As the dust settles on the second North Road Championship Club race of the season, from Perth and sponsored by The Racing Pigeon, we take a look at the section winners on a day when returns were excellent.
.SECTION A WINNERS – Riggott and Richardson.
Billy Riggott had an early birthday present with this win in Section A. He will be 84 in August but, whatever arrives gift wrapped on that big day, is unlikely to surpass this success – unless it is more NRCC success during the remainder of the summer.
Billy flies in partnership with John Richardson, once a key member of the ace duo, Porter and Richardson. Remember their open NRCC wins? Thurso in the year 2000, and Perth in 1988 and again in 2000.
John has brought all the knowledge that played a big part in these wins to the present partnership, and their section winner from Perth was a chequer widowhood Busschaert cock bird.
It was their first win of the season, but they had had many near misses in early season races.
They sent 19 and had one missing when we spoke.
The birds are kept at Billy’s home and, despite those advancing years, he is out and about with the birds at around 6am every morning. John joins him when the streets are a bit warmer.
They compete in the Ollerton North Road club, and are enthusiastic NRCC members where they have been consistent flyers for several years.
Both are ex-miners, and Billy describes John as “the best friend and partner you could possibly have.”
They have been racing a team of 19 widowhood cocks this season
Bill used to fly with the late Robert Fountain, and they always had a fair amount of success, but he has reached new heights in partnership with John.
John is a down-to-earth fancier who likes to keep things simple, and that is why the partnership has opted for racing just widowhood cocks.
John loves to study pedigrees, and keeps all the partnership’s records on computer. He likes north road racing, and particularly loves the challenge of competing with the NRCC.
Billy has had pigeons since 1954. “They help to keep me active,” he said. “They probably keep me alive. I am so used to having them around.”
SECTION B WINNER – Kevin Lawson, Boughton
NRCC legend Kevin Lawson is back with a bang by winning Section B, after adopting a low-key attitude to racing in the past year or so.
There was a time, however, when you could rarely read an NRCC result without being almost blinded by the name Lawson. When he won, the winner was backed up by a whole host of loftmates to create a series of scintillating team performances.
His first open success was from Perth in 1993, and then followed a purple patch that brought two more open wins from Perth (2003 and 2009), Fraserburgh (2006 and 2009) and Thurso (2005).
But that was only part of the story because he took countless other top positions, including being runner-up SEVEN times.
In the latest Perth race he had two come together, and another 30 seconds later, and he could finish with six out of the first seven in the section.
First one to go into the clock was a Soontjens x Van Loon widowhood cock bird that has illustrious ancestry being a son of Starlight which won Thurso open in 2005, and a blue pied Soontjens hen from Ray Forbes, of Darlington, which has been Starlight’s most frequent partner.
This is one of four brothers to win NRCC sections, and Starlight has filled the loft with good pigeons.
Kevin has been having a good season with a team made up mainly of yearlings that did not race as young birds, and he has topped his Federation four times already this season.
His Perth team of 15 cocks and nine hens have flown the full club programme, but he did not race from Dunbar in the NRCC. He had 23 out of the 24 home on the day.
For his cock birds he has reverted to traditional widowhood, with their hens being kept at home to greet them on arrival from races.
Most are expected to compete from Fraserburgh.
For the first time since 2006, Kevin is planning to race young birds this year, and he is confident that there is still better things to come from his present old bird team.
One senses a re-born enthusiasm at the Lawson loft, and perhaps we shall all have to get used to seeing the name again prominent in NRCC results.
SECTION C WINNERS – Dayton and Sayers, Louth
Albert Sayers was once heard to say that coming second is achieving nothing. He is now in his third partnership in Louth – that is the only way he can enjoy NRCC racing – and in every one he has been a winner.
He and Pete and Margaret Dayton have now worked their way to the winning formula that Albert likes, and their two-year-old Soontjen roundabout hen has already received the usual accolades of an open NRCC winner, and also winner of this tough Section C.
Hopefully, she will be on parade for everyone to see at the NRCC Day of Champions at Springfields Exhibition Centre, Spalding, on December 5th.
SECTION E WINNER – Arnold Bennett, Peterborough
Retired farmer Arnold Bennett appears to be like a vintage wine, improving with age.
He is now 83 and this is his second successive section win, having already been top loft in his area from the first NRCC race of the season from Dunbar.
His section winner from Perth is a yearling Cueleman chequer widowhood cock, and home in almost the same breath was a two-year-old hen which is his sister which topped the Federation as a young bird and has six cards to her credit.
The section winner also won the club the week before, and has been third pigeon to the loft five times. Obviously pigeons in form.
Arnold’s Cueleman pigeons come from Mr Duffy, of Spalding, and Norman Sibley, of Swineshead.
He is never averse to bringing in new pigeons, and believes that you have to do this to keep pace with the modern game. “I am always looking to buy something better than I have already got,” he said. “I usually buy two pairs every year. I don’t stick to a strain, I just like good pigeons, although these are a bigger type than I usually like.”
Arnold sent 14 and had all of them home on the day.
Last year he was 1st Section 7th open from Perth, and he lost that five-year-old bird from the first training toss this year. Thankfully, it has left plenty of good pigeons in the loft.
Arnold flies the roundabout system but darkens them to a point when they can just see.
SECTION F WINNER – Steve Rudledge, Norwich
Steve (Spud) Rudledge fought off stiff competition in the hotbed that is Norwich to win this section with blue pied yearling hen bird which was eighth open from Dunbar.
He sent 20 and was three short at the end of the day, but two turned up the next day.
