AERC Fly 2003

The fly was judged by Gordon Forbes.

In order of fly:

A lovely calm and bright morning it was when we set out from Gordon Forbes house . Our first stop was to be at our good friend Morris Holes', lets hope the weather holds for the whole of the competition. On our arrival at Morris Holes' loft we still had nice peaceful weather, and Morris flew a good team of young rollers – a pleasure to watch, but they didn’t always break as a team or they might have scored a lot more. Nice one Morris!
On our way to Henry Armstrong’s, the weather was on the change, the wind was beginning to blow and a distinct sense of gale began to brew. Henry flew his young birds immediately on our arrival, but due to the now windy weather these were just blown away over the sea. They were off the clock for the full 10 minutes then Gordon, the judge, took them off the clock for a further two minutes. Their best rolling was probably done out of sight! On theirreturn they looked tired and strung out.
Derek Smith was next continuing the now impossible task of flying his young birds in very windy conditions. In fact the birds did well to hold the wind at all. Nonetheless managing one five bird break.
Back to Henry’s for his try at holding an old bird kit in the wind. They did in fact hold quite well but the conditions weren’t great for break building. As is often the case his best break was made off the clock! 200 points were awarded to his wife for great hospitality.
Back again to Derek’s for a turn with his yearlings - still not much joy with the weather but some quality points awarded this time as they held the wind slightly better.
Kevin Robinson next, some yearlings here performing well but too far away to judge clearly – hence 4 minutes of the best performance lost off the clock, but some quality points and 4 small breaks scored. Too windy to really assess the birds true quality.
To Derek’s again this time his old birds held the blustery wind better and he scored 6 small breaks and a few quality points to at least give some reward for his efforts. Alan Milne was next, turning out a really good quality team of youngsters which was only spoilt by such appalling weather. 50 quality points in such weather were hard to earn from this judge!
His old birds held the wind much better, but didn’t seem to relax at low altitudes – sensible birds! The quality in them was easier to see when they were higher, as they were less than convincing when darting around the roof tops, still Ali scored some quality points and 6 breaks hard earned, but much deserved.

John Hall a very recent newcomer had the benefit of Gordon’s experienced eye and some sound advice, as his very young youngsters showed us the promise of future prospects. Its nice to see an enthusiastic newcomer eager to learn, and to see his local fanciers (Alan and Alex Adamson) giving him the support he needs and deserves.
Finally for the first day it was Morris again. This time he decided he’d risk the Old birds in a fresh wind, but nothing they hadn’t experienced before- well a great way to finish the day after the weather spoiling it for most of us during the rest of the day. This is probably the lowest I’ve ever seen Maurice’s kit fly, so it was really nice to see such good quality big breaks close up. What a really excellent kit, scoring 90 quality points and a total of 218 points in 16 breaks – what a great show in not ideal weather. Well done MauriceWell tomorrow its Middlesbrough – what will this bring?? I wonder?? Now its back to Gordon's place for a nice steak, bottle of red wine, and a jolly good sleep (separately of course). Night night diary see you tomorrow.
Tuesday 8th July : Middlesbrough
What a brilliant day, the wind has died to a whisper, it’s a bit cloudy to give a good sky and its quite warm. Absolutely perfect for rollers. If the lads in Middlesbrough don’t do brilliant they can’t blame the weather! We set out with a feeling of excitement - (sad but true).
First to fly : Billy Carter. Having failed to,contact Billy by phone the previous night (as he wasn’t answering the phone), we turned up at his house and eventually awoke his wife who told us he was on the allotment – 'where’s that we said' ? 'The top one said Billies' wife – shutting the window firmly and finally! Well, it was 6.45 am!

Sorry Mrs Carter – but blame your husband. After a few minutes asking directions at newsagents, and from paper boys we found Billy on his allotment wondering why we had had a problem - everyone knows where his allotment is don't they???
Billy flew his yearlings first, which looked a bit stiff and refused point blank to kit – Billy said they were used to flying in the evening, and like him, weren’t keen on this time in the morning. 4 birds landed early and we left Billy with an unfortunate score of 13 and wondering ( I think ) why he had bothered to get them or himself out of bed so early!

Terry Allinson

Peter Foster

George Frost


-So, on to Terry Allinson flying a team of yearlings. Refusing his kind offer of tea and breakfast we went straight into the judging – and what a very nice team of yearlings they were. Mostly from foundation stock from John Wanless and Les Bezance, they turned in a very good display of good quality deep rolling. They were so good that they sprang into the lead with 163 points of which 70 points were for quality! With the weather still holding it was on to Peter Foster , who resisted my encouragement to smile for the camera, and complaining that he wasn’t clean and changed for photos, he released his birds………


Another great performance, as Gordon recorded -‘A grand team of birds with good kitting and breaking clean together with 210 points in breaks, 19 points for kitting (only 19 in the kit) and 100 points for quality. And so another Middlesbrough team springs into the lead, deposing Maurice’s 218 points from the day before.


George Frost's old bird kit next didn’t fair quite so well, his kit was hit by racers immediately on release and never really got their act together after that, flying just a bit too high. He was teased that the reason he only scored 77 points was because he hadn’t fed the judge and scorer properly. He immediately offered to feed us us really well – bacon sausage and egg sandwiches and later having fed us he still faired no better with his young birds –scoring on 48 points. His young birds however did fly very well and showed lots of promise for the future, giving us some evidence of quality rollers and a possible for the Rosebowl with a young silver rolling really well……well we’ll see! Thanks for the breakfast anyway George.

Next, on to J. Boyle and Son – Liam McNamara, the son part of the partnership, met us as his father was working. His young team flew well and showed some promise for the future, but not quite there ye.tMartin Crane being next on the list turned out an old bird team which was somewhat inactive and again flying too high.


One particularly nice individual was spotted rolling really well when first out, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to pick it out and continue to watch it when the the team went higher.After breakfast with George Frost as reported earlier it was on to Deano’s (Dean Forster) I have seen Deano’s birds many times, in fact I would say I saw the best 12 bird old bird team ever, at Deano's back in the 80’s, with every one just about perfect. Today his birds were incredibly quiet. He told me that he had been having trouble with them pinning out, so whatever he’d done to cure that had also reduced their frequency……
Even so this old bird team scored 152 points and showed us the sort of quality we’d come to expect of our Deano.

Over to Guisborough again to Billy Carter's and to see his developing young bird team. Not a great performance but we did pick out a very nice black bald / whiteside cock which was rolling really nice. I’m sure this could be really useful in the stock pen in the future for you, Billy.

Back to Middlesborough and Peter Robinson’s I remember years ago Peter’s brother Davey used to fly a nice team in the NEFRS (North of England Flying Roller Society) so it was good to see Peter putting up a really stylish team of rollers today. Although they were rolling really well they didn’t quite get their act together to make the points…nonetheless a good team of old birds scoring 82 points. Stevie Hopper couldn’t fly as his airspace was invaded by another kit , so Peter Roser stepped in and flew early.


