2018: A Challenging Year All Round
There were several negative challenges in our Sport throughout the 2018 season not least the horrendous wet spring and damage caused by the Beast from the East. This was followed by the hottest summer on record which impacted the old bird season. Then many fanciers endured some cruel experiences with young birds both through illness and heavy losses.
Sadly a good number of fanciers have decided to call it a day and this outcome is quite understandable. Organisations controlling weekly club racing really need to grasp the nettle and take action to prevent or at least delay the demise of our Sport. It is obvious that we have too many clubs, federations and specialist clubs. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!!!! We need to take a long hard look at race programmes and revise their thinking on the approach to young bird racing. Certainly we can learn a lot from the Belgium approach of having combined old/young bird racing. I think the shift to National racing will trend upwards in coming years and some bold but pragmatic decisions by the NFC, BICC & BBC will be necessary. It strikes me that there is scope for these bodies to work much closer and share both resources and experiences for the betterment of our Sport. I will return to this question over the winter months. Above all the question of Communications is key and across the Sport, despite all the new technology available we seem to be missing a trick not least in removing the risk of clashing and improving our understanding of Weather conditions.
However I am forever the optimist and always look for the positives of which there are many including:
the sense of togetherness which pigeon fanciers display in times of adversity.
the resilience of so many when times get tough.
the ability of fanciers who manage their birds to deliver outstanding results despite adversity.
This is both at a local and UK wide level of which I will mention just a few:
Roger Sutton at Congleton, whose birds have put up some wonderful team performances in 2018.
M. Anderson & Sons of Washington who have displayed real skill in winning in longer distance National events.
Wearn Bros. & Neilson at Ramsdean the 2018 NFC Tarbes National an outstanding winner. Probably the most arduous race in members living memory and one we do not wish to see repeated.
Mark Bulled at Harlow whose team has put up some tremendous individual performances in both the NFC & BICC.
Small team flier Tom Williams from Orpington sending 3 to Tarbes he achieved 19th and 63rd Open simply top, top flying.
McSween and Sexton of Sunderland who won 1st, 2nd & 3rd Section N in the NFC Coutances Young Bird National ending up 237th Open flying 402 miles (75 miles further than the birds which beat them) brilliant.
And right at the top, Mark Gilbert at Winkfield whose performances in 2018 epitomise what many of us can only dream about.
It is these very achievements which spur many of us forward looking to do better. Roll on the 2019 racing season!!!
Sportsman FC (NFC) Coutances YB National
Flown on the 1st September it seems to have been a good race on which to end a difficult season.
At the Sportsman FC we had 5 members send 20 YB’s and 7 members send 24 OH’s to Coutances with members flying between 390 and 402 miles.
Dave McSween & Jim Sexton of Sunderland took the top three Club & section prizes showing us all how to race youngbirds from four hundred miles plus. Their birds were all on dark system. They fly 402 miles & their first bird, a mealy hen won 227th Open. It was hatched in February & from their old UNC Bourges stock. Their Ybs are fed on Vanrobaeys No 37 YB mix. Their 2nd & 3rd YB’s are actually nestmates, bred from the Tom Williams cock paired to a daughter of the famous Wearside Lass. Their winners preparation was six, fifty mile tosses then two races from Wetherby 65 miles & two races from Worksop 108 miles and then jumped to the Coutances race. She had just thrown her first flight and was not paired up but fresh & showing to the young cocks in the loft. A sister to her won the Sportsmans YB race from Guernsey in 2015 being the only bird on the day. Their 2nd & 3rd YBs preparation was 6 x 50 mile tosses, 2 races from Wetherby 65 miles then jumped to Buckingham 204 miles with NEGDC (liberated with Yorks birds so last 70 miles to fly alone) Rested the following Saturday then jumped to Coutances. Was paired up and just starting to drive his hen. Over the years these lads have gained many successes when racing youngsters at the extreme distance. They have successfully blended an excellent family of distance birds that are winning across the UK for others. They win our Vanrobaey sponsorship prizes including bags of corn and an array of their excellent race products
We then have Malcolm, Heslington & Jones from Wingate taking the 4th spot in both club and Section with a natural YB from Alan Kelly of Ireland stock. This rounded off a successful season and I think we will see a lot more from this loft in coming years.
Finally taking 5th position in the Sportsman we have Mr & Mrs Allan Walker from Stockton. We will hear a lot more about this loft in the future as they steadily build up a National team.
Old Hen’s National
Taking 1st Sportsman & Section N and 174th Open was the partnership of Tom Cuthbertson & Derek McWilliam of Willington, Co Durham who timed their excellent Dark Chequer Louella Busschaert hen doing 1395.277 ypm. Tom said this hen had obviously been down for a drink but still pulled off a great win. They keep a small team of around 20 birds and really enjoy National racing and are good workers for our club. The winning hen is one of the stars of their loft and in 2017 she was 1st Sportsman 6th Section N from NFC Messac
Big well done lads and congratulations on winning the Vanrobaey sponsorship prizes.
In second place and only just squeezed out of doing the double was Dave McSween & Jim Sexton of Sunderland recording a velocity of 1394.557 with a yearling celibate hen. It was only lightly raced during the OB season & was bred from one of their own crossed with a hen bought from Staddon Bros. It’s preparation for the race was 6 x 50 mile tosses with their YB’s followed by two private training flights from Northampton 190 miles & Buckingham 204 miles. Then a weeks rest before being jumped to Coutances.
Jeff & Matthew Walton of Coxhoe timed 2 excellent birds to grab 3rd & 5th Sportsman & Section N to complete an excellent season including 2 x 1st Sections. These lads only fly a capful of birds and their hens have been on fire this season. Their first bird a 3yo sitting 10 day eggs topped the section from Messac this year. She had two 5th sections NFC in 2017. Her sire had won from Bourges 557miles & is from a grandson of Sumo paired to a granddaughter of Poco & her dam another direct from their good friend Jos Thone’ is from a full sister to Cavendish. Their second hen, a 4yo & granddaughter of the same stock pair was flying to a 7 day old YB. She won 2nd section Fougeres in 2017.
Brian Wiemer and Son from Hartlepool take 4th & 6th Sportsman & Section N. Their first hen was a five year old from their Kirkpatrick/Van Winkel stock to round off a satisfactory season.
Returns were excellent with other members including Barrie Blackett & Malcolm Brown timing on the day.
So another season has flashed by and not without its controversy which will fuel much debate in the winter months.
Sportsman FC Presentation evening
This will be held at our HQ on Wednesday the 17th October and our main guests are Barry and Peter Winter.
Doors open at 7pm and Kick Off is at 8pm all are welcome new and old friends.