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7 of the Best by Joe Murphy...
Author: Joe MurphyTitle: 7 of the Best by Joe Murphy
Date: 2022-02-16 16:14:23Uploaded by: Brian
When the Editor Cameron Stansfield asked me to pick my top six pigeons, (that I wish I could have in my own loft) I thought about it for a while. I kept going over some of the outstanding pigeons that I have been privileged to handle during my time within the sport. It was therefore going to be a very difficult task to narrow this down to just six birds. I was also aware that, no matter my choice of pigeons, someone would dispute my selection. However, the Editor had asked me to compile the story so the choice of pigeons was solely mine. I asked myself a question; ‘If you were going to start up with pigeons again, Joe, how would you go about it? Now there was a thought. I would not make the same mistake as when I first started up by obtaining birds from every Tom, Dick or Harry. With the years of experience, I have gained I started to permit my imagination to run wild. If I had the money to purchase any pigeon I wanted and of course if the owner wanted to part with the bird. Then I would go for pigeons with a proven record, birds that had either bred countless winners or that had proved they could win in the highest competition. I have been lucky enough to handle ‘De Smaragd 1’ and ‘De Smaragd 11’; I also saw ‘Solway King’ while visiting Louella Pigeon World. I handled ‘Natrix’ and other top-class winners while at Jim Biss’s loft in Norfolk. ‘Game Lady 2’ and ‘Flight Master’ at Les Davenport’s loft; Henry Beattie’s ‘Irish National’ winning mealy hen, Bertie Fletcher’s top ‘Wildemeersch Family’ of birds. Then there was the team of Robert O Jones of Resolven in Wales with children from his great winners like ‘The Thurso Cock’ ‘Shetland Leader’ ‘Trottie’ plus Davis Son & Cockcroft who had 5 x 2nd Welsh Grand national winners in their loft, I could go on and one. (To tell you the truth I had forgotten about this until I re-read the article Joe M). Being Scottish I decided I would have to go for Scottish pigeons that have competed in the SNFC which is the benchmark for all Scottish pigeons and fanciers to test their skills. Still, I could not make up my mind as to which pigeons to select. I thought of birds I had been privileged to handle over the years. By now my mind was bulging with the thoughts of all these pigeons. Which three pairs of pigeons would I choose to start my new family? My three hens picked themselves, as their offspring had all bred winners for me, namely the ‘Old Grizzle Hen’ raced by George Rankin and son Gareth of Blantyre in Lanarkshire. ‘Fortune Lady’ who was bred and race by Elphinstone couple Mr & Mrs Jimmy Smith, and my own Scottish National Flying Club winner ‘Mystical Rose’. Regarding the 3 cock’s I could have ‘Lothian King’ raced by John Ellis of Elphinstone as my first cock but what about the other cocks to mate to these hens? Well thinking on the same lines as mentioned above, I required special birds that had proved themselves in the race basket and in the breeding side in the stock loft. They had also left a lasting impression on me since I had handled them all those years ago. My second choice of cock came into this category as being something special. He was Jock Allen of Symington’s great cock ‘No Surrender’. Then, after giving it a lot more consideration, I decided to go for another Elphinstone pigeon in Tom McEwen of Elphinstone’s ‘Marlene’s Boy’. The reason for this selection was he was a Scottish National winner but more importantly he has left a fantastic winning line of pigeons, as you will soon read about. Another reason for this choice was his sire’s brother was the sire of ‘Fortune Lady’ who is one of my selected hens. So, I now had my six pigeons but a slight predicament with my selection of birds, for how could I possibly select Lothian King without his mate Lothian Queen as this pair was responsible for leaving a dynasty of winners in the SNFC for John Ellis of Elphinstone. So, my top six now became my top seven which was always a lucky number for my late father. I then thought, could I have three cocks and