He put a team up that flew a bit low over his school field (at the back of his house) and entertained us with a low altitude aerobatic display, but sadly they didn’t earn too many points despite one or two really nice rollers.Back to Stevie Hopper, who supplied us with lots of scones, jam and cream to keep us sustained. Stevie flew a really good team of youngsters putting in some really excellent individual performances, but the big breaks evaded him. I picked out 2 really outstanding dark tailed youngsters rolling really well … a bit of John Wanless’s generosity showing through again I think. Sorry your score didn't reflect your quality birds, but thanks a bunch for the delicious scones. Stevie accompanied John Wanless last year on the All England Fly, and it would seem to me that he learned alot from the eperience as well as having a good friend in John Wanless, who is in my opinion a master roller flier, with some of the highest quality rollers in the country. John hasn't been truly interested in competition until fairly recently, so it was good to see him do so well in winning the All England Competition, so soon after competing again. Its always good to see roller fanciers with flair and know how return to the hobby and do really well, not to mention his generosity in helping other fanciers by lending and gifting high qulaity stock.

Talk of the devil ….yes John Wanless was next with his old birds……..same problem as Deano pinning out all week, but John seemed to have stablised the team with some heavy feeding. Unfortunately for John , everyone agreed they probably peaked yesterday giving a fabulous show ……but tonight they looked like the day after the big show! I enjoyed them but definitely not at their best!!
Peter Harper was next with a very entertaining kit of old birds, some really good quality birds on show (not his usual sloppy stuff I said to the amusement of the collected group – but thank God he didn’t hear me!)
Not quite getting into the usual action we expect from Peter but still scoring 190 points nonetheless. Peter has been a good friend to the hobby over the years, and he deserves all the success he get. Peter is another fancier who supplies quality birds to the fanciers. On the too frequent ocassions that Morris Hole has had his birds stolen, Peter has always been one of the first fanciers to help out with replacement stock. Pete is also now organising a World Cup section for the north of England, so that more fanciers can compete and we have more places in the final.....good on you Peter.

Last but not least Wayne Wilson with his team of incredible youngsters. How did they stay in the air with such incredible activity…….wow. Fast tight and sometimes deep youngsters doing such a fabulous job they knocked poor old Maurice off the top spot by 1 point (162)!!!!!
Gordon Forbes dubbed Wayne 'the new Bob Brown' as his birds so much resembled the kits we used to see at Bob's. Watch this space to see how this new young fanciers continues in the footsteps of a legend!?

This was a really enjoyable day, and once again it was back to chez Forbes for some food, a beer, and a good nights sleep to prepare for Day 3 of the All England Roller Club fly.
What will tomorrow bring?????

Wednesday 9th July: Day 3
Well the weather held – what a beautiful day warm – perhaps a little too warm, no wind, blue sky. Firstly, we’re off to Duncan McLaughlin for his old birds. However, its breakfast first, as he cooked us some sausage and eggs to put in sandwiches and a welcome cup of tea, great stuff. Happily his birds turned out to be as good as his sandwiches, knocking up a grand score of 144 and putting him into third place! Although he asked us to pick out his nomination bird it was impossible once the team began to work. Some very nice rollers on show here to start the day really well.
On to Peter Harpers again where we had to eat another breakfast simply because he’d cooked it and we are pigs! His young birds just had to wait! When they eventually went on the clock they went much higher than I can ever remember them going before, and only in some vague distant memory can I recall them ever flying so long so high and so stiff – Peter was either so disgusted or so sorry for the judges neck that he scratched after 9 minutes


John Wanless was the next young bird kit to brace themselves for the unpredictable and unusual nice weather. It was clear that they had never seen such lovely weather before, even though John had reported the possibility for it shortly after their hatching party. They had assumed that he meant if they were ever lucky enough to winter in Portugal! Anyway, clearly bemused by this eventuality they decided to explore these conditions in the locality and mooch around the sky in several directions, occasionally coming together for a bit of a break! Some really nice birds were seen rolling but they didn’t really work – why should they, after all it was holiday weather! (105 points)
Stevie Hopper’s yearlings never really stood much chance of scoring. Firstly, they also decided it was blue sky and holiday time hurting the judges neck in the process, and secondly, Steve seemed to have run out of scones. No bonus points to be seen here.(49 points)
Next was Terry Allinson’s young birds. They had obviously been told of yesterday’s success from the adjacent kit box of their yearling cousins, and tried valiantly not to be outdone, however in the baking sun with no wind to help them, their vigour ran low and their flying start of sharp rolling and high activity turned to a lazy lack lustre performance. Actually, they weren’t really at all bad, but lazy lack lustre was such a nice description I had to use it early in this report, for fear, that otherwise I might have to use it later on my own!!!

Deano’s (Dean Forster) young birds had heard about the holiday mood, probably by roller post, and also decided to head for the sky and holiday in nearby Heslington. Once the amazed and stunned company and a slightly embarrassed Deano had time to take in the unusual event, he also had the decency to spare the judges neck and scratch his team.
Well we weren’t doing too well were we, six teams and two of them scratched! Gordon’s comment at this point was the predictable, - ‘waste of good weather this is’
Onward to Jim Boyle and Liam McNamara’s gaff to see if they could do better with their yearlings? This team had some quality individuals amongst them but yet again were off the clock for 9 minutes as they strained the judge’s neck and made him screw up his eyes! A final score of 61points certainly doesn’t do them complete justice but, in the conditions, was not a disgrace either.
Now we wondered - could George Frost on his 56th birthday take the biscuit and show us all what could be done with some yearlings? Well yes and no. Gordon’s comments were ‘a nice team with (small) quality breaks flying nice and steady and not too high'. Into 3rd place with 108 points – Happy Birthday! Oh and thanks for the bottle of pickled Whelks. My wife thanks you as well, every time she opens the kitchen cupboard door and sees them staring back at her. (Don't think she's very keen on whelks).
Next was Martin Crane with a young bird team full of activity and a few nice individual rollers in it, but perhaps it was a couple of months early for these under developed youngsters? (61 points scored)
To pass a little time before Morris was due to fly, we went back to Peter Harper’s. He put up a lovely team of quality and active rollers, about 25 in all, and entertained us all while we debated the current squabbles in the hobby, and discussed the possibility of resurrecting the old North of England Roller Society. John Wanless is very keen to get this up and running. Peter Harper also took the opportunity to tell us about the new North of England section for the World Cup and invited us to make suggestions for rule changes and the proposed changes to the rules.
Later it was on to Maurice Hole’s for his last team – his yearling. After the nice showing of his youngsters and old birds expectations were high – unfortunately that’s exactly what his birds did – fly high. Nonetheless, despite being off the clock for two periods of 3 and 3 and a half minutes, they did make some nice breaks and scored 124 putting into 2nd place. There were some very large breaks observed when they were too high to judge, but hard luck never did count in roller flys!
Well I'm typing this in the car on the way to York – yes its my turn next! Its unlikely I will report the result tonight –either I’ll be too depressed or too elated to go back to the keyboard! Its still warm but cooling off, there’s still no wind, the teams been really good for the last two weeks so I’m now panicking – wish me luck………see you tomorrow


10th July Thursday

Well what can one say they also seemed to have had a bad night just scoring only 86 points. To make matters worse the second yearling team first thing this morning only scored kitting points. They just didn’t want to lift – just like Billy Carters (with less quality) it was obviously far too early for them at 7am. I suppose I’m starting to run out of excuses, so to ensure I don’t sound too sorry for myself I’ll confess that the final team also only scored 66 points and they were my best team.


