There is a new name to go on the honours board of the historic North Road Championship Club.
Now, alongside the great north road fanciers of the past century who have won one of the club’s much coveted trophies, stands Roy Wilson, of Norwich, who topped the result from Perth, a distance of 322 miles to his loft, on a velocity of 1248 yards a minute on a far-from-easy day which saw one of the most open races for many years.
Six section winners are represented in the first ten of the provisional open result and Roy, winner of Section Four, clinched the race when he timed in at 17-05 on Monday after a two-day holdover.
It was an already proven pigeon that gave an impressive performance against a head wind for most of the race. The five-year-old blue widowhood cock already had a few wins to his credit, mainly from shorter races, and this time hit top form on just the right occasion.
“This is the best result I have ever had and, of course, my first NRCC win,” said Roy. “He has always been a good, reliable pigeon. I could not really believe that I had won, and it took a while for it to sink in.
“I knew the pigeon was good enough. He came over the back of the shed, and you know he is always about when he is on that line.”
Out of an entry of five, Gavin’s Boy was Roy’s only bird on the day. How did he get his name?
Every year the four children of the Wilson household – all grown up now – pick a number to go on a young bird, and follow that pigeon’s progress. Son Gavin picked number 19 in the year the winner was born – hence its name. Roy, a 52-year-old cleaner with Anglia Television in Norwich, has kept pigeons for 30 years, taking over when his fancier dad became ill.
He thought he had lost Gavin’s Boy on the Thursday before basketing as he disappeared for a couple of hours – perhaps proving that he was in good shape for the job ahead.
Now, says Roy, he will be kept for stock, especially as he has already produced a son which is showing a lot of promise.
A member of the Mile Cross club, Roy says he has usually enjoyed a few wins, and well-placed cards, each season, and competes only with cock birds, showing the hens before the races. But, being the club’s shortest flyer, he is not in the best position for club racing. Another reason why he likes to compete with the NRCC.
“I have not done too badly, but this national win means more than anything else I have done,” said Roy who lives in a city which has produced many top fanciers.
Gavin’s Boy was also the loft’s first pigeon from NRCC Berwick earlier in the season.
The early 4am start at work gives Roy plenty of daylight hours to look after his pigeons, and he is looking forward to testing a new young bird team this year, having acquired some new Dutch sprinters to complement his present birds which are mainly better at the distance.
Having twice experimented with electronic timing systems, Roy is back on manual timing which he prefers.
Living within a short distance of Norwich Cathedral, he is also nervous of the hawks nesting there, having already lost pigeons to their attacks.
He does not train his widowers once the season starts. Although, in the main, Roy looks after the pigeons himself, his daughter will help with the feeding and wife Amanda is very supportive.
“In pigeon racing,” he says, “you get the good times and the bad times. I have had both, but this is definitely one of the good times.”
I think it was race secretary, Ian Bellamy, who termed the phrase “NRCC weather” and, for the second successive race this season, the weather certainly created a headache for convoyer Steve Spinks and chairman-race adviser Brian Garnham.
There was little or no hope of a liberation on Saturday and Sunday, but a brief window of opportunity arose on Bank Holiday Monday, and the two men in charge deserve high praise for, first, their patience, and then a liberation that created a race where most sections were represented in the early provisional results. Indeed six sections were represented in the first 10 provisional open results.
There was a contrast in loft locations between the first and second open pigeons. While winner Roy Wilson lives to the east of the radius in Norwich, second-placed John Salt (F and T Salt and Son) are far to the west at Kimberley. John, winner of Thurso open in 2011, is listed as third in the provisional open results but, in fact, beat neighbours and clubmates Rouse and Webster to win Section One. They believe the two pigeons came together.
Section Two goes to husband and wife partnership, Mr and Mrs Bob Boulton, of Addlethorpe, Skegness, who are twice past winners of open races from Dunbar and Thurso. They are provisionally placed 20th open.
Eighty-two-year-old retired farmer, Arnold Bennett, of Crowland wins Section Three with a bird that is provisionally seventh open. He beats Tony and Edie Woolsey, of Spalding, who won the section from Berwick and look like keeping up their good form with 2nd and 3rd section this time,
Gary Wilkes, of Ramsey, who flies as Miss M Judd, had a mouthwatering result – one of many over the years – when he took fourth open and won Section Five.
Builder Michael James, of Chatteris, topped Section Six, and there was a performance to drool over by George Chalkley and son Stevie as they won Section Seven into London and are placed eighth in the provisional open result.
Furthest flyers of the section winners were Mr and Mrs R and P Smith whose Section Eight winner covered 370 miles at a velocity of 1204ypm.
More about the section winners, plus photographs of those who are not camera shy, will be revealed in a separate article.
Meanwhile it is back to NRCC racing this weekend (June 7) from Arbroath.