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Englands John McLaren - The Nomad Of The Pigeon World
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The subject of this article is the youngest fancier ever, I believe, to win the English NFC Kings Cup in 1967, and his name- John McLaren. Apparently McLaren was always a dedicated fancier and he won England's premier trophy with 'Julie' who also as a producer was not lacking in this much sought after ability. Here I do not hesitate to state that this is one of the greatest fanciers that the island of Britain has produced since the coming of the sport to its shores. Not alone myself but many hold this opinion about a person who is a natural when it comes to the sport of pigeon racing. A man who dedicated himself to long distance racing about six or seven decades ago and whose family has won at all distances for himself and others over the years. It should be noted that the Pau National win was not the first success of John McLaren for in 1955 when racing into Petersfield he scored 16th Open Nantes National at the tender age of 18 years. And through the years it is reported that he has won every club race through to Bordeaux, a distance of approximately 420 miles. In his day McLaren has had to compete against such notable fanciers as Les Davenport, F. H. Jarvis, Ron Mitchieson, Norman Southwell, to name but a few of Britain's elite.

Although setting his sight on distance racing in addition to his club successes this family has won numerous Fed', 2- Bird Championship and Open races at the short and middle as well as longer flights in its lifetime. Obviously much of the latter activity was the cutting stone so to speak upon which McLaren enhanced his natural ability in the husbandry of the sport. The end produce were thoroughbreds who continued to win including amongst other awards- Best Average all Nationals, the Young Bird National from France, and of course the much sought after Langstone Gold Cup, etc. John McLaren then done what many have failed to do he took up his tent and went and raced successfully at another environment at a place called Cowplain. His loft then had a wire mesh floor with a translucent plastic front beneath an asbestos roof. A radical, if not revolutionary, concept for the time but then McLaren was always the thinking type of fancier.

At Cowplain, McLaren, concentrated on speedier pigeons for Channel races such as Nantes which saw him cross in some of the Vandenbroucke strain into his old family. This resulted in the loft winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd Section in the Nantes National as well as other good positions including 14th Open Pau National (520 miles). John McLaren also raced from another residence in a place called Horndean with much success ( his first year at widowhood ) scoring 1st, 2nd and 3rd Petersfield and District Club; 3rd, 9th and 11th Solent Federation from La Reole (438 miles). Other success included 26th Open Young Bird National from approximately 10,000 of an entry but it was not long before another change of residence for in 1977 the McLarens raced from a builders hut near to Portmouth. From there they won the Solent Federation trophy for Best Average all National Flying Club races including 3rd Section Nantes National with a bird of his Vandenbroucke family, also being in the first 30 of the Open Pau National with one of his old family. The latter chequer cock was an outstanding representative of the McLaren family for it scored three times from Pau and once Palamos (650 miles).

Whether of necessity or spirit, perhaps a combination of both, John McLaren was to move again, this time to South Africa. My research shows no sign of pigeon involvement in the African Continent but records reveal his arrival back in Petersfield in about 1980 where he built a loft and returned to his winning ways with pigeons of his past family obtained from friends. In fact, soon clocking a 29th Open Grand National winner. And this inspite of the fact that because of circumstances of work his birds were not receiving the attention that they should. For example, they were lucky if they received clean water once per week.

In the title of this piece I used the term 'Nomad' for it was most appropriate for our subject, for in reality John McLaren has moved 7 times in his pigeon racing career and inspite of this obvious upheaval he has continued to be a master of the sport of pigeon racing. In truth the concept of 'genius' could be applied with conviction to this artist of our sport for McLaren successes are too numerous to record here but which includes a 2nd into Britain from Barcelona at a distance of 670 miles in 1999, and the timing of a 10 months old late bred in the Open National at a distance of 520 miles on the day, still carrying her nest flights. Finally, John McLaren places the strongest emphasis on the importance of breeding in the long distance scheme of things in the sport and believes that he could win the Barcelona International if the wind was in the east. Who would doubt such a spirit when one considers his biography? May his ambition be realized!

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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