Lets just own up and say they were rubbish. My book ‘winners with spinners’ should be re-titled ’40 years in rollers – and I still know nothing!’.Enough of me, onward we went to Hull to see Peter Larvin (pictured left) – last years old bird winner, with many other successes locally, nationally and internationally! Some really nice birds here but none of his teams youngster (55) Yearlings (89) and old birds (125) performed as he would have liked them to. The weather was really affecting everyone, even though we saw some high quality rollers, they just didn’t seem to want to work the way we know they can. Anyway some nice cheese sandwiches, and sausage rolls consumed with lots of tea, and a discussion to put the world to rights. As David Start had scratched leaving us lots of time to play with both Gordon and I really enjoyed the sitting in the garden just chilling with roller talk. Once again can I say I’m really sorry I had to call time at exactly the moment your team chose to break in double figure terms.

Before we left Hull we had the pleasure of Gary Templeman’s yearling team which both Gordon and I were very impressed with. Gordon said it reminded him of the sort of kits we used to see at Ron Adams and Ron Snow’s house in the 80’s, with some really deep and sharp rollers on show. Wendy (Gary’s wife pictured left) did the honours for him – she said he was devastated he couldn’t be there, but he was working in Derby. It is a shame you weren’t there, Gary, as I’m sure you would have enjoyed them. You only just missed taking the lead with 166, which would have been the leader if Terry Allinson had not rung up to tell me I had added his score incorrectly and he had 173 not 163! Sorry Terry, (still it was better than the error I made on Peter Foster’s score which was 30 points out with 359 not 329!) Before you all go running back for your sheets – yes they are all checked with a calculator at the end!



A leisurely afternoon followed flying my rubbish in a much brisker wind, and then wewere off to find Mac Tosh's to see his young bird kit. Gordon immediately nicknamed him raincoat man – obvious, but funny, or maybe we were just going stir crazy in the car?.
What a lovely garden and fish pond he has, and what a gentleman he is. Unfortunately his birds, being very young, only managed 50 points but we did see a promising black badge and a wedge tail marked red which looked the part already. At one point in the fly his team flew so far off we lost them for about 10 minutes, Mac said they 'd never done this before, so we thought they had gone for good. Fortunately all returned safely.
More chocolate biscuits and tea, and then we were off to Sheffield to stay with the number one seed, Bill O’Callaghan. He has 2 teams tomorrow to start the 5th day off. Lets hope we see some more world beater as opposed to my eggbeaters, first thing. Goodnight diary –see you tomorrow for the next thrilling instalment!

11th July:
Well true to form our number one seed put out a nice bunch of yearlings first with some good quality rolling, but the high wind took them away and a little too high to do them justice. They still managed to score 124 which made them joint 2nd with Maurice Hole. Sidney, Bill's racing pigeon partner, and Maurice Barwick were there to see the birds and cheer them on, but only Maurice elected to breakfast with us while we awaited the teams return. Jean (Bill’s wife) did us proud with no less than five poached eggs (Gordon could only manage 2) and bacon beans and tomatoes. I had to remind Jean that she shouldn’t give us too much bacon as it was too expensive for the likes of us and to remember that Bill was very poor. Nonetheless she insisted so we just had to eat it all! Thanks Jean - what a lovely woman you are!
Bill’s old bird team was even better, with some really big breaks that couldn’t be judged as they were too high to see the quality, but they compensated when they came lower with some high quality smaller breaks. He eventually ended up with 192 points which left him third, which I have to say is brilliant, considering the strong wind. Taking of strong wind, by the time we had headed off following Maurice towards Buxton, I had started to feel very crampy in the old bread basket. Having consumed a lamb curry with spinach two nights earlier, and 3 pints of Guinness the night before, and six eggs today, I wasn’t sure which to blame. However, the urgency of nature became so strong I had to signal Maurice to stop in a lay by in the middle of the picturesque Derbyshire Dales, and deposit a large sample of my DNA for future generations to ponder upon. Still feeling gripey it was full speed ahead to Maurices' and the luxury of a convenience equipped with hot water and toilet paper. For those of you that have never sampled the call of nature ‘au naturelle’ dock leaves are not very absorbent and stinging nettles grow everywhere!!


After my baser needs were taken care of Maurice (pictured left) turned out a kit of stylish ‘Slater’ rollers. He says he has to make this clear so that Trevor gets the credit, and not that ‘Grumpy Mason’ (my adjective not Maurice’s). They were, as Gordon said, ‘enjoyable to watch and easy to judge’, with 153 points I don’t suppose Maurice would argue. Sadly they were blown about in the wind and just refused to come down. More in hope than judgement, we had a last cup of tea ( I refused the kitkat) just in case they beat the time rule and allowed the next team to be flown, but sadly that was not to be. To be fair to other scheduled fliers we bid farewell to Buxton unable to see his young bird team. Better luck next year Maurice.


Dennis Sale was waiting outside, when we arrive at ‘Clematis Cottage’. He was eager to show off his team of old birds. Unfortunately Dennis had had a bit of a bad luck this year as his birds had eaten something from the ash of his incinerator and been poisoned. He was only able to fly a15 bird mixed team of old and yearling rollers (obviously classed as an old bird team). Although blown about in the wind they didn’t quite do as well as they could and we did play a little ‘peek a boo’ with them between the trees, but we managed to see some nice breaks when they got up and beat the wind. The higher they were the better the quality of roll – clever pigeons. Stephanie brought out some tea sausage rolls and fruit cake and asked us if she could cook us anything for lunch. I, of course, I declined, but I notice Gordon managed some of everything which he said was ‘lovely’. Not wanting to linger and get tied up with the Friday traffic we set off towards Leicester – I’m typing this on my laptop in a very long and slow traffic jam– God knows when we’ll reach our destination!!!! Grrrrrrrrr…….More later……

Eventually we arrived at the outskirts of Leicester and were met by Dave Moseley. Shepherded to his house he made us a welcome pot of tea and, as I was now starving, a cheese sandwich and pork pie. Yes so much for my self prescribed diet to help my queasy stomach! Davestarted the final leg of the day with a yearling kit that showed its quality when it lifted, but largely looked lethargic and mostly flew very low. (scored 75 points) To save waiting for them to drop we went off to Darren Deacon for him to fly his young team. Well poor old Darren, just about everything that could fly in Leicester joined his team, -some stray young rollers, a fantail, 3 teams of racers, 5 tipplers and several thousand starlings, were at one time or another flying with his team. All we needed to complete the kit would have been a partridge from a pear tree. No chance of a change in the leader board here. Perhaps his youngsters were a bit underdeveloped, but they were trying. When they did get a chance of some privacy we saw a few promising youngsters. Scoring only 20 for kitting and 20 for quality no doubt Darren is already looking forward to next years All England. My apologies to Darren you are another victim of my failing memory, I forgot to get your photo – sorry.


