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October 21, 2021

Guernsey Young Bird/Old Hens National flown 6th September

This was the final race in this year’s NFC race card. A couple of months ago the race was being eagerly talked about especially for young birds. However, in what for many in the Northeast has been a most challenging season due to heavy losses many fanciers were forced to shut up shop and finish racing early. This had a significant impact on race entry levels.

Our regular readers will know that in the past Sportsman club members have put up some excellent Open performances in both events. The loft of McSween & Sexton from Sunderland always prepares a small team of darkie young birds with this race in mind. And in the Old hens race we have seen some sterling performances by Driver, Dawson & Dawson from Greenside as well as John Best & Son from Stockton. However, when it came to marking night at Toft Hill on Wednesday the 1st September birds for both races were sparse with only 7 members entering 31 Old Hens and 6 entering 36 Young birds. Club Pooling was brisk along with excellent Sponsorship Prizes for individual race winners from James & Vicky Cook at Tumley Lofts (£150 Vouchers for each) and Vanrobaey Feeds prizes of bags of corn and a range of their products.

Due to poor weather conditions over the weekend across Guernsey the Race Controller and Convoyer had to hold their nerve and wait for suitable conditions. It was not until Monday the 6th that they could liberate at 10am into a beautiful sky with a light northeast wind in the channel that turned to light southeast on the mainland. Our members knew that after 5 nights in the crates this would be tough yet eagerly watched the race progress on the NFC website and some early excellent performances in several Sections was encouraging. None more so in Section K where there were some excellent performances giving hope that we could with luck see birds reaching the Northeast on the day. Unfortunately, after an anxious wait it wasn’t to be and when hours of darkness kicked in no birds had arrived in the Section. This was bitterly disappointing, so alarms were set for an early morning rise at which time the prevailing conditions provided a more positive feeling. Just after 7am, word filtered through that Allan & Carol Walker, at Stockton flying 352 miles had timed 2 Old Hens recording velocities of 918 & 913ypm to take 1st and 2nd Sportsman, Section N. & 202nd & 205th Open. Later, they timed another 3birds to be 5th 6th & 8th Section. Mick Lilley and Son at Hartlepool flying 364 miles timed 3 of their 6 entries to claim 3rd 4th & 9th Section, with McSween & Sexton taking 7th place. As the day progressed the heat became quite extreme, it was therefore no surprise after a difficult first day coupled with the heat of day 2 no young birds made it into the Northeast within race time. This was most disappointing as this the first time in years that the Sportsman had not recorded young birds in race time.

So that’s it for another season of national racing which has seen a mixed bag of outcomes due to the lack of distance. Let’s hope this resolves itself before 2022 and we can get back across the channel but don’t get carried away with the over optimism of many officials as there remains some tough negotiations to be navigated before we see the desired outcome.

Young Bird Losses

Everyone you talk to has their own theories as to why the losses have been heavy and widespread but equally puzzling is why so few are being reported or making it home under their own steam. Because of this and the general uncertainty about future Continental racing many fanciers are in a quandary about whether to carry on racing. Many I think will simply knuckle down and will scale back on the size of their distance team and bring in some sprint/middle distance blood and enjoy whatever racing there is. Unfortunately, there are a few fanciers who love the Continental races and aren’t interested in sprinting who may decide to leave the sport completely if channel racing is not restored and would be a big loss.

Presentation Night

The Sportsman annual presentation night will take place on Wednesday the 20th October. Because of lingering concerns about Covid this will be a low-key event but still a welcome social night for our members with a small buffet and plenty of Real Ale for those who enjoy a pint or two.

Barrie Blackett (Butterknowle)

Barrie who is one of our founder members has been absent for most of the season through ill health. We understand he is making steady improvement and look forward to him being fighting fit and back in the saddle for next season.

Well, that wraps racing reports up for this season, but we will keep you up to date with Sportsman FC business/events as we go through the close season.

