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The Grand Shield and Senior Cup results and Reviews

The results from both events, the Adjudicator's off stage remarks for the Grand Shield and our retrospective reviews of the performances at both contests.

The Senior Cup results and review

The 81st Grand Shield


1. Kirkintilloch, Allan Ramsey
2. Ever Ready, Ray Farr
3. Bodmin, Steve Sykes
4. Sellers International, Alan Exley
5. Aveley and Newham, Nigel Taken
6. Point of Ayr, Alan Lawton
7. Ashton-Under-Lyne, Martin Evans
8. Rothwell Temperance, David Roberts
9. Wingates, Brian Grant
10. Fishburn, Ian Robinson
11. Besses o' th' Barn, Gareth Pritchard
12. BT, Michael Fowles
13. First City Brass, Jeremy Wise
14. Mount Charles, Bryan Hurdley
15. Unison Kinneil, John Hinckley
16. Rolls Royce Coventry, Dave Lea
17. Thornton's Brass, Stephen Shimwell
18. B.T.M, Gareth Pritchard
19. Stalybridge Old, David Hirst
20. E.Y.M.S, Chris Hirst

Adjudicator's remarks:

Derek BroadbentDerek Broadbent:

He stated that the piece was just as difficult now as it was when it was first used. The had made their formal remarks direct to the bands in the adjudications but he did say that all trombone players on the day had to be congratulated on their performances - not a bad one amongst them - especialy the bass trombones. The bands in the prizes were the bands that gave the most detail, not the least number of slips.

David ReadDavid Read:

He was very impressed that the piece had stood up so well in the 75 years since it was first used. Still a very good test he remarked and again emphasised that it was the quality of the overall performances that counted not the slips. He remarked directly to us that even though the two top bands had blemishes in the soprano cornet lines, they did not detract from the overall musical picture that was given by both of them.

Solo cornets had to play with expression rather than rubato and again he stated that all the trombone players did very well and that if percussion was not mentioned in his remarks they should treat it as "no news is good news".

Our Look Back Review

Well – We were right and wrong weren’t we? Right that the 81st Grand Shield is the hardest contest of all to win (ask any of the bands on the day) and wrong in that that our pre contest predictions failed to live fully up to expectations. Serves our right for trying to be armchair pundits.

Of our top six predictions for the placings, Ever Ready came 2nd, Wingates 9th, Besses 11th, Sellers 4th, Rothwell 8th, Aveley 5th and Point of Ayr (our dark horses) 6th. Not bad – with all seven in the top eleven from a field of twenty bands – but we didn’t get the winners and we didn’t rate the chances of Bodmin who came 3rd too highly pre contest day either. Both stuck two well-deserved fingers up at us.   

Congratulations to the Kirkintilloch though; they gave the most complete rendition of the test piece heard on the day, and even though we said on our review beforehand that they “were well worth listening to” we failed to see them coming in the top six. They made us look right plonkers with some super playing and a top class bit of directing from Allan Ramsey in front of the band. We said that he was less flamboyant than Frank Renton, but this surely was a plus point in the win as it was reading that was straightforward and allowed the music on the score to speak. It was a well constructed and richly deserved win and one that should see them be competitive in the Open come September.

There was some quibbling in the audience about Ever Ready and Bodmin, but David Read who spoke to us at the end said that even though the two sops had bad days at the office, their momentary lapses in the second movements didn’t detract from the overall quality of band playing throughout the whole of the test piece. We agreed - Ever Ready sounded a class band and Ray Farr certainly brought the detail of the music out especially in the two outer movements so 2nd was about right, but we raised an eyebrow or two with Bodmin who played an up tempo performance in the outer movements that at times was a little scrappy. The second movement had plenty of time and space (especially the euph solo) but it was a performance that for us didn’t quite come off. What do we know though?

Sellers gave notice that they are back on the road to recovery and Aveley showed why they are now a band to look out for at this level. Both performances had their merits – especially the soloists, but Aveley seemed to be undone by the early draw and an interpretation that was a bit too radical and Sellers didn’t have quite enough in them at the death to sneak into the qualifying spots. Both lived up to our expectations - so thanks from us!

Point also did the business for us, and was commendably conducted by the experienced Alan Lawton but both Wingates and Besses didn’t catch the ears of adjudicators Read and Broadbent. Besses in particular were unlucky – and that’s not just us trying to save our bacon. They played with real style and had a fine group of soloists that all did their jobs very well and Gareth Pritchard showed for us one of the best readings of the score on the day; it was different but always interesting. We had them third and so were a little non-plussed by their 11th place, whilst Wingates can also count themselves a little unfortunate with 9th after a good solid show. Rothwell were a bit hard done by for us and 8th place seemed to stem from an early draw more than anything else we could think of – the trials and tribulations of contesting eh?

As for the rest. The bands that made up the midfield were very much of a muchness with all of them suffering form intonation, balance and style problems. One of the features of most of these bands was overblowing and hard tonal sounds especially in the top cornets for which many of the conductors should take the blame. None disgraced themselves, but none really did themselves any favours either, so it’s back to the drawing boards for them.

