Heres the bit youve all been waiting for. 4BarsRest
gives you the run down on all 21 bands competing at the years
149th British Open and how we think they may do.
There will be contenders, pretenders and hopefuls for us, but every
band is here on its merits and every band will be in with a chance
of wining the big gold shield, the Belle Vue Challenge Cup and the
£3000. All will fancy their chance in some way, with a genuine
handful travelling with realistic intentions of relieving Buy As
You View Cory of their title. Who will it be?
Conductor: Nicholas Childs
Appearances: 97 times. Debut 1856
27 Wins: (1862, 1863, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1891, 1895, 1896,
1899, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1914, 1935, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974,
1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995)
20 Seconds: (1877, 1887, 1888, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1917,
1922, 1934, 1938, 1971, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000)
9 Thirds: (1868, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1916, 1937, 1953, 1958, 1963)
8 Fourths: (1890, 1912, 1919, 1921, 1936, 1970, 1979, 1989)
5 Fifths: (1864, 1920, 1936, 1952, 1966)
2 Sixths: (1947, 1962)
1 Disqualification (1865)
Last 5 Years: (starting 1996): (14th, dnc, 8th, 2nd, 2nd)
Who would have thought that when Black Dyke won the 1995 National
Championships under James Watson, they would still be waiting six
years later to add to their Majors total.
However, the unfortunate messy end to the Watson era left Black
Dyke with a massive rebuilding job, not only in terms of players
but also of confidence. Nicholas Childs was the man earmarked for
the task, and in his second year in control, he has laid the foundations
of a possible long term Dyke revival.
Starting with second place at the Open last year and a win at the
Yorkshire Area this year he has undertaken radical surgery on the
playing body of Dyke and has returned the band to something approaching
the classic Dyke sound as big and rounded as
a Sumo wrestlers belly.
Weve followed their progress in 2001 and have been mighty
impressed, and with a set of players as good as any around, the
149th Open may just be Dyke's 28th victory at the contest.
Brighouse and Rastrick
Conductor: Allan Withington
Appearances: 60 times. Debut 1890
6 Wins: (1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1978)
3 Seconds: (1965, 1977, 1983)
5 Thirds: (1939, 1940, 1973, 1976, 1998)
6 Fourths: (1942, 1943, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1999)
3 Fifths: (1960, 1971, 1987)
5 Sixths: (1938,1944, 1959, 1986, 1995)
Last 5 Years: (20th, 10th, 3rd, 4th)
Morecambe and Wise, fish and chips even Posh and Becks. Some things
go together well and some things dont. Since their last win
at the Open in 1978, Brighouse and the Open have gone together as
well as Kate Winslett and her husband or Liverpool football clubs
two centre backs not too great.
This is very strange though, as in Allan Withington they have one
of the best conductors around, and in terms of personnel they are
as strong as any band in the country. Put them in the Albert Hall,
Cambridge or anywhere in Europe and they produce awesome title winning
performances, but at the Open they dont seem to get a look
Their form this year has ranged from the not bad at the Yorkshire
Area to the stunning at the Masters. A repeat of that performance
may just get them a long awaited title; otherwise it could be another
year awaiting success.
Buy As You View Cory
Conductor: Robert Childs
Appearances: 38 Times. Debut 1922
1 Win: (2000)
1 Second: (1950)
1 Third: (1972)
3 Fourths: (1951, 1975, 1976)
1 Fifth: (1974)
1 Sixth: (1999)
Last 5 Years: (19th, 7th, 13th, 6th, 1st )
Someone once said that the true test of being a great champion
is not just winning a title, but retaining it; BAYV Cory are about
to find out the truth of that statement. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson
did it, but Lennox Lewis fell like two-ton sack of spuds when push
came to punch.
The Millennium title was deservedly won, but on that particular
day the expectations of them winning were not that high. Now they
are very much one of the favourites and with a band packed with
high class performers and a conductor who is possibly the most meticulous
of them all in terms of preparation, the band will travel to Birmingham
with very genuine hopes of a repeat victory.
2001 has been a story of missed chances; with the shock of 4th
place at the Welsh Area a real motivating factor to stop complacency
and the European title missed by the narrowest of whiskers. The
Open could signal the start of Cory hegemony.
Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
Conductor: John Hinckley
Appearances: 51 Times. Debut 1924
1 Win: (1958)
5 Seconds: (1941, 1957, 1959, 1969, 1972)
3 Thirds: (1948, 1950, 1956)
3 Fourths: (1928, 1944, 1963)
1 Fifth: (1927)
Last 5 Years: ( -, -, -, 14th, 9th)
1999 saw the return of Carlton Main back to the Open and to the
stage that for so many years they competed on as genuine contenders
for the title. They had won the Grand Shield and Yorkshire Area
titles and a solid 14th at the Open made sure that their elevation
was not going to be a temporary stay.
Last year saw the band consolidate further and much of that has
been due to the hard work of their conductor who continues to impress
and they came 9th at the Open. A disappointing performance at the
Yorkshire Area this year in coming 10th was soon forgotten in the
wake of a super show at the Masters where they came a well-deserved
Again, the undoubted hard work of the conductor and the band in
playing to their strengths worked well and this years Open
could well see them continue on the upward curve of success.
Conductor: James Gourlay
Appearances: 13 Times. Debut 1956
2 Thirds: (1993, 1997)
Last 5 Years: (8th, 3rd, 12th, 9th, 11th)
What to make of CWS eh? On their day they are capable of some breathtaking
performances that are more than capable of winning any contest,
yet on others they seem to perform as well as their national football
In what guise they will perform this year is anyones guess,
but with James Gourlay at the helm and a band of superb players
in many of the key positions, they could well be serious contenders.
Gourlay has a superb record at the Open and will bring elegance
and class to his reading of the score, whilst players such as Angela
Whelan, David Childs and Paul Kiernan will ensure plenty of points
winning playing in return.
Last year saw a disappointing 12th place when the Japanese experiment
didnt work, so the return to a homegrown Scot should bode
well for this years Scottish Area Champions.
Conductor: Peter Parkes
Appearances: 30 Times. Debut 1970
1 Second: (1979)
1 Third: (1980)
1 Fourth: (1982)
2 Fifths: (1984, 1986)
2 Sixths: (1983, 1987)
Last 5 Years: (15th, 15th, 16th, 13th, 20th)
And what to make of Desford? No one you talk to seems really to
know how Desford manage to keep going, let alone compete at the
major contests each year. They are a bit of mystery band.
Even when they were at their peak during the late 1980s they
never really made a challenge at the Open and the last five years
or more has seen them become a mid table journeyman. Last years
result however will mean that they will have to work hard to stave
off relegation to the Grand Shield, and they have taken the sensible
step of using Peter Parkes to spearhead their attempt.
They should have had plenty of time to get things right as they
werent at the Masters and a 3rd place at the Areas this year
meant no trip to London, but somehow you never quite know whats
been going on. Interesting to say the least.
DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell
Conductor: David Evans
Appearances: 57 Times. Debut 1938
3 Wins: (1970, 1971, 1980)
1 Second: (1966)
2 Thirds: (1962, 1975)
4 Fourths: (1967, 1973, 1974, 1978)
2 Fifths: (1965, 1994)
3 Sixths: (1943, 1972, 1979)
Last 5 Years: (22nd, 14th, 19th, 15th, 18th)
Two bands merged into one has meant survival and possible salvation
for a once famous name, for a few years ago there was a distinct
possibility of The Imps becoming just another entry
in the banding history books.
Good work initially by Thomas Wyss pushed the band ahead, but his
tenure came to a somewhat messy end and the band turned to a very
inexperienced newcomer to try and improve their fortunes further.
It has been something of an inspired signing and from the ashes
of 7th place at this years Yorkshire Area they recovered to give
a top class show at the Masters to come 6th. (Roy Newsome even had
them winning it). David Evans is certainly a young man with talent
and this has certainly motivated the band in recent months.
Not a great record of late at the Open and a possibility of relegation
if the obvious improvements of the last year havent been maintained.
Conductor: Ray Farr
Appearances: 25 Times. Debut 1966
1 Fourth: (1987)
2 Fifths: (1977, 1982)
Last 5 Years: First year back
The return of Ever Ready to the Open is well deserved as the North
East of England has been sorely underrepresented in recent years.
The Grand Shield Runners Up have been through the mill a bit themselves
since losing the sponsorship of the battery company whos name
they still proudly bear and 2001 saw them come a very disappointing
4th at the Area Championships. They kept cool heads however and
employed Ray Farr at the Shield who brought out some super playing
from the band to get them back to the Open and Brian Grant who built
on that success to steer the band to 7th spot at the Masters.
They are certainly a band on the up and with a team of solid soloists
and a class conductor in front of them, this years Open shouldnt
be a disappointment.