Now we were off to Ian Bains to see the team that is currently in 3rd place in the World Cup. A lovely team of high quality rollers in a disciplined team flying at perfect height. The leapt into 2nd place displacing Maurice Hole by scoring 231 points, despite losing 5 points for an early landing bird. We were joined here by Joy Stafford and her husband, and over tea and cake I was able to reminisce about my early days growing up in the roller community in Derby in the 60’s. Joy updated me on who’s died, who’s still flying and our mutual acquaintences of old. Good fun but it did remind me that I’m getting older and despite my tender age of 52 that I’ve been trying to get a grip with these pigeons for over 40 years!
(please note that Dave Moseley and Ian Bain are partners so even though this report seperates them as kits they are partners and share the honours)
The final kit was flown at Dave’s and what a really high quality entertaining team it was. Despite an initial problem of getting up to a safe rolling height before rolling and thus the inevitable couple of nasty bumps, the kit soon settled. The birds were performing with some incredible fast tight and deep rollers of very high quality and did everything they could to entertain us. Not perhaps as disciplined and hard working as the last one but a real joy to watch. Despite losing 25 points for 3 birds landing and re-landing they still ended up with 139 points. 110 points for quality.
Another quick cuppa and it was off to spend the night with George Mason, and look forward to another wonderful day with our versatile entertainer – the Birmingham Roller.

Saturday 12th July. Day 6
Once again the beautiful blue sky and warm sunshine was a delight to behold but not necessarily the best of weather for our feathered friend. George was up early to make us bacon egg beans and sausage. A great start to the day – we heard George cursing as we went off to Kevin Wilkinson’s that the delightful meal could have been better if he hadn’t forgotten the mushrooms in the fridge that he’d picked specially. Never mind George we’ll be back. Kev was flying an old bird team and having done well over the last few years – especially in the world cup with the same team, we were expecting great things. There were plenty of fanciers there when we arrived and we were eager to get them on the clock before it warmed up even more. Some nice quality birds on show but just not seeming to apply the energy to the job. They didn’t really lift well, and although it was a very entertaining 20 minutes, they never quite performed to their potential (scored 128points). Kev of course being the perfect host offered us breakfast, but after George’s delights we graciously declined and settled for tea. .



On to Andy Bainbrigge’s (pictured left) to see his young team score a small 45, but a very young team looking good for the future. Andy (or Bengo to his friends) also brought lots of bacon and sausage sandwiches out which were quickly snaffled by the onlooker, and I think I notice greedy Gordon sneaking 2 even though it was only an hour after the big breakfast. I apologised for not eating, explaining I’d just eaten only to be reassured by Bengo that it was fine for anything left over would be for his pack up to take to the motorcycle meet later in the day. As I left I noticed he might have been pretty hungry later!
Back to George Mason’s to see his yearlings score a very lean 112 points, again some lovely rollers but looking a little lethargic in the hot sunshine. Gordon and I always like to make some smart comment on George’s sheet but I guess we felt a little sorry for him so just put ‘no comment could be made that you haven't already thought of’. I’m sure he doesn’t need any advice from the likes of us.

There was a wonderful surprise awaiting us at George’s, as Steve McGlory had travelled to Coventry to pick up Ken White – a real old timer who I hadn’t seen for 40 years. I bought my first 2 pair of Birmingham Rollers from Ken when I was still a schoolboy of 12 or 13. I remember going on the train from Derby and him picking me up from the station and taking me home. He flew a team for me and he and his wife gave me tea. The birds helped me build a stock of birds which eventually were integrated into the Tom Brown birds I had gifted to me by the great man in 1967 just before he died. I didn’t keep in contact with Ken being more interested in the AERC and competition flying than the show side which Ken was committed to.
Both Tom Brown and Ken White believed they could breed the ‘dual purpose’ roller, good for both show and the air. I never subscribed to that view, and of course when the show men began to cross rollers with American flights for bigger backskull etcetera, the cause of the dual purpose roller was lost anyway.
However it was really nice to see Ken again, and good to know that he remembered the little schoolboy that visited so many years ago. Sadly Ken doesn’t fly anymore having had his last stock stolen several years ago, now he spends much of his time in South Africa where he says he is still able to watch good rollers – many of which he has exported there. Well I hope to see Ken again soon to interview him for the AERC journal, so more in the future from the great old timer.However it was really nice to see Ken again and good to know that he remembered the little schoolboy that visited so many years ago.
Sadly Ken doesn’t fly anymore having had his last stock stolen several years ago, now he spends much of his time in South Africa where he says he is still able to watch good rollers – many of which he has exported there. Well I hope to see Ken again soon to interview him for the AERC journal, so more in the future from the great old timer. Here he is again pictured left with the judge Gordon Forbes. Gordon like many of us bought some very good rollers from Mr White when in our early teens, and some of the blood lines still exist in Middlesbrough. The late and great Robbie Kent was a frequent visitor to Ken White's Lofts in Coventry. Trevor Slater was next and needed a little persuading to fly as he was upset by some internal politics in the club. Scratching a team at the last minute when people have travelled to see them was an even less attractive option –so he swallowed his principles and flew us a nice team of old birds with some quality but not much energy in the heat. Only scoring 93 he seemed pleased he would have another chance with his best team in about an hours time.
George’s young bird team was next and put up a slightly better show than Bengo’s but were again largely underdeveloped. Some were rolling really fast and tight but I calculated that there was probably only about nine or so that could perform to his normal standard –so getting breaks of 5 and over with any frequency was asking a lot. They finally scored 74 points.
This year the fly is very early in order to facilitate the early National Fly. Next year will be a little later which should help those fanciers that don’t breed early or have the benefit of early developing youngsters. Back to Trevor’s where this time his old bird team put up a great show despite the heat, some really nice fast tight rollers rolling gracefully. I said I particularly liked his dark tailed black badge in the team – a hint certainly not taken – his only reply was ‘aye so do I’.

A cooling cup of strong hot tea and we were off to Joy Staffords’ the AERC ring secretary.
Her youngsters were numbered 1 – 21 and 38 and 39 with 8 13 and 19 missing. I think this is one perk of being ring secretary, but I wasn’t cruel enough to ask her what had happened to the missing numbers. Once again these youngsters were a bit on the young side and only scored 44. After some delicious hot dogs and apple pie it was off to Sean Fearn’s on the other side of Derby. I had the pleasure of judging Sean’s birds a few weeks ago in the Midland Yearling fly , so I was hopeful of seeing some nice birds. After another cup of tea Sean flew an old bird team that scored 98. There was certainly some quality here but again, in this lovely weather they chose to mooch rather than get in work mode, and were just a little stiff.

Our next flyer, Jim Fowlkes, (pictured right) is in Sean’s view, the reason he has such nice rollers. Sean has only been seriously flying for a couple of years, and he largely thanks Jim for his success. Isn’t it so good to see newcomers being helped by fanciers with more experience and resource. The hobby would certainly be better off for more fanciers like Jim and Sean Fearn. Jim has a lovely set out garden fenced off from the rest of the garden where his pigeons live. He wouldn’t allow me to photograph the pigeon part of the garden because its not finished yet. Seemed ok to me – but then I’ve always had a soft spot for Beiruit!