The section winner was well in front of her loftmates. There was a 15-20 minute wait after her arrival and then they came one after the other, said Steve, with 12 timing in ten minutes.
Steve said he had made a slow start to the season so this was a welcome win. He had been ill last year, and subsequent delays in building his planned stock loft meant that he was not as well organised as he would have liked to have been at the start of the season.
Perth has been a successful race point for him, and he has won the club from there four seasons in succession.
Steve flies widowhood, roundabout and has a few hens on natural. The section winner was a spare hen housed with the young birds and racing back to the widowhood cocks. She was his first bird from the Berwick young bird race last year. She carried into the race some feathers covered in creosote after Steve’s loft building efforts, and this was a standing joke among club members.
Now aged 66, Steve is retired and able to devote more time to his pigeons, having re-started in the sport about five years ago after a lengthy break.
He does not plan to race his section winner again this season as she is from sprinting stock, and he feels that the remaining races may be a step too far.
He competes with the Mile Cross Club which he describes as “very friendly and helpful”, but his biggest kick is flying with the NRCC.
SECTION H WINNERS – B Woodhouse and Son, Wanstead
Brian Woodhouse, of Wanstead, is another fancier enjoying a second successive section win. Indeed he had an exceptionally good race, sending 10 birds and having all of them home within a 25-minute spell and taking the first two section places, plus 4th, 5th and 7th.
Early Section H positions were: 1. B Woodhouse & Son 1456, 2. B Woodhouse & Son 1451 3, R Jones & Son 1447, 4. B Woodhouse & Son 1439.5, 5 B Woodhouse & Son 1439.2, 6 M Connolley & Son 1437.9,7 B Woodhouse & Son 1437.6.
That is flying of the highest order over a distance of 364 miles.
The winning pigeon is Sarah a five-year-old blue hen bred by fellow club member John Stockwell and named after his wife.
No stranger to top honours this hen has been very consistent having taken 15th Open London North Road Combine Thurso (505 miles),
and 29th Open LNRC Berwick (301 miles) and now 1st section H Perth (364 miles) as well as other positions.
Brian’s second pigeon is Blue Wanda a three-year-old blue pied hen that has already scored 1st E.L.N.R club, 8th NL fed Newark earlier this year.
Both these pigeons are Staf Van Reet crosses, not related but both flown the Woodhouse Way on roundabout.
SECTION I WINNER – David Quinton, Ipswich
Sorry, so the song tells us, is the hardest word to say. But it is not so in the current era of the NRCC and the Stowmarket father and son partnership of Buckle and Carter are due humble apologies for having been taken to the heights of excitement by being announced winners of this section, and then being dropped to the depths of despair by being told that a mistake had been made, and they were not in this section at all.
Sorry, to father and son Dean and Ryan Carter, who run the partnership now, must be the hardest word to accept as they had been built up as taking the first two places.
Race secretary Ian Bellamy had the difficult task of telling Dean about the error. I had the much easier role of advising David Quinton that he was, in fact, the winner of Section I.
The 67-year-old, who has been a fancier since his school days, was delighted to hear the news, especially as his form in club racing this year has been “rubbish.” His words, not mine.The pigeon which has had the belated honour of section winner bestowed upon it is a four-year-old Dordin x Stichelbaut cock bird flying on the natural system and returning to overdue eggs.
He sent five birds to the race and had all of them home within an hour of the first arrival.
David, a retired double glazing company contracts manager, had made a late start to his racing preparations this year, and decided to leave the birds together and race natural, rather than widowhood, and the win was a welcome boost.
It was the winner’s fourth race of the season, and it had been first to the loft twice, and had always been a steady, consistent bird.
David is not one for changing strains every season and his present family are bred down from Dordins and Stichelbauts purchased in the 1970s, the Stichelbauts coming from the winning loft of Tommy Lawler. He says he does better at the longer races and his pigeons have lengthy racing careers, even up to the age of 10.
His philosophy is a contrast to fanciers who are always changing and bringing in new birds every year.
He says he enjoys NRCC racing, and was hoping to compete in the remaining old bird races of the season.
In the meantime he will be hoping to improve results in his club, Ipswich PRC, where some members have made a speciality of competing in the shorter races.
Buckle & Carter
While the carpet has been pulled from under the feet of Dean and Ray Carter, who must feel like they scored the winning goal in a cup final only for a linesman to rule them offside, they still put up a fine performance and, just to remind them of the day they didn’t win Section I, here is what would have appeared had the result stood:
Following the sad death of Ray Buckle last year, this partnership is now run by Dean Carter and his 23-year-old son Ryan, who has been doing the lion’s share of the chores while his dad, an industrial worker, is employed on a contract away from home.
Dean is, however, back in Stowmarket for basketing and race days, and was able to witness the arrival of their section winner from Perth.
It is a five-year-old blue cock which has also been raced from the south when it was 16th open from Tours with BICC.
“It is a decent pigeon,” said Ryan, “but we are not sure of its breeding because we did not keep records at the time.”
The partnership took first and second in the clock station from Dunbar, and the Perth winner was the second of these birds.
He was rested a week before the Perth race, but had completed the club programme up to that point.
They are enjoying a good season with the Combs-Ford club and the Saxon Valley Federation, and, having entered a team of 16 for Perth, plan to send 14 to Fraserburgh.
I enjoyed talking to Ryan who is a fine example of some of the younger people in the sport of pigeon racing. I hope that the set-back, and mix-up over section placement, does not deter him from continuing to enjoy the sport.
I have a feeling that it may make him and his dad even more determined to try to repeat their success, in Section F, now they have been re-located. Good luck to them.
George Wheatman Press Officer