mate them to the four hens and this way start off my own family of pigeons? Would this work? Of course, it would; because by mating the two cocks ‘No Surrender’ and ‘Marlene’s Boy’ to the three hens, within a few years I would have half-brothers and sisters to continue with my line of breeding. I would leave ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’ together to start with as they had proven without any doubt, they could breed winners. Then I could split them up and cross them into the other bird in my make-believe family. The more I thought of this, the more excited the prospect of building up this imaginary team of pigeons became. Then I had to stop and have a reality check as I didn’t actually have these pigeons and it was on an article for the pigeon paper. Still for a few minutes the thought of having these seven marvellous pigeons in my possession filled me with great pleasure and my heart was pounding with the excitement. I have to say that had I been able to possess these birds. I honestly believe it would have been only a matter of time before their offspring would start to win for me in the highest competition. I have no doubt the progeny of these seven birds would have succeeded in making today’s National results. I am more than certain that this achievement would have happened sooner than later. Before we concentrate on the seven pigeons referred to above. I would like to thank the fanciers who supplied me with the information on their birds. This has been a great help in updating this story. Elphinstone Racing Pigeon Club In the mid 80’s the club which dominated the SNFC results was Elphinstone RPC, which is in a little village situated just outside Tranent in East Lothian. This former little mining village was the hotbed of some of the most outstanding pigeons in Scotland. I visited Elphinstone many times over the years and I will always remember my first visit. This took place along with two other fanciers from Kirkcaldy. I was greatly impressed with the quality of birds and the fanciers of this little village. I’m not frightened to say that it opened my eyes and my mind and gave me a totally different outlook on pigeon racing. These fanciers were dedicated and the work rate they put into their pigeons was second to none. I was therefore aware that I was only playing at keeping pigeons and if I wanted to reach the top then I would have to change my whole outlook and management. For Example; one item at this particular time was that stuck in my mind; some of these Elphinstone members had joined the Solway Federation and the reason for this was that, prior to the 80’s the Solway fanciers had finished with the majority of the top open positions in the National results. These forward-thinking members of Elphinstone club had decided that, if the National winners were coming up through the Annan aera and their own birds were with them, they would have to come the other 60 plus miles on their own. If this were happening to their birds on a weekly basis, when the nationals came along, they would not be deterred by the distance or flying on their own or in small batches. Their birds would take this last part of the race in their stride and head for home, which they did and the outcome was that the Elphinstone members performances improved and they started winning better open positions with their birds in the national races. This then had a snowball effect; as it started to make other fanciers from the Lothian area realise that they too COULD also win up here in the central belt of Scotland. This has therefore been proven since then with some outstanding performances accomplished by fanciers from this area. I have drifted away from the story of the top seven a little; but I wanted to let fanciers know the calibre of the advanced-thinking pigeon fancier from this small club which, unfortunately, is no longer in existence. The fanciers who live in the village now race in different clubs and federations although their village name is still referred to on the present-day SNFC results(2021-JM). I came away from Elphinstone after my first visit with many happy thoughts; for I had seen and handled the very best of