Jan Hooymans & John Crehan: Team Hooymans UK
John Crehan & friends (all photos underneath courtesy of Chris Sutton)
The wind was a brisk east north east, turning east south east over the southern areas of the UK with a south west forecast for later in the day. When the wind is from the east in the channel it can be a little daunting for young birds and although at this time of year it is warmer for them, there is no doubt that the eastern side of the club had a very different race to the western members. Having said that some very good performances were put up in all sections, and the winning pigeon achieved an average flying speed of 51pmh into the North West section of the club.
It flew to the loft of John Crehan in Salford, who races under the name of Crehan & O’Conner although in reality, this partnership ceased to exist since 2008, and O’Conner has no further involvement in the last ten years. Times have moved on and now John races pigeons as the UK loft of Team Hooymans, a deal in which Jan Hooymans sends over around 70 of his Dutch bred young birds each year, for John to race here in the UK. Jan also has two other lofts, Team Hooymans BE and Team Hooymans NL in which he participates in as many National races as possible to test and reinforce his strain bred around the world famous “Harry”. It was direct from “Harry” that a hen called “Beauty Harry” was bred and consequently she in turn bred “New Harry”, a pigeon which John said would be his pick, on a visit to Jan Hooymans loft. Consequently, a couple of grandchildren bred from “New Harry” were sent over for John to race and it is the hen youngster that has now proved him to be correct, by winning the Midlands National Flying Club young bird race.
The winner's wing
John has just built himself a new young bird loft which is divided into two identical sections in which the cocks and hens are separated. In between there is a small doorway to allow them to play together on basketing day in order to build up motivation for the races. There is also an adjoining games room where John can play “Mr Cool Pool” whilst he is waiting for the birds to arrive and on the front there are two large aluminium traps made by D & D Aviaries, which allow the birds to bathe, be driven into the training crates and trap over the Unikon electronic timing system. John is very pleased with the workmanship, “They only have to be bought once” he said, “and they will last a lifetime”.
He feeds a proprietary young bird mixture with fats added as required in the last three days before the race and I must say that on handling, the young hen was in superb condition and had not lost any of her buoyancy or musculature. “These pigeons give their all and bounce right back in condition” said John. “It is a trait in the “Harry” line and although I thought the pigeons would be high in the sky when they came from the MNFC, she came low and right between the neighbouring buildings some ten minutes before I expected them” She had been showing up to a cock in the brief moments of play before the Federation races although as John has to be at the marking station very early in the morning, so he allowed them the together for the whole night before going to Carentan.
John's new traps
John had a very near miss as the engine blew up on his van marking day and he had to be towed home “but luckily it was on the way back” he said, and I think his second National win racing as Team Hooymans has softened the blow. Maybe the van has given up after all the hard work he has put into his pigeons I thought, as he recounted his seasons winnings. A total of twenty four 1st prizes in two Clubs, five times 1st Altrincham Federation, four times 1st Central Lancashire Combine, twice 1st Ecceles Two Bird Club, twice 1st Lancashire & Yorkshire Four Bird Club and in three National Flying Club races he has won 2nd Sect L 9th Open Messac 390 miles, 3rd Sect L 91st Open Cholet 453 miles sending just one bird on both occasions and timed out of Sigogne on the day flying 543 miles in 12 hours 6 minutes winning 6th Sect L sending a team of just four birds. Last season he won 1st Open in the National Flying Club with a single entry “Solo Warrior” and also won 1st UK in the Golden Duif Awards for the lowest combined coefficient over several qualifying races. John has spent his whole life searching for knowledge in the pigeon sport, “sometimes pestering the Champions” in his own words, but his acquired knowledge is evident in his results and decisions when sending very few candidates to the Nationals and gaining top results with low coefficients.
Carnival Wonder, full sister to the dam of the winner
New Harry, grandsire of the winner
Whilst I was with John a few friends paid him a visit to congratulate him on his MNFC win so I lined them up for a photo. John Wolfenden, Bruno Pollestretti and George were full of praise with yet another outstanding result for “Team Hooymans UK”.