The Racing Pigeon 9th February 2024

9th February 2024  The only independent racing pigeon weekly - over 125 years serving the fancier

Racing Pigeon The only independent racing pigeon weekly – Over 125 years serving you the fancier £1.70 9 FEBRUARY 2024 • No. 7366

PETER MARTIN NO MERCY LOFTS Jordan Hughes this week briings us a loft report on the worldwide known Peter Martin of No Mercy Lofts. Peter is an experienced fancier with over 50 plus years of racing and breeding and his passion for racing pigeons really shows through.


1st Open NFC Fougeres Stuart Wilcox 1st Open NFC Messac Neil Emery

1st Open Carentan OB GB22N42052 Mark Gilbert 1st Open Sigogne GB22N23544 Wearn Bros 1 & Neilson

1st Open NFC Tarbes Fagg & Nicholas

1st Open NFC Carentan YB Shaun Saunders

1st Open Nort Sur Erdre Williams Bros Son & Burgham

Jordan and Peter (also with the loft mascot) a world class fancier and a real

gentleman. See page 16



9 770033 739024



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The Only Independent Racing Pigeon Weekly and e -edition Over 100 Years Serving You The Fancier Breaking news at

9 FEBRUARY 2024 Issue No 7366 The Racing Pigeon Co Ltd, PO Box 12760,

Colchester, CO1 9TZ Phone 01206 250880

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RPRA North West Region

You can subscribe by visiting our website at where you can either subscribe to the digital or printed editions or by phoning 01206 250880 with your credit card details. UK

This book meticulously pens the history of the Royal Lofts with a detailed look at the fanciers that have been appointed with the honour of representing the British Monarchy. It also takes a look at the invaluable role that the Royal Lofts undertook in both World Wars and the vital part that the National Pigeon Service played in providing communication and information that ultimately helped save thousands of allied lives. Phone 01206 250880 UK £22.95 including post and packing Also available a souvenir edition for £27.95 with outside dust jacket and silver block on front and spine of hardback book

The undermentioned Club as applied for affiliation to the North West Region. Any objection must be made in writing to the undersigned within 21 days of publication of this advert. PRESTON & DISTRICT HOMING SOCIETY P A Murray 32 Willow Fold, Droylsden, Manchester M43 7BY

3 months £25 Europe & Eire 3 months £34 Rest of the World 3 months £42

THE RACING PIGEON LOFT MANAGEMENT BOOK Handy A6 pocket loft book containing: Race Point Distances Birds in Loft – Enough for 150 Birds Stock Pairs – 12 Pairs • Racing Pairs – 24 Pairs Old Birds Racing • Young Birds Racing • Races 96 pages – UK £6.45 including p&p Order from our website at or phone 01206 250880

The Editor or The Racing Pigeon accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of statements made in advertisements and all advertisements are accepted on the strict understanding that the advertiser shall pay all legal or other costs arising out of any disputed advertisement. The Racing Pigeon reserves the right to alter advertisements and the statements made therein if they are possibly defamatory, or are inaccurate or for any other reason. This is a condition of acceptance of all advertisements. The same conditions apply to correspondence about advertisements. It is a condition of acceptance of all advertisements placed by an agency, or any person acting on behalf of an advertiser, that the advertiser and agency are equally and severally responsible for payment of invoices. The entire contents of THE RACING PIGEON are copyright throughout the world by The Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other-wise, without the prior written permission of The Racing Pigeon Co Ltd. In the pursuit of accurate reporting, references to trade names or proprietary products may be necessary in articles in this newspaper. No endorsement of named products is intended, nor is any criticism implied of similar products which are not mentioned. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Entered at Stationers’ Hall ISSN 0033 7390 CONDITIONS OF SALE AND SUPPLY: This periodical is sold subject to the following conditions, namely that in the United Kingdom it shall not, without written consent of the publishers first given, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade at a price in excess of the recommended maximum price shown on the cover, and that it shall not be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise disposed of in a mutilated condition or unauthorised cover by way of trade, or affixed to or as part of any publication, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever. Distributed by Inter-Media © 2024 The Racing Pigeon Co Ltd


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D Brackenbury winning Fraserburgh and the Thurso Challenge Cup presented by T Kilmor & Sons. Mr & Mrs B Garnham winning the Thurso 1st Yearling – Jenkin Challenge Cup. Matt Mason winning Dunbar YB presented by C Collins & Son), Hovenham Home Replica (Ted Platt), lowest winning velocity with 1064ypm from Great Driffield and joint winners alongside C Upsall & Grandson for the Young Bird Points Trophy. C Upsall & Grandson won highest winning velocity with 1769ypm Great Driffield. Mr & Mrs R Skinner winning the Lerwick – Jim Watson Memorial Trophy), Long Distance Average – the Vice

Welsh fancier Richard Gould. A very kind gesture. Prizes were then presented to BDFC members who had made their presence felt in both in the Peterborough Fed and the NRCC with the highlight being Mr & Mrs Russ Skinner winning the NRCC Lerwick King’s Cup race and Matt Mason winning the NRCC Dunbar YB on his first time entering. Trophy winners for the 2023 racing season were: G Hoyles, R & P Pratt winning the up to Dunbar Average (flown Perth) – the Alex Francis Challenge Cup, Perth Old Bird and Old Bird Average – Dr King Challenge Bowl.


attend as guest of honour to present the prizes and trophies after what can only be described as a typical Lincolnshire pub meal! Many thanks to the Landlady Tracy. An Auction of a few choice club pigeons donated by club members to bolster funds was organised by Russ Skinner and run on the NRCC’s WhatsApp group making £1,540 which was boosted by a kit of YBs from

A great night was had by all at the Boston & District Flying Club and Boston Area South Road Club who held a joint presentation held on 6th January. A well supported evening with 38 members, guests and friends who all gathered at The Red Cow Inn, Fishtoft, Boston to celebrate the season’s prize winners. Both Boston clubs were delighted to have friend of the clubs, Sally Benge,

Brian Garnham.

