It could have been argued, even before the North Road Championship Club’s latest race from Perth, sponsored by the Racing Pigeon, that 72-year-old Albert Sayers was among the all-time greats of sprint and middle-distance racing in this famous old club.
. Now there is no argument after his latest open win in partnership with Pete and Margaret Dayton which added not only to his string of personal successes but also to that of the fair Lincolnshire town of Louth.
Good position they may have been in the west wind, but a Sayers-inspired win is no fluke, and the partnership beat off stiff competition from within their own town in ever-consistent Richard Mamwell, and from neighbouring in-form Alford fanciers, as well as the Canaries in full song from Norwich, all of whom enjoyed similar favourable conditions.
In the early 90s Albert had been a car nomination winner when second open from Perth in his own right from his loft in Stenigot.
After a break from the sport, he joined in partnership with Martin Wilkinson and they won the young bird and old hens national.
Then he joined forces with the late Tim Dales and they won the open from Fraserburgh, plus two young bird nationals.
After the untimely death of Tim, he was invited by Pete and Margaret Dayton to join them in partnership, and that has proved to be a good working relationship climaxing in the latest national win inside three years of their joining forces. No wonder Albert says “There is a special buzz about NRCC racing.”
The winning bird is a two-year-old blue Soontjen roundabout hen bought at The Dome, Doncaster, after both Albert and Pete took a liking to the youngster being offered for sale by Martin Carlton’s Lowfield Lofts, from Doncaster.
She had been showing promise but had not been the tamest of pigeons, and Albert was on tenterhooks when she appeared a little jittery before trapping to become the winner. With a little bit coaxing she did not waste too much time.
She had not actually been paired in the build-up to the race, but Albert teased her by the introduction of a cock bird before the big race.
“I actually fancied her to do well,” he said.
The partners sent 20 birds and all were home on the day when they reversed the section result from Dunbar, when Richard Mamwell just beat them to win the section.
This time they just beat Richard but it was a ding dong battle with their friendly rival.
The winning velocity was 1721 yards per minute, and Richard’s first timer was doing 1718, with birds to follow doing 1717 and 1710, before Dayton and Sayers’ second bird was on 1709. Richard had another on 1704, and the winning partners followed on 1695, 1670 and 1668 for a fine team performance which, mainly, was made up of yearlings as the re-building process has been carried out over the past three years.
Albert believes that the best is still to come from the team.
While he describes the system as roundabout, it is different from that practised by many fanciers as the cocks and hens see each other every day for about a couple of hours after exercise. Albert, a retired shepherd and acknowledged stockman, believes the hen birds fly back to him as much as their cock birds. What lady wouldn’t?
Some of the base of the current loft are inherited from the old partnership Dales and Sayers, there are also some of Pete’s established team, plus newcomers introduced at regular interval. Albert likes to try new birds every year, the latest being Frans Zwols from Ivan Sterling. While the spotlight inevitably falls on Albert, because of his past successes and high reputation within the sport, he is anxious to emphasise that it is not all about him.
The racing team is at Pete and Margaret’s home, which, incidentally, was once occupied by former NRCC Kings Cup winner Graeme Parrinder, and they play a hard-working and essential role in the partnership.
Pete, for instance, does all the cleaning out which is fortunate because Albert says that he is allergic to a scraper!
The Perth winner has already bred a bird to win a young bird race, but no young birds have been taken off her this season. That is likely to change and she could be paired to two NRCC-winning cocks that Albert brought with him into the partnership.
Albert likes to feed a mixture of top-quality grains including Versele Laga, Diet, Gerry Plus, Super Widowhood and peanuts. Lots of peanuts.
Says lorry driver Pete: “We enjoyed this win, we are well pleased with it. We had been well up in the results in the past but, before Albert joined us, we had never had a win. Now we are having a good season from both north and south. I do more of the donkey work, like cleaning out.”
Race secretary Ian Bellamy described this as another successful race for convoyers and participants, but he added:
“It was disappointing for me that more members did not verify online. Out of around 220 verifications only around 12 members verified online.
In the interests of fairness we have placed the one member that consistently flies in section G into section F and there are a couple of members that we placed in section H for Dunbar that should have been in section I, these have also been moved.”
Section winners (still to be confirmed) are expected to be:
Section A - Riggott & Richardson.
Section B - K Lawson.
Section C - Dayton & Sayers.
Section E - A Bennett.
Section F - S Rudledge.
Section H - B Woodhouse & Son.
Section I - Buckle & Carter.
It was, perhaps, fitting that this race was sponsored by the Racing Pigeon for these two esteemed organisations have lived side by side for well over 100 years. The Racing Pigeon was established in 1898, and the North Road Championship Club came into existence three yeas later.
Now it is good to see them helping each other continue the best traditions of pigeon racing.
George Wheatman 'press Officer'