May 6, 2023
Listed below is the final details of our race sponsors for the 2023 NFC race programme:
20/5/23 Fougeres, Owen Shaw Trophies £100.
3/6/23 Messac, Formula1 Lofts £500 Voucher.
17/6/23 Nort-sur-Erdre, Paul Stobbs £100.
30/6/23 Pau, Alan Dixon £100.
22/7/23 Sigogne, Steve Swainstone, SS SEEDS £100 Voucher.
2/9/23 Vire old bird National. Mrs Carol Walker £50.
2/9/23 Vire young bird National. Mrs Carol Walker £50.
In addition our good friends at Vanrobaey Feeds in Belgium will for the 8th consecutive year sponsor our race winners in the first five Nationals. They will receive 2 Bags of their new Revolution Sport Pro Mix along with Tubs of Super Grit Mix and Supplements.
On behalf of our members I wish to thank all our Sponsors for their generous support.
March 6, 2022
Sportsman FC Update
Dear All, sponsorship deals agreed so far for 2022.
Vanrobaeys - All race winners will receive 2 bags of corn and range of supplements including a 10 kilo tub of Grit
1st National - Owen Shaw Trophies £100 to race winner.
2nd National - Formula 1 Lofts (John Gladwin) Pair of birds for stock to the value of £500 or a kit of 6x 2023 young birds for racing.
3rd National - Paul Stobbs £100 to race winner.
4th National - Alan Dixon will sponsor winner if Pau is flown £100.
5th National - SS Seeds £100 Voucher to race winner.
6th & 7th Nationals - Young bird/Old Cocks & Hens Tumley Lofts £150 Vouchers to race winners.
Phil Gardner - Respiro -san - Dry to be finalised.
There are still a couple of other possibilities being followed up!
Regarding the Annual Phone-in sale we have 25 excellent lots pledged and the detailed advert for the BHW/Club Website is near completion with the target dates for sale being from 7/4/22 to 14/4/22
February 25, 2022
Vet Notice 2022 Channel Racing
December 22, 2021
Sportsman FC Phone-In Auction Sale for Prostate Cancer Research
I can confirm that we have received your cheque for £4500.00 on behalf of the Sportsman Flying Club. I have attached a letter of acknowledgement for you to share with your membership and post in your club headquarters if you wanted to. I have also sent an email to the British Homing World magazine, which I have copied you in. Hopefully they will continue to support you in future fundraising initiatives! Thank you again for all your incredible support and for truly going above and beyond your initial £2000 target!
If there’s anything else I can help with, please let me know.
All the best,
Events & Community Assistant
Prostate Cancer Research
Thank you so much for your email and for your updates on the online Pigeon Auction. A huge congratulations on raising an incredible £4500 through the auction for Prostate Cancer Research. What a fantastic total! I read the article on your website and particularly liked the final paragraph - “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.” The kindness and good from the Sportsman Flying Club is so appreciated by the whole PCR team. We are so grateful for your support and generosity. All the money raised will go towards our patient-focused and impact-driven research into new treatments for prostate cancer, with the aim of creating a world where people are free from the impact of the disease.
Events and Community Manager
Prostate Cancer Research
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Marking Station I/C