Dave Strickland.

Graham Kirkham.

John Watts.

President Rose Bowl 1935, Bird of the Year GB18X09508 Frank Perkins Trophy. In addi- tion to this there was £10 donated from George Gough for the winner of each YB race. Members would like to thank all our spon- sors and buyers in the sale, Russ and Denise who run our club bar including any functions. George Gough for the YB race sponsorship. Graham Kirkham for organ- ising the Presentation. Merv Greatrix for pick-ups to the transporter. John Platt, Graham Kirkham and Dave Brackenbury for sponsoring the over 550-mile NRCC specials for £300. This was won by – 1st prize £150 D Wilton & Sons, 2nd prize £90 P Newell and 3rd prize J K Hore £60. Well done to everyone and all the best for the oncoming 2024 race season.

Hoyles & Pratt Bros.

Russ & Denise Skinner.

Matt Mason.

Michael Scrupps.

Richard Manning.

Upsall & Grandson.




tional athletes. Pigeon fanciers carefully monitor their birds’ diets, ensuring they receive the optimal nutrition for endurance racing. Training regimes include gradually increasing flight distances, simulating race conditions, and exposing the birds to various weather conditions to build their resilience. In conclusion, the evolution of the modern marathon racing pigeons is a testament to the dedication and inge- nuity of pigeon fanciers. Through selective breeding, tech- nological advancements, and meticulous training methods, these birds have become the pinnacle of endurance racing. Whether you are a seasoned pigeon fancier or a newcomer to the sport, understanding the evolution of these magnifi- cent creatures is key to appreciating their remarkable abili- ties and ensuring their continued success in the world of pigeon racing. Benefits of Marathon Racing Pigeons Marathon racing pigeons are a breed of pigeons that possess remarkable stamina and endurance, making them ideal for long-distance races. These birds have been selec- tively bred over generations, resulting in exceptional phys- ical attributes that allow them to excel in endurance racing. In this chapter, we will explore the numerous benefits of owning and racing these incredible birds. One of the primary benefits of marathon racing pigeons is their unmatched ability to cover vast distances. These birds can fly for extended periods without tiring, enabling them to compete in marathon races that span as far as 1000 miles. Their exceptional endurance allows them to outlast other pigeons, giving their owners a competitive edge in long- distance racing events. Furthermore, these pigeons have superior navigational skills. They possess an innate ability to find their way back home from unfamiliar locations, even when faced with chal- lenging weather conditions. This remarkable sense of direc- tion ensures that marathon racing pigeons can navigate through unfamiliar territories and return safely to their lofts, which is crucial for successful long-distance racing. Another significant benefit of owning these birds is the

passion for these remarkable birds. Pigeon fanciers often come together to exchange knowledge, share experiences, and celebrate the achievements of their pigeons. The cama- raderie and support within the pigeon racing community are truly remarkable. In conclusion, the world of pigeon racing is a fascinating one that offers immense excitement and challenges for marathon racing pigeons. The dedication of pigeon fanciers, the remarkable abilities of these birds, and the sense of community make it a sport like no other. Whether you are a seasoned fancier or a newcomer to the world of pigeon racing, this chapter will provide valuable insights into this captivating sport. The Evolution of Endurance-focused Marathon Racing Pigeons In the world of pigeon racing, endurance is the name of the game. The quest for the ultimate endurance-focused marathon racing pigeon has fascinated pigeon fanciers for centuries. These remarkable birds have evolved overtime to become the epitome of strength, stamina, and determina- tion. In this chapter, we will explore the fascinating journey of the evolution of these incredible creatures. The origins of today’s marathon racing pigeons can be traced back to the early days of pigeon racing. Initially,

