Jos Goessens (right) and his good friend, grandmaster Gaby Vandenabeele
Jos was 25 years old when he offered his father a helping hand. In fact, his entire family consisted of pigeon fanciers or bird lovers. Besides their pigeon collection, they also had an avariary at home that was crowed with bullfinches, and they had two ducks and a dog as well. At age 25, Jos had never picked up a pigeon, and he knew absolutely nothing about them. But he did have a lot of determination, and his common sense got him a long way. In 1993, three years after he got involved in his father's pigeon loft, the duo won the title of General Champion in the fomer SS Zuid Club, claiming five victories and teletext prizes. Fellow fancier Tino Huynen had taught them that winning races is a matter of having good quality birds. After three years they had gotten rid of most of their existing collection, except for one. They then went on to breed a new round of talented birds, based on some of Tino's birds and a Belgian bird that had stranded here. Jos contacted the original owner, who sent him a note: "Dear Mr. Goessen, I recommonded you put this pigeon to good use, since he stems from some great bloodlines." And so it happened: this stranded bird soon developed into an invaluable breeding bird, as the sire, grandfather and great-grandfather of some outstanding birds. "Sometimes this is all it takes", says Jos.
De Ouwe 757, Super Roeie, Geschelpte 48, Argenton, Yula Arsjavin, Sagan, Froome, Royal Argenton or Rudy Argenton are all legendary pigeons and direct sons or grandsons of this stranded Belgian pigeon. These birds have claimed provincial first prizes seemingly with ease, and they are ready to go out every single week, in races of 100 to 700km. Jos: "Breeding super class birds is the most exciting thing in pigeon racing. Looking for top quality bloodlines is what this sport is all about. Having a big medicine cabinet won't get you very far, except for having perhaps one successful racing bird. However, the great champions are the fanciers that enable other fanciers to excel with your birds as well." And Jos has clearly mastered the art of breeding an exceptional pigeon family, judging from the many references of his Oude Belg/Argenton bloodlines.
Jos has visited a great number of lofts in his search for top quality birds. He has probably visited every single public auction in the 1990s. He took his time to inspect every individual bird, and many of them eventually moved to Gronsveld. "I obtained quite a few disappointing pigeons of course but a few of them were actually quite valuable", Jos remembers. He purchased for instance a grandmother of his own top class bird Argenton (a 100% Janssen hen) at a total sale, and she gave quite a few talented descendants. In the mid-90s Jos received a son of Sjaak Brouwers's Raket, which turned out to be a talented breeder as well. His search for good quality birds continued, until he introduced his first Vandenabeele birds in his loft in 2001.
Jos had read a thing or two about grandmaster Gaby Vandenabeele, and he decided to try his luck and make a trip to dentergem. Jos remembers taking the wrong exit on his first visit to the loft of Vandenabeele, which caused him to be an hour and a half late. Gaby wanted to know what Jos was looking for, and he said: "Something good will do." He returned home with a son of the renowned Blacky, and a round of eggs. Blacky's son prompty bred three first prize winners in Entente SS Maasvallei.
Jos developed a taste for this pigeon family, and he started to obtain pigeons from Gaby on a yearly basis. Youngsters of such super class birds as Wittenbuik, Bliksem, James Bond, Blacky, Bettini, Rudy, Romeo and New Bliksem were transferred to his loft in Gronsveld. Jos did not want anything else anymore; he was convinced that "Gaby has the best pigeons on the market." Today, the bloodlines of Bettini Lady, Rudy Jr. and Rudy Maya form the foundation of his pigeon family. These birds were paired to his renowned Argenton bloodline, and together they have bred some super class descendants. These descendants have claimed victory in a number of NPO races of 600-700km with a considerable lead. We will be discussing some of the team's most successful pigeons that have excelled somewhere between 2001 and 2018.