Conductor: Philip Harper
Appearances: 3 Times. Debut 1998
Open Record: 3 Unplaced
Last 5 years: (-, -, 14th, 19th, 19th)
Flowers enter the Open this year in a very confident manner following
their performance at the Masters. They need to be, as two 19th places
in the last couple of years mean that they will need a good result
to safeguard their future at the premier contest.
The confidence however is not misplaced this year, and following
qualification for the Nationals at the Area Championships they gave
a stormer of a show in Cambridge to gain 5th spot and show the banding
world that they are very much a competitive band at the highest
level. Philip Harper has been a revelation at the helm and the band
has a group of fine soloists that should shine on Les Preludes.
There should be enough class from and around the stand to safeguard
Flowers future at the Open, so take the time to listen out for them.
Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
Appearances: 61 Times. Debut 1909
9 Wins: (1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1964)
5 Seconds: (1911, 1916, 1952, 1987, 1998)
6 Thirds: (1914, 1925, 1957, 1970, 1981, 1985)
4 Fourths: (1958, 1965, 1986, 1991)
8 Fifths: (1918, 1953, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000)
3 Sixths: (1917, 1984, 1994)
Last 5 Years: (5th, 9th, 2nd, 5th, 5th)
Amazing to think that it was 1964 that the last Open title found
its way back to Sandbach, isnt it? One of the finest bands
of the past ten years or more have had a gutful of bad luck at the
Open in recent years none more so than last year when they
came 5th after giving a performance of rare brilliance under Bram
2001 sees the team re united after a few blips at the Area and
Masters and this could be the recipe for ultimate success. Great
players in every position around the stand, their Achilles heel
seems to be a habit of collective loss of confidence when things
start to go wrong, but with Bram Tovey at the helm this should not
be the case this year.
What could possibly stop them gaining a well overdue title? Things
seem to be at last pointing in Fodens direction at last but
just about everyone thought they had won last year didnt they?
Conductor: Gareth Pritchard
Appearances: 5 Times. Debut 1888
Open Record: 5 Unplaced
Last 5 Years: (-, -, -, -, 14th)
A band that goes about its business in a quiet understated manner
deserves to have some success and since coming into the Open in
2000 following their runners up spot at the Grand Shield the band
has continued to develop and improve.
2001 has seen a disappointing Area result when they came 10th in
the Midlands, but an influx of new players and the appointment of
Gareth Pritchard to take them could see them maintain their position
at the contest. Many may see them as a band that could struggle
this year as they are up against a very strong field, but their
chances of success are not as grim as many suggest.
Last year they certainly did not disgrace themselves in coming
14th playing last band on, and with Gareth Pritchard always capable
of providing interesting readings of the score, a decent result
could not be out of the question.
Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
Conductor: Garry Cutt
Appearances: 56 Times. Debut 1935
4 Wins: (1967, 1969, 1984, 1991)
3 Seconds: (1945, 1963, 1973)
10 Thirds: (1960, 1961, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994,
2 Fourths: (1972, 1998)
6 Fifths: (1976, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997)
3 Sixths: (1946, 1980, 1985)
Last 5 Years: (7th, 5th, 4th, 18th, 3rd)
Everyone's favourite image of what a traditional brass band should
be like. Miners up from the pit after a hard shift on the coal face,
ready and willing to produce music to bring tears to the eyes of
even the most cruel Coal Master.
This of course is complete and utter bull. Grimey are as far removed
from the image of the Brassed Off film than anyone could
imagine. Forget the hype and concentrate on the playing, for Grimethorpe
are real challengers on the contest stage this year and could bring
home the title for the first time sine 1991.
Great players around the stand and a pocket genius in the middle
could see them improve on last years 3rd place. 4th at the Yorkshire
Areas means that they will not be disturbed by the thought of going
to London and so every effort will be made to win the Open and give
credence to their celluloid image. Watch out.
Conductor: Allan Ramsey
Appearances: Debut this year.
The Grand Shield winners of 2001 travel in expectation rather than
hope of a good result on their debut at the contest.
We completely underestimated their chances at the Grand Shield
and we were given a well-merited kick in the nether regions as Allan
Ramsey directed a superb show from the band to secure their win
and promotion. No Nationals to complicate the run up as they came
5th at the Areas, but the release of a very well received CD has
highlighted the talent in the band, whilst a poor result at the
Troon Contest a few weeks ago shouldnt be taken too seriously.
Excellent players around the stand and a fine conductor should
ensure a confident performance from the band. We certainly havent
underestimated them, so its up to Kirky to show the world
what they can do.