David Reynolds of Dandilofts has produced a guide to endurance-focused marathon racing pigeons and has given us permission to reproduce extracts in The Racing Pigeon. Chapter 1: Introduction to Marathon Racing Pigeons The Fascinating World of Pigeon Racing Pigeon racing is a sport that has captivated the hearts of pigeon fanciers around the world. For those who are passionate about marathon racing pigeons, the thrill and excitement of watching these birds compete is simply unparalleled. In this chapter, we will look into the fascinating world of marathon pigeon racing and explore what makes it such a unique and captivating part of our sport. Marathon racing pigeons are a breed of pigeons that possess remarkable stamina and the ability to cover vast distances in a short amount of time. These birds are metic- ulously bred and trained to take part in long-distance races, often spanning up to 1000 miles. They are known for their determination, intelligence, and remarkable navigation skills. The sport of pigeon racing dates back centuries, with its origins rooted in the ancient Greeks and Romans. Over time, the sport evolved, and today it has gained immense popularity worldwide. Pigeon fanciers are dedicated individ- uals who invest their time, energy, and resources into honing the skills of their pigeons and preparing them for these demanding races. The training process for endurance-focused marathon racing pigeons is a meticulous one. It begins at a young age when the birds are gradually introduced to the basics. As they grow older, they are exposed to more challenging training regimes, which include flying in different weather conditions, navigating unfamiliar territories, and perfecting their homing instincts. Pigeon fanciers employ various tech- niques, including loft management, diet control, and exer- cise routines, to ensure that their pigeons are in top physical and mental condition. The communication and bonding between the pigeon fancier and their birds is an integral part of the sport. Pigeons have an innate ability to recognize and bond with their owners, making the relationship between them unique and special. The bond between the fancier and their pigeons is built on trust, care, and mutual respect. Pigeon racing events are typically organized by clubs ,Feds, associations, and Nationals ,where fanciers come together to showcase their birds’ skills. These races are a test of endurance, speed, and navigational prowess. The birds are released at a designated location, and the fanciers eagerly await their return. The first pigeon to reach its home loft is declared the winner, and the race results are meticu- lously recorded and analysed. The sport of pigeon racing is not just about competition; it is a community of like-minded individuals who share a deep

pigeons were used primarily for communication purposes, carrying messages across long distances. However, as their racing abilities became apparent, enthusiasts began to focus on creating pigeons specifically bred for endurance races. Through selective breeding over many generations, pigeon fanciers started to develop birds with remarkable endurance capabilities. These pigeons were bred from indi- viduals that displayed exceptional stamina, navigational skills, and the ability to withstand long distances and adverse weather conditions. As the races became more challenging, only the fittest and strongest pigeons were selected for breeding, ensuring that their offspring would inherit these desirable traits. of Steel: The Ultimate Guide to Endurance-focused M The introduction of technology, such as GPS tracking and electronic timing systems, has revolutionized pigeon racing and allowed fanciers to push the boundaries of endurance. With accurate data on flight times and distances, breeders can identify the fastest and most enduring pigeons, further refining their breeding programs. One of the key factors in the evolution of endurance- focused marathon racing pigeons is their physical attrib- utes. These birds possess a unique combination of light- weight bodies, powerful flight muscles, and efficient respira- tory systems. Their aerodynamic shapes and streamlined feathers allow them to cut through the air with minimal resistance, enabling them to maintain higher speeds for longer periods. Furthermore, modern training methods and nutrition have played a significant role in the development of these excep-

bond that develops between the pigeon fancier and their pigeons. Training and racing marathon racing pigeons require a deep level of commitment and dedication. As the birds are selectively bred and trained, a strong bond forms between the fancier and their pigeons, creating a unique and rewarding partnership. Moreover, the physical attributes of these pigeons make them highly resilient to the physical demands of long- distance racing. They have strong muscles, efficient cardio- vascular systems, and exceptional lung capacity, enabling them to withstand the rigors of endurance racing. Their robust constitution and natural immune system ensures that they can recover quickly after races and maintain their overall health and well-being. In addition to the thrill of competition, owning marathon racing pigeons offers an opportunity for pigeon fanciers to connect with like-minded individuals. These birds bring together a community of passionate enthusiasts who share a common love for the sport. The camaraderie and support



breeding, and caring for these remarkable feathered athletes. This chapter aims to provide you with a glimpse into the valuable knowledge and insights that await you within its pages. The book begins by introducing the concept of marathon racing pigeons and their distinctive traits. We explore what makes these birds exceptional competitors in long-distance races, including their impressive stamina, navigational abil- ities, and innate homing instincts. Next, we glimpse into the importance of proper training techniques. Feathers of Steel coversthe various aspects of training, from building endurance and strength to devel- oping navigational skills. Whether you are a novice or an experienced pigeon fancier, this guide offers practical tips and strategies to enhance your training regime and maxi- mize your pigeons’ performance. Breeding is another crucial aspect covered in this guide. We explore the selection of breeding stock, genetic consid- erations, and the significance of pedigree analysis for producing top-notch marathon racing pigeons. Feathers of Steel shares the secrets of successful breeding programs, helping you build a strong foundation for future generations of champion pigeons. Additionally, this chapter highlights the importance of proper nutrition and health care for your pigeons. It addresses common health issues and provides guidelines for maintaining optimal health, ensuring that your pigeons are in prime condition to tackle the grueling challenges of endurance racing. Throughout the book, you will find inspiring stories and anecdotes from experienced pigeon fanciers who have achieved remarkable success in the world of endurance- focused marathon racing. Their experiences serve as a source of motivation and guidance, offering valuable insights into the dedication, perseverance, and passion required to excel in this demanding sport. So, whether you are a seasoned pigeon fancier or just starting your journey, Feathers of Steel: The Ultimate Guide to Endurance-focused Marathon Racing Pigeons is an indispensable resource that will equip you with everything you need to know to excel in this exciting niche of pigeon racing. Get ready to embark on a remarkablejourney along- side these incredible birds as you uncover the secrets to endurance-focused marathon racing success.

Overview of Feathers of Steel: The Ultimate Guide

network within the endurance racing pigeon community provide an enriching experience for fanciers. In conclusion, marathon racing pigeons offer pigeon fanciers a host of benefits. From their exceptional endurance and navigational skills to the strong bond formed with their owners, these birds are truly remarkable. Their physical attributes, resilience, and the sense of community they foster make them an excellent choice for anyone interested in the exhilarating world of long-distance pigeon racing.

