of various products. These will be well received as Jeff is a firm advocate of Vanrobaeys Premium Power range of feeds. Many thanks again to both these generous sponsors.
Jeff Walton with some of his Vanrobaeys sponsorship for the Messac & Ancenis races
Peter lives in the delightful village of Cockburnspath which is situated on the east coast a few miles in front of Dunbar. He is another loyal supporter of the Sportsman donating young birds to our Annual Sale and I can say without fear of contradiction that with 15 National wins he is in the elite brigade of Scottish distance fanciers. Indeed there are many successful lofts across the UK using his bloodlines which can be traced back to the 1960’s. And it is fascinating to talk Doo’s with him, being a fountain of knowledge and straight talking. He believes in keeping loft management simple and retaining a keen eye on the team during exercise sessions. His bloodlines run through most of my own loft and the Sire of Jeff Walton’s 1st Section winner was bred at the Virtue establishment with the dam being a top quality Jos Thone hen. Furthermore this loft keeps on turning out winners, despite several breeding pairs of Peregrines living within a 10 miles radius of the lofts. Strikes are regular causing havoc with many top class birds having succumbed to their talons in recent years.
Up North Combine (UNC) Bourges 2018 / West Durham Amalgamation (WDA) Tours 2018
Over the weekend beginning Friday June 22nd these two North East Classic races from France took place. Both were difficult because of the extreme heat with reports of strong head winds over the continent and on the channel. Unfortunately returns on the day of liberation were thin and the 1st bird timed wins the UNC with 1360 birds entered. This brave little gladiator was in the clock at 19.59pm to the delight of its owner Eric Wilson at Hartlepool. Simply brilliant performance.
Sportsman club members Jim Nicholson and Ian Stafford & Mark Wilson both timed cracking birds early next morning taking strong top 10 positions in the Combine. Many congratulations to both lofts.
In the WDA from Tours it was a similar picture with only one gallant bird home on the day. This was timed at 9.22 pm at the loft of Dennis Mckenna at Esh Winning, Durham. Maurice Jenkins from Cockfield and another one of our members timed on the second day winning the Federation and a top 10 position in the WDA. Well done Maurice.
Annual Pay-out Night
Just a quick reminder to all members and friends of the club that our Prize presentation will take place on Wednesday the 16th October (Doors open 7pm)
June 19, 2018
Messac National 2nd June
After a satisfactory first national from Coutances with good returns the expectation was that we would have an improved turn-out for Messac. However many of our members are big supporters of local Saturday clubs which unfortunately have experienced the most difficult start to a season for many years. Training opportunities have been restricted with races being cancelled because of the poor weather conditions. So many fanciers have been playing catch up and consequently the national events suffer.
When we gathered at the Toft Hill marking station on marking night 13 members rallied and we race marked just over 100 birds. The average race distance of our members being between 465 and 490 miles. As always there was much optimism about the race although some had reservations about the changing weather with a threat of thundery conditions. In the end this and an easterly wind were to prove very problematic over the final 150 miles into the North and another very tough race was endured.
Again the marking went smoothly and it was good to see the return of a couple of Carlisle (Section O) fliers in attendance. Everyone played their part in helping out and we soon had the crates loaded up and on the way to Sheffield where the NFC Transporter was parked up. Quickly transferred, there was time for a chat and a couple of photos with convoyer Barry Smith & driver Bob Stone before the lads were on the road back home. It was also confirmed that our birds would be freshly watered and given a light feed early Thursday morning before marking at Sheffield got under way. This is good to know given the time they are in the crates.
I have to admit that several of our members were very surprised to learn not only that the birds had been liberated given the overall UK weather picture but that they went at 6am. Again I do not envy the Race Controllers who have to make these crucial decisions but as long as the welfare of our birds is factored into the process then we have to have confidence in their actions. As it turned out the race proved to be a tough affair with some outstanding birds clocked on the day. Certainly on reflection Sunday (pm) and Monday were no better indeed the weather was worse up here in the North East for racing.
