Sportsman FC (NFC) Prize Presentation Evening
Well the 17th October has come and gone and another great night at the Sportsman to mark the end of a most testing season.
The doors opened at 7pm and by the time we kicked off with the presentation it was standing room only.
Our Chairman Jeff Walton, got things underway by welcoming everyone for coming along to share the evening with us. He introduced our main guests Barry and Peter Winter who had made the journey up from Howden, East Yorkshire. There was also a special mention for our friends from the SNRPC who made the long journey down to be with us.
Jeff went on to thank our sponsors Vanrobaey Feeds and Terry Knox for their continued support, the Gaskill family and Paul Stobbs of Stonehaven Lofts along with the many fanciers who donate and bid at our Annual Young Bird Sales. And the Best family for their transporting of birds to Sheffield and to Charlie Smith, for providing the use of his Transit Van whenever we needed it. Also to our hosts John and Belle who always offer us a warm welcome.
Barry and Peter were then invited forward to present the prizes.
First up to the table was new member Alf Fellows from Ferryhill who was dipping his toe into National racing for the first time gaining a 5th Club 9th Section N Coutances.
Next came Brian Wiemer & Grandson from Hartlepool who were 4th Coutances Oldhens.
Then it was M/M Allan Walker from Stockton who won 5th Messac and 5th Coutances YB.
Experienced Channel flier Brian Caley from Framwellgate Moor was next with a 3rd Club & Section N, in a very tough Messac National.
The excellent loft of John & Stephen Best from Stockton stepped forward next after winning 2nd Club Messac and 3rd Club Sigogne. The cock that came out of Sigogne was an old favourite of John’s and before the race he expressed every confidence in this bird.
Then it was the turn of our hard working ETS expert Barrie Blackett to step forward. Barrie who flies into the village of Butterknowle is a previous Queens Cup winner who has developed a strong family of National birds and is always in the mix when the going is tough. A very studious fancier Barrie is not afraid to try something different and every bird has to earn its perch, the basket being the master.
The small team partnership of Tom Cuthbertson & Derek McWilliam from Willington, were next up with an excellent win in the Old Hens National from Coutances with their 4 year old Dark Cheq Busschaert hen called CC. It won 1st club, 1st Section N and 173rd Open. Adding to the excellent 1st Sportsman & 6th Section N from Messac which it won in 2017. Top performance.
We then had the fast improving partnership of Malcolm, Heslington & Jones, from Wingate step up to collect their awards. They kicked off their season in great style taking 1st & 2nd Club 5th & 6th Section N Coutances. Followed by 4th club & 5th Section Ancenis as well as a 4th Club & Section N, Coutances Young Bird National. It is important to mention that their Coutances winner is quite special, known as The Quiet Woman, she was also their first bird from Ancenis and a few weeks later won the North East Greater Distance club race from Le Mans. This 5 year old hen has been nursed by the partnership and really rewarded their patience this season-well done.
Club Secretary, Bob Mckie, from Blackhall Mill, was next to come forward after winning 3rd club 7th Section N Coutances, 6th club Messac, 2nd 3rd & 6th club 2nd 3rd & 11th Section N Ancenis, then 1st 4th & 6th club and 4th Section N, Sigogne (639 miles and the longest flier in the Open). The Chequer cock which won Sigogne having been 3rd Ancenis 5 weeks earlier. (525 miles)
It was then the turn of Chairman Jeff Walton from Coxhoe, to step up to the table. Flying only a capful of birds Jeff flying in partnership with his son Matthew had a great year winning 1st & 4th club 1st & 4th Section N Messac. Following this up with 1st club 1st Section N Ancenis taking the £100 sponsorship prize kindly donated by Paul Stobbs. In the Coutances Old Hens race the partnership grabbed 3rd & 5th club and Section N. Mrs Hazel Gaskill was asked to step forward and present Jeff with the late George Gasgill Memorial Trophy. (George being the driving force in establishing the club in late 2009.)
Dave McSween & Jim Sexton of Sunderland then came forward as our main prize winners receiving a great round of applause. They scored 4th club 8th Section N Coutances National. 2nd club & Section N in the Coutances Old Hens race and a brilliant 1st 2nd & 3rd club and Section N, 227th Open in the Coutances Young bird race (flying 75 miles further than all the birds above them in the result.) They ended up as the 2018 Average winners for good measure.
Finally for the first time the club had a competition in 2018 to recognise the best performing bird in the current season.
The overall winners were Jeff and Matthew Walton with their an outstanding 3 year old Chequer hen which won 1st club 1st Section Messac, 14th club 22nd Section Coutances and 3rd club & Section Coutances Old Hens race.
Runners up being the loft of McSween & Sexton with their Young Bird national winner Red 52.
Following the presentation our hosts laid out an excellent buffet which was very well received, there then followed a small sale of birds presented by this seasons club winners as well a generous gift of a proven stockbird from ex Sportsman member & good friend Peter Brunskill of Toft Hill. Our main guests Barry & Peter Winter brought a late bred youngster for the sale which was much appreciated. Our resident auctioneer Gary Heslington did an excellent job in extracting every last pound from the buyers. Thanks Gary it was all good fun an excellent performance on your part.
The club members would just like to thank Jeff Walton who once again generously provided a framed photograph for all race winners to their proud owners.
Also to Vanrobaey Feeds & Terry Knox for their continued support and generous race sponsorship whereby each race winners received 2 bags of corn and a range of excellent Vanrobaey products. It is very much appreciated.
The list of our supporters is extensive and we thank them all and in particular the staff at both the British Homing World and Racing Pigeon for their excellent presentation of our articles throughout the year.
National racing now has a firm hold in the North East, hopefully this will continue to grow whether you fly independently or as members of the Sportsman the challenge of extreme/distance racing is enormous but the success can be so rewarding. You only have to look at some of the performances by our club members and the independent fliers M. Anderson & Sons, John Rumney and Mr & Mrs Brian Hicks to see what is achievable when you put your mind to it. The question is do you have the ability and determination to handle the pressure????
Hope to see you all again next year.