long-distance winning pigeons that were setting the heather on fire in Scotland. Every loft impressed me; however, the consistent loft of John Ellis, who lives in the Main Street, affected me above the others, as his birds were ‘My Type’ small-to-medium hens with the cocks not much bigger. In fact, some of the cocks were quite ‘henny headed’, they all had lovely feathering quality and balance. They had good length about them and good wings and a short forearm. The other thing that impressed me was John Ellis’s SNFC results which were outstanding and when he timed in one bird he would not have to wait very long before he had the remainder of his team arrive. He sometimes had 8 or 12 birds on the SNFC results and he did not keep a big team of birds. John was a very quiet spoken lad who gave the impression that he was very shy. However, when he was in his loft with his beloved pigeons, he was a different man. He had this ‘aura’ about him and his team responded very well to his management. So, I will start off my story with this great fancier and his number one stock pair of pigeons. John Ellis’s Lothian King & Lothian Queen John Ellis was fortunate enough to have a pair of breeding pigeons that left a dynasty of winners and, more importantly, breeders of winners. ‘Lothian King’ was a blue cock SU82E6630 and his mate a red hen SU81CA3619. Her bloodlines go back to McCabe Brothers of East Calder and J.T. Ellis who was the father of John Ellis of Elphinstone. ‘Lothian King’ who was bred from ‘3871’ who 41st & 141st open Sartilly and 193rd open Dorchester in 1983, the year there was no Channel racing from France into Britain. (How quite ironic that it has been the same these past 2 season - 2020 & 2021). ‘Lothian King’s’ dam won 160th open Avranches, also 140th and 319th open Rennes, and was bred by John Ellis’s father who lived in Haddington. This hen’s sire won 25th open Avranches and 47th open Rennes, and her dam won 263rd open Rennes and 89th open Sartilly. ‘Lothian Queen’ was bred by McCabe Brothers of East Calder and the breeding of this pigeon is extraordinary. Willie McCabe bought a light chequer red hen from Tom Birkley of Breich which was out of the late John McGillivray’s ‘Blue Pied Twin Hen’ which in turn was out of the famous ‘1276’ who was out of ‘Galabank Duke’ of John Kirkpatrick breeding. This bird was paired to a Guy Paton ‘Sion’ who had bred ‘Dream Girl’ winner of 1st open SNFC Nantes flying 598 miles. Tom Birkley’s ‘Rashiehill Supreme’ winner of 3rd open Rennes, was a great grandson and scored 5 times across the channel before Gold Awards were introduced into the SNFC. ‘Rashiehill Supreme’ dam was via Colin MacKinnon of Midcalder from the best of John Anderson of Anstruther from his ‘Kirkpatrick’ bloodlines and Johnny Begg of Lugar. The year after ‘Rashiehill Supreme’ was 3rd open Rennes he won 11th open Scottish Central Combine Avranches. Tom Birkley paired ‘Rashiehill Supreme’ to his own dam and gave one of the eggs to the late Harry Whitelaw and another to Jimmy Little of Davidson & Little from Port Seton. Jimmy Little hatched his egg and as he was a great friend Eddie Newcombe, he gave him the youngster to breed from. Eddie mated it to ‘Red Laddie’ and gave a youngster back to Jimmy Little, who in turn, gave it to Dickie Lees who bred youngster from it and gifted one to Jimmy Little. This pigeon turned out to be ‘Five Times a Lady’ who won 1st open SNFC Nantes in 1985 for Jimmy Little, being timed on the day flying 609 miles into a head wind, she was flying 16 hours 22 minutes. So, you will see that ‘Lothian Queen’ was bred for the job, as she is descended from a long line of proven winners and more importantly National winners at that. ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’ won at National level and in turn bred winners. Every chequer daughter from them being a SNFC diploma winner. The highlight of this fantastic pair’s breeding was their famous daughter ‘Lothian Lass’ who won seven times in the SNFC and won a Gold Award (5 times prize winner in the SNFC). She was also the winner of the prestigious Scottish Homing Union ‘Pigeon of the Year’ award and the winner of the ‘Dewar Trophy’ for the Best Pigeon in Scotland in 1987. Her winning positions were as follows; From Sartilly, a distance of 500 miles to Elphinstone, she was 17th east section, 21st open; 6th east section 8th open; 14th east section 24th open; 10th east section 11th open; 55th east section 77th open. From Rennes, a distance of 540 miles she won; 65th east section 128th open and 181st east section 248th open. ‘Lothian Lass’ was something very special and I have enclosed a photograph of her and her parents to show fanciers the quality of pigeon I’m talking about. A son of ‘Lothian Lass’ bred Dale Newcombe’s 1st open SNFC Rennes winner. I would now like to tell you about some of the descendants from this fantastic stock pair that John Ellis owned. As you will soon find out they were, without doubt, one of the best breeding pairs in this country. It is such a pity that John Ellis gave up the pigeons because he was an outstanding fancier, and it is a testament to his skills as a breeder of quality pigeons that his family of pigeons continue to still win today. ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’ were responsible for breeding many SNFC Diploma winners. I will state that this would be in the 100’s if everyone told us about them. To mention a few direct children; ‘02261’ won 7th east section 8th open, 21st east section 42nd open; 46th east section 66th open Sartilly and 36th east section 66th open Nantes 600 mils. ‘05887’ won 22nd open & 153rd open Sartilly also 129th & 243rd open Rennes; ‘02262’ won 41st open & 219th open Rennes and 63rd open Sartilly. ‘Stumpy’ (rung 5051) won 15th east section 31st open Rennes and 21st east section 29th open & 39th east section 132nd open Sartilly. ‘5024’ won 123rd open Sartilly; (as a matter of interest an offspring from Stumpy is in the breeding of Billy Smith 1st open SNFC 2012 Niort winner ‘Ella’; ‘4676’ won 192nd & 176th open Sartilly; ‘03502’ won 1st east section 9th open Sartilly; ‘05900’ won 35th open for John Bosworth. ‘Lothian Princess’ won 2nd open SNFC young bird national and 13th east section 17th open Rennes; 55th east section 110th open Sartilly; 130th east section and 162nd east section both Sartilly. ‘Lothian Princess’ was the dam of ‘Lothian Prince who won 3rd open young bird national. ‘03544’ a direct daughter of Lothian King and Lothian Queen. She is the granddam of Dale Newcombe’s ‘Kardale Region’ winner of 4th 58th & 104th open Sartilly; and ‘Kardale Hope’ 12th and 17th open SNFC Rennes being timed in on the day at 23-40pm in the dark to win the latter position. Dale’s 1st open SNFC Rennes winner ‘Kardale Clive’s Memory’ was bred from a son of ‘Lothian Lass’ when paired to a daughter of Gunn & Cherrie’s 1st open SNFC Rennes winner ‘Mountmarple Sir Ivor’. A grandson of ‘Lothian Lass’ won 20th open Rennes as a yearling for Dale. Another pigeon containing the Ellis blood in Dale’s loft was ‘Kardale Regatta’ who won a SNFC Gold Award for him. ‘Regatta’s’ performances were as follows; 1994-102nd east section 211th open Rennes; 1995- 70th east section 127th open Rennes; 1996- 5th east section 6th open Rennes; 1998- 85th section 154th open Rennes; 1998- 50th section 67th open Sartilly; 1999- 10th east section 34th open Nantes. Her total winnings were £4, 742. ‘Kardale Regatta’s’ sire was a full brother to ‘Lothian Lass’ so a direct son of ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’. ‘Regatta’s dam was a daughter of George McAloney & son of Coatbridge 1st open SNFC Sartilly winner of 1987. ‘Regatta’ bred ‘Jackpot’ who as a yearling won from Basingstoke on the Saturday sitting on a small youngster. Her mate was lost at this race and ‘Jackpot’ never left this youngster, so Dale sent her on the Tuesday to Rennes and she won. An up-to-date daughter of ‘Regatta’ and ‘Style’ won 66th open Clermont. So, fanciers will see that this fantastic family of birds is still winning in the SNFC at the current time. An interesting point about all these pigeons in the ‘Kardale’ lofts Dale sent them all to France as yearlings. (People who read my article on John Kirkpatrick will have noticed that he did exactly the same with his birds Joe M) They didn’t all win but they have proved without any doubt that