Many congratulations to the Open winner Terry Luscombe in Plymouth whose winner managed to edge 1500ypm. And a big well done to all the Section winners.
Moving on to the Sportsman result where we had a much longer wait, yet in the final analysis there was less than a yard between the first two birds. Section N birds had to face extreme weather conditions for the last 120 miles of the race. Heavy rain, thunderstorms & poor visibility had to be faced by these gallant birds. Only five brave birds made it on the day. 1st & 4th Club & Section flying 477 miles were Jeff & Matthew Walton of Coxhoe with two Jos Thone’ hens, half sisters, same sire, who was a winner from Bourges 557 miles & is from a grandson of Sumo & a granddaughter of Poco. The section winner was on a six day old squab when going to the race. She had previously won 5th section Fougeres & 5th section Coutances OH in 2017 & is a granddaughter of Beer Sedna. Their second bird was sitting 14 day eggs & is a granddaughter of Jos’ Nightflyer. Both hens have been trained to 230 miles then into the NFC programme. John & Steven Best of Stockton were 2nd club & section with a 3yo roundabout cock bird flying 467 miles whose breeding is Starlight Melissa x Kruger Black Power. Brian Caley of Framwellgate Moor, a relatively new comer to the Sportsman and national racing won 3rd Club & section with a 3yo roundabout hen flying 482 miles bred from Sid Rushton & Billy Curry of Heworth stock x Brian’s own channel family. M/M Allan Walker of Stockton were 5th Club & section with a 4yo roundabout hen flying 465 miles bred from Billy Tarren x Chris Gordon stock. Very early Sunday morning Bob McKie of Chopwell probably the longest flier in overall race result had 7 arrivals. Flying 490 miles his first was a summer bred yearling hen trained to 50 miles and is a daughter of the Driver x Philippa (1st section Saintes 636 miles) 2nd bird a yearling red hen was bred by Alan Astin of Carnforth from his distance loft. 3rd bird a yearling hen is a Bruggman and G/D of Dave Impett’s brilliant racer Lee Star. Barrie Blackett of Butterknowle also had a couple of early arrivals. Overall returns were patchy because of the atrocious weather experienced in latter part of race with birds still drifting back 10 days later.
Walton & Son 1st & 4th Sportsman FC 1st & 4th Section N Messac
Jeff & Matthew Walton, in addition to being well pooled in the Section also win the Paul Stobbs sponsorship & the Vanrobaeys sponsorship including two bags of corn and a range of Vanrobaeys products. These will be well received as Jeff is a firm advocate of Vanrobaeys Premium Power range of feeds.
We now move on to the Open Ancenis National which will prove another big test. Let’s hope “Mother Nature” will be more favourable for this event which is generously sponsored by Cornelia Long, The House of Aarden & Axholme lofts. Best of luck to all.
Tarbes Grand National 29th June
Just a quick reminder to all members that marking for the Tarbes Grand National race will take place at Toft Hill on Monday the 25th June between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.
Provisional winners of the NEHU Open Burbure race and Queens Cup flown Monday 11th June are Ian Stafford and Mark Wilson, members of the Sportsman FC.
Many congratulations lads from everyone at the Club.
June 4, 2018
The Waiting Game
There are many aspects where your patience is really tested in national racing. I have said many times before that it is not a place for the feint hearted and whilst success can come early, for most it is very much a waiting game. If you’re to have any chance of success you need to carefully research your stock requirements, feeding regimes, training and race management plan. Developing a successful team of long distance national birds in the North East really does test your metal and your commitment can be pushed to the limit. One race with poor returns frequently dints enthusiasm and yet the high spots really do make it all worthwhile.