Welcome to the chapter ‘Overview of Feathers of Steel: The Ultimate Guide’, a comprehensive book dedicated to the fascinating world of marathon racing pigeons. This guide is specifically designed for pigeon fanciers who are passionate about participating in and excelling at marathon racing events. Feathers of Steel looks into the intricacies of training,



B HACKLAND & SON of PONTLLANFRAITH 1st WSENFC Ramsgate OB 2023 1st WSENFC Ramsgate YB 2023 Taffy Bowen Sprint Trophy winners 2023

at that time the birds, like most in the Welsh Valleys, were raced on the Natural system. Things have moved on considerably in the ensuing 50 or so years since Nigel’s intro- duction, but the lofts are still located at the same site as that first brick built loft.

The partnership of B Hackland & Son has enjoyed a number of outstanding seasons racing into South Wales over a prolonged period, but the past four or five seasons have witnessed an explosion of top results at National level culminating in six outright 1st Open National wins plus numerous runner up positions and a further sheaf of top ten finishes. The 2023 season proved exceptional, even by the partners own, as shown by the above list of National wins. Added to the two outright National wins is the winning of the Taffy Bowen Sprint Trophy, awarded annually by the WHPU to the pigeon with the most outstanding series of wins in races up to 300 miles. The Trophy winner proved to be a three year old hen flown on the Roundabout system. As a result of this outstanding success I invited Nigel Hackland to put on record his thoughts on the sport and the methods he uses to consistently achieve this high level of success. The following report is based on Nigel’s responses. The Beginning Nigel’s career in pigeon racing began at the tender age of 10 when his father Brian, who is the B in the B Hackland & Son partnership name, introduced him to the sport. The first loft was a 10ft x 10ft brick built structure and

Nigel & Zak Hackland, Taffy Bowen Sprint Trophy winners 2023 with Colin Clark (left) and Dennis Davies (right) .

‘Little Boy Blue’, see text for performances.

The present loft is a far more substantial affair measuring some 54ft in length and containing five internal sections to house the 20 pairs of stock birds along with the 30 or so

old bird racers and around 100 young birds. All sections are scraped clean twice daily. No deep litter or grid flooring here. Management The old bird team is raced on the round about system with both cocks and hens enjoying the experience of the race basket. The usual practice is for all birds, ie stock and racers to be mated around the 1st January each year, as in recent years, Nigel Blue hen 1st WSENFC Ramsgate (2 ) and Taffy Bowen Sprint Champion of Wales 2023 for B Hackland & Son.

Cocks section.

Hens section.



Club 19th East Section Charnock Richard and 3rd Club Carnforth as two year old. A really honest racer from 100 to 500 miles.” In addition to the above I can report that the partnership has won 6x1st and 5x2nd Open in National races in the past few seasons.

Second young bird section.

Here are few interesting facts regarding the 2023 winner of the Taffy Bowen Sprint Trophy. Mated in early January the hen was allowed to rear a round of youngsters before being separated and flown throughout the entire old bird programme on the Roundabout system. Her list of wins which enabled her to win the Trophy were as

Second section for cocks.

Young bird section.

and tested winner to winner method in the racing loft but does dabble with some line breeding and in breeding to maintain winning lines when pairing his stock team. Success on the racing scene has been achieved using all the above methods. Nigel likes a small to medium sized pigeon and the above breeding methods usually produces what he is looking for in a racer. These methods, applied by a top class fancier to top class stock have produced the following outstanding results in recent seasons. I’ll let Nigel outline his birds’ most memo- rable performances:- “We have had many top class perform- ances but the ones that give us the most pleasure are our six National wins. One outstanding racer for us was a pigeon that we named ‘Little Boy Blue’ (see accom- panying photo) that won 1st Club 29th CE Section Welsh North Road Fed; 1st Club 17th CE Section, Thurso; 3rd Club Newtongrange all as a yearling. In the Thurso race we timed him in at 27 minutes past 10 in the evening. What a thrill! He went on to win 1st Club 2nd East Section 4th Welsh North Road Fed; 2nd East Section 3rd Open WGNFC Crieff. He was also 1st club 9th East Section 47th WNR Fed; 31st East Section and 50th Open WGNFC Thurso; 3rd

education prior to their first race in as much as they start training at around the five mile mark and are then taken out to 30 miles in various stages. Once racing starts they are kept at it, competing weekly if fit and well. All young birds are raced on the Darkness system. Feeding Stock birds are hopper fed at all times when rearing young. On the other hand the racers, both old and young, are fed by hand twice daily. The morning feed of a light depurative mix is rationed, whilst the evening feed of a heavier widowhood type feed is given ad lib until Nigel notices one or two birds going to the drinker. At this stage all feed is stopped. As with the exercise and training regime, this feeding system is followed throughout the season and is not altered in any significant way in the lead up to a National race. The Birds The main bloodlines housed at the present time are Janssen based and include De Klak, Heremans-Ceusters and Van Dijks, the latter two lines emanating from Premier Stud with the De Klaks originating from Nigel’s good friend Dennis Davies. As far as breeding policy is concerned Nigel uses the old tried

has only competed in inland races up to 200 miles. The old bird racers are allowed out for exercise in late February/early March following their winter loft confinement. Once they are going with a bit of vigour they receive just a few short training spins from 10 to 30 miles and then its off to the races in mid April. When racing, the Roundabout team of cocks and hens are allowed twice daily exer- cise during which time they are allowed to do