NL03-1523198 De Argenton
Den Argenton has played a very important role in this team. His career started as racing bird; he has three teletext prizes to his name:
2nd NPO Argenton of 2,200 pigeons 7th NPO Etampes of 5,763 pigeons 10th NPO Gien of 3,600 pigeons
He then went on to develop into a fantastic breeding bird. Three of his youngsters have won a first prize NPO:
1st NPO Bourges of 5,122 pigeons with NL08-1869136 Yula 1st NPO Montluçon of 3,884 pigeons with NL12-1894099 Froome 1st NPO Bourges of 8,278 pigeons with NL12-1894136 Sagan 2nd NPO Phitiviers of 11,852 pigeons with NL12-1894136 Sagan 2nd NPO Lorris of 20,705 pigeons with NL12-1894136 Sagan
De Argenton bred some exceptionally gifted racing birds. Take for instance the two brothers Yula and Arsjavin, bred in 2007 and 2008. They became 1st and 2nd ace pigeon. They could have been very successful in the WHZB or in other big competitions but Jos's pigeons never officially competed in these races or in the Gouden Duif championships. That does not mean he does not respect these races, but he hates having to attend award ceremonies. Here is the list of achievements of the two brothers:
Arsjavin (a grand total of 35 prizes) 1st Charleville 4,114 p. (and 4th 21,924 p.) 3rd La Souterainne 173 p. (and 44th NPO 2,125 p.) 4th Pithiviers 1,049 p. (and 15th NPO 12,034 p.) 4th Bourges 907 p. (and 19th NPO 4,447 p.) 7th Reims 939 p. 7th Bouillon 1,245 p. 66th NPO Blois 2,303 p.
Yula (first prize winner three years in a row; 1st NPO Bourges) 1st Bourges 1,321 p. (and 1st NPO 5,122 p.) 1st Marche 1,389 p. 1st Charleville 1,375 p. 3rd Chateauroux 167 p. (and 73rd NPO 2,408 p.) 5th La Souterainne 175 p. (and 60th NPO 2,125 p.) 5th Argenton 490 p. (and 27th NPO 3,989 p.)
Pigeon auction and a move in 2010
The team's brand new lofts
Jos's best pigeons were sold on PIPA in 2010. It was at this auction, in which Jos had an average sale price of 5000 euro, that Jos decided to repurchase his very own Argenton. He saw that the sale price was quite low for such a gifted pigeon. "A Japanese fancier offered 2500 euro for this bird but I was convinced that this pigeon was worth a lot more", Jos remembers. I decided to place a bid of 2600 euro right before the auction closed, and no other fancier overbid me. It was the best investment I ever did!" Jos moved to his new loft in the same year, making a fresh start with a group of youngsters.
Playboy Bliksem was inbred to Bliksem (Gaby Vandenabeele), and he showed his potential in 2012: he finished in the top 10 in the province of Limburg on three occasions, against an average of 15,000 pigeons. He went on to win 11 prizes as a one year old, and 12 prizes the following season. He was then transferred to the breeding loft, along with "Young Mr. Poitiers", winner of a first prize from Poitiers and a 5th NPO. This Young Mr. Argenton is a 75% Vandenabeele, and a grandchild of Bliksem.
Jos decided to purchase his very own Argenton, which he then paired to a daughter of Bettini of Vandenabeele. Bettini was himself an excellent racing bird, and he is a youngster of the renowned James Bond. This combination was an instant success as well: they bred the two sons Froome and Sagan, which have each won a first prize in a demanding NPO race. Unfortunately, Froome went missing in a postponed race from Sens the following season, which took place amid thunderstorms.
Sagan can be considered a phenomenal racing bird, almost just as talented as Harry (Jan Hooijmans) or Geeloger (Koen Minderhoud). This super class bird took a first prize NPO from Bourges of more than 8,000 pigeons in tough weather, as well as two second prizes NPO. He was moved to the breeding loft, where he turned into a fantastic breeder, just like his sire Argenton. Sagan was paired to Super Gabyke in his first year in the breeding loft; she is a fantastic bird that Gaby gave to Jos as a gift. She comes from Kleine Tom x Blauw Sproetje. Kleine Tom is a grandson of Bliksem, and the sire of two provincial winners. Blauw Sproetje is a granddaughter of the renowned Tsunamiduivin. It was this combination that bred Tommy Sagan.
