Dunbar Old Birds 2024

The NRCC had its first race of on seasons race card on Saturday, May 18th and as the marking stations opened their doors opened up to the NRCC members on the preceding Friday morning, the bar was being set. There was not one person in the queue at Wyberton that wasn’t looking forward to the race and I have it on good authority that the expectation of a good race with good returns was the same across the other marking stations. The marking team at Wyberton were kept busy by a stream of fanciers, each with the prospective open winner in their baskets however, the top spot was claimed by NRCC new comer Darren Oakley and what a win it was for him!

As we all waited patiently for news of a liberation, we were kept updated with the changing weather conditions both at the race point, and the journey down with the emphasis placed very firmly on ensuring a fair race for everyone. With the sea fog clearing at the race point and the cloud beginning to shift and thin out further down the country the news came that an imminent liberation could well be possible but there was still some loitering fog and mist just below Dunbar which would not be favourable for a good clearance. Patience definitely being a virtue and with every confidence in the NRCC’s convoying team and weather advisors we were treated to a liberation into a perfect sky at 11:45 into a North East wind. A great liberation at the race point gave the pigeons a chance to clear well and set them up for a journey that would see lofts eagerly waiting to welcome them home. This patience paid off as birds began dropping into lofts with many reporting full house returns and birds in great condition.

For NRCC Dunbar open winner from Section A – racing a distance of 206/652, velocity 1613. Darren Oakley, his winning two-year-old hen didn’t just drop on the loft, she came completely unexpectedly from the back of the house between the alleyway of Darrens house and his next-door neighbours. She went straight over Darren’s mate Kevins head and into the loft like a bullet, wasting no time whatsoever and taking Darren by complete surprise. I had the great pleasure of catching up with Darren via video link after his bird had been verified by Ian Belamy. It was clear to see he was still buzzing from the win and despite not sleeping on the night of the race, the sleep deprivation had not dampened his mood in the slightest and the adrenaline high was still there to see two days after his win. Originally introduced at a young age into the world of pigeon racing by his dad, Darren has been independently racing for some 38 years with some brilliant results. Originally a South Road flyer and notching up a very decent reputation on the score sheet, including taking 25 out of the first 30 positions in his fed from the Isle of White with his class of 2022 young bird team. This was despite the wind being Westerly and not at all favourable to him, his birds all arrived within 10 minutes of each other. This is just one example! At the end of the 2022 season and after much umming and ahhhing through the winter Darren made the decision to turn North and this has, without doubt, not been a hindrance to his results. In 2023 he took the first three positions in the first club race and his team of birds then went on to take the number one position in no less than 16 races at club level, 3 x 1st fed plus other multiple positions in the fed by the end of the season. Although there may be many fanciers that can put their name to a similar score card, what is more remarkable is that the team of pigeons raced by Darren on the North Road was exactly the same team that were raced successfully on the South Road. He trains his birds both North and South, starting at five miles then building up to a maximum of 20 miles, as babies which has definitely paid off. Darren also breaks the norm with his feeding by watching them in and around the loft and is very much guided by their behaviour in relation to the quantity of feed and the type of feed which is a mix he puts together himself. His aim is very much to improve the team’s fitness as naturally as possible. As young birds, Darren favours the darkness system and as old birds he races widowhood. He lets them out in the morning for an hour only and they are then rested for the remainder of the day. Despite Darren not fancying his winner on the day to take the number one spot, she has built up a cracking C.V. gaining 5 fed positions on the South Road as a baby and went to every race. This season she had so far gained 5 good top club and fed positions along with her 1st NRCC Dunbar. She is a Hereman Ceusters bred in Darrens own loft and who’s line goes back to Syndicate Lofts. As a tribute to his good friend and silent partner Kevin Groom, who helps him around the loft, Darrens winning hen has been given the name ‘Kev’s Girl.’ Darren told me he had been inundated with phone calls and text messages congratulating him once the result had been confirmed and would like to thank everyone for that. He would also like special thanks to go to Kevin Groom, Ralph Jepson, Russ Skinner, Shaun Cooke, Ian Haslom, Malc Parry and Steph Dangerfield who have all been really good supportive friends. He would also like to pay extra special thanks to his family. Well done Darren, a cracking win for your first NRCC race and also, not forgetting the other six that also made it onto the score sheet, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Moving onto the section winners now:

Section   B racing a distance of 240/872, velocity 1590 – S Betts & Son won their section with a yearling cock that also took 12th Open in the results.

Section C racing a distance of 230/783, velocity 1608 – G Kirkham’s yearling cock took 2nd open as well as topping the section.