The bands that filled the bottom six places though were poor. We don’t know if it was just a bad day for many of them but they had no cause for complaint. Too many bludgeoned their way through the music and some sounded very under rehearsed, which is a sin you cannot get away with at this level, whilst a couple of the conductors must share the blame for believing they knew better than the composer when it came to style and interpretation. Some bordered on the extreme.

Overall then a nice and enjoyable day out at the seaside for us (although we never got to go on the Big Dipper) and encouraging signs that the old contest could be returning to better health with a few more than of late filling in seats in the hall. Congrats to the judges who got it right again and who benefited from a well-positioned “box”, but bad marks to the “new” version of Epic Symphony with added percussion – it just didn’t enhance the piece at all and was a distraction.

The Senior Cup:


1. Peter Hawke Garages Lindley, Neil Jowett
2. Seindorf Beaumaris, Gwyn Evans
3. Cwmaman, Graham O'Connor
4. Skelmanthorpe, Kevin Wadsworth
5. Newtongrange, Simon Kerwin
6. Kibworth, John Berryman
7. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda, Alan Gibbs
8. Northop Silver, Ian Porthouse
9. Laganvale, Stephen Cairns
10. Woolley Pritchard Soveriegn Brass, Duncan Beckley
11. Yorkshire Co-operatives, John Roberts
12. City of Oxford, Phillip Bailey
13. Kingdom Brass, Ian Davey
14. Thoresby RJB, Stan Lippeatt
15. Ratby Co-operatives, Kevin Steward
16. First Old Boys Association, Grenville Moore
17. Staffordshire, Andy Culshaw
18. Freckleton, Paul Dalton
19. Hepworth, Andrew Duncan
20. Parc and Dare, Craig Roberts

Meanwhile across the way at the Senior Cup things didn’t work put as we expected either as we put the kiss of death on the bands we thought were going to do well.

Our top six came as follows: Thoresby RJB 14th, Skelmanthorpe 4th, Freckleton 18th, Northop 8th, Hepworth 19th, Newtongrange 5th and Beaumaris (our dark horses) 2nd.

The good news was that we got 2nd, 4th and 5th but we also got 14th, 18th and 19th as well to balance things out! Our man at the contest heard all but one band himself and someone we trusted heard them so even though on paper we didn’t do that well we agreed overall with the findings of Mr Scott and Mr Whitham when they gave the results out.

We spoke to Geoff Whitham who told us that it was the basics of intonation, style and balance that sorted the band out on the day and that they had to be put in place before anything fancy could be attempted. The overall standard was pretty good but overall the music won out with too many bands treating the piece with an unhealthy scepticism and undisguised dislike - before you can master the music found at the British Open you have got to be able to get to grips with this type of stuff – and too many bands and conductors for that matter just didn’t get the basics right.

Lindley were neat and tidy and produced a lovely rounded sound which although was small didn’t at any time become hard and benefited from some very solid soloists. Neil Jowett had certainly worked the band well and gave a reading that never strayed too far from the composer’s intentions. It was very good performance ahead of much more fancied bands.

Beaumaris continue to perform with style and showed why they have become such a successful outfit both in Wales and beyond. Neat and tidy with a nice sound – great bass end and a very straightforward interpretation from conductor Gwyn Evans. So many other bands should have taken a leaf out of his book. Cwmaman also showed what having good soloists allied to an experienced conductor can do for you, with a very solid and unpretentious showing that owed a lot to Graham O’Connor’s reading. Skelmanthorpe played to form and gave a solid account of themselves to get 4th and Newtongrange also confirmed our belief in them by coming 5th, whilst Kibworth showed the value of having a quality conductor at the helm with John Berryman in a performance that saw them come a well deserved 6th. All these bands took the chance to impress the men in the box well.

Below that it became a bit murkier for our man and he felt that those who came 7th to 14th could really have been place in any order you cared to choose. All had their merits but all suffered from periods of poor intonation especially from the bass ends which spoilt their overall chances and too many tried to blow their way out of trouble only to find themselves deeper in the mire as a result.

The one band that should get a mention though would be Sovereign Brass who were let down by regular conductor David Maplestone and engaged Duncan Beckley at very short notice to take them on two rehearsals and the day. 10th place was a minor miracle in the circumstances and reflected well on both the band and conductor who continues to impress with sensible good quality readings – other bands should take a note of his address.

Some of the more fancied bands in our list had pretty poor days though with Thoresby in particular not playing to anywhere near the form that saw them come second in the Areas – it was a performance that still had echoes of Jazz in the style and somehow never came off, whilst Freckleton and Hepworth both played well below themselves and suffered with poor intonation and balance problems with too much hardness in the top cornets throughout. Northop can consider themselves a little unlucky to have come 8th, but that’s contesting for you.

The bottom lot however will have to hope they get an invite back next year as there will be more than a few bands out there that would have fancied their chances against the opposition, while some conductors have got to realise that not every piece of music must try and be played like it was composed by Philip Wilby.

Overall though the standard was not as high as we expected – but that may be because some bands didn’t do themselves justice. Lindley and the other top five should survive in the Shield next year, but none would make any impression at the Open on these showings. The Senior Cup showed us one thing. The standard between the bands that compete in the Open and those that competed here was as wide as the Premiership and the Second Division of the Football League and is just as difficult to bridge.

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Kirkinkilloch  - holding the Grand Shield

Grand Shield Adjudicators - David Read and Derek Broadbent

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