The Racing Pigeon - 5th April 2024



been sold, it was sire of Paul Sion’s 1934 St Vincent National winner. Several of the greatest families in Scotland and England contain the blood of Champion ‘La Rousselet’, a strawberry mealy cock known all over the continent as Paul Sion’s ‘Black Eyed Cock’, which was the winner of forty prizes up to 900kms and was the sire of many winners. Paul Sion described him as one of his greatest glories. He told Willie that he would search the world but would never find anything better than Champion ‘La Rousselet’ and certainly in Willie’s opinion was one of the best pigeons imported into this country. Paul Sion was a Master Breeder but not a confirmed in-breeder. Dr Bricioux had a great collection of pigeons and the Doctor purchased some of the best such as ‘La Plume Noir’, a brother to ‘Jules Cesar’, ‘La Rousse’ and ‘Le Reve’. With these and other birds from Dr Bricioux along with the Sion’s they produced innu- merable winners in all parts of the country. Willie was of the opinion that the British showman could have made great dual purpose pigeons from the Bricioux. Quite apart from their racing ability they were the most beautiful pigeons. ‘Le Reve’ was the grandsire of the Doctor’s ‘Louis’, a remarkable pigeon, winner of 5x1st prizes in the Federation on the Widowhood system. G Stassart was one of Willie’s favourites and his Champions ‘Epinard’ and ‘Baladin’ were truly great pigeons. He remembered that when the Doctor purchased Champion ‘Epinard’, J M K McGugan of Northern Ireland, who was a very keen Stassart enthu- siast, said he never thought there was enough money in Scotland to purchase ‘Epinard’. Willie thought the best pigeons ever purchased by the Doctor from G Stassart were blue chequer cock ‘Cerf Valante’ and a red chequer hen ‘Diapree’, a daughter of Champion ‘Baladin’. In Willie’s opinion the greatest pigeon purchased by the Doctor was N Tremmery’s blue chequer cock ‘Le Fynen’; whose wins over five seasons earned him the title of European Champion at the 1938 Olympiad. ‘Le Fynen’ crossed with the old

remained faithful to his first love, the Stanhope family”. In keeping with all Border towns, Annan has a Riding of the Marches (or Common Riding) celebration each year, which culminates on the first Saturday in July when in accordance with tradition, scores of horse riders accompany the Town Cornet around the burgh boundary, following which the Cornet and his supporters take part in a procession through the town; the procession including several bands and a host of decorated floats. A major player in the annual celebra-

‘Le Fynen’.

living close to John McAlpine and assisted him with loft chores. Some of the Doctor’s prominent birds from the aforementioned strain were such as the San Sebastian hen ‘590’. She was bred from a grandson of ‘6638’ and the dam ‘8890’ was bred from a half-brother and sister off ‘Little Wonder’ in 1922. ‘590’ flew Rennes four times and was 60th and 81st before being sent to San Sebastian in 1928 when she was the first bird to fly into Scotland from that race point, a distance of 878 miles. The War years prevented serious racing and it was 1917 before another National race was flown. This was from Salisbury – 317 miles and the Doctor was 1st with blue chequer hen ‘1350’. In 1918 the National was flown from Weymouth – 369 miles, when the Doctor

Photograph showing Jim Ferguson’s 2012 Ypres winner ‘Macy ‘O’ and 2000 Messac winner ‘Jane’s Boy’ on the nest. See text.

tion is the Queen of the Border who is on the leading float with her retinue, the Queen having been elected by fellow students at Annan Academy. Some months ago I was asked by Annan History Group if I could assist by writing a history of pigeon racing in the town

was 1st and 2nd. The two birds landed together, a mother and son, the mother trapped first but John waited until the son came in and timed him first. Willie being a keen boy could not understand his father’s action. His father explained the reason for this was that if the son was to be first in the race the Doctor would have the honour of having bred the National winner as John bred the mother. Both these pigeons had an influence at stock, the red cock ‘79’ became known as ‘Golden Vanity’, its mother, black chequer hen ‘2965’ as ‘Deacleiv’. Willie at this time was established in the Anderson/McAlpine combination as the book-keeper and by the time he left school in 1921 he became established in the partnership. He provided the enthu- siasm and the Doctor and his father the wisdom. Doctor Anderson made his first trip to Belgium with Lancashire Social Circle in search of something to improve the old family and in the succeeding years until 1939 Willie went with him to Belgium and France and on many of the occasions and was with the Doctor when he purchased several of the famous

to be included in an exhibition on hobbies, that they are staging in the summer and I did as requested and duly compiled a brief ‘history’ in booklet form. The History Group have talks once monthly on varying subjects and some weeks ago I was asked if I could do one of the talks. Prior to the Covid epidemic, friend Jim Ferguson and I undertook a number of talks to various organisations in the area with myself providing the voice over and Jim exhibiting pigeons and demonstrating the practical aspects of our hobby. When asked I said I could probably do a talk with Jim but as I’d already compiled a piece for their exhibi- tion it would have to be different and suggested ‘Pigeons at War’ but cautioned the person making the request it would not focus on Annan. He responded “that will be alright as long as you mention Annan”. On the night there were a quite a number of people present and I began by showing photos of local pigeons and lofts by PowerPoint and then brought up a photo of Jim Ferguson’s two National winners; the blue chequer cock that was 1st Open SNFC Messac in the millennium season

Willie McAlpine judging the International Class at the People Show with Davie Forsyth Stewarding.

pigeons imported by him. Willie made comment to Bob McLaughlin that between the Wars there were without doubt exceptional pigeons and pigeon fanciers in Belgium and Northern France, for example Paul Sion, his son Robert Sion, Dr Bricioux, G Stassart, George Fabry and Marchel. Willie was much impressed with the magnificent team of pigeons of Paul Sion and said he would never be able to see their like again, his mealies were a sight to give joy to the most fastidious fancier. Many excellent pigeons were purchased from Paul such as ‘Admiration’ a red chequer cock purchased as a yearling due to the fact it had been shot as was permanently lame, otherwise it would not have

family gave amazing results – J McAlpine and Son’s ‘Barcelona Blue’, D Forsyth’s ‘Barcelona Triumph’, and J Moffat from Gorebridge blue chequer cock, all record holders from Barcelona – 1,000 miles. Willie O’Neil’s 1964 Nantes winner ‘Lady Jean’ also contained the blood of ‘Barcelona Blue’ and ‘Barcelona Triumph’. We must remember also M Duray’s blue chequer pied cock ‘Le Plume Blanche de Pau’ a winner of the Belgian National twice in 1930 and 1931. Apart from the Doctor purchasing a representative of the best Belgian and French strains of the day, in many cases he bought big winners. Nonetheless, in all the years and in spite of those illustrious introductions, John McAlpine

and the chequer hen that was 1st Open SNFC Ypres 2012, which was appropriate as the race from Ypres was a Commemorative race remembering the hundreds upon hundreds of Scottish fanciers who lost their lives during the War. I explained that the blue chequer cock was named ‘Jane’s Boy’ and the chequer hen ‘Macy O’. I then went on to explain that the chequer hen was named after Jim’s granddaughter who was a wee girl when Jim won the race. Her full name is Macy Oliver, who is now a teenager and just happens to be the Annan Queen of the Border for 2024. When I said she was present in the audience she was accorded a well-deserved round of applause.

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