he had made pigeons out of them and he was now reaping the benefits as they are turning out to be good stock pigeons. To continue with Dale’s birds another good pigeon containing the Ellis blood was ‘Kardale Starmist’, who won 6th open young bird national flying 280 miles; 8th open Nantes 603 miles; 17th open Niort 672 miles. His sire was a son of John Cosgrove & son of Lesmahagow’s 1st open SNFC Nantes winner of 1987, when paired to a direct daughter from ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’. Dale bred a ‘Pure Ellis’ and this bird ended up with Joe Mullen of Lumphinnans. He is the sire of ‘St Finnan’s Lass’ who won 48th open SNFC Liege and 7th open Reims in 2002. To continue with the Joe Mullen birds, he purchased a hen at my sale ‘Mystical Pied’ bred from a son of ‘Lothian Lass’ when paired to ‘Mystical Rose’ our 1st open SNFC Sartilly winner. This hen bred ‘Lad’ who won 113th open Rennes and 128th open Messac and he in turn is the grandsire of ‘Rose’ who won 8th open Reims in 2002. A brother to ‘Lad’ bred a 21st open Liege winner and he in turn bred a 154th open Reims winner. Joe Mullen had a grandson of ‘Stumpy’ which I had, and he bred a pigeon for Kenny Paris of Cowdenbeath which won 76th open Rennes. My own ‘Tusky Lady’ won 33rd open Beauvais, she was from the same son of ‘Lothian Lass’ when paired a mealy cock whose sire was a son of Charlie Dickson’s good mealy hen ‘Sunrise’. This great hen won 4th 10th and 10th open SNFC Nantes. The dam of ‘Sunrise’ was a daughter of Dougie Stewarts ‘Smithy’s Gaffer’ winner of 42nd 63rd 72nd 141st and 173rd open SNFC Sartilly he was also a winner of a SNFC Gold Award. Another daughter, whom I called ‘Ingrid’ after John Ellis’s wife, was again bred from ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’. ‘Ingrid’ was paired to ‘Old George’ who was bred from a daughter of Jock Allan’s ‘No Surender’ his SNFC Gold Award winner; - more about him later in this story. ‘Old George’ was the grandsire of George & Gareth Rankin champion ‘Red Rocket’, their SNFC Gold Award winner. ‘Old George’ and ‘Ingrid’ bred ‘Nick Faldo’ who won 18th east section 36th open SNFC Sartilly 2 for me and Kevin, he was a late bred carrying 2 nest flights on each wing when I timed him from 515 miles on the winning day. Another direct daughter of ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’ was given to John Ellis clubmate, Richard Combe of Elphinstone. This hen was paired to a son of Richard’s old pied hen ‘Setonpark Certainty’ who won 4 times from the SNFC. She won 45th open Weymouth Yearling Derby with the Scottish 1000-Mile Club in 1979. Then in the SNFC she won 206th open Avranches, 64th open Nantes, 99th & 204th open Sartilly. She excelled at stock, being the dam of 2875 ‘Starlight’ who won 5th open & 18th open Sartilly and is granddam of Richard’s 3rd open Sartilly hen as well as ‘Paragon’. ‘Starlight’ was timed at 23.00 hours after nearly 17 hours on the wing from Rennes, a distance of 543 miles. It was dark and Richard had to switch on the loft lights before he could coax her in. She was the longest flying pigeon and the only East section bird on the day - and she won 5th open. Again, a great pigeon who gave their all to make it home on the day – believe me they are ‘real gems’. To get back to the mating of the Ellis hen, this pair bred ‘Setonpark Paragon’ who won 5th open Dorchester as a yearling. Then as a two-year-old he won 6th club Charnock Richard (158 miles), 14th open East of Scotland federation Worcester and two weeks later was sent to Sartilly and was 13 hours on the wing winning 1st east section 6th open in the National. Twelve days later he was sent to the SNFC Rennes race and was timed at 22-15 hours on the day after being 16 hours on the wing to win 42nd east section 68th open, he was runner up for the Dewar Trophy that year (1991). A funny story about ‘Paragon’ was that he escaped from the race basked at the Worcester Open race the next season as a 3-year-old. It was pouring with rain: hence it was a holdover for the federation and he must have sat out until the rain stopped. He homed the next day before the race birds were home. However, Richard says this ruined