On the 30th January all roads led to Toft Hill for the Sportsman FC. Annual General meeting. In October this year we will celebrate our 10th Anniversary during which time we have made brilliant progress year on year in the NFC. We now have own North East Section (N) and marking station at Toft Hill financed by the Sportsman club and every year have seen stronger performances being posted. However above all it is the wonderful friendships we have built up with fellow national fanciers across the UK who have unselfishly supported our club. The list is too long to thank all of these fanciers individually suffice to say they embrace the real positive aspects of our sport.
The poor weather did not prevent another excellent AGM turn out which is a credit to our members who have an average journey of over 25 miles to reach Toft Hill. After a short General Meeting where we had one resignation and several new applicants (the club membership is now 47) we moved quickly into the AGM. Officials for 2019 confirmed as Chairman, Jeff Walton, Secretary/Treasurer, Bob Mckie. The Balance sheet was unanimously accepted with the club in a strong financial position. No changes to club rules were required. Annual club subscriptions remain at £20 per loft. Club Prize monies as 2018 with recognition included for the winner of Averages, Highest Open position achieved and the club Bird of the Year. Negotiations with Sponsors are also ongoing.
As in 2018 we will be ferrying the birds down to Sheffield to meet up with the NFC transporter. Arrangements will be finalised before the end of April which will include club members accompanying the birds. Clock Committee arrangements as 2018 where the use of our Group text operated by the Chairman has proved so successful. (Thanks Jeff).
Annual Young Bird Sale
The club will again run a telephone young bird Sale in April which Jeff Walton will lead on. Several excellent youngsters have already been pledged so watch out for our advert in the weekly Pigeon Press. There are always top quality stock available at competitive prices.
2019 Show Race
Gary Heslington, outlined the arrangements for the show. It will be held at Toft Hill on Saturday the 16th February. Race point Messac National with penning between 11.00 to 12 noon. Entry fee £5 per bird (all paid out) limited to maximum of 2 cocks/2 hens per loft. Race prize split 60/40% with £100 added prize money. There will be a single £10 nomination, winner take all. BIS/BOS prizes of £25.
Show Judge, Kevin Winter, from Sunderland.
Finally our Annual presentation will be held on the 24th October and our next General Meeting will be on 20th March.
What is ahead for Racing in 2019
It is that time of the year when fanciers are conjuring up many thoughts of the racing ahead. For the predominantly sprint minded fancier their plans will be in full swing. Many will be paired and some will already have their 1st round of babies separated. This however is not the preferred approach for many distance/extreme distance fanciers whose target National races don’t take place until late May, June and July. Nevertheless you have to be on top of things and there is always something to do around the lofts preparing your charges. Personally I will shortly have to think about changing the birds over from their winter feeding regime to their regular breeding mix. All birds including stock were vaccinated early December and will be out every day weather permitting from early February. To be fair the weather has been very kind to us in the North East and some of my own hens are already acting quite amorous. Weather permitting I will start pairing stock birds up in the next couple of weeks and the race team from early March.
Whether your preference is sprint or Distance racing 2019 appears to be more unpredictable than ever before. With no sign of any Brexit breakthrough we must remain positive and assume that the National racing programme will go forward as scheduled. The elephant in the room is without question Climate Change.
I believe this will be the biggest challenge facing our sport in coming years. Yes the BOP problem is problematical in many areas but the dynamics of Mother Nature should not be underestimated. Extreme heat, atmospheric disturbances and tropical downpours are set to test our metal with 2018 giving us a taste of what could be around the corner. Remember that on days when weather conditions appeared to be perfect for racing many birds failed to make it home with erratic returns being more and more the norm. I ask the question how many fanciers have really exercised their mind about team management as the sport evolves in a changing climate environment. Is your approach to breeding and training still fit for purpose or do you simply continue to apply old dated and tired routines.
I sincerely believe we need to be smarter and smell the coffee otherwise results will suffer and I suspect losses will hit new levels.
Race Controller/Convoyer Roles
I do not envy those who take on these responsibilities and would urge all organisations, Amalgamations, Combines and National clubs to give due care and diligence to the decision making process to all races but especially from across the Channel. Current weather forecasting techniques and the use of high tech equipment provide much more information than in years past, still there is scope for the process of telephone contacts on the line of flight and especially along the full channel coast line from East to West. Many years ago the great National fancier Jim Biss urged the NFC to develop this approach because channel conditions not least the formation and movement of fog banks were so problematical. Also if we see the extreme temperatures repeated in coming seasons Convoyers should not hesitate to consider mid-afternoon liberations. I accept this will force all birds to spend a night out but heavy losses at distance events is bound to attract bad publicity under the banner of animal welfare which we must avoid at all costs.
North East Central Route FC
Finally we wanted to mention this new club at Ferryhill which will start racing in 2019. There are a number of fanciers hesitating about joining the National scene because of a fear that losses will be heavy. Well here is a club which will be racing down the centre of the country providing an excellent chance to give your birds valuable experience on a flight path more in tune with the NFC race programme. This club will be holding a top quality youngbird sale in the coming weeks which will be in the fancy press to raise funds to purchase race baskets/crates. Definitely a sale to watch out for. For more information ring John on 07955392127 or Jeff on 07966495952