JOHN CREHAN - TEAM HOOYMANS UK - Gouden Duif UK & RoI winner

Déjà vu

The term déjà vu is French and means, literally, "already seen". For those reading the report on the Golden Duif UK & RoI winner 2019 may well have experienced that feeling upon reading the name of the winners, after all it is the same partnership as in 2018. Team Hooymans UK consisting of John Crehan (loft manager and responsible for the day to day running of the loft) and Jan Hooymans responsible for provision of the team of youngsters each season and the occupants of the small elite stock team at John’s home.

John Crehan lives with his family in the City of Salford, West of the City of Manchester, a former industrial powerhouse of cotton and silk spinning and weaving its location on the West of Greater Manchester in a bend of the River Irwell it was made famous via the paintings of the renowned 20th Century artist L S Lowry and in the song “Dirty old town” written by Ewan McColl from 1949 and later recorded by many other artists including “The Pogues” with its first two verses bringing to life the industrial city landscape.:

Found my love by the gaswork croft
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
Kissed my girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town, dirty old town

I heard a siren from the dock
Saw a train set the night on fire
Smelled the spring on the sulphured wind
Dirty old town, whoa oh, dirty old town

Mention the City of Manchester to any football fan and they instantly reply with the English Premiership Teams “Manchester City” and “Manchester United”.
However here is now a third Premier League Team in Manchester, “Team Hooymans UK” (Crehan & O’Connor) and after winning the Golden Duif UK & RoI Championship in 2018 and 2019 it could be fair to state they are the most successful of the three teams in 2019!
Although registered and raced under the partnership name of Crehan & O’Connor only one man is responsible for the day to day management of the race team, John Crehan 43. His former partner Andy O’Connor having left the team approximately 11 years ago but John has still not got round to taking his name from the partnership.
John and Lisa (his biggest supporter) have two daughters Lois 16 and Lily 10 and all three will lend a hand if required


Cat. 1 (60-225 miles)
3e Wollaston 543 b. entry 1
3e Frome 4259 b. entry 5
Cat. 2 (225-425 miles)
9e Messac 4909 b. entry 2
7e Fougeres 554 b. entry 2
Cat. 3 (+ 425 miles)
3e Cholet 280 b. entry 1
Cat. 4 (young birds +60 miles)
1e Carentan 2002 b. entry 11
1e Hullavington 1954 b. entry 10
Totaalcoëfficiënt: 5,93

The early days

As a schoolboy John flew with his father Tommy and to this day still has the trophy won in his first season as a treasured momento of his late father who passed away 3 years ago.
John re started in the sport in 2003 and following the advice from the local legends Wall, Lunt and Green he invested in direct imports from Peter Van de Merwe which had an instant impact including 4 x 1st Federation in their first season, the Golden Pair bred 10 x 1st prize winners.
These were supplemented with introductions direct from the best available from Alwyn Petrie, Geraard Koopman, Syndicate Lofts, the Eijerkamp Family (from Che, Jackpot etc), Danny Van Dyck (from Kanon, den 11 etc.), Leo Heremans (from de Jan, Nieuwe Olympiade, “Nieuwe Rossi” x “Eenoogske”etc.) and “Olympic Wolverine” a Kannibaal based cock who was 1st UK Olympiad representative and 4th overall in the 2011 Poznan Olympiad in the Yearling Category. 

Jan Hooymans (l) en John Crehan (r).The great leap forward

Among the introductions from Syndicate Lofts was a chequer hen who was placed in the race team became an ace racer and then an even better breeder once retired to the breeding loft, it is probably fair to say that she brought the name of Crehan & O’Connor International recognition and took the loft to a new level, given the name “Mystique” she herself won 7 x 1st prizes against 4,316 b, 3,801 b, 1,558 b, 570 b, 318 b, 117 b & 45 b at races between 147 and 322 KM without duplication.

She proved to be a super breeder both for John and others, at John’s own loft when coupled with “Clean Slate” she bred the nestmates “Vitali” 1st RPRA North West Region All Round Ace Pigeon (1,800 lofts), 1st National Ace Pigeon All Round (28,000 lofts) 2013 as well as 2nd RPRA North West Region Ace Pigeons Sprint (1,800 members) behind his nestmate “Vladimir” the 1st RPRA North West Region (1,800 members) Sprint and 3rd RPRA National Ace Pigeon Sprint (28,000 lofts) 2013. She also is dam of Combine winners against 3,046 b, 2,947 b and 1st Prize winners at Federation and Club level. In one loft races her children won 6 x 1st Open UK in the Sun City Million Dollar and Golden Algarve One Loft races, as a result of the consistent success John was asked to sell his old bird race team and breeders on PIPA at the end of the 2014 season..