Tommy Sagan is Jos's favourite bird. He looks beautiful, and he is always ready to deliver, just like his sire, his grandfathers and his uncle. He won a 2nd NPO in last year's race from La Souterraine, a demanding race with temperatures of up to 35 degrees. He was also 3rd Ace Pigeon Yearlings, and he was 2nd Ace Pigeon SS Maasvallei (after his half brother) and 1st Ace Pigeon one day long distance. Jos bred a number of pigeons from Sagan x Super Gabyke, and they all proved to be very gifted racing birds.
And this is just a brief selection of the many super class pigeons that have excelled in the lofts in Gronsveld. And let's not forget that many other fanciers have excelled with descendants of these stars as well. Here is a brief overview of some of the best results from other lofts (2013-2018):
- John van Heel wins a 1st NPO Melun of 7,755 young birds in 2017. The dam of this bird comes from Rudy Maya x Daughter Argenton. John also had the 1st Ace Pigeon SS Roerstreek in 2016, with a 50% Goessen pigeon. This young bird also wins a 4th NPO Gien (of 2,139 p.).
- Ide Hoefs wins a 1st Sens of 1,274 pigeons, a 1st Marche of 1,358 pigeons and a 3rd Provincial Epernay of 16,470 pigeons, all with pigeons from the line of Argenton x Mr. Argenton. Ide wins a 1st Ace Pigeon old birds SS Maaskant with a 50% Goessen pigeon in 2016, as well as a 1st Marche of 4,413 pigeons with a grandchild of Sagan. A grandchild of De Argenton wins a 3rd Ace Pigeon Sprint Province Limburg in 2015. He is a direct son of Yula, which moved to China in 2010. Ide Hoefs also wins a 5th NPO Montluçon of 1,884 pigeons in 2018 (with a descendant of Sagan).
- Willy and Falco Ebben are the proud owners of super class bird Indy. This hen wins an impressive six first prizes, including 3 teletext prizes. She comes from Ad Schaerlaeckens. The dam of INdy is a direct daughter of De Argenton, which Jos gave to Ad. Meanwhile, Indy is herself the dam of some talented pigeons. One of her youngsters wins a teletext prize from Melun. The team also wins a 1st NPO Chateauroux Province 8 in 2018 (from daughter Indy, a grandchild of Argenton)
- Jos gives a round of eggs from Den Argenton to his close friend Florian Hendriks. One of these eggs became a talented hen, that wins a 2nd Troyes (1,800 p.) and a 10th Reims of 8,000 pigeons in 2015 as a youngster. In 2017 Florian wins a 1st Rethel of 1,045 pigeons. The sire is a son of Sagan, and the dam was a youngster of Den Argenton that was also gifted to him.
- Frits Paulsen wins a 1st Wefo of 1,576 young birds in 2017, as well as a 4th and 9th Begerac, and an 8th and 23rd NPO of 1,987 pigeons. The sire of these pigeons is a direct son of Argenton x Sophie (brother of the dam Indy). Frits wins a 1st Lorris of 1,015 pigeons (5th NPO 7,291 p.), a 2nd Rethel of 1,024 pigeons (33rd NPO (14,297 p.), a 9th Gien (224 p.), a 4th La Souterraine (126 p.) and a 99th NPO Limoges of 1,326 pigeons with a grandchild of Argenton in 2016. In addition, he wins a 3rd Provincial Lorris with a grandchild of De Argenton in 2015.
- Lou Feijen claims a 1st Marche (1,157 p.), a 1st Reims (907 p.) and a 1st La Souterraine (271 p.) in 2017, as well as a 6th NPO of 1,447 pigeons. The parents are grandchildren of Argenton and Blacky 90. Lou claims four wins in the Entente with descendants of the Goessen breed. Lou Feijen has a fantastic bird in his collection; a descendant of Den Argenton wins a 2nd, 16th, 29th and 69th NPO Province 4 in the one day long distance. A brother of this racing cock wins a 1st Lorris of 980 pigeons (and 14th of 14,638 pigeons). He went on to win a 13th NPO La Souterraine (1,240 p.), a 27th NPO Issoudun (4,360 p.), a 31st NPO Chateauroux (856 p.), a 106th NPO Montluçon (1,889 p.) and a 164th NPO Argenton (3,555 p.) in 2018, as well as a title of 2nd Prov. Ace Pigeon (from the line of Argenton)
- (The late) Sjaak de Kooning from Zeeland wins a 4th NPO Fontenay (3,306 p.) with a daughter of Sagan in 2017. He also claims a 1st Roye (1,113 p.) with a great-grandchild of Argenton. Sjaak also wins a 7th prize in province Zeeland from Fontenay in 2015, with a grandchild of De Argenton.
