Review of 2020
Although racing was delayed across the UK, given all things considered it was a successful season. Fanciers were able to enjoy limited old bird racing and a competitive young bird racing despite Covid. The early ban on training did proved to be problematical, nevertheless when announced the shorter NFC race programme was most welcome. I must also say a big well done to the RPRA for their efforts in representing the Sport at Government level to secure racing. As was the production of their guidance around race protocols. (Mind you it still makes me smile when I think about the 2metre pole when rubbering birds!!). At the Toft Hill marking station everything went well and as I/C would once again wish to offer my thanks and gratitude in particular to Barrie Blackett, Jim Sexton and Jeff Walton for the sterling work they did throughout the national programme in marking race entries. I suspect the Government has real concerns over controlling the Corona Virus and we may face similar protocols throughout 2021 unless the pharmaceutical industry can magic up a range of effective vaccines before then. Whilst things are looking more promising on this front it remains a major, major challenge.
National Racing 2020
The first National from Fougeres was quickly followed by Messac then the Blue Riband race from Pau with the season rounded off at Coutances for the YB/OH’s national. Sportsman members like all fanciers faced a stiff challenge to get sufficient miles into the bird’s wings and bring on some form. In the end the lack of training did dint the Sportsman entry levels nevertheless there were some excellent performances not least by the father and son partnership of John and Steven Best. They won the Club and Section N from both Fougeres and the Coutances Old Hens nationals bagging the Club Averages and the Bird of the year with their Chequer Hen 17 TV 4206. We then had new member Tony Lyons picking up 1st Club 3rd Section N from Messac. The partnership of McSween and Sexton put up another awesome young bird performance taking 1st Club and Section N in the Coutances national after timing at 7.25pm on the day flying 402 miles. However, for me the highlight performance of our club season was that of Allen and Carol Walker when winning 1st Club and Section N. 325thOpen from Pau flying 778 miles. Brilliant stuff and much deserved. Unfortunately, like most clubs our members have not been able share and applaud these successes because our presentation evening has been cancelled due to the virus mayhem. Prize money and cards have already been posted to members and Trophies along with a framed photograph of each winner will be distributed asap.
Autumn Round Up
The 2020 Autumn/Winter is going to be a long affair due to the absence of AGM’s, presentations, local shows and the situation is even more aggravated with no Blackpool! However, at these testing times keeping racing birds brings real and immeasurable benefits from a wellbeing point of view. It also gives you more time to prepare for the breeding season and get all those outstanding DIY jobs done around the house to earn a few brownie points!!
Club Management Group
Following RPRA advice the Sportsman created a small Management Group (MG) as set out below, to address immediate club business and an AGM will take place at the first convenient opportunity.
- Chairman: Jeff Walton
- Secretary: Ian Carter
- Treasurer: Bob Mckie
- Press Officer: Paul Kitching
- RPRA/NFC Rep: Jim Sexton
The MG believe it sensible to leave 2021 club subscriptions (£20) and race prize money the same as last season. At the start of 2020 we kicked off with 36 members and are looking to build on that number with several new applications from fanciers across the North East already received.
Ian Carter is gradually taking over the Secretary job from Bob McKie and will be in post full time from the beginning of January. He has lots of fresh ideas and has already launched a Facebook Group “Sportsman National Flying Club”.
We have been busy seeking additional Sponsors for next season and are delighted to report that we have secured support from Formula 1 Lofts, Owen Shaw Trophies, Tumley Lofts with several other possible deals under consideration.
At the recent NFC General Meeting in October the 2021 race programme was discussed and signed off:
- 22 May - Fougeres
- 5 June - Messac
- 19 June - Nort-Sur-Erdre
- 2 July - Pau (Friday liberation)
- 24 July - Sigogne
- 4 September - Coutances OH/YB
This programme provides a gradual increase in distance from middle to extreme. The Sportsman FC at Toft Hill offers a great NFC route for distance enthusiasts across the North East wishing to test their birds and management skills against the top UK national fanciers. Check out our club website at www.sportsmanfc.com and have a look at the Gallery and check-out our club winners in recent years.
There is a Marking Station for NFC events at Toft Hill where we normally basket on Wednesdays after which the birds are transported to Sheffield and transferred to the NFC Transporter. The transporters are top of the range, fully refurbished/upgraded for the 2020 racing season with GPS Tracking and kitted out with aluminium crates, an automatic watering system and quality air conditioning. The birds always return in tiptop condition having received excellent care from Dom McCoy (Chief Convoyer) and his team. On race days you can follow the race progress on the NFC Website “early leader” board which all adds to the complete national experience.
Young Bird “Phone-line” Sale
Next year we are planning our Young Bird Phone-In sale in March/April. Several top National lofts and supporters of the club have already pledged youngsters and details will appear in the Fancy Press closer to the sale date when arrangements are finalised.
Although we continue to struggle with the impacts of Covid, fanciers still need to stay alert to the risks of Bird Flu. There have been a number of unrelated confirmed cases in England (the first in Kent and the second, larger and more serious outbreak in Cheshire.) with increasing reports of viral influenza affecting flocks in mainland Europe. It is vitally important that all fanciers stay alert and have good biosecurity systems in place to minimise risk. It is especially important to prevent wild birds from entering lofts and that vaccination programmes are kept up to date.
If interested in joining the Sportsman and would like more information just give Ian Carter or Bob McKie or Jeff Walton a quick call on 07851 977383 or 07308 236113 or 07966 495952 respectively.