Mr & Mrs Colin Thorpe

Section E racing a distance of 255/1614, velocity 1570 Mr & Mrs C Thorpes winner is a blue cock, a 22Z39031. A Ceulemans/ Bristow strain. Bred from stock that originates direct from Frank and George Bristow. This cock won as a yearling from Wetherby. The week before the Dunbar race, he won Whitley Bay finishing 1st club and first fed. We have changed his hen this year and so far, the results have backed our decision to do so.

Steve Kaschner Section F

Section F racing a distance of 294/568, velocity 1606 Steve Kaschner who timed seven in, five of which gained positions in the top 50. First of all, I would like to say well done to all section winners and also the national winner. The pigeon we clocked first from Dunbar, was bred from a pair of direct Gert de Swaef’s, from Bob Fenech. We have bred five section winners from Bob’s stock. Four on south with BICC and now Dunbar with the NRCC. All our pigeons are raced on what we call our chaos system. Both cocks and hens both sent to races, left together until Sunday, pigeons are never without good food but we do work them hard. All pigeons expected to fly minimum 300 miles. We haven’t raced north since 2014 until last year. Having won the section on several occasions prior to turning south. We have some top fanciers in Norfolk and Suffolk so I am very pleased with our achievement. Having won 3 first feds and fed OB averages first year back on the north. Also in the picture is our dear friend Glen Arterton who looks to be second section with one of our pigeons, which is an old fashion Kaschner pigeon crossed with a pigeon from the late Lerwick legend, Ivan Rich. I couldn’t achieve anything without my dear partner Bridget, who is hands on and never moans about me always being with the pigeons.

Section H racing a distance of 310/88, velocity 1482 T Haleys section winner was a blue bar 3-year-old cock. He has previously won in the N.R.C.C since joining in 2023- 1st Section ‘H’, 17th open 1346 bird’s Fraserburgh race 17.6.23, 420 miles. 2nd section ‘H’ 1113 birds in open Thurso 17.7.23 493 miles. 1st Newark 97 miles, 3rd Fed Berwick 289 miles, loft mate was 1st Fed. Many other minor positions won including 1st Bedfont open show. He was an exchange youngster, bred by my friend, Ken Comley of Windsor. I resigned from all the South Road National club’s for channel racing to avoid paying for vet’s visits and the extra paperwork required, as well as the high birdage charges, so last season I joined the N.R.C.C where I can test my birds from 310 miles, 346 miles, 429 miles, 492 & 586 miles all at reasonable costs and I really enjoyed it sending in all the 7 races and winning the following :- 4th section Dunbar O.B 310 miles, 8th section Perth 346 miles, 1st Fraserburgh 420 miles, 2nd Lerwick 586 miles, 2nd & 3rd Thurso 492 miles, 2nd section Dunbar Y.B 310 miles, 2nd section Dunbar Old Hens 310 miles. Terry also timed in seven pigeons in on the day.

Bill Hall Section I

Section I racing a distance of 319/1013, velocity 1578 W Hall. I have been flying pigeons for many years winning my first race in 1959, Berwick yearling, second B.B.O Oxon Fed. In my last year living in Buckinghamshire and racing with my brother, we won all the old bird races except one, ending with 8th North Thames North Road combine from a very bad Thurso race. In August 1997 I had a triple bypass so had cut back on work. In 2001 I had the opportunity to move to Suffolk and take early retirement. I think the local fanciers have given me a fair crack of the whip and have had a fair amount of success. In the NRCC I have a diploma of merit for Lerwick and was hoping to try for another one this year but my pigeon was caught by a hen sparrow hawk. I have managed to save him but it was touch and go and I don’t think he will race again. With this win I have now won six times 1st section. My winning bird is a four-year-old blue cock sitting on seven-day old eggs. He was a widowhood but wasn’t doing very well this year. Last year he was my best bird and won several club cards and 2nd Saxon Valley beaten on the clock (I race on a manual clock with rubbers). His sire is a blue Vandenabeele winner of many cards including, two x 1st Saxon Valley. The parents of him were bred by my good friend Denis Seery of Reading. The dam is a blue stock hen Vandenabeele cross Van Reet with many of my winners in her bloodlines. If I had to give my pigeon a name it would be ‘Better Times’ as I have not had a very good year setting myself up for the Lerwick diploma and my wife being diagnosed in the early stages of dementia so this win has been a great boost. I will be 84 years old next month so things are not so easy! Yours in sport, Bill Hall.

As always, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has provided me with the information and pictures to make this article possible. Well done to all who sent and timed in and for everyone who helped behind the scenes at the marking stations and on the committee for getting the season of to a great flying start…. literally! Good luck for the rest of the race season