September 20, 2021

Sportsman FC. Toft Hill, Charity Auction in aid of Prostate Cancer Research (PCR)

The auction concluded on Thursday the 16th September when 22 Lots were auctioned off in aid of PCR. What a splendid outcome we had with £4,500 being raised. We wish to thank all donors and bidders for their support and set out below is a list of the individual donors along with the value of the winning bid which came from across the UK including Northern Ireland & Scotland.

Lot 1. Steve & Lesley Wright (House of Aarden) £205
Lot 2. Alfie Hawthorn £450
Lot 3. Dean Ward £110
Lot 4. Stephen Best £350
Lot 5. Jeff & Matthew Walton £135
Lot 6. Dave McSween & Jim Sexton £270
Lot 7. Mick Lilley & Son £300
Lot 8. Bob McKie £300
Lot 9. Jackie Traynor £100
Lot 10. Brian & William Hopper £100
Lot 11. Jim Nicholson £65
Lot 12. Ian Stafford £150
Lot 13. John McCall £150
Lot 14 Ali McLeod £350
Lot 15. Robert & Ken Dodds £100
Lot 16. Tony Lyons £110
Lot 17. Paul Stobbs £200
Lot 18. Paul Stobbs £160
Lot 19. Barry & Peter Winter £160
Lot 20. Barry & Peter Winter £160
Lot 21. Phil Rawson £175
Lot 22. Nick Adshead £400

Grand Total £4,500

The generosity of Pigeon Fanciers should never be underestimated and is much undervalued. This auction is just another example of their unstinting kindness and good will which makes you so proud of our Sport.

Jeff Walton/Bob McKie

August 6, 2021

Sennen Cove 2

On Wednesday the 16th June all roads in the North East led to Toft Hill marking station for a 4.00pm start.

After a stiff opening race 2 weeks earlier there was a lingering uncertainty about the level of entries for this race. In the end 11 members entered 47 birds with many members again giving the race a miss because of the myth that racing into the North East from Cornwall is suicidal!

On a factual point I have to say that the influx of new members has made a positive change to the Sportsman Club atmosphere on marking days. I am confident that the new members will bring a tremendous boost to the Club and expect them to turn out in bigger numbers when we basket for Guernsey. One thing for sure was the refreshing sense of optimism and excitement around the marking station and the enthusiasm for national racing was palpable.

As Marking Station I/C. it does at times get a bit hectic but we have a group of members who have all stepped up to the plate and share marking jobs. This really makes my life easier allowing me time to step back, check member entry forms and collect Club pools as well as keep a weathering eye on all proceedings.

On marking day, the weather forecast for race day looked promising, adding to the buzz of optimism which is great to experience. When race day arrived, it was no surprise to hear that the convoy of 3477 birds had been liberated at 6am into beautiful sunshine and light north wind. The Video of the liberation posted Dom McCoy on the NFC website confirmed the conditions and provided hard evidence of an excellent start.

As the day progressed it became obvious from the early times posted on the NFC website that the fast times achieved by the shorter fliers would not be sustained. And despite the good start the birds faced a tough journey back to the North East.

Late Saturday afternoon word filtered through that one of our new members Kevin McFarlane, from Boldon Colliery, flying 381 miles had timed a Yearling at 15.50pm followed by a second bird at16.03. On reflection their velocities of 1136 & 1112 ypm were excellent given the conditions they had endured.

Kevin wins 1st Sportsman & Section N he also takes 232nd & 276th Open. What a brave effort and not a bad way to break your National/ Sportsman duck! Big well done from all your fellow club members Kevin.

In addition to picking up club & section prize money Kevin scoops the £150 pools.

Taking 3rd Club & Section and 290th Open was the ever-consistent loft of Dave McSween & Jim Sexton, flying 377 miles into Sunderland.

It was no surprise to hear that Tony Lyons at Middlesbrough who had a brilliant 1st Sennon Cove 1 race taking the first 4 positions in both the club and section was at it again timing a double to collect 4th & 5th club and section. John Weldon at Guisborough and Mr & Mrs Murphy at Saltburn, also timed excellent birds on the day.

