THE MODERN GAME CLUB

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Club Trophy History
 
 

Our Secretary when the Modern Game Club formed after the 2nd World War in 1948, was George Clark.

The first AGM on 10th December 1949 was attended by 17 members: H. G. Bartle, C. Brown, A. W. Briggs, A. Bathye, Wally
Clarke, A. S. Carr, N. J. Davies, H. Gillson, C. A. Melbourne, J. R. Milner, P. Nickolson, Sid Newton, H. G. Rawlins, E. J.
Smith, N. P. Smith, J. J. Wilson, G. Clarke, (Sec).

An entry in the minute book on October 28th 1959 reads - The Secretary read a letter from Mr Morton regarding "the old
Modern Game Bantam Club trophies". He said the Bradford Show was closing down and that the old club trophies would be handed over to our Club trustees.

From the above I can deduce that our impressive Trophies represent three eras; the present, the founder members and the
distant past from the Bradford Show.

I also noted one founder member was still alive and well. I had met him visiting the National without realising who he was. His
name was Mr Briggs, who donated the Briggs Cup for best Pile. So this had to be the start of my investigation and I went and
spent a delightful evening in the summer of 1991 in the company of our remaining founder member in Leicestershire.

Mr Briggs was then in his eighties and would you believe, still breeding Pile Bantams. He did not show them himself but some
which he bred were given to younger fanciers and were shown in the Novice Class at our 1990 Club Show. Alas Mr Briggs
died soon afterwards.

Mr Briggs said he had not been keeping Moderns long before the Club formed, so he could not go back too far. Everything
stopped in the war, but before the war there were many breed colour clubs such as the Pile Club, which he knew of.

He got interested in Moderns by talking to a grand old man call Fred Pickering who was born in 1888 and came from Driffield.

Mr Briggs was a butcher at that time and used to travel regularly to Lanark to purchase cattle. He mentioned the Modern men
of his time as Len Roberts, a great showman who coached Brian Tuplin, coupled with many other names such as Cyril
Melbourne, Cookson who was a jeweller from Chester and a great benefactor to the Club, also Sid Newton as one of the
best Showmen just after the war also Robert Hirst, Parker (the Kendle Secretary) and Harry Riley from York.

Mr Briggs remembers the Cyril Melbourne Duckwing strain going to Iva Eva and Arthur Mills in Cornwall. He remembered
Harry Gilson and his father and also knew Bill Moorcroft and his late father, also E. J. Smith (Ted), who he saw on television
in recent years talking to the Queen Mother at Sandringham where he had worked as a stonemason. Ted Smith was a grand
chap and an excellent Duckwing man. Ernie Bartlett from Bradford was mentioned as another good man for the Club. As you
can imagine the evening with Mr Briggs flew by until I unfortunately had to depart.

This was now the time to do an appraisal and I have ascertained the following cup benefactors from the 1950’s with
some background.
 

Robert Hirst - Hirst Rose Bowl.
Harry Gillson - Gillson Best Opp Sex Pile.
A. W. Briggs - Best Pile.
Cyril Melbourne - Melbourne Shield, Best Opp Sex Duckwing.
B. Bartle (Secretary of Bingley/Bradford Bantam Show) - Best Birchen.
Ted Smith - Smith Cup, Best Duckwing.
Cookson - Cookson Rosebowl, Best Black Red.
L. Johnson from Yorkshire - Johnson Cup, Best Opp Sex Brown Red.
J. J. Wilson from Cheshire - Wilson Cup, Best Male.
A. W. M. Edwards from Oxon - Edwards Cup, Best Female.
C. Duthie from Yorks - Duthie Cup, Best Opp Sex Black Red.


But who and from when was: Dan Clayton, John Sneddon, Walter Smithy, Shaw Haigh?


My next approach was to go and see my old friend Dave Scrivener, who must have one of the best collections of old poultry
books and poultry memorabilia in the Country. I asked Dave to find anything old relating to Modern Game and he came up with
some very interesting publications and pictures. From these I was able to ascertain the following
-

Dan Clayton lived at Box Tree Mill, Bradford. He was a well known exhibitor of Brown Red Bantams. His Trophy was donated
in 1911, which was the year he retired from showing. Dan Clayton was renowned at the time for always winning the Kendal
Show, which was then the hot-bed of Moderns. This also attracted the Modern Game Club Show, The Modern Pile Game
Bantam Club with the Birchen Club show being held at Bradford.

Entwistle said in about 1891 "Brown-Breasted Reds, which are still in few hands, though we hope there will be a change in this
respect, two or three spirited fanciers having commenced in good earnest to try and improve the breed, and, if possible, wrest
from Messrs. Dan Clayton & Stretch, the position they now hold as chief winners in Brown-Reds".

H. Inman said in 1912 "Now that Mr. Dan Clayton has retired from exhibiting, the Brown-Red seems to be in more hands than
formerly; still, there is room for improvement in this respect. With the interest that Mr. Clayton has always taken in the Kendal
Show, there is no wonder that this is the meeting-ground for fanciers of this variety, and nowhere is there such an entry
obtained. This year there were 46 Brown-Reds in four classes. Some really good specimens have been exhibited, but no
outstanding progress has been made". So Dan Clayton is pretty well logged.