Conductor: Brian Grant
Appearances: 32 Times. Debut 1948
1 Win: (1994)
3 Seconds: (1981, 1990, 1992)
3 Thirds: (1989, 1991, 1996)
2 Fourths: (1985, 1988)
1 Fifth: (1993)
2 Sixths: (1982, 1998)
Last 5 years: (3rd, 8th, 6th, 8th, 10th)
It says a lot about the character of a band when the money dries
up. Sponsorship is a great thing, but its also a two edged sword.
It can be used to attract the best players in the country as long
as there are deep pockets, but when the dosh is gone, certain players
piss off quicker than Jaap Stam to Lazio.
Leyland should therefore be given great credit for not only surviving,
but also flourishing of late and they enter this years contest with
high hopes of a repeat of their 1994 triumph. A great show at the
Areas where they qualified for London and were unlucky to come 3rd
was offset by an early draw and 13th place at the Masters, but they
have a team of top quality soloists and a very solid and secure
man in the middle.
One of the most consistent bands at the Open should continue their
record without too many problems, and could pressure for even higher
Conductor: Duncan Beckley
Appearances: 11 Times. Debut 1990
1 Win: (1996)
3 Fourths: (1992, 1993, 1994)
1 Fifth: (1998)
Last 5 Years: (1st, 11th, 5th, 12th, 22nd)
Just six months ago they were ready to read the last rites over
the moribund corpse of the Marple band, but a recovery that would
have put Lazarus to shame sees the 1996 Champions enter the Open
with a very strong line up indeed.
Their wonderful secretary, Eileen Murphy has worked miracles to
keep the band on the road, especially as they were forced not to
compete at the Area Championships this year, but with the enthusiastic
and talented Duncan Beckley at the helm and a team of very talented
young players around the stand, 2001 should not see a repeat of
last years 22nd place.
Never underestimate the powers of Marple at the Open. They need
a good result to avoid relegation and with this line up they should
be able to do it.
Conductor: Dennis Hadfield
Appearances: 12 Times. Debut 1857
3 Thirds: (1857, 1886, 1888)
1 Fifth (1889)
1 Sixth: (1887)
Last 5 Years: (-, -, -, -, 15th)
The rise and rise of Todmorden Old seems to have no end in sight.
2000 was the year that they had the Midas touch as they won the
Grand Shield and came 6th at the Masters and 2001 has seen a consolidation
that is just as worthy an achievement.
A good quality 6th place at the Yorkshire Areas was followed by
a slightly disappointing 16th at the Masters where they failed to
perform up to their usual standards, but Dennis Hadfield continues
to work his socks off and his band reaps the rewards. 15th at the
Open last year was a secure start and the arrival of Russell Gray
on the end chair will boost the confidence factor no end.
The continued hard work of the conductor allied to some very talented
players should see Todmorden continue their ascent up the banding
tree although it could be a little slower than years gone
Conductor: Frank Renton
Appearances: 34 Times. Debut 1934
2 Wins: (1954, 1988)
1 Second: (1980)
5 Thirds: (1946, 1952, 1974, 1982, 1986)
2 Fourths: (1983, 1995)
3 Fifths: (1948, 1949, 1964)
3 Sixths: (1950, 1953, 1969)
Last 5 Years: (16th, 17th, 21st, 10th, 7th)
Remember what we said about sponsorship? This was a band that was
literally within hours of death before the people who give you Saga
holidays for elderly amongst us stepped in and saved a famous band.
The name means nothing now, but the heritage of GUS and Munn and
Feltons lives on in these real contenders.
Frank Renton has given them a new lease of life and the Area win
this year was based on a thrilling performance from players and
MD alike that showed that the band was more than capable of performing
at the highest level. A major blip at the Masters however, where
the band was drawn number 1 and performed like a keep fit class
on a Saga holiday both stiff and slow.
The Open however should see them back to form and their record
of late suggests a real attempt at the title is not out of the question.
One to watch.
Conductor: Steve Bastable
Appearances: 10 Times. Debut 1976
1 Second: (1996)
1 Sixth: (1997)
Last 5 Years: (2nd, 6th, 7th, 7th, 8th)
One of the most consistent bands around in the past few years,
Tredegar have suffered more knocks than a chimp at Chipperfields
circus to keep coming back to produce prize winning performances
at just about every major contest they compete in.