Race Sponsorship Prizes

There were some excellent prizes on offer for this race. Kevin McFarlane wins both the Vanrobaey Feeds corn/supplements and £300 in vouchers from Formula1 Lofts. Big thank you to John Gladwin for his generous support. Formula1 Lofts have established top winning team of Frans Zwols birds and their website is well worth following.

We are now looking forward to the 1st of 3 Guernsey nationals. Let’s hope the weather is kind and we see a big entry.

2022 Continental Racing

As we stumble through the 2021 race card there remains much uncertainty about the future of Continental racing. It is important that all fanciers are kept up to speed with developments at RPRA/Governmental level. If information is not forthcoming, then all you get is falsehoods circulating on social media which is disheartening for fanciers. These uncertain times if not handled sensitively by Administrators across the Sport could simply see more fanciers calling it a day and leaving the Sport especially National racing.

The NFC/BICC have a common thread in their strategic objectives and are fishing in the same dwindling pool for members. Should the absence of Continental racing continue next season there could be a significant loss of members. National organisations should not lose sight of the fact that local Saturday clubs/Federations and Specialist clubs with less disrupted race cards and cheaper entry charges could increasingly prove more attractive if they don’t sharpen up their acts.

July 12, 2021

Sennen Cove Race No1 Sunday 6th June

On the weekend of the 5th & 6th June the NFC raced their first race of the season from Sennen Cove with around 5,700 birds entered. The Sportsman FC members entered 96 birds which were flying for £161 pools & a club prize money & a superb package of sponsorship ofrom Vanrobaeys corn & supplements. The race winner wins the Owen Shaw Trophy plus £100 kindly donated by Owen Shaw of Winlaton. Many thanks from our members to both sponsors.

After a days holdover the birds were liberated at 11am on Sunday morning in a light North West wind. With high hopes of a good race into the North East it was a case of which route would the birds take. Would they go along the south coast before breaking North or would the leading birds head North towards the Bristol area. The NFC website soon revealed where the leading birds were at with early verifications in the Bristol area. Congratulations to Steve Moseley on winning 1st NFC Open Sennen Cove.

As early evening approached the Sportsman FC members waited patiently & for two they had an amazing evening. The winner of the Sportsman FC & NFC Section N was Tony Lyons of Eston, Middlesbrough with a 2yo Red Cock of Brian Denney x Martin VinkenBorg breeding & timed at 8:21pm flying 364 miles. At 8:32 Tony clocked his second arrival, a 3yo hen to secure 2nd club, 2nd Section. One hour later Tony was to clock two birds in a minute to take 3rd & 4th club, 3rd & 4th Section N. By now we were on the edge of darkness & for 5th club & 5th Section N we have Jeff & Matthew Walton of Coxhoe timed in at 10:08pm, 17 minutes after the clocks closed. Back at Tony Lyons’ loft he clocked his fifth bird at 10:14 to win 6th club 6th Section N. For Tony, what an outstanding race he had, first four & 6th in the Section N, again well done. His 1st 2nd & 4th birds are all children of the same cock & all his first four birds are grandchildren of a Brian Denney hen he purchased from Brian some years ago. To breed his current team of birds he introduced some Martin Vinkenborg birds from Louella Pigeon World blended with the Brian Denney birds to give him some exciting races from the distance, including last years Sportsman FC Messac race which he won. The winner, a 2yo Red Cock was on the the Up North Combine result from Gien last year as a yearling. His 2nd bird, a 3yo hen, also has previous form at the distance having been to Bourges as a yearling winning 75th UNC & also on the combine sheet from Gien. A 2yo cock took 3rd club, 3rd Section, while nest mate to the winner secured 4th club, 4th Section. All four winning birds are a blend of his Denney & Vinkenborg birds & all were flying celibate. His 5th bird, arriving in the dark was a Vandenabeele which was definitely not going to have a night out.