- John van Bragt wins a 1st and 2nd Quievrain of 920 pigeons with two brothers. He also wins a 2nd NPO Peronne of 21,225 pigeons in 2018. The sire of these pigeons is a son of Froome x Daughter Sagan.
- Gert Jan de Hoogh wins a 1st NPO Pithiviers (6,030 p.), a 1st Peronne (852 p.) and a 2nd Morlincourt (1,019 p.) with racing hen Powergirl. She was bred from a daughter of Darling (sister Yula and daughter Argenton).
- Rien van Oss wins a 12th NPO from 6,025 pigeons with a youngster of Daughter Argenton. He also wins a 4th Belgian Masters 2017 with a grandchild of Sagan. He claims a 4th NPO Nanteuil of 14,370 pigeons in 2018 with a descendant of Den Argenton.
- Dhr. Wetzels: 2nd Ace Pigeon YBs Maasvallei 2016 with a 50% Goessen pigeon.
- Dhr. Beekens: 2nd Ace Pigeon Natour Maasvallei 2016 with a 100% Goessen pigeon.
- The Smeets-Peeters combination won as many as ten victories in the Entente in 2016, with pigeons of Jos's top breeder New Argenton.
- Dhr. F. Schijnen wins a 61st Nationa Agen (6,887 p.) and a 57th NPO Cahors (2,086 p.) in 2015 with a grandchild of Den Argenton. A hen bred from a half sister of Sagan wins a 1st Charleville (2,194 p.), a 22nd Sezanne (1,249 p.), a 21st Rethel (1,777 p.) and a 27th Marche (1,848 p.).
- Jean Hornesch had the 2nd Ace Pigeon General and the 2nd Ace Pigeon One Day Long Distance Maasvallei in 2015. The sire of this cock comes straight from Jos's collection, being a youngster of his renowned Playboy Bliksem.
- J & F Hendriks win a 5th NPO Sens of 4,012 pigeons in 2018 (with a descendant of Den Argenton)
- Jos Smeets wins a 3rd NPO Lorris Prov. 4 of 13,239 pigeons (descendant Argenton)
- Jos and Peter Nijman win a 4th and 10th Laon of 14,362 pigeons (descendant Argenton)
- Van Olderen Meeuwsen win a 2nd NPO La Souterraine of 1,240 pigeons in 2018, as well as a 2nd NPO Chateaudun of 4,997 pigeons (descendants of Sagan)
- The descendants of the Goessen pigeon breed have excelled in several one loft races as well. The 4th pigeon in the Final Belgian Masters (Rien van Oss) is a grandchild of Sagan. The 3rd in the final of the Algarve Golden Race (Greg Team) was won with a grandchild of King Kong. In addition, Gert Jan de Hoogh had the 3rd ace pigeon in the Golden RAce Algaver, the dam of which comes from Playboy wittenbuik x Rudy Elodie. The 3rd prize winner in the final of the Great Algarve (Dutch Team) was bred by Sergio Ferreira, and it stems from Rudy Jr. x Daughter Blikkie. The winner of a 1st prize in the 2018 Queens Town Open South Africa (1,000 pigeons) stems from the line of Argenton.
Every story has an end
We aren ow 30 years later, and success story will come to a close. Jos has decided to throw in the towel. And there are several reasons for that. Jos has to get by on his own; his wife has a fulltime job, and they have two children to raise as well. But more importantly, he has been suffering from respiratory problems for over a year now, which have impacted his overall health. It was tough for him to get rid of something that has given him so much joy over the years. Argenton will be the only pigeon that gets to stay in Jos's pigeon loft, all the others will be moving out: Sagan, Super Gabyke, and so many other top quality birds. We would like to end our report with a quote from Jos himself: "Saying goodbye to pigeon racing after 30 years is quite something. But I will continue to follow the action, mainly through my good friend George (who was always there to help me out). On a positive note, I will have a lot more spare time, which I can spend with my family. It has been a great experience!"