A new co operation and re start 

It was at the South Africa Million Dollar Pigeon race in January 2014 that Thomas Gyselbrecht introduced John Crehan to Jan Hooymans and mentioned John was selling his race and breeding team at Auction and that he owned an exceptional hen with nestmates sons winning 1st and 3rd National Ace Pigeon. After Thomas left them to their conversation John and Jan continued to discuss pigeons over a bottle of wine (or two) and at the end of the evening a provisional agreement was made to take “Mystique” to Kerkdreil to couple with “Harry” and “James Bond” and for Jan to return her and Children from her bred at Kerkdreil to Salford along with a new stock team and a YB team to race at John’s loft in 2014. This resulted in wins at Club, Fed and Combine from the first season and it was agreed for the pigeons to be raced on as yearlings in Salford and a further team of youngsters to be delivered from Kerkdreil in Spring 2015, again this was a success and now all the race team are bred by Jan and raced by John.

The current Crehan and O’Connor team consists of their own “Mystique” line when she was coupled to “Harry” and “James Bond” blended into and supplemented with the best Jan could send over each year for the UK young bird team and this has happened every season since 2014 with success at Club, Fed, Amalgamation, Combine, Section (Provincial) and 2 x 1sts at National level and 2 Olympiad participants.


The target is usually all races up to 400 miles with the old birds and all races to 200 miles with young birds, however as the Golden Duif UK & RoI requires a Long Distance performance from 425 miles or further to qualify John had to set individual pigeons up to gain the necessary performances in this category.
At least 20 x 1sts a year has been the won every season since 2004 against up to 6,000 pigeons at Combine level. This is achieved via two local Clubs, one Federation, one Amalgamation, one Combine and for National races via the Midlands National Flying Club, British International Championship Club and the National Flying Club.

The current team have so far achieved 7 x RPRA North West Region Ace Pigeon Awards, 2 x UK Olympiad Pigeons at Brussels in 2017, 2nd RPRA National Ace Pigeon Long Distance 2018 as well as numerous 1sts at Club, Fed, Amal and Combine level.
The 2019 season John won 36 x 1sts and this included 1st Young Bird National from Carentan in France (290 miles) with the Midlands National Flying Club against 1,947 youngsters from 201 competitors..


The old bird loft was 9.6 metres x 1.8 metres with four compartments (3 cocks & 1 hens), the new Young bird loft built over the winter of 2018/9 is 4.8 metres x 1.8 metres and has two compartments allowing John to race the youngsters to the nest early season and then parted on the sliding door after they gain experience in the race basket… It didn’t take long to prove the new loft environment was right for pigeons with Combine, NWGNFC and 1st National Carentan with Lily Bear in 2019.
The breeding loft is 3 metres x 1.8 metres with two compartments with a small half height aviary on each.

Feeding & Supplements

John has used the mixes from Vanrobaey’s of Rekkem for the last couple of seasons as they are readily available nearby and are consistently top quality.
Three different mixes are used “Diet”, “Depurative” and “Super Widowhood”, how they are blended daily depends upon the weather, day of the week and how difficult the previous race was and the distance/weather conditions for the next race.
The same 3 mixes are used for the old and young bird race teams and are complemented by the Matrix, grit, Gemthepax and other supplements from the UK based GEM company.

Race methods

The old bird team consists of 30 couples on total widowhood, these are split between two Saturday Clubs weekly and as the distance increases certain pigeons are held off for specific events. Pigeons who perform well up to 400 KM will be kept to races under that distance whist others who perform up to 600 KM are raced to that distance and the odd individual sent to the longest races.

Although only entering a small team to cross the English Channel from France in the National and Combine races, from the last 7 French races entered John has won 1st RPRA North West Region Open Carentan from 4,500 b, 1st National (NFC) Ancennis 5,514b and 1st National (MNFC) Carentan 2,002b in addition to 1sts at Club level from them all.

The young bird team (80) arrive in March from Kerkdreil and are darkened from weaning until the 21st of June and are raced weekly out to 201 miles via the local clubs with 50% of the team sent to each Club and a small team of 11 was entered in the Young Bird National organised by the MNFC from Carentan 290 miles and from their first Young Bird National entered from France John and Jan were 1st National from 2,002 youngsters entered by 201 members.


Apart from the mandatory PMV inoculation annually John takes the “stamp on it” approach to health, if he see’s a problem he stamps on it at the first sign to prevent it flaring up and effecting performance negatively. Treatment is only administered if there is a decrease in home exercise work rate or a poor performance from the team. The main issue’s to be aware of are Tricho and head problems and if he is unable to resolve it himself then Henk De Weerdt is consulted. Some season’s hardly any medication is needed and invariably they are the better season’s. John is of the opinion too many fanciers prevent their pigeons achieve their full potential by unnecessary administration of medication knocking the condition of the pigeons down week after week.

The future

After renovating and extending the family home during July and August 2019 John is now looking forward to less disruption from the builders as he is intending to compete in another two National Clubs the “BICC” and “BBC” in 2020 in addition to racing in his two local Clubs and Nationals via the NFC and MNFC in an attempt to achieve his 3rd National victory for “Team Hooymans UK”.
Congratulations John and Jan on achieving a magnificent double and good luck for 2020!

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