Perhaps there is a God and maybe all rewards aren't reserved for heaven, for Jim’s kit of youngsters were really good and streaked into 3rd place with 158. This meant that there was only 4 points between 1st and 3rd place in the young bird competition. Back to Sean’s for his team to knock up another respectable young bird score of 104 – I have to say both these fanciers have done justice to those Les Bezance birds. Les, I’m sure, would have been proud to see them do so well and roll in such good style

.Contrary to popular rumour, Bezance birds do hold their quality and can kit as old birds. Jim Fowlkes old bird team proved it with a very respectable 167points and so did Sean Fearn’s yearlings, which flew next and earned a good quality 120.
Having done the north side of Derby it was back to Alvaston (my birthplace and first roller flying place) for Joy Stafford to try her expertise with her old birds. Despite seeing some nice rolling from Black Boy and Blue Boy and a few small breaks these old birds seemed to see their opportunity for a blue sky holiday and off they went! After running out of ‘off the clock’ time they were still like pins. We left half an hour later and they were still too high to judge – so it was hard luck Joy and off to George Mason for the highly acclaimed and much awaited old bird kit at George’s

.Well, sorry George, I’ve seen your birds on many occasions, not least only a few months ago when they were absolutely brilliant – but it simply wasn’t going to be your day today. For a while it looked like they weren't going to lift, but even when they did they looked very reluctant to roll. Never mind maybe next year, eh?
Now its off to Steve McGlory’s for a curry and a comfy bed for the night. Except as I write this we are lost, tired and hungry Its nearly ten, we should be at Steve’s now and we’re miles away …..If we survive I’ll report again tomorrow…….

Sunday 13th July 2003 Day 7
We arrived at Steve’s about 11-15, thoroughly fed up tired and hungry, to be greeted with a lovely homemade curry and some lagers for Gordon and a chilled bottle of white wine for me. Ah civilisation again. After a thoroughly good sleep and terrific breakfast cooked to perfection by Steve’s wife Maureen. I was surprised to see that Dave Moseley had already arrived and was in full swing telling us the sad saga of another seedy story from Looney Leicestershire.
Steve had decided to scratch his young birds, as he was concerned that they may not behave and then spoil his chances with his old birds, and anyway they weren’t that developed. Anyway, the sun was out, the sky was blue, yes, you’ve guessed it ,another boo hoo! Steve’s flew some cracking quality birds but they had decided that this weather was just not for work but more for mooching. We left Steve with a dissappointing 116 points.
Les Dodds was next with a team of old birds. Some good quality birds rolling well and scoring 95 points. Les has a beautiful garden near the centre of Cambridge with a fish pond and lofts designed for good ventilation and easy cleaning. In fact the loft is so clean it reminds me of a clinic where it would be possible to do minor surgery. I was a little dissappointed to see that Les had got rid of his special chair. The last time I judged there in 1997 he had a tennis umpire type chair so he could see over the hedges when his birds flew out of sight. I didn’t quite get the story of why it had gone, but to me it was a sad loss- I’d rather like one myself. Now it was goodbye to Steve and crew and it was off in search of the Essex girl – Lesley Pinks. John Wanless had given her good references from last year –‘she really made us welcome and flew some nice rollers too’
I couldn’t agree more John, what a lovely woman and her ‘better half’ Peter made us feel at home straight away. 'Would you like to take lunch with us?' – 'oh I think so said we' (we had noticed the Beef, Ham, Prawns, Chicken, Cheese and salad being laid on the table!) What a very tasty, beautifully prepared and presented meal. Peter lent us his London A-z and searched the best routes for us into London for the next flyer, both Lesley and Peter generally were a delight to be with.
Lesley refused to be photographed so I had to trick her into showing me her stock birds to get a photo, so if its blurred its not my fault. (Actually Lesley I think it looks pretty good). Lesley’s birds, which are based round three families, are all bred in individual boxes, and Peter told us that despite being a bit of a softy, she still does the culling when necessary. Her team showed us some nice quality at times but as with many other teams they were really only out for the holiday weather, basking in the sun rather than working outdoors, and only scoring 54. Reluctantly all too soon it was time to go off to the ‘Smoke’ and wave bye bye to the Essex countryside. Lesley and Peter surprised us with 2 boxes and 2 bottles of wine to aid our journey – what a lovely thought –.many thanks from us both.

Off to London, a little late, but hopefully nothing we can't catch up. Ray Gudgeon still took a bit of finding especially the actual street in the district. However Ray came out to find us and guide us in, so only a few minutes were lost. Ray was in the process of erecting a greenhouse and pulling out the old one – so thank God we were late, or we might have felt obliged to help, and what with Gordon’s arm and my neck the two cripples aren't much use. Ray provided us with a nice strong cup of tea whilst his old birds were judged. They were another nice kit of deep rollers, with style and frequency, but once again in the heat had little energy for work scoring. At first they did some really big breaks whilst they weren't on the clock- Ray preferring to let them settle before putting them on the clock - but then they went up quite high, and judging became difficult. Finally, they came down fairly low and mooched around the house tops until the clock beat them into submission, eventually scoring 96 points. Ray helped us negotiate a route out of London and we were leaving the Smoke at about 6 pm.

Now the dash to Somerset, hoping we can beat the dark and give Ian Lawrence a chance in the cooling evening stillness, and with less chance of a Peregrine attack (for which he is famed). Ian met us just outside Chard at about 8-15. When we got to his house the weather was perfect and the balmy summer evening was filled with the additional aromas of barbecued steaks, sausages, and chicken. Well we really couldn’t complain about the hospitality today – treated like Kings.
Ian’s birds rolled well with good style and depth, but looked like dropping early. One did drop within the first few minutes and it seemed like the others would follow, but somehow they managed to stay up. The second bird to land did so exactly as I watched the stop watch move from 14-59 to 15 minutes…on the scorecard with 143....phew. Unfortunately on of the ones we had been watching with interest a bronze with a dark tail hit the loft top as the birds landed and injured itself fairly badly. Although it survived it was such a shame as it really could have been a Rosebowl possible. Ian explained it was an experimental cross between his Harris stock and John Lenihan’s Rosebowl winner last year – just goes to show what power there is in the hybrid cross!
Enough of the pigeons and down to the barbeque, Boddingtons, and bird talk. Lots discuss, the world to put to rights and a jolly good meal took us to the witching hour when Zebbedy said…………….
Monday 14th July Day 8
Another very hot cloudless day promising to get up to 30 -33 degrees! No picture of Ian Lawrence I notice, why don’t I have one of him and so many of John Lenihan. I think you hide, Ian?! Anyway just this week I was sent a photo of the National Winners in a group photo (which I managed to crop you out of). Although its only an image of you looking up, not perhaps the best view of your handsome face, but it will have to do.
Annette, Ian’s lovely wife was already cooking us our pack up when we arose at 6-30. A strong cup of tea (for which Ian needed coaching – not enough practise obviously) and we were out to see his yearling team. This team had been tortured by a falcon earlier in the year and are still suffering. No real attempt to fly steady and break, but short circles with some wind changing. Very little chance of any points here – I have to say that although I know how dissappointing it was for Ian – I was really glad to have some respectable company down at the bottom of the results sheet – 20 points for kitting just like my own little beauties (should that be beasties?)




Now over to John Lenihan’s to fly his old bird team, and drink another cup of tea and another breakfast sandwich (thanks June). John’s team showed some deep tight rolling, but again only really came out to sunbathe, mooching about and getting together for a small quality break from time to time but not the big breaks we know they can do. (scored 152) It is always good to see John but he keeps telling me he’s getting older – so I suggested when he gets home he should put some black plastic rings on his best stock birds just so that, if necessary, his beneficiaries can identify his best. Fortunately he knows me well enough to see the humour I intended- I hope!