Of the other benefactors of our old trophies in the same catalogues, I found John Sneddon regularly winning Duckwing and
Black-Red Classes and Shaw Haigh in the cards in the Brown-Red Classes. Walter Smithy I cannot find at the moment.
All the forgoing references are for Bantams and in reading about this period (I covered from 1902 to 1923) saw the decline of
Large Moderns and it was apparent Moderns were split in this respect, the Bantams never wavering in popularity even if they
were divided into many clubs. For example the 1921 Kendal Show had 305 Bantams (split: Black-Reds 81, Pile 80, Duckwing
48, Birchen 49, Brown-Reds 30, AOC 17).

 

 

The Modern Game Bantam Clubs in this era were listed as –

Modern Game: J, C. Parker, 11 Cliff Terrace, Kendal.
Birchen Club: H. Inman, 12 Squire Lane, Girlington, Bradford.
Brown Red Club: Rev J. N. Williams, Chapel-le-Dale, Kirkby, Lonsdale.
Pile Club: A. M. Crabtree, Monkholme, Threshfield, Nr Skipton.
Scottish - A. W. Forrester, Tower View, Uddingston, Nr Glasow.

 

The Large Modern decline was discussed by R. Wingfield in 1913 who said about Large Moderns "What a difference in
number, size, shape and quality to the birds shown at Birmingham ten years ago. In 1902 the entries were 295, this year only
111; then Black-Reds alone numbered 121, Brown-Reds 43, this year 8. Duckwings 53; this year 25; how badly we require a Game Club with some go about it."

However by 1923 the Large were still going and according to an article I have by H. Easom Smith who states in 1971 "The
peak of the tall version of the Game Fowl was prior to the 1914 war. Economic considerations in the twenties caused them
to be relegated. Only wealthy landowners could command their tenants to 'walk' cockerels for them and to hatch and rear as
many birds as they wanted. In my recollection, there were a few old fanciers who would not let their stocks die. These men
showed their Large Modern Game right up to the next war (1939) but that was, virtually, the end of the breed."
 

 

In analyzing the 1912 catalogue of results it is interesting to note that at the five major shows; Dairy, Manchester, Palace,
Birmingham and Kendal; there were in the cards 30 different exhibitors with a total of 535 exhibits. The large had 18 different
exhibitors in the cards with a total of 195 exhibits.

However there were only two exhibitors exhibiting both large and bantam and they were W. B. Fowler and F. W, Smith. This
illustrates how the large with no breed club were divorced from the bantams.

The total moderns for 1912 were 46 exhibitors in cards with 720 exhibits. For 1991 we had 6 regional shows, 49 exhibitors in
cards with 747 exhibits penned. When put like this we are not doing so badly compared with the good old days. But when you
think back to 1902 with 121 Large Black-Reds in one show the mind boggles.

Well I've been interestingly side-tracked as this article was about people not birds and we finally go back and look at our
Trophy list to see our present benefactors.

Firstly the late Steve Waring, our hard working Secretary in the mid 80's, who was sadly killed in a car crash, He loved his off-
colours and appropriately his cup is for Best Non-Standardised.

When the Large were taken under the wing of the MGBC, Bill Swindley was keeping large at that time and kindly donated the
Trophy for best Large. Jack Richardson kindly made up the Opp Sex Large. Last but not least, Bob Mills proposed we have a
trio class at the National and when this was accepted, kindly presented a trophy to the Club for same.

So apart from Walter Smithy I have accounted for all of our benefactors trophy-wise. If any one out there can further assist with
who Walter Smithy was, I will be pleased to hear from them and add it to this publication.

I realise Trophies are considered a nuisance by many and people do not wish to take them home because they worry about
their value. We have had suggestions at the AGM that we sell them but I hope this article brings home to members, that these
Trophies are a very important part of the Club's heritage.

 

 
In 2006 a cup turned up on ebay inscribed -
Presented by Robert Hirst for the best Duckwing Modern Game Bantam’.
 

This is quite an amazing story -

On 23rd of January 2006, Francis Bassom (a MGC member) telephoned to inform me there was a cup relating to Modern
Game on Ebay and the auction was ending in an hour. I was subsequently lucky to buy this Cup back for the Club.

It is hallmarked 1904 and in perfect condition. We have two other Robert Hirst cups; the Hirst Rose Bowl for Best Modern and
the Hirst Cup for Best Opposite Sex, so when did we ‘lose’ this one? The answer is, as far as I can ascertain, before my time
with the Club. It was not with us when I first listed the trophies in the late 1980's.

 

 

We got these old cups from the Bradford Club when it closed in 1959, so I can only assume we also got this one, but then
someone won it and forgot to return it to the Club sometime after 1959.

The dealer who sold it on ebay informed me that he bought it in the Portabello Road but knew nothing more about it.

What an amazing stroke of luck it was to get this cup back. Thank you to Francis for such a quick reaction and for finding it.

One cup we did lose in my time is the Bartle Cup for best Birchen, a little smaller than this cup. Someone won it in the late
1980's and it was never returned. I have informed this dealer just in case he comes across it.

   

See also Club History in the Club's Archive

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