Also timing in on the night, in the almost dark was Jeff & Matthew Walton of Coxhoe to take 5th club, 5th section. Their 7yo hen, 722 timed at 10:08pm, 17 minutes after the clocks closed. Sitting 12 day old eggs she has previous section wins, 2nd Fougeres 441 miles, 5th Coutances 392 miles, 6th Coutances 392 miles, 7th Messac 477 miles, Cholet 530 miles & now 5th Sennen Cove 366 miles. She’s from their Jos Thone’ stock with a touch of the late Ron Strong’s of Hexham who timed in for fun from the 500 mile races in the West Durham Amal. The minor positions in the club were taken by Bob McKie, McSween & Sexton and Garnett and Son.

Many congratulations to all members who timed in what turned out to be a tough gig for Sportsman members. Let’s hope we see a better outcome for Sennen Cove 2 on the 19th June.

Paul Kitching

June 30, 2021

I am delighted to report that Section N, Guernsey National entries stand at 342 birds from 28 members which is a new Club record send, beating the previous maximum by overt 100 birds. This is even more surprising given some of the atrocious racing we have seen in recent weeks across the whole UK.

After the encouraging results in both earlier, Sennon Cove Nationals there is real optimism that we can continue to improve our results. I hope that all those lofts that have entered enjoy the racing and we have some positive Open race result.

As followers will know the Sportsman Flying Club was established over 10 years ago to promote National racing in the North East. It has been a long road and perhaps we are beginning to see a changing attitude towards national racing in the area. Let’s hope interest continues to grow as I’m sure it will when Continental racing is back on the agenda and a few more top Open positions are under the belts of NorthEast fanciers.

The Toft Hill marking station will be all ready for race marking from 16.30 TO 18.30 on Wednesday 30th June. As Officer in Charge, I thank in advance all our hard-working helpers.

Finally, a big thank you to our club Sponsors who have stepped up to the plate to support our progressive club. This includes, Vanrobaeys, Paul Stobbs, Formula 1 Lofts, House of Arden, Owen Shaw Trophies, Osmonds, Tumley Lofts and Respiro-San Dry.

Let’s hope the weather is kind this coming weekend and we enjoy great National racing.

Yours in Sport
Bob Mckie
Officer in Charge
Toft Hill NFC Marking Station

June 6, 2021

Sennen Cove National 5th June 2021

This is the 1st NFC race in the revised race programme. In the Sportsman my expectations of a high entry rate were dashed when the programme was published. Historically NorthEast organisations have given Sennen Cove a wide berth after disappointing races in the past. Many consider it as a graveyard route hence the reluctance to send. Nevertheless, I take the view that we should make the most of any races on offer, it’s not as if we’re getting any younger!! Sportsman members fly upwards of 350 miles from Sennon Cove, so a challenging race is expected. As normal we race marked on the 2nd June, late Wednesday afternoon before the birds were ferried in to Sheffield to meet up with the NFC Transporter. It was great to see the marking station in action again and a smile on members faces at the prospect of National racing even if it is not from France. There was plenty of banter and much said about the loss of continental racing and some optimism that it would soon return but not necessarily from France. In the end 15 club members mustered a send of 96 birds which was disappointing but as I say not unexpected.

All our races are again sponsored by Vanrobaey Feeds with bags of corn and a range of their popular supplement products on offer for the winners. Owen Shaw Trophies has generously put up £100 sponsorship for the club winner from THE 1ST National . Owen is extremely well known across the UK for supplying a range of sporting activity trophies including an excellent range of of quality pigeon trophies. This is in addition there is good club prize money and £160 pool money to fly for. A full race report will follow in due course.

I would like to personally thank our marking team of Jeff Walton, Tom Cuthbertson, Terry Unsworth, Jim Sexton and his grandson Benjamin for their sterling work without which the marking station would not exist. Sadly, Barrie Blackett who would normally be in the thick of marking was absent as he is currently in hospital. We all send him our best wishes and a speedy recovery and hope to see you back in action soon Barrie.