Hard work, committed players and a very talented young conductor
keep them producing high quality performances that even though may
not be enough to secure the ultimate prize, usually puts them very
much in the prize winning frame. A fine 2001 saw them win the Welsh
Area title ahead of their traditional rivals BAYV Cory and this
built on 5th place at last years Nationals and 8th at the
Open, where they played very well to a half empty hall.
A band that works harder than a Japanese Prisoner of War should
be able to maintain their record of achievement at the Open this
year. Come and listen.
Conductor: Philip McCann
Appearances: 9 Times. Debut 1971
Last 5 Years: (17th, 13th, 20th, 11th, 17th)
When a Scotsman has got the whiff of being shat on from a great
height then beware! Whitburn have certainly got that feeling at
the moment after the travails of the recent Troon Contest, so they
will be travelling south to Birmingham with the smell of retribution
firmly in their nostrils.
Whitburn have been a band that has made solid and steady progress
under Philip McCann and have given any number of fine performances
at National and European level over the past couple of years. The
2000 European in particular showed how well they can perform on
the day and even though they came 17th last year at the contest,
they are well capable of coming very much higher, given the talent
around the stand. More than a little unlucky not to win the Scottish
Area this year, they are a band that seems to be due a bit of good
A band on a mission. The talent and commitment is certainly there
and they are due a slice of luck. Should do well if the Gods (and
the administrators) are not against them.
Conductor: Howard Snell
Appearances: 57 Times. Debut 1938
16 Wins: (1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1961,
1962, 1963, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1998)
13 Seconds: (1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1975, 1982, 1986,
1988, 1991, 1995, 1997)
5 Thirds: (1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999)
4 Fourths: (1959, 1971, 1996, 2000)
1 Fifth: (1985)
5 Sixths: (1951, 1957, 1970, 1978, 1990)
Last 5 Years: (4th, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 4th)
Could 2001 see Howard Snell finally take the one title that has
for so long eluded him? Without doubt, Williams Fairey give him
an ideal opportunity, but as the Masters showed in May this year,
sometimes things dont always go to plan.
The North West Area Championships saw Faireys give the type
of performance that sends shivers up your spine and they romped
home from a high class field. However, come Cambridge and they gave
a performance that had more holes in it than Germanys defence
against England and they limped home in 9th place. The Open however
is home territory and they consistently give fine performances that
are always there or thereabouts come the end.
This year shouldnt be an exception to the rule, and with
superb players in every position and a brilliant conductor at the
helm, Faireys could well be picking up their first Open of
the 21st Century and give Mr Snell his long overdue Grand
Yorkshire Building Society
Conductor: David King
Appearances: 25 Times. Debut 1970
2 Wins: (1997, 1999)
1 Second: (1989)
1 Third: (1995)
3 Fourths: (1977, 1981, 1990)
1 Fifth: (1973)
2 Sixths: (1996, 2000)
Last 5 Years: (6th, 1st, 10th, 1st, 6th)
The band to beat? On their day they are well nigh impossible to
beat, but even on their day, the Gods dont always look kindly
on YBS. A team of brilliant soloists and David King at the helm
make for an incredible partnership, but there have been just as
many disappointments as there have been celebrations at the Open
in recent years.
Some superb performances have gone without reward and that has
meant that they are not as invincible at the Open as they are at
the European or even the Masters. In fact, the records suggest a
pattern of the odd years bringing success in Birmingham, and the
good news for supporters is that if 2001 follows the pattern it
will be a repeat of the victories of 1997 and 1999. If not, YBS
could end up as far back as 10th place as they did in 1998.
2nd place at the Yorkshire Areas and another 2nd place at the Masters
were disappointments in the same year as a record equalling 5th
win in six years at the European. Could 2001 see David King making
it a hat trick of wins to go with all his other achievements?
So, who do we think come Saturday at about 5.00pm will be declared
the 2001 British Open Champions?
Well, the usual suspects are there and bands such as BAYV Cory,
Black Dyke, Williams Fairey, YBS, Grimethorpe and Brighouse and
Rastrick should be pushing for the top prize. However, weve
got a sneaky suspicion that its about time Fodens won the
shield and with a superb team of solo players and a conductor who
really is a bit special, they are capable of a performance that
not even the bands weve just mentioned could beat.
Below them its a toss up between all the aforementioned contenders,
with the likes of Travelsphere, Tredegar, Leyland and CWS (Glasgow)
more than capable of coming in the frame.
Even any of the rest could no doubt do something on the day. Its
going to be a close one thats for sure.
Yorkshire Building Society
Dark Horses: Travelsphere Holidays
Yorkshire Building Society
With thanks for the statistical information to Allan Littlemore