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New Convoyer

When the re-invigorated North Road Championship Club opens its 2015 programme with the race from Scottish seaside town, Dunbar, on Saturday May 16th, their will be a new man in charge of the liberation. . But there will be 30 years of pigeon racing experience behind the decision to set the birds on their way. Darren Shepherd is this famous old club’s new convoyer. He is 48 years old, lives in Leicester and has been involved in the sport for 30 years, first as a fancier alongside his brother Nigel. This will be his 29th season as a convoyer but he is excited about what he sees as the big step up to classic racing after serving as the Coalville Federation’s convoyer for the past 28 years. He has already got his eye in this year in the early season races with Coalville, and will continue to convoy for them when not on NRCC duty, but the man who eats, sleeps and dreams pigeon racing sees his new role as a dream come true. Once, the 48-year-old admits, he was an armchair convoyer and critic of liberations when returns were not as good as expected. He met his match, however, when he claimed that Mick Wright, then convoyer of the Leicester North Road and Coalville Federations, had given them a bad race. “That was a stinker,” Darren told Mick. “They should never have been up.” “Right,” retorted Mick. “Have your bag packed for next weekend, and you can come with me to see what it is like.” Darren the “know-it-all” couldn’t refuse the invitation, went along to the Waldridge Fell racepoint, discovered that it was much easier to criticise from his own back garden than it was to actually do the job, but, nevertheless, was hooked. He went as an observer to the rest of the races that season, and was asked to take over permanently when Mick gave up the job the following year. George Wheatman