Yours in Sport

Bob Mckie

Marking Station I/C

April 12, 2021

The Sportsman FC (Toft Hill) On-line Youngbird sale was a huge success. Our members would like to thank all who donated youngsters to the sale giving their very best from their stocklofts. Thank you to the buyers of the youngbirds & hope they do well for you. Many thanks to John Burgham & the comparethepigeon.com team who ran the auction over the last ten days so smoothly. Lastly, thanks to the British Homing World for displaying our advert so well.

Bob Mckie (Treasurer)
Jeff Walton (Chairman)
Ian Carter (Secretary)

April 1, 2021

Sportsman FC Toft Hill (NFC) 2021 On-Line Young Bird Sale

The Sale will start on the April 1st and will be hosted for 10 days on the comparethepigeon.com website. Below is more detail of some of the youngsters on offer and the fanciers supporting our Sale with top distance bloodlines.

Lot 1. Nick Adshead, Selby. One of the top distance lofts in the UK with many top performances to his name. In 2020 he was 4th Open NFC Pau flying 724 miles what a performance. Nick has pledged a young bird from the Stock loft. The Dam is a sister to Milly his NFC Certificate of Merit winner. Sire a direct Tonnie Kaspers cock from the Netherlands.

Lot 2. House of Aarden. Steve & Lesley Wright offer a summer youngster to the value of £250. Their stud has a well-earned reputation for producing quality stock that are in high demand. Satisfaction always guaranteed.

Lot 3. John & Stephen Best, Stockton. Top Prize winners in the Sportsman in 2020 this loft. They have gone out and bought quality middle distance bloodlines that have achieved some devastating team performances in both the NFC and GYA. On offer is a young bird from a G/son of Best Kittle x G/dtr of Harry. Should prove a great cross into any long-distance family.

Lot 4. Barrie Blackett, Bishop Auckland. Extremely successful fancier in both the Sportsman/NFC and West Durham Amalgamation, previous winner of the Queens Cup. Barrie offers a youngster from his Bob MacDonald stock.

Lot 5. Mark Bulled, Harlow. Needs no introduction his Legacy” bloodlines are one of the most sought after in the UK. Mark has kindly pledged a Grandchild of Legacy.

Lot 6. Brian Caley, Durham. Small team flier who has been racing quality distance birds for many years. Sire of the youngster is a multiple winner with a 13th and 73rd Open NEHU Bourges. The Dam is from Rieks Lonsain from the Netherlands when paired to his own daughter which is a multiple winner up to 710 miles.

Lot 7. Mr & Mrs Carter, Yarm. The Sire of this youngster is a G/S of Alwyn Hill’s brilliant Wingdown and the Dam is from Chris Gordon/Brian Denney lines.

Lot 8. Fred Cornwell, Southend. Has pledged a top-drawer youngster. Sire and Dam both multiple National prize winners. Fred is a tremendously successful distance flier and has been for many years with a team of genuine, tenacious racers. In 2018 his brilliant Chequer Cock EPIC won a NFC Certificate of Merit award having flown Tarbes 5 times being in the top 100 of the Open 3 times.

Lot 9. John Cowlin. From this record-breaking loft of Frans Zwols, young bird ready in April from Burnham Queen x G/S of King of Rekeem. Outstanding offer.

Lot 10. Robert & Ken Dodds, Hexham. Fantastic opportunity to grab successful Southwell distance blood. Rob & Ken offer a Young bird bred from full brother to Sire of 17595 & 17596, 12th Open 81st Open and 150th Open Tarbes in 2018 & 2019 for Paul Stone flying 565 miles. The Dam CON 1453 is same way bred as 10th WDA 64th Open Bourges flying 581 miles and is the Dam of 17595 & 17596.