Gordon Daffurn of Woodbine Cottage flew next after more tea and sandwiches . This team was wonderful stuff scoring 196 with his old birds, I judged his yearlings a few weeks ago and I was most impressed with them too, so its only a matter of time before he’s showing some significant silver ware on his sideboard. I noticed that Gordon Forbes told both him and Tony Bagley today that their birds had a major fault – they aren’t flying from his house!





Steve Taylor was next more tea, cold drinks,and cake. Again some good rollers off for their holidays on such a great English summer’s day. I was delighted that he had cured his over-flying problems and had managed to keep them low so we could really see their quality. Steve was probably flying one of the oldest rollers in the competition with a red badge 1991 bird. Unfortunately the wise old bugger was too old in the tooth to be coaxed to fly in this heat and landed costing Steve 5 penalty points – still you really couldn’t blame him. Towards the end of the fly the kit was visited by a Peregrine, it also looked hot and lethargic, so fortunately the only damage it did was to send the kit up, but they all soon returned unharmed. A disappointing 91scored but at least you’ve now got them back in rein again - ready for next time!
On a slight deviation from this report I would like to note that Steve has been the secretary of the Midland Roller Pigeon Club since the death of Bill Barratt. Can I take this opportunity to say a thank you to Steve for carrying the mantle for so long despite suffering a serious illness himself. Many of us fanciers could be guilty of overlooking the the hard work and often thankless task of organising flies and events for the rest of us, who too often take it for granted. Well done Steve, and to all of the unsung heroes that work hard in the background, and make the hobby so much better for the rest of us.

Terry Harper’s young bird kit looked like it might do OK despite Terry telling us that it really only had 4 rolling properly – so it was a bit disappointing having followed them over barbed wire and a small mountain range, for them simply to return home – (with us in hot pursuit) only to drop. Poor Terry, the last time I was there his yearlings split which they had never done before, perhaps I’m your jinx, Terry.
Over to Tony Bagley’s for his young birds – a very active kit with some super quality birds, but only scoring 79 points as they didn’t really get it together as a team. Like Gordon, I wouldn’t mind watching those develop over my sky in York nonetheless. Quickly turning round we went back to Terry’s for more cool drinks, tea and cake. Oh yes and his yearling team. This time, just to prove I’m not a jinx, he flew a good solid team of yearlings scoring 122 points which currently leaves him in 4th place….very good. They probably would have done better but they did get a little high and mooched for a while.

We return rapidly to Tony’s for his old bird kit. He put up a splendid team of tight fast rollers well worthy of the 154 points scored. At this point Gordon said he wanted to take them home, but Tony wouldn’t let him…….a bit selfish that, don’t you think?
Well the sun’s sinking, so its time to dash once more back to Terry’s for his old bird team……..What a lot of great rollers….171 scored and they only really worked for the first half of the time, then sun bathed! Just think what they would have scored if …………….Oh fantasy time again, I must be getting tired I’m typing this while Gordon drives us to Derby to stay with George Mason….probably time to say goodnight diary and give Gordon a spell at the driving -‘goodnight diary’……zzzzzzzzzzzzz

15th July Day 9
Up at 5.15 a.m. and off to meet Steve Taylor for his yearling team. Steve guided us in and we were pleased to see Terry Harper already there to guide us to the second flyer. Once again we have a hot clear day so no surprise that Steve’s kit came out to sunbathe. With two landing early and only to 5 point breaks he was scoring only quality and kitting points leaving him only 48 points. Still, a nice cup of tea you made us with biscuit and cake.
Off to the sticks to see Mick, Mike or Michael James (I don’t care what you call me) and see his youngsters score a small 51 with just about 4 youngsters showing us how to do it. Mike’s done well with racers in the past so now he’ll find out what trying to fly these little buggers is all about. Still as he works digging holes with a mechanical digger, he has the right equipment for his failures. Another nice cup of tea and biscuits and a book signing and we’re away. (Amazing how many people want me to sign their copy of Winners with Spinners – and there was I thinking I was forgotten.)


Terry guided us part way to the next flyer Paul Green’s and said goodbye to us at an intersection. I must say I was really touched by his warm farewell and his parting words ‘thanks for judging and making it FUN!’ Thank you Terry for your company, hospitality and good humour – its people like you that make the club what it is and are the backbone of the hobby.
Got lost again trying to find Paul Green’s house, but made up for it with a bacon and egg sandwich when we got there. Paul has his garden looking great now, and as always his lofts immaculate. His old birds looked to be shaping up to do some real damage to the scoresheet when he was hit by a peregrine falcon. End of Paul’s fly as half immediately came down and the other half pinned out. All eventually came back unhurt but they won’t want to go out tomorrow.

Finding George Burgess was even more difficult – we were feeling pretty stupid by now, hot and lost again this time in Newcastle Under Lyme. Eventually we were talked in by mobile and freshened up by a nice cup of tea! Sorry George if my fraught nerves led to an abrupt attitude but by now I’m feeling a bit jaded and my old age is showing – never catch you up though will I!
George flew two teams both youngsters and all bred out of two pairs! The second older team showed real promise and scored a very respectable 127 points – shoots you into 4th place. Some of that expertise from flying tipplers looks like its really paid off for you eh? .George’s friend Paul Holdcroft was next with his debut fly. Nice to see some of the younger generation getting interested in the hobby ( I’d guess Paul is about 35 -40!). The tea and juice was refreshing and the venue was a very interesting place to fly from – an old Quarry. Damn difficult for a novice I’m afraid.


Some of these were starting to perform and a few looked as if they are quite close to getting into it. However, they are just a little out of condition and in the tremendrous heat – not even a breeze in the quarry - they dropped early. The first thing to learn with rollers, get used to the disappointment of the fly day…..just get more determined.

Peter Handy was next with hot and cold drinks , and some tasty stew. Peter is currently 2nd in the World Cup Fly so we were anticipating a brilliant show. Not to be disappointed Peter flew a smashing deep quality team scoring 205 I’m sure if it had been cooler they would have really turned it on and given Peter Foster a run for his money. It was nice to see Peter’s birds because despite knowing him for about 30 years I can’t remember seeing his team fly on more than one other occasion. I guess that’s just because of his location and my lack of diligence to get to see some great rollers in Stoke on Trent.
Another new person to me was the next competitor Seyed Clour. What a nice attitude he had – if you don’t have something nice to say about someone – say nothing! Very anxious about putting up a good performance and showing off his stock – but with little chance in such blistering heat. He said he likes his birds to fly low and he certainly had succeeded in that. There were a few hearts in mouths as we watched a team of rollers performing well given the circumstances. More refreshments were offered and accepted – even though when I asked for coal instead of Coke it seemed to go over everyone’s head. During the chat I said I had spotted many rollers of good quality, and perhaps not being as fussy as Seyed offered to take them home to play with. He didn’t decline my invitation, but neither did he box them up, I noticed. I think on this occasion the weather beat you but with 135 points you should be a happy roller fancier tonight. By the way thanks for the compliments on the book, quite clearly think highly of it, and I am really pleased you found it useful. I owe you an apology of course as you were another of the few fanciers I forgot to take a photo of in my excitement and haste.



