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Was everything better in the past? (24-11-23)

Was everything better in the past?

When the words 'Den Ad' are mentioned at my house, don't think of the National Ace Pigeon Middle Distance from Marcel Wouters, but of an old fancier from a neighbouring village who sometimes visits us to have a chat.
The man (92) is still very clear-headed and, like many older people, loves nothing more than talking about the past. And preferably about pigeons.
No, I don't want to call it a pigeon sport because I completely agree with Zeeland star fancier A H that we practice anything but a sport.
 A H: 'Rather call it a leisure activity that you can become addicted to.'


Apparently, that also happened to the 92-year-old. It's hard to believe, but he says he sleeps in most days except Saturdays. Because Saturday is 'pigeon day'. Then he gets up early because then he has to watch pigeons at fellow townsman Eric Reynen and he doesn't want to be a minute late.
Ad also has a tablet (!), he still follows the pigeon happenings closely and thinks it's an 'eternal shame' that such a beautiful sport has been destroyed by the professionalism and the mega lofts. At least, that's the opinion of the 92-year-old. ‘Once a fancier, always a fancier’, it turns out once again. 'Den Ad': 'In the past, anyone could win, but now you know in advance who that will be; In the club the mob flyer.
Entering about 250 pigeons and winning the 76 first prizes like ‘X and his 5 loft managers is asking people to stop. Is he right? Is the common man with little free time, little space, few pigeons and little money indeed 'completely lost' in advance?
Is pigeon sport in 2023 indeed no longer a sport for people who still work to put bread on the table?


'Completely lost' seems exaggerated to me. But 'the little guy' has to value results or learn to do so very quickly. If he can do that, he will come to the conclusion that he is often better than the mega man purely in terms of numbers, although it is sometimes a shock because the opposite seems to be true.
And the result of 'the big one' seems to dominate everything. So SEEMS.
Because let's face it, if someone is 'on the first page' with 25 pigeons, you have to be very level-headed not to be impressed.
As a small guy, you should always look at your own advantage when comparing. If he has, say, 4 pigeons out of 8, he may think to himself: 'I was better' if the big one, so the mob flyer, does NOT have half of them at home.' Then his name may still dominate the page.
What often hurts the man with few pigeons? That even many media misjudge results and the REAL standouts are overlooked and thus ignored. Unconsciously, but sometimes also Consciously.


In the Netherlands, 'the very little man' is disappearing, in Belgium there are still plenty: Fanciers who don't race more than a handful of pigeons, especially in the sprint. I have regular contact with such 'very small ones' and I rarely hear them, from whom you would expect it, complain about mega lofts. Frans Leys and Raymond Ceulemans from Itegem are examples. There are also Jos Cools, Staf Boeckmans, Patrick Boeckx and so on.
Without 'very good' pigeons, no matter how 'mega' you are beaten. 

Gert Heylen, very few birds but at short distance unbeatable.

For example, in Dutch Brabant you have A S. That stands for Aarts Santegoeds, the successful combination from the town of Riel. But it may be known that there is still another A S in Brabant, right next to the Belgian border:
That's right, André Smits from Zundert. I used to be there when he managed to win Smi National Chateauroux AND Bourges with the youngsters in one year.
No one has ever imitated him again. The same Andre achieved almost the impossible in Brabant 2000 this year by having the fastest pigeon of the entire release 4 times. And that A S doesn't sit in the loft all day but goes to work early in the morning only to return home at 4.00 pm. But with a female like his Marian, you can.

Frans Rutten has also been a top player for many years. In the last race from Sourdun he got 8 pigeons almost together. He clocked them in 38 seconds and won the first 7 against 3.123 pigeons. This young man also does not need a regiment of managers or pigeons to excel and also has to go to work every day. His top birds mainly stem from Koopman and even more so Leideman.
As a 'southerner' you have been brought up with the idea that the pigeons there are superior to the pigeons in the East and especially the North of the country. The often long duration of the competition there also seems to indicate this. But couldn't that have something to do with the racing of a lot of long distance pigeons there? So shouldn't those feelings of imaginary superiority be reconsidered?
Our 23-033 (this year 1st Ace Pigeon youngsters in the combine) comes from an  Eyerkampbird and then there are Koopman and Leideman. The pigeons of both are starting to make their mark in many lofts elsewhere.

Auke van der Deen from Hoogeloon in East Brabant may not be world famous, but he is one of those men who gets better every year.
The last race in 2023 he had the fastest of the entire convoy of 7,308 pigeons.
I know that so well because the father was a pure Schaerlaeckens and the mother he got directly from here. This Auke is also going to work every day.

In Turnhout you also have several 'mega lofts' and you also hear complaints about them. Charel Boeckx, who unfortunately passed away due to corona, lived in the region. Charel actually belonged to the list of 'little greats', the sprint men you never hear complaining. He was even full of admiration for men like van Oeckel and co.

Are these mega lofts destroying the sport? Hmm.
Are they the cause of many little ones quitting?
Not the little ones with really good pigeons, even if they have to work all day.

Janssen Bros, Raymund Hermes and the young Ad S