Lot 11. Robert & Ken Dodds, Sire direct from Noble Dream 1st International Agen for Bob Besant & Son. Dam direct daughter of Indyson Champion Stock Cock.

Lot 12. Alan Graham & Son, Cumbria. This loft has pledged a youngster containing up to date winning blood. Sire lines are Big Smithy, Starlight & South Melissa x G/dtr of Wingdown paired to daughter of Mark Bulled’s Legacy. Dam a direct daughter of Barry & Peter Winter’s, New Gem 8th and 47th Open Tarbes. Simply full of the best UK bloodlines available today.

Lot 13. Maurice & Dan Jenkins, Bishop Auckland. This loft has invested heavily in acquiring top winning distance blood. On offer is a youngster from the Cock which was 2nd WDA from Gien flying 515 miles.

Lot 14. Terry Knox, Prudhoe. Youngster from Granddaughter of New Laureat x Jelle Jellema. This is a great chance to obtain top winning blood.

Lot 15. Mick Lilley & Son, Hartlepool. Young bird from stock loft. G/child of Ruby NEHU bird of year 2016 and dam of Jacob our NEHU bird of year 2019. Ruby has 7 UNC positions racing in only 2 & half seasons then put to stock. Dam of Olivea 9th UNC in 2020.

Lot 16. Tony Lyons, Middlesbrough. Has kindly pledged a young bird from his Brian Denney stock which are breeding winners.

Lot 17. Bob McKie, Blackhall Mill, offers a Brugman Bros young bird off his Dave Impett stock. Contains the best of Dave’s bloodlines which thrive on races over 500 miles.

Lot 18. McSween & Sexton, Sunderland. This loft is a past winner of the UNC and has achieved some outstanding performances in recent years in the Sportsman/NFC. They always give of their best and offer a Matched pair with both Sire and Dam have either won or are bred from winners at over 400 miles.

Lot 19. Stafford & Peel, Co. Durham. Ian Stafford needs no introduction he has been breeding and racing winners at the highest level for many, many years. Buyer can choose from their Rudi de Saer or Marshall stock.

Lot 20. Paul Stobbs, Consett. Sire Proven Point 1st UNC Maidstone National 14,153 birds. Dam Olympic Star 1st WDA 6677 birds, 1st NEHU Open Folkestone 34,494 birds. Best of the best from this top UK Loft. Class.

Lot 21. Peter Virtue, Cockburnspath. Peter has gained a record 14 x 1st Nationals including 4 x SNRPC Reims National and Gold Medal flying 536 miles. His family of bird’s ooze quality and are much sort after. The lucky buyer will not be disappointed.

Lot 22. Allan & Carol Walker, Stockton. Young bird will come from excellent long-distance bloodlines which the partnership has successfully blended. In 2020 they won their local Fed. From Gien (500 miles) and timed in from Pau (778 miles) to win 1st Section N 375th Open NFC from 2730 birds in a difficult race.

Lot 23. Jeff Walton & Son, Coxhoe. Sire, brother to multiple Section winner containing the best of Peter Virtue & Jos Thone bloodlines. Dam daughter of hen with 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 2 x 7th Section Jos Thone/Ronnie Strong. Will be ready April.

Lot 24. Stu Wilcox and Brooks & Wilcox. Top winning loft which in 2020 won their BICC Section from both Pau and Barcelona. Great chance to obtain a 3rd round young bird with quality bloodlines.

Lot 25. Tom Williams, Orpington. In the last few years Tom established himself as one of the top small team fliers in both the NFC and BICC. He has achieved multiple Top Section and Open positions not least from Tarbes. The youngster on offer is from his brilliant 80 Chequer Cock which has been across the channel more than 20 times including 4 x Tarbes notching up top positions on the way. 80 is a half-brother to Tom’s fantastic Blue Cock Invincible and both contain the blood of the UNC winning loft of Dave McSween & Jim Sexton.