During the long winter months you can study your breeding and map out pre-race training plans but you will also need “mother nature” on your side. And as we all know this has not been the case this season with the first few weeks of the 2018 racing being fraught with “ups and downs”. Racing has been badly affected across the UK and many fanciers have found themselves short on training through no fault of their own with many birds not getting the necessary hours on the wing. It is clear from recent race results that entry levels have been well down so it was no surprise when the NFC also felt the pinch for the Coutances National. However the marked improvement in weather conditions 3 weeks preceding the national probably lessened the blow because our members mustered around 6500 entries which was very encouraging considering all factors.
Toft Hill Marking Station
When Sportsman members gathered at our new Marking Station on Wednesday the 16th May there was a great atmosphere with several new members in attendance. The average distance from Coutances to our lofts is 390 miles and as an excellent pipe opener for the rest of the National programme.
We had 24 members sending around 200 birds, which were race marked crates sealed and loaded by 7pm and on their way to Sheffield where they were transferred to the NFC Transporter by 9.30pm. This gave them plenty of time to settle down for the night. Followers of the club will know that our birds have to spend an extra night in the crates, it is therefore key when preparing them that you consider adjusting your feeding regime to compensate for this.
John Best with the NFC team at the Sheffield marking station loading the birds - Take note of the built-in watering system
Once marking is finished I often wonder what thought or imagination individual fanciers exercise about the challenges facing their birds both in the crates and on their journey home. And more importantly what is the psychological condition of the birds-are they calm, will they water and feed ok during the journey, is their motivation in balance. Have we done enough to ensure they are ready for the arduous fly home and hope they avoid predators and wires? Let’s face it we really have no idea what perils our charges will endure and if you’re like me you are always delighted to see them arriving home safely.
Race Outcome (Provisional result)
When word came through that the birds were up at 7.15am the forecast looked really promising with a warm day predicted. However the temperature was much higher than expected yet overall the conditions were good and the general opinion was 8 to 9 hours should see the leading birds reaching the lofts of our members. It was no surprise when word came through that the in-form partnership of Malcolm, Heslington and Jones at Wingate had timed 2 birds at 15.53 and 16.04 pm. (Vel.1333 & 1304 ypm) Flying 392 miles their first birds were both celibate hens. Well done lads 1st and 2nd Sportsman and a great start to the national season.
Then Bob Mckie at Chopwell flying 406 miles timed a couple of Bruggman birds from his Dave Impett stock at 16.24 & 16.33 pm to take 3rd Sportsman.
The ever consistent loft of McSween & Sexton take 4th with a 2 year old Chequer Hen bred by Nick Adshead of Selby.
We then have Alf Fellows one of our new members flying at Ferryhill timing at 16.03pm flying 390 miles. (Vel. 1299 ypm) Alf sent 3 full sisters and had all birds back in good order.
Several members had their clocks checked including John Fellows, Jim Nicholson, Brian Caley, Jeff Walton, Tom Cuthbertson & McWilliam, Thurlow, Strong, Fisher & McCluskey, Brian Wiemer, Barrie Blackett, Brian Caley and Ken Dodds our longest flier at 410 miles out at Hexham.
Overall returns were good with the odd exception.
Gary Heslington of Malcolm Heslington & Jones with some of their Vanrobaeys sponsorship for the Coutances race
Malcolm, Heslington & Jones win the Vanrobaey race sponsorship prize which includes 2 Bags of their No 56 and a range of products including a 10 kilo tub of grit, pickstones etc.
Interestingly enough many of our members now use Vanrobaey Feeds with their Premium Power range of corns regarded as ideal for national racing.
Unfortunately due to problems outside of the NFC control we were not able to enjoy the fun of seeing how the race was developing via the leader board. Nevertheless it was great to feel the excitement once again of racing against some of the best lofts in the UK. Hopefully everything will be OK for the Messac National.
This is a very powerful tool when used in a constructive and positive manner. However it can also be very destructive and harmful to our sport if users lose sight of protocol and forget that the rest of the world is only a click away.