1st National Ramsgate for B Hackland & Son.

follows: 4th Club 4th Section 4th Open Fed Newbury; 4th Club 109th National Maidstone; 2nd Club 4th Section 80th National Ramsgate (1); 2nd Club 19th Fed 3rd Section 70th National Eastbourne; 1st Section 1st Open National Ramsgate (2). Her bloodlines are three quarters Heremans-Ceusters and a quarter Dennis Davies De Klak lines. Medication and Supplements Nigel does not have a strict routine of medication but does treat for worms, cocci and canker prior to the start of racing. As for supplements the birds have vitamins twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Gemthepax on the corn a few times each week. Simple and straightforward methods that produce outstanding results when applied to quality pigeons. I hope the above has proved interesting to the reader and I must thank Nigel for his candid answers to my many questions. Good luck for the future Nigel. Gareth Watkins

as they please, coming and going at leisure. In addition to this fairly laid back approach to home exercise Nigel likes to keep the birds on their toes with regular midweek training spins from around the 30 mile mark and is grateful to his good friend Dennis Davies for being at the loft to see the returning racers safely into the loft. This weekly routine is maintained throughout the season, weather permitting, with no significant alterations prior to a National race. The young bird team, once exercising well and ranging from the loft receive a good Nigel & Zak Hackland with their Ramsgate National winner.

Nigel Hackland, Dennis Davies and Zak Hackland with their tropy for 1st WSENFC Ramsgate.



Surrey Bird

My articles run a couple of weeks behind where we are in real time, so as of the 28th January, I am pleased to report that all the stock birds now have free reign over their sections and aviaries, with none being shut in. There are still some cocks that have a dislike to each other, but we have thankfully gone past the stage of having to keep them locked away from each other. I am impressed with how well they have settled, having quite a few new pairs and with so many being yearlings.

Pigeon dog.

Best nest so far.

to some of the lazier pairs with a decent sized handful of shavings to help keep those eggs safe and toasty warm. I’ve said before how Peggy loves being involved when we are out with the birds and now that she’s two years old and not quite as crazy, she is often allowed into the specials aviary when they are shut inside their section. She likes nothing more than to jump up on the seat and keep on eye on what they are doing, once she’s had a good sniff about of course. I was checking the bowls for eggs the other day, when I noticed she was following me around. It took me a few seconds to remember that I was in with the stock birds, and she has never been allowed inside either of their sections, the crafty monkey has only worked out how to move the sliding doors and gain entry! She is far too nosey and clever for her own good and I was amazed that the pigeons just stayed sat on their boxes not batting an

All out out.

First egg of 2024.

The first egg of 2024 was laid by one of the De Klak pairs, ‘Fugly’s’ daughter who is now paired with ‘Bandit’s’ dad. She was a late bred last year and was the very last to lay, and we were both surprised that she has led the way this year. We have nine pairs who have laid, but I’m confident that within the next couple of days, most if not all will have followed suit. I’ve been shocked

New troughs.

whether some pigeons are just born intelli- gent, or whether others can have it trained into them, or both. I’m sure you were all as pleased as I was to see the back of storms Isha and Jocelyn. Weren’t they relentless with their hurricane force winds, and once again, relief every morning that the lofts and garden fences were in one piece. While the birds couldn’t go out, Matt used the time to make some new feeders out of guttering. These should be easier to clean than the wooden ones and I think he’s done a good job. He still has a few more to knock together and now also wants to make a wire door for the corridor of the specials loft. This has nothing to do with pigeon dog Peggy being able to open doors but more so that the birds in the larger section can have access to the section opposite (which is now empty) without being able to get out into the aviary. We are also debating whether to get some clear tiles for the young bird loft but that’s a decision we will probably be pondering on for a while. I wonder if we will ever get a year go by where we aren’t altering something in the lofts. One thing I do know is that I don’t want another year to go by without having a win under our belts. I hope all is going well with you and your birds, let’s see what this next week brings. Jo Cuthbert

eyelid, I expect that’s due to them seeing her daily thor- ough the big wire window. I now need to remember more than ever to keep the exterior door shut and bolted at all times as I can see her trotting in there and causing havoc! We still haven’t chosen the racing hens that are going to be spare, there are a few obvious choices, one being a chequer that doesn’t enjoy flying and likes to come out of the loft and then walk down the back of the young bird loft out of sight, thinking she will get away with not having to stretch her wings. She was never like this as a young bird and I’m not sure why she now chooses to do this every time we let them out. I said to Matt that I think she’d be suited to the Natural system as she was sitting eggs as a baby and nine times out of ten would be the first down and in from training, or she could just be very lazy! Either way, she is catching our eye for the wrong reasons. I often wonder

that the normally docile ‘Bandit’s’ dad has given us the most trouble, as once he realised that beating ‘Flapper’ up was getting him nowhere, he turned his attention to ‘Noble Melt’ in the box above. That was an error of judge- ment on his part as he more than met his match, but he seems to have now learnt his lesson. I personally think he was protesting at being moved into the smaller section this year, so I can sympathise a little with some of his naughty antics. Nest of the year award so far goes to a Zwols pair and if they keep going as they are, she will be sat up high like the princess and the pea! I do like seeing a compact nest and a tidy box, but as per the norm, we have a few that show no interest in making their nest as snuggly as they can. I’ve been disappointed with our nest felts this year, they seem to be falling apart very quickly and we are going to have to lend a helping hand

Nice nests.