Lot 26. Barry & Peter Winter, this partnership needs no introduction. They have pledged a Grandchild of Little Gem their Tarbes Open winner (ready May). Several UK fanciers have successfully introduced the Little Gem bloodlines which are highly prized in the stock loft.

Lot 27. Kevin & John Zerafa, Portsmouth. This is a brilliant opportunity to acquire top class stock from a winning National loft. On offer is a summer bred young bird from the Stock Loft.

The auction starts on Thursday, 1st April and runs for 10 days

To access the auction site log on to comparethepigeon.com

Easy to register and bid but if you prefer you can ring me and I will put your bid in for you and keep you updated.

There are some fantastic offerings in this sale, brimming with the essential ingredients of Top National winning bloodlines, its easy to see why the fanciers donating to this sale are so successful when you study the pedigrees and or info supplied for each lot.

Carriage to be paid by the buyer where applicable.

The Sportsman FC Committee would like to thank the fanciers who have been kind enough to donate the above lots.

For further details
Contact: John Burgham 01495 240227 or 07739 089208
Bob Mckie 07308 236113
Email: m.burgham@sky.com

March 10, 2021

Sportsman FC Toft Hill — Forward Look

The prospects of national racing into the North East this year looks positive. Both annual outbreaks of Bird Flu and the Covid 19 situation remain issues. Hopefully, bird flu will be eradicated before Spring. As for the pandemic with the vaccination programme proceeding at pace, we can anticipate there being some government controls throughout 2021. Travel restrictions will need to be lifted and social distancing, washing hands regularly, using hand sanitisers and wearing masks will remain in place until this life-threatening virus is defeated. The RPRA are once again on the case and will provide Guidance and we can expect Race marking arrangements similar to those in place last season.

Brexit

Post Brexit problems continue to hit the headlines, both the Farming and Fisheries Industries are having difficulties and unfortunately the pigeon sport has not escaped. New livestock quarantine protocols have also dinted the export and importing of racing pigeons. The average UK fanciers will not give much heed to this but those with a commercial interest could see the demise of a valuable income stream. Will organised trips to Belgium and Holland ever be the same? The good news of course is that pigeon racing can still go ahead. The RPRA were quick to clarify this with DEFRA and in January posted an update on their website, thanks again to Ian Evans, who was quick off the mark to clarify the arrangements. The RPRA will also keep the sport updated on racing once the government have clarified the road map out of the pandemic.

Sportsman FC Club Management

Last season when Covid19 was so virulent in communities, we followed RPRA advice and set up a Management Group (MG) made up of 5 members to take care of ongoing club business. Like many clubs we have not been able to hold either a prize presentation event or an AGM. To keep members updated we have relied heavily on Group Text messaging.

Our new Secretary Ian Carter has been in post since the 1stJanuary and has plenty of fresh ideas which is what you need in any progressive club. He has already organised a club Social Media page which has more than 500 followers. Jeff Walton continues as Chairman and Bob McKie is now Treasurer. Jim Sexton takes care of RPRA and NFC business with Paul Kitching on board to take over the club press officer role.

Membership

As we move towards the new racing season there has been much interest in the club from fanciers across the North East wanting to fly in the NFC. To date the club has 18 new members which is brilliant. We look forward to seeing what impact this will have on the club’s Open results. Club subscriptions remain at £20 which provides real value for money considering all members can race mark at our club HQs at Toft Hill. Birds are then ferried down to Sheffield to link up with the NFC Transporter (a round trip of over 200 miles). We have also established local clock stations for reading off clocks which will reduce travel distances for members. Unikon, Bricon, IPigeon systems and T3s are all catered for. If any other North East fanciers are interested in having a go at national racing, please ring Ian Carter (07851977383) for more information.

