Sportsman FC Toft Hill — Forward Look
The prospects of national racing into the North East this year looks positive. Both annual outbreaks of Bird Flu and the Covid 19 situation remain issues. Hopefully, bird flu will be eradicated before Spring. As for the pandemic with the vaccination programme proceeding at pace, we can anticipate there being some government controls throughout 2021. Travel restrictions will need to be lifted and social distancing, washing hands regularly, using hand sanitisers and wearing masks will remain in place until this life-threatening virus is defeated. The RPRA are once again on the case and will provide Guidance and we can expect Race marking arrangements similar to those in place last season.
Post Brexit problems continue to hit the headlines, both the Farming and Fisheries Industries are having difficulties and unfortunately the pigeon sport has not escaped. New livestock quarantine protocols have also dinted the export and importing of racing pigeons. The average UK fanciers will not give much heed to this but those with a commercial interest could see the demise of a valuable income stream. Will organised trips to Belgium and Holland ever be the same? The good news of course is that pigeon racing can still go ahead. The RPRA were quick to clarify this with DEFRA and in January posted an update on their website, thanks again to Ian Evans, who was quick off the mark to clarify the arrangements. The RPRA will also keep the sport updated on racing once the government have clarified the road map out of the pandemic.
Sportsman FC Club Management
Last season when Covid19 was so virulent in communities, we followed RPRA advice and set up a Management Group (MG) made up of 5 members to take care of ongoing club business. Like many clubs we have not been able to hold either a prize presentation event or an AGM. To keep members updated we have relied heavily on Group Text messaging.
Our new Secretary Ian Carter has been in post since the 1stJanuary and has plenty of fresh ideas which is what you need in any progressive club. He has already organised a club Social Media page which has more than 500 followers. Jeff Walton continues as Chairman and Bob McKie is now Treasurer. Jim Sexton takes care of RPRA and NFC business with Paul Kitching on board to take over the club press officer role.
As we move towards the new racing season there has been much interest in the club from fanciers across the North East wanting to fly in the NFC. To date the club has 18 new members which is brilliant. We look forward to seeing what impact this will have on the club’s Open results. Club subscriptions remain at £20 which provides real value for money considering all members can race mark at our club HQ’s at Toft Hill. Birds are then ferried down to Sheffield to link up with the NFC Transporter (a round trip of over 200 miles). We have also established local clock stations for reading off clocks which will reduce travel distances for members. Unikon, Bricon, IPigeon systems and T3’s are all catered for. If any other North East fanciers are interested in having a go at national racing, please ring Ian Carter (07851977383) for more information.
In addition to some decent club prize money we have also secured some excellent sponsorship with more in the pipe-line:
I am delighted to confirm that Vanrobaey Feeds in Belgium will again sponsor each club race winner. They will receive 2Bags of Young Bird corn and a range of Vanrobaey Pigeon products which I collected from the Swalwell warehouse of Terry Knox this week. We are also very proud to have the support of the following sponsors this season:
Fougeres National - Owen Shaw Trophies £100
Messac National - Formula 1 Lofts £300 Voucher
Nort de Erdre National - Paul Stobbs £100
Pau Grand National
Coutances Young Bird National - Tumley Lofts £150 voucher
Coutances Old Hens National - Tumley Lofts £150 voucher
The pigeons taking 3rd club in the Fougeres, Nort de Erdre and Sigogne National races will receive a voucher for a 15kg box of RESPIRO SAN DRY sponsored by Phil Gardner. Another super prize which includes delivery to your door.
Annual Young Bird Sale
We are delighted to report that our 2021 On-line Young bird sale will be hosted by comparethepigeon.com and run from the 1st April for 10 days.
A full advert will appear in the Pigeon Press along with full list of donors and more detailed information about all birds on offer will be available on our website sportsmanfc.com in week beginning 29/3/21. As always we bring to the sport a tremendous offering from top UK lofts including:-Nick Adshead, House of Arden, Mark Bulled, John Cowlin, Paul Stobbs, Peter Virtue, Stu Wilcox and Brooks & Wilcox, Tom Williams, Barry & Peter Winter, John & Kevin Zerafa. Supported by birds from Sportsman Club members who successfully fly many, indeed hundreds of miles further than other national competitors often in worse weather conditions.
North East Central Route FC (Midweek) HQ Ferryhill
I wanted to give this new club a mention. A new venture from 2021 it will race every Wednesday down the central route of the country which provides excellent line of flight experience for NFC racing. The club race card also incorporates the first three NFC races within its programme as well as the old hens/youngbird national race in September and several members of the club also fly in the Sportsman. The driving force behind the club is John Fellows ably supported by Jeff Walton. Their operating model guarantees up to 1200 birds weekly going to Inland races. There is excellent prize money available (over £500 per race) and it is only 50p per bird.
I sincerely hope this is a big, big success and knowing all the hard work that has been undertaken they deserve it. I wish their members the very best for 2021.
Finally I wish you all a good breeding season and hope your racing results go as planned.
Bob Mckie (Treasurer)
Jeff Walton (Chairman)