Supreme Champion 2023 exhibited by J Barnes.

Supreme Champion 2024 exhibited by E & N Yule.

Best in Show 2024 exhibited by Coutts Bros.

Reserve Supreme Champion exibited by J & A Bell.




Best in Show – Black Pied African Owl Hen Exhibited by JV & SJ Gregg (Cumbria).

Res BIS Muffed Ice Cock Exhibited by Jamie Vaughan (Swansea).

Bronze Portuguese Tumbler Exhibited by Junior Winner Morgan Tranter (Swansea).


number of motorists, many of them drunk, who had come to take part in the local festivities in Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse. The lorries were surrounded by cars, making it impossible to open the baskets in optimum conditions and with respect for the birds. The FCF liberation agent and the organiser (namely L’Entente Belge) knew about this situ- ation as soon as the pigeons arrived on site. The FCF regrets not having been informed, like the RFCB, of this situation: it would have been possible to move the lorries to a more suitable location. Moreover, the permit issued by the FCF was not for this liberation site at Saint-Vincent-de-

Ruffec, Derby National or Petit Ecaillé of 1938; Bricoux’s Julius Caesar, Petit Ecaillé of 1926, Ecaillé 4, Le Rêve or Libourne; Commine’s Napoléon or Manchot, and their relatives, to name but a few. Nowadays, this would mean offspring of Lessmeister’s ‘Tamino’, Pocholle’s ‘Divin’ and ‘Frappadingue’, Cousin Serge Martin’s ‘Barcelona 911’, ‘Barcelona 700’ or ‘Perpignan 382’, or Bourlard’s Montélimar and Limoges National winners; Jelle Jellema’s ‘Kleine Jade’ or Cor de Heijde’s ‘Don Michel’. All best and top European birds that left a stream of winners behind them. However, when purchasing the right specimen from the right

Is pigeon racing a dying sport? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, I am afraid. What would help a newcomer? Was one of the numerous questions Brad Foster stated when interviewing me for the Canadian Pigeon Sport review, last year. After almost fifty years in the sport, I could but advise the newcomer to first read a book

In these troubled times, both meteorologically and economically, I would like to extend my best wishes of prosperity and happiness to the reader for the new year, in the hope of saving everything that can still be saved in our beau- tiful pigeon sport. According to the Chinese proverb, an old man who passes away is like a library that burns to ashes, as it means the loss of a lifetime’s experience. From my point of view, I could as well underline that a pigeon club that closes its doors, like for a pub, ulti- mately means the death of the social fabric of any village, and just as much, leaving the pigeon sport for all those who are not in the position to apply for another pigeon club. We were two dozen In the club of which I am the Vice-President, we still were two dozen flying and vying members five years ago. Besides passed members and elder fanciers whose grand age or flooded house and lofts in 2021 forced them to put an end to racing, it must be noted that young lads, too, are leaving the sport, mainly because they can hardly stand the test of not being at the top of the tree any longer. Several members of my club, younger than me, decided to call it a day as their name did not rank first anymore in the results. Many of my friends and opponents would have been delighted at achieving what they were ever gaining, but those were not prone to be second banana. However, success is being able to move from failure to failure without losing one’s enthusiasm, as Winston Churchill said. Five years later, our club looks like being in the terminal phase, with only eight members left. And amongst those, three are not racing birds with the club, our oldest member is having his last season and I, for one, am leaving the active part of the sport for family reasons, to my greatest disappointment. Will my club still be existing in 2025? Forty-five years ago, when I joined my former Club La Liberté of Jupille, the then strongest club in the Province of Liège, we were 98 flying members with the vast majority racing at the distance from. In 2014, this beloved club closed its doors.

Tyrosse in situ , but for Saint- Jean-de-Marsacq, more inland, with a difference of 3 km (2 miles) to fly. (Source: excerpts from the French Federation website). Further investigations also shed light to some poor feeding in the baskets (half a once of food per bird a day), leading the French Federation to add to their 2024 by-rules the following addendum, which I assume will be of some interest for any Channel flyer.

dealing not with pigeon racing but some mystical story, as that of The Alchemist, a novel by Paulo Coelho. It dwells on the Personal Legend, beginner’s luck, reading the omens strewn along life’s path and listening to our hearts. “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true” is the core of the novel’s philos- ophy and might be of some help to any neophyte in pigeon racing. More prosaically, I would stress that no one could buy one’s piece of good luck. This is the conclusion I went to, by interviewing Champion fanciers throughout Europe over the last four decades. This was also one of the creeds of my late friend Alfred Demortier. No need to be wealthy, overedu- cated or a sly fox to succeed in pigeon racing. It partly is your fate and partly your destiny, being a matter of level-minded-

“It is compulsory to water the birds with clear tap water, without additives (by dispensa- tion and after technical authori- sation from the FCF, an additive may be added to ensure the potability of the drinking water); for races with two nights or more in the baskets, daily feeding is compulsory after the marking day, at a rate of 25 grams (close to one once) per pigeon a day. In case of non-compliance, any French or foreign organiser will incur the cancellation or non-issuance of his following liberation permits.” Quite interestingly, it is worth stating that the liberation site of Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse could be closed in the near future. Therefore, the Entente Belge would have to go to a new place, ten miles farther south to Dax, in order to keep the same International radius (possibly in the area of Peyrehorade). And as a matter of interest, only a mix of different kinds of maize will be fed to the birds. No silly mixtures anymore.