his preparation for Sartilly that year and he missed the result and he was never raced again. Richard and his son Jamie still have ‘Paragon’ at stock where he has turned out to be ‘Gold Dust’. Jamie went over the partner’s records and made a note of all the winners that go back to ‘Paragon’. I’ll just list them in generations and quote their open SNFC results. Direct Children; ‘147’ chequer cock won 95th Sartilly; ‘4001’ chequer cock won 73rd open Sartilly; ‘13506’ red pied cock won 51st & 91st open Frome and 23rd open Lille; ‘6778’ chequer cock was a late bred who was never raced- he bred a 5th open Sartilly and a 10th open Rennes. Grandchildren; ‘4201’ chequer hen won 10th open Rennes and 127th open Frome; ‘8566’ a chequer hen won 5th open & 99th open Sartilly (as a matter of interest ‘8566’ is the dam of ‘Midnight Son’ who won a SNFC Gold Award for Richard & Jamie). ‘3170’ chequer cock won 116th open Sartilly. Great Grand Children; ‘4237’ chequer cock now named ‘Midnight Son’ has won 7th open and 37th open Sartilly; 131st open & 153rd open Rennes; 61st open Reims; 16th open & 241st open Frome, SEVEN times a winner plus a SNFC Gold Award winner. He also won the Dewar Trophy and was Scotland’s Bird of the Year winner; ‘4232’ chequer hen won 82nd open and 219th open Frome and 32nd open Nantes; ‘4204’ a red cock won 58th open Sartilly; ‘4219’ a blue white flight cock won 126th open Sartilly and 56th open Nantes. Great-great-Grandchildren; ‘3990’ chequer hen won 107th open Frome and 66th open Sartilly; ‘4961’ a blue hen named ‘Jamie’s Choice’ that was entered into the Joe Murphy Sporting Challenge won 83rd open Hastings and 35th open Reims; ‘4509’ a blue hen won 38th open Chenoise. Great-great-great-Grandchildren; ‘5472’ a blue hen won 47th open Messac; Chequer hen ‘35’ won 2nd |& 10th open Chenoise; Chequer hen ‘843’ won 39th open Clermont and ‘861’ a chequer hen won 279th open Clermont. So, fanciers will have noticed that another Gold Award Winner has been bred down from birds descended from the original Ellis pigeons from ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’. It comes as no surprise to me that the majority of fanciers mentioned in this story appear regularly high up in the SNFC results year after year. As they have studied the pedigrees and have tested the offspring from these great pigeons. Another daughter from ‘Lothian King’ and ‘Lothian Queen’ was swapped with Tom McEwen for a son of his 1st open SNFC Sartilly winner ‘Marlene’s Boy’. This hen was paired to ‘Marlene’s Boy’ and bred a 4th open SNFC Nantes winner for Tom McEwen, which brings us efficiently to my next pigeon in my selection; Tom McEwen’s ‘Marlene’s Boy’, however you will have to wait until next time for Part 2 of my ‘Seven of the Best’. Compiled and written by Joe Murphy I would just like to add when I first wrote this article away back in 2004, I did not have a computer and everything was hand written. Plus, my wife Margaret and I had to go through all the SNFC results looking for the ring numbers of the pigeons mentioned above, to obtain their section and open performances. Believe me this was hard work and it is not until I have sat down to re-type this story, I realise the time and effort we put into the sport. Firstly, in compiling the article and also the publicity the SNFC received as well as the fanciers mentioned within this story. I just hope readers have enjoyed this first part of my ‘Seven of the Best’ and the photographs scanned of these wonderful pigeons. I hope readers of my column are looking forward to Part 2 (hopefully next week). Please continue to keep the news flowing; to Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or Email to joejmurphy1@gmail.com REMEMBER THE J IN THE MIDDLE or you can also view online editions on: www.elimarpigeons.com www.fancierchat.co.uk www.pigeon-chat.co.uk - www.Pigeonbasics.com - Pigeon Racing the Basics! - thecanadianpigeoninternational.com www.internationalracingpigeon.com or https://sites.google.com/site/internationalracingpigeon/ Who wish my weekly contribution portfolio on pigeon topics from Scotland? © Compiled by Joe Murphy

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