Last but not least we flew John Heague’s team of yearlings. John, who had been with us on the fly since George Burgess’ house, had taken the lateness of the proceedings in good spirit and without complaint. But although I joked about excuses I do think his kit was unfortunate to be flown so late off schedule. His birds were reluctant to lift, performed with great quality and vigour – giving us all some suspense filled moments, and landed after only 6 and a half minutes. Hard luck, John I think they could have really rivalled the leaders, I wish we hadn’t drank quite so much tea, and our car had got satelite navigation like yours – what a boon. We might have been on time and you might now be in the lead. Still as George Mason once said to me ‘ If ….If ….Yes if my aunty had had bollocks she would have been my uncle! John has another chance tomorrow with his youngsters so we’ll wish him good fortune – good weather and now …..goodnight. 

Day 9 July 16th
Another bright hot and sunny day. John Heague picked us up from the hotel we were staying at and guided us back to his house for a well needed cup of tea. The night before we had consumed a few Boddingtons at the Pump House on the Liverpool Quayside in the shadow (or in this case the floodlights) of the Liver building. We’d had a pleasant evening talking birds and tales with John and his young friend Andrew (a roller fancier for the future we hope – he’s certainly keen enough to watch them – always a good sign)
John put up his young birds which were rolling pretty well for youngsters, but only individually. This time, although one did drop early, the rest flew on and ended with a score of 42. His two nominated proven rollers were easily capable of the one good roll necessary to be shown in that class, so John wasn't too disappointed.


 Quickly onward to avoid the morning traffic in the Mersey tunnel to Paul Sissons. Paul looked a bit reluctant to fly as he was up to his ears in building work. Clearly he hadn't had enough time for his birds as there were still youngsters out from the night before that he couldn’t get in, and ended up having to count these as strays in his kit. As he only had an official kit of 18 with 21 flying he need 8 to roll for a 5 break. To add insult to injury one landed early, but he finished with 25 points, so in the circumstances not bad at all. Better luck next year Paul.

Off next to Trevor Weaver’s, but not before a drink and a bacon butty at a roadside caravan. Trevor fled an old bird kit which was entertaining but suffering with a quality inconsistency influence by the hot weather no doubt. Sunbathing and mooching looked like the order of the day – still scoring a handsome 167.
Sammy Davies was next with his ‘Kitson’ team. Some of these were bred down from George Kitson’s and there was a 2000 bird bred by George in his last breeding season. Pity George wasn’t with us I’m sure he would have been pleased with them. Some really fast tight spinners, perhaps a little shorter than some of the Harris and Mason birds we have been watching but making up for it with their sharpness and stopping power.

Sammy lives next to a railway track and I was told by Steve Buckley that on one occasion a whole team was wiped out by a train when they were landing! I could be persuaded to believe that the Peregrine might be the demise of the roller hobby but trains……??? Sammy’s great team sprung into 2nd place with these which put a broad grin on his face…..I was told later that after a little champagne he proposed marriage to his girlfriend…….what can I say …congratulations. Great hilarity broke out when Sammy announced to the ensembled group ‘its nice to be back on top’……Wassack!

Next was Ken Weaver – Trevor’s brother, flying similar birds to his brother (weird that ) - he scored a smaller 135, but this was largely because we had to play ‘peekaboo’ through the trees for most of the fly. Gordon called them an ‘okeydokey’ team of rollers.    By this time it was very hot and it was no surprise to us all that his birds dropped early, leaving him DQed. Great hospitality and nice to have your company on the fly I wish the birds had done better for you –still there’s always next year…..Another cup of tea and nibbles and off to Wayne Grove’s

An interesting character next, ‘the Rock’ – Phil Rock. However not quite living up to his name (see photo left), nonetheless he had some very interesting rollers. All absolutely identical red chequers (just a hint of inbreeding here?) in lovely ‘show’ condition. Gordon was overheard to say when they were on the clock ‘I like that red one’ and after 10 minutes after they had been blown away and subsequently landed early, he pointed to them and said ‘that’s the red I liked’………………! Phil provided us with some lovely food despite his birds landing early, - cups of tea, cold drinks and a variety of open sandwiches were much appreciated despite our appetite being reduced by previous donors.

Steve Buckley flew next with his team of yearlings, some nice individuals here but they largely just swung about in the wind which by now had become an influence in the performance. Steve’s daughter Abbey was there watching the birds and I’m reliably told that she’s a great help to her dad. I’m really sorry I didn’t get time to talk to her properly about rollers and help her get started in the hobby. Anyway Abbey if you want to come and see me in York when you decide to change from that old vicious racer of yours I’ll gladly find a good pair for you to breed rollers that might give your dad a run for his money.
Thanks also to Emma for refreshments badly needed in the heat.
Quickly over to Paul Noon’s allotment for his young birds where we were also acquainted with our accommodation for the night. As someone described it as a four star caravan – hand him back his white stick please – nonetheless a welcome sight at 10.45 that night. Paul’s team were quite active but a bit irratic on release, they did two nice breaks of some quality but scored less than possible because they played ‘peekaboo’ over the rooftops and trees for most of the fly – 73 scored.



Back to Steve’s for his old birds, another disappointment for him, it was pretty obvious from what we saw that he had some high quality rollers rolling individually, but they didn’t seem in the mood to do the big breaks we might have expected. Steve credits George Mason as his foundation stock – so it looked like it hasn’t been a good week for George’s stuff.We finished back at Paul’s on the allotment to see a good team of old birds spoilt by the wind. Walking after them and judging them closer (which we hadn't done for his young birds) was a good call by the competitor. They were quite easy to see and judge from that spot, and he subsequently scored a very respectable 151points.
What was left of the evening was spent with Paul. Once we’d showered Paul fetched a Chinese meal for us all, and talked rollers, dogs, hawks until Gordon fell into a deep slumber. Being a good friend to him I wrapped him up put him into my pocket and tucked him up into his little wooden bed back at the caravan. Logs sawing grunts and f****s were all I heard from him then til next morning.

Day 10 17th July
Woke up to the sound of Pauls' 248 kits of rollers cooing (or so it seemed). Gordon snored on ….I soon discovered what four star caravaning was all about f*** all water f*** all toilets f*** electricity and f*** all breakfast! Only joking Paul the accommodation was fine as an adjunct to your house, and washing and breakfast was amply provided for us at our return to Steve Buckley’s for his young bird team. Paul escorted us across to Steve’s and made sure we were OK before he had to dash off for work – Thanks Paul.
Steve had some good youngsters on show but he’d been having a problem with them landing early on the chimney. Sure enough although some good quality well developed rollers on show they did land early and DQ.ed the kit.
Steve, swallowing his disappointment, helped us eat our bacon butties and decided he’d come with us to help us find the next competitors. Thank you Steve very helpful and we enjoyed your company.
Over to Ronnie Hales for a nice cup of tea and to watch his yearlings, unfortunately they simply refused to lift and even though there was some nice individuals spotted, he only scored 75 points.

