The South African Field Trial Club is the oldest trialing dog club in South Africa established in 1908, and to this day continues to promote and develop the sport of field trialling in Southern Africa.

The club caters for enthusiasts who wish to nurture and perpetuate the natural hunting instincts inherent in gundogs. Also known as ‘Bird Dogs’ the club caters for all pointing breeds, these include English Pointers, German Short-haired Pointers, English Setters, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Weimaraners, Vizslas, German Wire-haired Pointers to name a few…

The South African Field Trial Club hosts a number of events entered by local & international enthusiast trialers who develop, train and compete with the country’s finest hunting dogs.

THE STORY OF THE SAFTC – As we celebrate our 110th Anniversary

by B.L.Kraut.

The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley drew men from all over the world, each hoping to make his fortune. Many of those who ventured forth to the diamond fields, which abounded with game, brought with them their guns and their dogs. The year 1880 saw the outbreak of the first Boer war and the advancement of British troops as far as Irene, a village situated to the south of Pretoria. Upon the cessation of hostilities in 1881, many British immigrants settled in Pretoria and its environs. In 1889 gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand and again the rush was on by men from all over the world and in particular Britain.

With the abundance of game to be found in and around the tent town that was later to become known as Johannesburg, pointing dogs accompanied their masters. The years 1899 to 1902 were marked by the second Boer war, resulting in Britain annexing the Transvaal with its gold reserves. Again, the influx of British officers, who had had the benefit of shooting over dogs in their native land, brought more pointing dogs of the finest breeding to South Africa.

Some 42 years after the first field trial in England, in the year 1908, one John McIlveen, an avid hunter and lover of pointing dogs who had had experience of field trials in Britain, together with a handful of other pointing dog lovers formed the South African Field Trial Club, which became the fountain-head of all field trialling in Southern Africa. We are not quite sure of the exact date upon our elders, who avidly appreciate the art of dog utilising its natural ability to fin feathered game, sat down to agree upon the establishment of the South African Field Trial club, we do know, that the first field trial took place on the 3rd August 1908.

The initial members of the club included D.F. Gilfillan, the founder of the prestigious national law firm of Bowman Gilfillan Incorporated and after whom the suburb of Littlefillan in Sandton is named, Major Th E. Mavrogordato, Dr. J A E Murray, J A (Bertie) Van der Byl, F J Finch Smith, Richard Curry. H.N. Wood, the clubs first President and W. Ferrett the first Club Secretary and also the first person to Judge a Field Trial in South Africa. Others who were early members of the club and who were pioneers of the Transvaal were, D.Erasmus (Erasmere -Pta.) P.J.Roux (Rouxville-Jhb.), H.Bramley (Bramley -Jhb.), Paul Selby (Selby- Jhb.).etc.