SWAN DISTRICTS HOMING CLUB
(written circa 1980)
I will endeavour to go back before my birth on this subject; going back prior to the first world war with information received from older members when I was only in my early teens. Pigeons we raced here prior to the 1914 - 18 war; it was then known as the Midland Junction Homing Club. Old names I have heard mentioned in the club were: Joe Bucknall, Tommy Graham, Billy Robby, Alby Robbie, Ted Gartrell. At an early age in the 1930's I was very interested in pigeons while going to school and I remember the club operating as the Bellevue club. In the club was Joe Bucknall, Arthur Banfield, Sandy Dunbar, the Leeman brothers and quite a few young blokes around the 14 years of age, but I don't know their names. In 1936 I became active in the sport myself and the club had changed names from the Bellevue club to the Middle Swan Homing Club. In 1937 it was formed into the Swan Districts Homing Club which has remained ever since. The membership at that time was rather large and consisted of Ted Gartrell, President, and Tommy Graham, Secretary, its members included Arthur Partridge, George Harris, Snow Bowra, Hedley Gray, Noel Bowra, Bill Marshall, Ernie Cooper, Arthur Banfield, Jack Eamers, Tommy Read, Ken Mottram, Sid Scott, Henry Scott, Fred Grimsey, Bob Hickling, Jack Middleton, Mrs Rowe, Mrs Smith, Jimmy Smith, Reg Geer, Muff Weston, Bill Ferguson, George Lorrimore, Glen Lorrimore, Snapper Clark, Albie Robbie, George Robinson.
Of course, like most pigeon flyers there was the die-hards that stay in the game no matter what happens, there was the come and go type, start this year finish next year, so of course you have a big turnover of members. With the outbreak of war in 1939 the club was disrupted with the going away of the young members. The club still operated during the war by the older members. After the war the club once again flourished. Its biggest problem was finding accommodation. We were knocked from pillar to post. We started off in Tommy Graham's shed where he used to run a transport business. Then it was on to Jack Eamers shed, another transport operator. From there to a room behind the Freemason's Hotel. Then into the transit room at the Midland Railway Station, then into Gavern Snell's garage, then onto my side verandah, then into Ken Mottram's garage, from there into premises which we now occupy on Council land at Pauly Park, but as the land has been sold, next year we are moving to a new site on a 21 year lease on Council property at Middle Swan. Ultimately, we will have a better club room and over my span of years a lot of work has been done by many members. I myself striving for the ultimate of having a big and prosperous club. I can now see my efforts have not been in vain. I only hope by this time next year we are operating in our new rooms, which will be better and bigger, if things work out as planned. I have seen many weird and wonderful things at times and for instance we used to transport our birds over to the railway station on an old pram frame. I have seen birds basketed on the way to the station as the flyer has been late and missed the bus. Clocks in those days left a lot to be desired, being the old pudden clocks and as always, there is always some smart alex who cannot win for the sport alone, so along came the continuous running clock. One of the greatest characters in the game was Tommy Graham. Tom would give any young fellow a great start, take your pick to 6 each and the best birds available. Any flier who sold out, Tom would buy the lot, clock, birds, everything irrespective of the price. In 1936 he paid Snapper Clark five pounds for one bird, a big price at that time. He gave me young ones off it for ten cents (one shilling) each. I owed old Tom quite a lot for my early start with good birds and unfortunately great men get old and pass on, but he was a great loss to the game in the district.
Jack Garner, another old great; plenty of money and he bought the best and if they didn't perform he would kill them, it was renowned here that he killed better birds than most others even owned.
As usual there was always the good workers and operators. One of these was Arthur Banfield who was secretary of the club and one of the greatest and also a keen flyer, always hard to beat. Unfortunately, he lost his wife and also his interest in the club. Arthur was made a Life Member of the SDHC. Mrs Rose who was one of our women flyers was also made a Life Member. In 1978 I was also given the honour. At present Tom Read is in the process of being made a Life Member.
In all, only 4 Life Members have been elected in the history of the club, so you can see the club takes the point of view that you must earn it. There have been many great workers in the club over the last few years; the late Stan Gardner, Dick Brown, Eric Ottway, John Snell, Barry Sneddon, Bill Swanson, Dick Day, Jock Hillan. In all, it is a great club and we have very few drones. When work is to be done they turn out in force. At present our club membership is 33 flying members and all very keen. It is a pretty tough job to win a race.
Dear Bert, I have been a bit long-winded doing this for you, but better late than never. I have been crook with a bit of time on my hands. Only hope this is what you want.
(The late Neil Wilson)