My lamented friend Alfred Demortier, past International winner from Libourne with a full Bricoux banded by the great Champion Ernest Duray himself, repeated to death that no one can buy one’s piece of good luck in pigeon racing. He passed hundreds of old tales and stories on to me, inherited from his elders, showing that success, alongside failure, is part of any fancier’s fate.

line, you have to keep in mind that you do not buy the fancier’s know-how with it, as the adage goes in Belgium. French Federation unveils Saint-Vincent gate On Sunday 16 July 2023, the FCF was stunned to discover the conditions in which the Saint-Vincent International liberation took place. The Saint-Vincent liberation site usually selected, was occupied all weekend by a large

ness, a matter of getting the right birds in the right loft, fed, managed, tossed and raced with the right method. It is a kind of equation with six unknown variables. When the equation is solved, the fancier is a winner. Too many fanciers improperly focus on the name of the breed, often hyped up by astute pigeon sellers, or that of a National winner, which might succeed as a single-shot riffle once in an entire racing career. My friend Demortier was deeply convinced that only the bloodline counts. In his days, those of Duray’s



The Joe Murphy Column

in the afternoon. Vince says ‘She is a ‘cracker’ and it was lovely to meet you, Margaret, and your brother, I had a lovely day and looking forward to reading your book. Take care and I hope this wind hasn’t done much damage up there for you. I think we down here got away with it lightly, take care all of you. – Vince.’ I feel that I have now found another friend in Vince, as he seemed a genuine man, and I wish him well with the hen and hope she breeds him something

stand was going to be. It had been moved from the Derham Lounge into the Pavilion opposite the RPRA & BHW stands. Everyone had to be out of the Winter Garden by 6pm and we then went to our hotel in Chanley Road. After booking in we then went for something to eat and returned to the hotel latter on. We met up with some nice fanciers and the ‘crack’ was good. Saturday we were up early had our breakfast and was in the Winter Gardens of it opening. Once set up

We received a nice letter from Alan Jerome of Lowe Wanborough near Swindon, who wrote; Dear Mrs Murphy, Thank you for the book on The Dewar Trophy Winners which we received last week, I have glanced through it but still have not got down to reading it properly. I was very dismayed to read in this week RP that it is going out of print in six months’ time as I expect a lot of us (old timers) will be. I have been taking it since before I left school in 1952, except for two

Baz Nicol and Joe.

time ago (in the 70’s). One of them had a red chequer cock bird named ‘Dundee Joe’ that had gone into him and I let them keep the pigeon. Low and behold when John and his mates were with us this lad asked me if we still had anything in my loft from ‘Dundee Joe’. I was taken aback and asked how did he know about this bird. He then informed me that he was the fancier who got ‘Dundee Joe’ in and I had transferred the bird to him. He then bred him some good birds for the fancier and he wondered if I still had any of his bloodlines in my loft. I then told him the bird came into me as a stray youngster and I

Brian Holland, Brian Shackleton and Joe Murphy.

Fanciers at the Joe Murphy Stand at Blackpool.

special as she is bred from some of Scotland’s top SNFC pigeons. We were held up on the M6 for 30 minutes due to a car accident (looked like three cars were involved) however we made it home by 6pm. Looking at the news on the TV we made the right decision to leave that bit earlier as Blackpool was being hit very badly with the winds, and the boats and trains were all stopped overnight. So, we were indeed lucky to make it home safe and sound, and hope our Irish friends made it home safely on the Monday. The trip hasn’t all turned out ‘roses’ as my brother has caught Covid, I have a chest infection and have flu, and have been put on antibiotics and steroids. I will be 77 years old in April, and I think this will be my last trip to Blackpool, getting too old for all this running about, and to be honest I enjoy my home comforts nowadays. Photos I have attached a few photographs of fanciers who visited my stand, sorry I couldn’t take everyone’s photo but at times it was quite hectic and it was more important to speak to people, and thank them for buying the book. One thing for certain, good long distance pigeons capture the imagination of most fanciers. Many have contacted me saying how much they have enjoyed reading about these top quality Dewar Trophy Winners. I’m going to take a box of the books to the SHU Offices in Wishaw, so that fanciers can go and purchase one thus saving them postage. We enjoyed spending time with the three Irish fanciers in our hotel, Brendan, Joe (who has a pub in Dubin full of Celtic Memorabilia) and Paul (see photo), while talking to the latter I mentioned that John Conlan and his mates from Dublin came to visit us a long

we had a number of fanciers visiting us, with the majority of them saying how much they enjoyed my weekly article (which was nice to hear). They also enjoyed the article Billy Wortley did on Kevin and I when we won the SNFC Sartilly National race. We also had fanciers coming up for a ‘selfie’ with me and the banter was also very good. I have added a few photographs to go with this column. My charity bird did well in the online auction making £352 and the winner Vince contacted me to say that ‘Miss Murphy’ was now in his loft now. His mate Paul picked her up for him on the Sunday morning and dropped her off

years National Service, 1958-1960, it seems a long time ago now, as of course it is as I’m now 87 and counting. You and Margaret look after one another that is really important, as I lost my wife in 2011 and nothing has been the same since. Best wishes Alan.’ Whom we thank for the lovely letter and for obtaining the book. Blackpool My brother Mike took Margaret and I down to Blackpool for the Show of the Year, we arrived prior to tea time, and we took my Dewar Trophy Winners Book into where my