Whist individuals may be passionate about the sport we all need to exercise a degree of caution when hitting the keyboard. Thankfully we are all free to express our personal opinion and criticise the establishment by utilising social media. But not everyone is hooked on this communication channel indeed probably far less than 50% insofar as pigeon fanciers are concerned. We must therefore endeavour to work harder in an attempt to engage more of our members. But and this cannot be over stated remember whatever medium we choose there are organisations out there looking for an “edge” as a way of curbing the sport of racing pigeons. Animal Rights Groups are alive and kicking we are firmly in their sights under the banner of protecting animal welfare so please be careful what you say.
Finally if you have any ideas or proposals for improving the NFC please do something about it. Submit these to the NFC Secretary for consideration and copy me in and I will follow them up.
Bob Mckie/Jeff Walton
May 20, 2018
Sportsman FC NFC Coutances Nat flown 19th May 2018
See Race Info page for Coutances result.
Due to the NFC website being down and some members details not being available, this is only an indication of which lofts will be in the frame.
April 28, 2018
2018 National Racing Season
Well members I hope you are all ready for the new NFC season with only 18 days to go there is no room for error in your preparations. The first race being Coutances at around 380 miles to Toft Hill it is a great opportunity for all our charges to gain valuable experience of national racing. Personally I have only ever included a small number of yearlings in the first race but given the distance if the weather forecast is kind and the birds stand up to the training then I will certainly be sending a few more this year.
The NFC Handbook
The NFC Handbook is with the printer and should be with you in first week of May.
Some members are still having problems getting online. If this is the case give Sid Barkel a call and ask him to get you online.
I would ask everyone using ETS to ensure they have had old races “killed”. That the sex and life rings are correctly assigned otherwise their birds will not go into the basket. This is your personal responsibility and you can be assured the rule to be strictly enforced.
As this will be our first time at the new marking station I would ask for your patience and please step forward to support officials with marking and getting birds away safely.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to give me a call.
April 20, 2018
After another highly successful phone-in sale we, the Sportsman FC members would like to thank all the donors and buyers of the lots in the sale. Without your generous support we wouldn’t be able to strive to promote National racing in the North East of England.
The proceeds of the sale have secured the building of the Section N Marking station at Toft Hill thus laying the foundation of NFC racing in the North-East of England for many years to come. Well done to all concerned.
Jeff Walton - Chairman
March 27, 2018
General Meeting on Wednesday 4th April at HQ Toft Hill (Kick-Off 7.45pm)
- Issue’s to follow up from AGM including:
- Marking Station (Kitting out)
- Finalising Bird of Year arrangements
- Presentation Night
- Club Young Bird Sale
- NFC Business
- RPRA Business-Update (Jim Sexton)
- Next NFC General Meeting (Jim & Bob attending)
- AOB including collection of any outstanding club subs or RPRA Fees.
February 28, 2018
Sportsman FC (NFC) 2018 AGM
Our AGM was held at our Club HQ Toft Hill, on Wednesday the 21st February. As always despite members having extensive journeys the attendance was excellent (75%).
Chairman, Jeff Walton got the meeting underway and for the most part business was handled briskly, in good humour and with the clear objective of enhancing the Club.
Members were updated on the procurement of a new building which would act as the Section N, Marking Station, from 2018 onward. This was scheduled to be in place by the end of March which would also enable our friends in the Toft Hill Saturday club to take advantage of.
Regarding the job of ferrying the birds to Sheffield the Secretary explained that after discussions with several parties he recommended that we go with the offer from Steven Best which was agreed. The Secretary will finalise these arrangements and liaise with the NFC Treasurer about support toward ferrying-in costs.
Annual Balance Sheet
The club remains in a strong position but the purchase of the new marking station building will bring pressure on the club for 2018. Nevertheless this initiative is seen as a positive development for the club and National racing in the North East for years to come. The balance sheet was accepted.
Officials were confirmed as 2017.
We had 5 resignations and 1 new application all were accepted. There are however a number of parties expressing an interest in joining the club for 2018 and more applications will be welcomed. We had a couple of changes in membership names resulting from existing lofts taking on new partners and these were unanimously accepted.