Ronnie then showed us the way over to Sabir Hussains to see his yearlings and again these refused to lift in the light rain and only scored 65 points.
Sabir insisted we had a soft drink with him before we left, then helped us by driving us to the next competitor Bob McGuire.
Bob has had constant Peregrine attacks, and his old bird team certainly looked nervous. Bob was convinced that they would drop early, but in the event they stayed up for the entire 20 minutes except one that dropped at almost 5 minutes and never looked like moving again. Sabir again took us as far as the motorway and we proceeded to Geoff Wilson with Steve still following behind.

Geoff and Pat Wilson immediately made us very welcome with tea and sandwiches, porkpies and cake. Those of you who haven't been to Geoff’s should really see his flying position. On occasions its possible for his birds to fly into the valley and you can actually see the birds rolling from above them. Today was not to be Geoff’s day though, his young bird kit only scoring 78 but at least both his nominated proven rollers did enough to earn their place into the show pen. There were many fanciers there to see Geoff fly, and every one was welcome – what a nice couple. A pleasant respite was had as we had no rush as Mark Cranney was next and he wasn’t due to fly until 5pm.Eventually it was time to go from those pleasant hills and with Alan Hamilton guiding us, it was off to Mark’s. I always enjoy watching Marks as he always flys a good quality kit.


. He tells me that all his stock descends from one hen of my family, so being so modest it always chuffs me up to see them do well. Flying some nice youngsters with a bit of style, I wasn’t disappointed, not exactly the most frequent of young bird teams but very entertaining to watch. Scoring 101 points, Mark wasn’t terrifically impressed with them, but he said he thought that was about right as they’d gone off the boil in the last couple of weeks. Lots of fanciers had turned out to see them fly – most of later competitors and some from tomorrow – so in convoy we went off the see the penultimate fly for today at Khalid Khans’. Khalid was flying in his debut competition, he has a new purpose built loft with protection of a Japanese Akita. He lives on the main road and his birds really have to rise to be seen. Even tonight with very little wind his score was accumulated by scoring the team in ‘peekaboo’ fashion. Some really good quality youngsters seen, Khalid tells me he acquired them from Mark Bilton of Hull, for whom I had the pleasure of judging his birds a few years ago in the World Cup qualifier, and I was impressed with them then – seems they are still producing the goods. Khalid finished with 101 points coincidentally exactly the same score sheet as Mark Cranneys' previous kit. Well done Khalid on your debut, may you go on to fly quality rollers for many many years.

The final competitor today was Eddie Bayne, Eddie reminded me that the last time I judged him I told him his birds were rubbish and he should change his stock rather than try to improve them with an outcross! He took my advice and now has Maurice Hole and John Wanless birds – a fine choice I think for the environment he has. Anyway I am certainly not repeating my last comment tonight, his birds were first class yearlings rolling fast and deep. Great style and pretty good kitting and teamwork. As well as springing into the lead with the yearling contest with 180 points (sorry Terry after all this time holding the lead to lose it on the penultimate day must be a bit sickening) Gordon is also considering a black chequer badge for a place in the rosebowl!
Wow what a way to finish the day………see you tomorrow……off to relax now. Janet and Eddie, Edward as Janet calls him has got the tins of John Smith’s out and we’re settling in for the night. Mark’s come over and joined us for the evening. By the witching hour the zzz’s were soaring over the Bradford Hills.


18th July Day 11 The last day.
After a lovely bacon, egg, tomato, beans, and mushroom breakfast cooked by our host Janet, we went off to Mark Cranney’s for his old birds. The blustery high winds were now upon us so we had little hope of seeing big scores today. Paul Chantry and Donna were already waiting and I guess they were wondering if they had any chance of beating Eddie and Janet’s score of the night before. Well if the way Mark’s birds were buffetted around in the wind is any predictor they have little chance. I’d said to Donna the previous evening (in jest) that there was now no competition for Eddie, and so she said be very careful what you eat or drink at our house tomorrow! I wasn’t quite sure she was joking so I didn't make any quips about the weather.

Mark in the event could only manage 86 points in the fierce wind but we did see some really good tight fast rollers, so I’ll look forward to seeing them again in the Yorkshire fly at which time he’ll be a competitor I shall be trying to beat.
Next was Paul with his yearlings, but once again the wind was very strong and I doubted their ability to score in such conditions…..however they did very well and held the wind superbly once they fought their way back. Scoring 118 points there were some very tasty rollers on show. I did in fact risk a cup of tea and it was very nice. _ Ta Donna.
Off we went to Alan Hamilton whose wife Christine made us very welcome, offered us tea and enquired if we wanted some lunch making. We declined the offer as immediately after the last flyer we had home in sight for a short break before going on to Evesham to start the Midland Old Bird that Gordon is judging!
Alan’s young birds really stood no chance in the wind, perhaps only Alan thought they might do something, none of the rest of us held out any hope. Unfortunately we were proved right and his final score was just 53 points. Nonetheless within the 20 minutes we could see the occasional youngster spinning very well, so with better weather they might have been a winning team – who knows?
Peter Wilson next flew a yearling team, but despite holding the wind well they just didn’t perform. Again some nice quality rollers seen on the individual breaks. Everyone said they’d never seen them so quiet – a recurring story in such strange weather. 78points scored.
The final flyer was Alan Hamilton again. As the wind had become stronger if anything we were not hopeful for his yearlings – personally I would have been anxious turning my birds out in that wind. Gamely Alan turned them out and we watched them get blown away, almost ten minutes before they were on the clock, but when they did return it was very much peekaboo and swinging around in the wind type fly. A shame that the fly should end as it started with strong winds and difficult conditions for the fanciers – but I guess that’s roller flying. You may have the best rollers in the world but you can never beat the weather.
Saying goodbye to Alan, Christine, Paul, Donna, and Janet we set sail for York and arrived home for a few hours. Time for me to sort out my stock before the long drive to Evesham.
Congratulations to everyone for making it such an enjoyable event for both Gordon and myself. The hospitality has been first class, the crack excellent and the birds still the greatest entertainment of all. The standard of rollers in this country now is outstanding with excellent birds in every team, and outstanding teams everywhere. A long time ago I said that my ambition in rollers was to see good rollers where ever I went, I can tell you now (without claiming any credit for it) that my ambition is fulfilled. We should thank the dedicated fanciers in the past like Bob Brown, Bill Barratt, Ollie Harris, Ernie Stratford, and Ken White, but we should also look to the next generation of fanciers who have been helpful in their generosity to share their stock (with or without payment) - the likes of Bill O’Callaghan, Les Bezance, Maurice Hole, John Wanless, Peter Harper, Alan Milne, Dave Moseley and George Mason. Who ever of these Gentlemen have your preference, give them the credit they deserve for their dedication and energy they have put into their breeding and training – not just for months or years but for decades! A round of applause for you all… personal good wishes go to you all..

Sleep sound and fly good rollers whenever and where ever you can…..
Best wishes
Graham Dexter.
P.S. A big thank you to Janice, my lovely wife who kept the home fires burning while I was away, and has devoted the time and effort to proof read this before I risked the embarrasment of placing it on the web!

 Old Bird Champion: Peter Foster

Young Bird Champion: Wayne Wilson



Yearling Champion: Eddie Bayne


Rosebowl winner: Terry Harper