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Fraserburgh 2017

Bill Bearder and his sons have joined the elite group of fanciers who have won three open races with the North Road Championship Club.

This Astley, Nottinghamshire, partnership completed their hat-trick by topping the provisional result in the 2017 race from Fraserburgh, at the same time enhancing their already formidable reputation as being among the best fanciers in the organisation.

Back in 2004, they won the coveted Kings Cup from Lerwick with Bill’s Pride, a barless mealy hen, and she, in turn, was the great-grandmother to Mozzy, a widowhood cock, which won the open from Fraserburgh in 2012.

Although these bloodlines continue to breed top racing birds for the Bearders, and other fanciers, it was a different line that brought honours in the latest Fraserburgh race, sponsored by Bamford’s Top Flight.

This time it was a two-year-old chequer widowhood cock bred from birds obtained following the death of Selston fancier, John Leivers – a Cathcart hen and a Van Rijn cock, with Frank Bristow pigeons also having an influence.

It was timed in at 2-57-59 for the 327 miles. It wasn’t until 16-39 that they timed their second. They sent 26, and most are now home.

The winner, still waiting to be named, is highly rated by the family as a consistent racer and a past winner from Perth. Bill says he will not be raced again this year, but is likely to be included in the race team again next year.

The Bearders are having their usual competitive season and, as ever, enjoying their NRCC racing.

The race from Fraserburgh was, as it seems so often from this racepoint, full of mystery and puzzles, with the very strong wind being one of the main obstacles for the birds. “It was very windy here,” said Bill. “The trees were nearly bending double.”

Theories abound among members about racing from Fraserburgh, but again there were many fine performances in addition to that of the winner, and we will look at some of these when we do a round-up of the section winners. The one by James Boyd’s entry, from Ipswich, which finishes provisionally fourth open is one that will have members drooling.

Race secretary, Ian Bellamy, said verifications were two hours later than he had anticipated and he was not alone in fearing that the verification system had broken down.

The Bearder family partnership is made up of 67-year-old dad, with sons Steve, Bill junior and Wayne, although Wayne is not so hands on these days.

To allow you to get to know them a little better, it might help to re-produce the article I wrote following their success from Fraserburgh in 2012, which went as follows:

For the second successive year, the North Road Championship Club’s race from Fraserburgh was a difficult one, or even controversial in the eyes of many members as they had a long, sometimes fruitless, wait in wet, cold, miserable conditions that this summer seems to be throwing at us in a vengeful manner.

But the misery of the wait has long gone from the memory of Bill Bearder, and his sons Bill junior, Steven and Wayne. They are still glowing with pride in the performance of their four-year-old mosaic cock bird that brought them their second NRCC open win.

The winning velocity to the Aspley, Nottingham, loft was a highly respectable 1494 yards per minute but Bill senior admitted that he expected a faster race considering the north in the wind. The birds were liberated in a north-east wind, the first time this race has been held in these conditions it has been pointed out to me by vice-President Geoff Clare. Indeed a number of section winners put the wind direction at east-north-east.

The most satisfying thing for the Bearder family is that Mozzy (that is likely to become the winner’s official name because it is always called this by Bill junior) is bred down from their 2004 King’s Cup winner from Lerwick, Bill’s Pride.

He is the great-grandson of this barless mealy hen which was put to stock after her epic win when three birds were timed on the day, but she was timed in at 4-31am the next morning to push the legendary Kevin Lawson into runners-up spot for the fourth time that season.

Mozzy was flying on the widowhood system and was already a star of the loft with a string of impressive results to his name.

“He was wet when he came, and it was drizzling with rain,” said Bill senior, “but he was in good condition, as were all the birds. It is credit to the convoyer that they had obviously been looked after well. That is a very difficult job, a thankless job.

“He came from the wrong way, but was clapping round.”

Bill is pretty sure that this will be Mozzy’s last race, and the hope now is that he will continue to produce quality offspring just as his great-grandmother has done.

The Bearders are having a “decent season”, according to Bill senior, having won about 17 cards in the Ruddington club, and six or seven in the Beacon club. Usually they send their widowhood cocks in the first club, and their natural pigeons in the second.

They were second in both clubs on the weekend of their latest national win, and have been consistent flyers for many years, dad Bill, now 63 and retired from his job as site manager with the county council, having commenced in the fancy when he was 12, being given his first racing pigeons by George Watson.

They sent ten birds to Fraserburgh, had four home on the day, and two the following day, but were four missing at the time of talking.

Having timed the winner at 3-25pm, their next arrival was at seven minutes past five. Then they had a yearling hen at 6pm, and their final one for the day at 7-51pm.

A couple of years ago the new champion survived a nasty accident, arriving home from a training toss badly cut, but Bill junior stitched him up and all has been well since.

The family of pigeons was originally based on the old breeds of Brutons and Isaacsons, but now they are mainly a mixture of Janssens and Wildermeersch, good Janssens being obtained from Andy Hind, of the Hind and Clark partnership.

Like many fanciers up and down the country, they are facing the increasing threat of birds of prey with peregrines now nesting at Nottingham University, and Gedling church. (This problem is still a serious one today in 2017, along with that of a rogue cat that is causing carnage).

A number of section winners spoken to for this article have reported birds returning from Fraserburgh with injuries obviously sustained in hawk attacks.

Bill senior also says that he has never known a season like the present one for bad weather. They like to work their pigeons reasonably hard, but the disruptions to training and racing had made the usual routine difficult to maintain.

The birds, however, fly well round home, and are let out for exercise shortly after 5am every morning.

Bill senior’s daughter is also supportive of her dad’s hobby, and likes to buy him pigeon-related Father’s Day presents. Wonder what he got this year?

The partnership, although having also enjoyed success on the south road, have been loyal supporters of the NRCC for many years, and it is with this organisation that they have enjoyed their finest moments.

No wonder Bill senior says simply: “I am chuffed with this win.”

No doubt he is equally chuffed this year.