Pat Davis of Dublin.

reported it to the owner, who was Joe Hunt Senior of Dundee who came to collect the bird from me. When he came to my loft, I only had five youngsters (I had a bad training toss and lost all my youngsters), plus I had the Dundee red cock in the loft. When Joe came to the loft and saw this was all the babies I had, he let me keep the pigeon and it was transferred to me and I raced it. Then as yearling I lost him at an Avranches race and he was reported in Dublin, so I just trans- ferred the bird to the fancier as it would have cost too much to get him home. It just goes to show you what a small world it is. But this story gets even better, Paul whom I had just met, then informs me that he had gone to school with John Conlan and they were the

Paul, Brendan, Joe M and Joe.

THE RACING PIGEON 9 FEBRUARY 2024 best of pals, what a small world it is. Unfortunately, John had passed away, however his wife Pauline is still alive, and we send her our best wishes. Isn’t it funny how these coincidences occur in our lives. We really enjoyed talking to these three Dublin lads and it was a pity that their ferry was cancelled due to the weather and hope that they all make it home safely. Feedback from Blackpool


bird event will be held from Maidstone on the 20th July with the Young Bird National event from Kettering to be held on 13th September. The meeting only took over 1½ hours with everyone going home looking forward to another good racing season with the SNFC. Obituary I’m sad to report the sudden passing of John Bird of Prestonpans in East Lothian who was a top quality pigeon man and more impor- tantly a genuine man. John took part in my sporting challenge in 2006 and he won the award with his good hen ‘Bit’s & Pieces’ and the following year he entered ‘Henry’ into the competition. John was very competitive and worked his pigeons hard and looked after them and had a first-class affinity with them. Last week at the club and Federation annual general meeting, John informed the members that as he has now retired, he did not wish for any payment for doing these jobs and he would continue to carry out the Secretarial duties. This was typical of the man. However yesterday the 28th February he took a massive heart attack and passed away. To his wife Val and family, we send our heartfelt condolences. Rest in Peace John you were without doubt ‘One in a Million’. P lease continue to keep the news flowing, to Joe Murphy, Mystical Rose Cottage, 2 Flutorum Avenue, Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or email to REMEMBER THE J IN THE MIDDLE .

be held on 15th June from Alencon and the 600 mile event will be held from Grevilleas on 5th July. A group of fanciers have worked hard for this 600 mile event to continue as the SNFC was formed to test our pigeons at these long distance events and believe me over the years we have had some outstanding winners at this long distance race. To name a few, the world famous John Kirkpatrick of Annan in 1952; John MacGillivray & Son of Forth who won it in 1956 & 1958; the furthest distance winner and still a record at this time was J MacPherson of Brechin in 1959 flying 660 miles, his nephews Michael and Gerald are still members of the SNFC to the present day. Then we had two brothers in Matt & John Jamieson of Annan who both won from Nantes; Jim Sanderson of Pathhead won it twice in 1981 & 1982, our own great Jock Traill of Fife won it in 1997 he also won the Niort National in 1996 flying 690 miles; with Fife having another two Niort National winners John Duthie of Methil in 1989 flying 691 miles and the long distance holder Dennis N Dall of Ladybank in 1990 flying 697 miles. Other Niort winners were J S Irving of Brydekirk flying 613 miles and D & R Osbourn partnership of Locharbriggs flying 622 miles. We also had some excellent results from the Tours race point which was another true long distance occasion. So, you can see why the members wish to have this long distance race point reinstalled as it is the ultimate test for our dedicated long distance pigeons and fanciers. The final old

Received an email from Christopher & Tommy Tweed today 29th January who wrote; ‘Hi Joe, My father, Tommy Tweed, who you will be familiar with, has asked me to send you an email just to congratulate you on your book. One of our club members brought your book home from Blackpool which you had signed. My father has been reading your book and has been thoroughly enjoying it! He said, “I don’t know how Joe has done it, with all these wins throughout the years, it’s an unbelievable record”. He wishes you the very best with all your future endeavours. Yours in sport, Christopher & Tommy Tweed. SNFC AGM I was talking to a fancier friend who informed me that the 2024 AGM took place yesterday, with John Leggate resigning as President and the new President elected was Vice President Michael Currie; Vice President’s are Kenny Droog of Angus and A Suckle of South Lanarkshire with Donna Thomson remaining as Secretary. She did a first-class job in her opening year and she will continue

to get better the longer she is in this post as she is a very dedicated professional person, helpful and I believe she ‘loves the job’ which is fantastic to hear. This fancier also told me that the ‘Feel Good Factor’ seems to be back within the club and everyone is anticipating a return to normal long distance racing this season 2024 as the club will be hold six National races. The first of these will be held on 1st June from Kettering then the following week the 7th June race will be from Maidstone. The SNFC Gold Cup event will Supreme Champion at Blackpool 2024 for Eric & Nicky Yule

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