John Wanless

More than once John has made top 10 in the World Cup Fly, a huge feat, so we are happy to have him featured here and provide a little insight. Additionally, John has likely seen more top quality kits of Birmingham Rollers than most given that he judged the 2015 World Cup Fly. One of the lucky few. If interested, you can look at the score sheet with notes on each kit from John here. This experience alone makes him a fountain of knowledge.

John’s name got on this site’s radar partially because of a blog post he published on Roller World. The post was his assessment of quality in US vs. European rollers. His conclusion, both interesting and provocative, was that overall quality was best in European rollers, attributing it to the rollers generally having more white color on them. He is on to something. More on that subject in the blog soon but without further a due, here’s he is.



John Wanless, 40-60, Middlesbrough, UK.
10 pairs of breeders and a few pair of feeders, I breed around 80 young but normally lose half to the BOP or off the loft top trying to home them.
My uncle got me into pigeons when I was around 8 or 9 years old. He raced them and had fancy birds at his house.
No one influenced me. I have always had rollers and probably longer than anyone else I know.
I started my family running 2 cocks I bred to all the good hens I had. Then, concentrated on one cock over the years, ring MDRC 45 1994. Now all the birds in my loft are related to the 45 cock.
It’s named above (MDRC 45 1994) .He is the best producing bird I’ve ever come across. He is the grandfather to 5 national champions in the UK and Ireland.
I look for a bird that I only notice when it rolls, something that never does anything wrong but when it rolls it sticks out more than any of the others in the kit.
I never pick birds from the ground for stock. All my stock birds are picked from the air. Though I do enjoy watching them on the ground for leisure.
Most of my birds are black badges, balds or blue cheq balds or badges. I think these colors produce more good rollers than other colors though I have seen good rollers in most colors.
I think color can contribute on the kit chemistry. Most of the big breaking kits I’ve seen around the world have been the so called softer colored birds. These tend to break big but lack the quality that I prefer.
Control, meaning it has to know when not to roll as I live in a very built up area and if they make a mistake they’re dead.
Fly the best and kill the rest, or fly or die. Any bird that lands early for no reason won’t last in my loft.
Far too many to mention over the years losing kits of top quality old birds. Watching the BOP take my best rollers, and also getting PMV virus.
1) Birds that land early
2)Bad kitters
3)Sloppy rollers
I fly my birds most days I can. The bad weather here in the UK dictates when I can or can’t fly birds so if I have them near were I want them I just carry on flying them. I have a saying, ‘why change something that’s not broken’. I believe if they are doing what I want them to do, why change anything. By that I mean why start resting them? Just keep flying them. I only stop flying them if they’re not rolling.
Go see as many top kits as you can and don’t think there’s only you that flies good rollers. There’s a few out there but sometimes it takes time to find and see them.
Judging the World Cup was the best experience in my life as seeing kits all around the world is heaven to me. In fact, the biggest disappointment for me was most days in the USA I was only seeing one kit. I never get bored watching rollers even when they’re not doing much; I still like watching them. One of my best days was with Cliff Ball; he flew 12 kits for me then asked if I was sick of watching birds. I said have you any more to fly for me, LOL? I met lots of new friends from everywhere I visited and was really looked after every where I went. Only the roller hobby looks after the judge as though he is family I can not think of any other hobby that welcomes strangers into their houses like we do in the roller game. If I’m been honest, the birds were a little disappointing for me but that’s because of the type of birds I like are very rare. I never expected to see any birds of the caliber that I like and keep as I’ve seen very few of that type on all my travels prior to judging the W/C. I had seen some very good kits in my visits to South Africa over the years. So I did expect the Africans to be pushing for a 1st or 2nd place. But I was so disappointed in their birds this visit and in my opinion they have gone backwards with their birds since I was last there. The other disappointment for me was the quality of the birds in the USA though I was warned from quite a few of previous W/C judges that what I see and hear on the internet is not like it is in real life. I was always under the impression that the birds in the USA were far faster than the birds in Europe yet other W/C judges had told me that was not the case. That was the main reason I decided to judge the W/C. As I wanted to see and decide for myself and be totally honest in my thoughts and opinions. My friends here in the UK told me they were overjoyed that I was picked to judge as they know I don’t lie about rollers. I don’t have favorites and I’m always honest. In fact my honesty can sometimes get me into trouble when talking about rollers. But I have to say this; the birds in Europe are in no way slower than the birds in the USA. In fact, in my honest opinion the birds in Europe are way faster than anything I seen in the USA. For some reason there’s a myth in the US that we in the UK fly big breaking kits but the birds have no speed. I can not say how absurd that notion is. I’ve realized that most of what I’ve heard is just people talking crap on the internet and have no idea what they’re talking about. I end by hoping who ever judges next years W/C does it like I did, with no hidden agendas and judges it honestly and makes sure that the best kit wherever it is from, wins the fly.