The Senior Cup 2001 - Runners and Riders
Saturday 5th May
Winter Gardens, Blackpool
We’ve done it for the Grand Shield so we had to do it for the newly
reconstituted Senior Cup. It tells you something about how the banding
press have taken the contest to heart that the big story of the
contest has been the fact that a fuss was being made about the missing
trophy – not exactly interested then were they?
That’s a pity, because the contest should be a close run thing
with 20 bands of much the same standard that can be found across
the ballroom at the Winter Gardens playing for the Grand Shield.
The test piece is a “new” version of Granville Bantock’s “Prometheus
Unbound”, which was originally used as the test piece for the 1933
National Championships, won by Fodens Motor Works Band (whatever
became of them?). Why the organisers have found the need to fiddle
with the music by adding yet more percussion parts is beyond us.
The music should be left to stand on it’s merits – regardless of
a lack of a timp part. If the original is not considered good enough
– then leave it alone and pick a different piece.
Having said all that, it should still prove a challenge, although
technically all the bands on show should be able to more than play
the piece. Balance, intonation, quality of tone and no overblowing
will be the key areas we feel, and areas that will cull more than
a few bands from the podium placings. The top 6 bands will be promoted
to the Shield. Here’s our run down then.
Ireland sends over two entries in 1st Old Boys Association and
Laganvale and both are welcome entries. Banding in Ireland seems
to be a bit of a mystery to most of us, and the overall standard
is not perhaps the highest, but these two bands will surely put
up good solid shows. Not quite good enough for the top three, but
an outside chance of making the top six for both.
Wales also has a good strong entry with no fewer than five entries
on show. Northop under Ian Porthouse are the form Welsh band at
the moment on the back of third place at the Area and have the band
sound that should suit the piece, whilst Cwmaman, 5th at the Area
have made the sensible choice of having Graham O’Conner at the helm
– a man with an enviable record of achievement and success at Grand
Shield contest. Parc and Dare are a famous name now starting to
return to better days after a good showing in Swansea a month ago
where they came 6th, whilst Mid Rhondda will be hoping that last
place there was just a temporary blip.
The interesting inclusion of nationally ranked First Section,
Seindorf Beaumaris from North Wales shouldn’t be discounted. They
are a fine young band who won the Area title with comfort and are
in reality a good quality top section outfit, and should take more
than a few notable scalps. Northop and Beaumaris have the best chance
for us, with Cwmaman close behind.
Scotland gets in on the act with Kingdom Brass and Newtongrange
making the long trip southwest to Blackpool. Newtongrange came 6th
at the Area with Ray Farr at the helm and so will have a new man
with the baton to lead their charge as Ray appears with Ever Ready
in the Shield Contest. However, they are an experienced band at
this level and should feature strongly. Kingdom Brass also lose
the conductor who took them to a well deserved 4th place at the
Area, with Thomas Wyss taking Point of Ayr in the Shield, but again
this is a band on an upward curve of success and could well make
an impression against the opposition.
Yorkshire provides four bands that should be in at the death. Skelmanthorpe
with Kevin Wadsworth came 5th at the Area beating many more fancied
bands into the bargain with a performance that emphasised the bands
strengths of tonal quality and balance. Hepworth meanwhile came
9th which was an improvement over their disappointing 18th place
at Pontins late last year. Andy Duncan has done a lot of hard graft
with the band and they are certainly on an upwards curve which could
see them feature highly on the day. Yorkshire Cooperatives came
11th at Bradford, beating Sellers into bottom spot – which is a
bit odd as we rate Sellers chances quite highly in the Grand Shield.
John Roberts will have his work cut out to get a top six place here,
but they came 2nd at the Rochdale Contest this year just behind
Stalybridge who are also in the Shield, so they may spring a surprise.
Lindley are another First Section outfit that puts in decent shows
on the contest stage. They came 9th at Pontins beating many higher
ranked bands and the Areas saw them take 4th place in the 1st Section
in a strong contest. Skelmanthorpe and Hepworth for us then towards
the top end with the other two in midfield.
The Midlands field a strong contingent with Thoresby RJB the real
front runners. 2nd place at the Area just behind Travelsphere (GUS)
was a real achievement and one that was well deserved. Stan Lippeatt
has worked hard to get the band back on track and they will be coming
to the Senior Cup as one of the favourites and a little miffed at
not being in the Shield Contest itself. Real contenders for us.
Wooley Pritchard Sovereign and Staffordshire came 5th and 6th at
the Area respectively, which were good results for both. However,
both bands were very disappointing at Pontins late last year when
they could only manage 13th and 15th so at national contests they
have both got a bit to prove of late. Both are capable of showing
well, but it may be a scrap between them for one of the minor places.
Kibworth and Ratby are nationally ranked in the First Section and
at the Area they filled the top two places with some comfort. Kibworth
will have the experienced John Berryman at the helm and that should
be a real plus point at the contest. They came 7th at Pontins and
beat higher ranked bands in the bargain and are like their MD in
the way they play – neat and tidy. Should do well. Ratby may not
be quite good enough to challenge at the very top, but could feature
around the fringes.
Lancashire and London gets just the one entry each this year in
the form of Freckleton and City of Oxford. Freckleton are a young
band who performed way above expectation at the North West Area
where they took a very well deserved 4th place and beat bands such
as Besses, Wingates, Stalybridge and Aston under Lyne – all of whom
are competing in the Shield. This could be a good omen for them
as they have a talented group of young soloists and are very sensibly
City of Oxford also come to the contest on the back of a good result,
even though they were later disqualified from their 3rd place at
the London Area for fielding an ineligible player. Their usual conductor,
Nigel Taken is not at the helm for this one though and a midfield
place possibly beckons as at Pontins last year where they came a
lowly joint 15th.
That’s the bands then. No real form from past Senior Cups to go
by as this is the first time since 1982 that the contest has taken
place. As the competition itself will be taking place at the same
time as the Grand Shield, both are only a stones throw from each
other in the Winter Garden complex, so it’s well worth popping in
and out of both to see bands and compare the standards.
We’ll have someone at both so we’ll put our necks on the line now
and give you our possible top 6.
Dark Horses: Beaumaris.