Sponsorship

In addition to some decent club prize money we have also secured some excellent sponsorship with more in the pipe-line:

I am delighted to confirm that Vanrobaey Feeds in Belgium will again sponsor each club race winner. They will receive 2Bags of Young Bird corn and a range of Vanrobaey Pigeon products which I collected from the Swalwell warehouse of Terry Knox this week. We are also very proud to have the support of the following sponsors this season:

Fougeres National - Owen Shaw Trophies £100

Messac National - Formula 1 Lofts £300 Voucher

Nort de Erdre National - Paul Stobbs £100

Pau Grand National

Sigogne National

Coutances Young Bird National - Tumley Lofts £150 voucher

Coutances Old Hens National - Tumley Lofts £150 voucher

The pigeons taking 3rd club in the Fougeres, Nort de Erdre and Sigogne National races will receive a voucher for a 15kg box of RESPIRO SAN DRY sponsored by Phil Gardner. Another super prize which includes delivery to your door.

Annual Young Bird Sale

We are delighted to report that our 2021 On-line Young bird sale will be hosted by comparethepigeon.com and run from the 1st April for 10 days.

A full advert will appear in the Pigeon Press along with full list of donors and more detailed information about all birds on offer will be available on our website sportsmanfc.com in week beginning 29/3/21. As always we bring to the sport a tremendous offering from top UK lofts including:-Nick Adshead, House of Arden, Mark Bulled, John Cowlin, Paul Stobbs, Peter Virtue, Stu Wilcox and Brooks & Wilcox, Tom Williams, Barry & Peter Winter, John & Kevin Zerafa. Supported by birds from Sportsman Club members who successfully fly many, indeed hundreds of miles further than other national competitors often in worse weather conditions.

North East Central Route FC (Midweek) HQ Ferryhill

I wanted to give this new club a mention. A new venture from 2021 it will race every Wednesday down the central route of the country which provides excellent line of flight experience for NFC racing. The club race card also incorporates the first three NFC races within its programme as well as the old hens/youngbird national race in September and several members of the club also fly in the Sportsman. The driving force behind the club is John Fellows ably supported by Jeff Walton. Their operating model guarantees up to 1200 birds weekly going to Inland races. There is excellent prize money available (over £500 per race) and it is only 50p per bird.

I sincerely hope this is a big, big success and knowing all the hard work that has been undertaken they deserve it. I wish their members the very best for 2021.

Finally I wish you all a good breeding season and hope your racing results go as planned.

Stay safe.

Bob Mckie (Treasurer)

Jeff Walton (Chairman)

January 21, 2021

RPRA update

The impact of Brexit on Channel racing has been a concern for Pigeon fanciers all around the UK. The required health documentation and processes relating to the import and export of the avian species, published since Brexit has increased these concerns. The relevant EU regulation that covers the transportation of the Avian species from third countries (countries from outside of the EU) into a European Union member state is 2013/139. The following has been extracted from the regulation; This Regulation shall apply to animals of the avian species. However, it shall not apply to: (f) racing pigeons which are introduced to the territory of the Union from a neighbouring third country where they are normally resident and then immediately released with the expectation that they will fly back to that third country;’ Nevertheless, I considered it prudent to seek confirmation from the relevant authority than no additional health documentation is required . I am pleased to communicate that I have received confirmation from the Centre for International Trade, (via the APHA) that pigeons transported to an EU state are exempt from the requirements that have caused so much concern. The reply is quoted below Your understanding is correct; effectively there is no change to the requirements. Retained EU Regulation 139/2013 [1] does exclude racing pigeons in the scope in Article 2, and no additional documentation would be required. There is just a change to our country status from a member state to neighbouring third country’. I am sure members will be pleased to read this confirmation. Please note that this relates to the transportation of pigeons for racing purposes and not the permanent import of pigeons from the EU. In this respect I am still seeking further clarification and will update members as soon as I am in receipt of such information. In addition to the above I am also aware of information circulating relating to vehicle emissions. I have seen social media posts that suggest there is a blanket ban on vehicles, that don’t meet certain emission requirements, travelling in France. This is not true. However, there are currently a limited amount of low emission zones with certain restrictions; we will publish information shortly outlining where these emission zones exist.

Ian Evans CEO


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