We therefore kick off the season with over 40 lofts and more than 50 members.
Local Clock Stations
- Sunderland (Dave McSween i/c)
- Stockton (Alan Walker i/c)
- Ferryhill (John Fellows/Jeff Walton/ i/c)
- Toft Hill (Barrie Blackett/Bob Mckie i/c)
Remain as in previous season at £20 per loft.
The Chairman re-iterated how important sponsorship was to the success of the club and expressed our thanks for the great support we have had in recent years from a range of Individuals and Business. He was delighted to confirm that in 2018 Paul Stobbs (Stonehaven Lofts) and Brian Ford would again sponsor the club.
The Secretary confirmed he was in discussion with Tom Demeester at Vanrobaey Feeds and others about possible deals, members will be kept informed of developments.
Jeff Walton confirmed that all club race winners would receive a framed photograph.
Members to let Secretary know of any other possible sponsors which he would be happy to contact.
2018 Phone-In Young Bird sale
It was agreed that the Chairman would co-ordinate on the same lines as in previous years. The sale will happen in the 3rd week of April. Members were asked to provide Jeff with details of youngsters being donated asap.
As in previous seasons we will have brilliant support from several top UK Distance lofts including, Nick Adshead, House of Aarden, Mark Bulled, Barry & Peter Winter, Peter Virtue, Gavin (Goose) Graham, Paul Stobbs, Dougie Henderson, with more in the pipeline which should make this one of the top long distance club young bird sales of the season.
2018 Prize Presentation
Members agreed the timing of mid-October with the same format as last year. Secretary will check out availability of possible main guests before firming-up on date.
Bob Pinkerton Cancer Sale
Every year on Easter Monday Bob organises a young bird sale the proceeds of which go to the RVI Children’s Cancer Ward. In the last 20 years these auctions have raised well in excess of £50k a fabulous effort. Bob has approached the club to see if any members would like to donate a young bird(s) this year. The Secretary will be happy to co-ordinate and members were asked to contact him with details of any donations to this good cause.
Donors confirmed so far:-Brian Caley, McSween & Sexton, Jeff Walton & Son and Bob Mckie. Barrie Blackett, Jim Nicholson, Malcolm, Heslington & Jones, Thurlow, Strong, Fisher & McCluskey
Jim Nicholson, offered to take full responsibility on race marking nights to ensure all crates were properly watered-up. Secretary to purchase necessary drinkers.
Gary Heslington, raised the issue of a Show race. The matter was deferred until a later meeting. With the new marking station facilities it is a strong possibility that we could run a Show(s) for the 2019 season.
This concluded the meeting which was then closed.
Bob Mckie Secretary - Mobile 07828961442
February 3, 2018
Just a quick reminder to all members that our AGM will take place at the Club HQ on Wednesday the 21st February (Kick-Off 7.45pm).
Copies of the Agenda and Balance Sheet will be posted out next week.
If you know of any fanciers in the North East interested in having a go at the Nationals please encourage them to come and join us - tell them they won’t regret it if they fancy a challenge.
January 28, 2018
NFC Annual General Meeting
Saturday 27th January 2018
Jim Sexton and I attended the meeting at Alverley, in Shropshire where we were both elected onto the NFC Committee as Section N delegates.
Jim will provide detailed feedback at our next meeting on the 21st February however you may be interested to know that all 4 propositions were passed including No.4 which will result in the return of the leader board as operated in 2016. Good news all round.
In addition it was confirmed that:
Section boundaries remain the same.
There was full support for the shift in Section N Marking Station to Toft Hill.
The NFC will arrange for racing crates (12) to be delivered to the Marking Station in the week prior to first National race.
The NFC confirmed that birds could be ferried down to Sheffield on the Wednesday evening and transferred onto the NFC Transporter. Replacement crates for the return journey would be available. It was also confirmed that the NFC would provide some financial support to partly cover our transport costs.
All in all it was a successful meeting.