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Nationals 2001: The competitors and their records

The 2001 National Finals sees 20 bands try and win the coveted title of Champion Brass Band of Great Britain. All 8 regions send two qualifiers and the four bands that occupied the top 4 places at last yearís finals get automatic invitations.

Therefore Wales, Yorkshire the North West and the Midlands have an additional band to compliment their regional challenge, as Buy As You View Cory, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fodens and The Ransome bands join the 16 other qualifiers.

The beauty and the anomaly of the Nationals is that each year some of the top bands in the country fail to get to London and this year has been no exception, with Grimethorpe, Ever Ready, First City Brass and Desford Ė all of whom are usually regular finalists Ė all failing in their attempt.

Still thereís a very strong line up and all the bands will be looking forward to performing Jan Van der Roostís superb test piece. It should be a real treat for players and audience alike.

The bands and their records are:

Aveley and Newham:
Conductor: Nigel Taken
Appearances: 15 (5 as Aveley and Newham)
Debut: 1969 as Newham: 1990 as Aveley: 1995 as now.
Best Result: 5th in 1989 as Newham: 7th as Aveley and Newham 2000
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (Did not qualify, 17, 18, 13, 7)
Overall Record: No Wins: 1 Fifth (1989): 2 Sixths (1985, 1986): Unplaced (1969, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)

The Champions of the London Area come to the finals on the back of a bit of a hit and miss season so far. A fine win at the traditional contest season opener at Yeovil was followed by another commanding performance to win the Area title in Stevenage in March where they were comfortable winners. However, the Grand Shield was a missed chance to gain entry into the Open and they came a very disappointing 5th, whilst the step up in class at the Masters resulted in a very poor 19th place.

Still, they were 7th last year at the Finals and they have enough good quality players around the stand to make a good show of the test piece. Nigel Taken provides solid uncomplicated readings, whilst his players invariably perform well under pressure. Whether it will be enough to make a real impression in another strong field is a different matter though.

Black Dyke:
Conductor: Nicholas Childs
Appearances: 68
Debut: 1900
Best Result: 18 Wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (3, DNQ, 5, DNQ, DNQ) Overall Record: 18 Wins (1902, 1928, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1959, 1961, 1967, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1994, 1995): 16 Seconds (1900, 1923, 1924, 1930, 1932, 1936, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989): 10 Thirds (1903, 1913, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1952, 1960, 1973, 1974, 1996): 3 Fourths (1912, 1921, 1934): 3 Fifths ( 1908, 1955, 1998): 4 Sixths (1904, 1926, 1956, 1984): 14 Unplaced (1909, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1945, 1953, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1990)

Could 2001 be the year that the National Championship trophy finds itís way back to Queensbury? Black Dyke are certainly on a bit of a roll at the moment and itís their first time back at the contest since 1998, whilst their fine performance at the Open confirmed that they will certainly be there or thereabouts come the results on Saturday evening.

The Yorkshire Area title was won in fine style in March, when they wrested the title from rivals YBS and beat a high-class field. Since then itís been the usual diet of concerts and recordings, but there has also been a noticeable shift in the bands sound since Nicholas Childs took the helm, back to rounded bass led timbre that was so successful in past years.

The band boasts a fine collection of individual players as well as solid performers in the less glamorous positions and a bass end of real quality. Itís been a long time since 1995 for a win in London, but donít bet against the drought ending in 2001.

Brighouse and Rastrick:
Conductor: Allan Withington
Appearances: 52
Debut: 1913
Best Result: 7 Wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (6, 1, 1, 2, 4)
Overall Record: 7 Wins (1946, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1997, 1998): 4 Seconds (1963, 1967, 1981, 1999): 3 Thirds (1948, 1951, 1975): 6 Fourths (1945, 1949, 1954, 1956, 1995, 2000): 6 Fifths (1913, 1950, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1992): 2 Sixths (1962, 1996): 24 Unplaced (1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989)

Whereas Brighouse and the Open is a match made in Hell, Brighouse and the Nationals seem to be a match made in Heaven. A record that boasts two wins, a second and a fourth in the past four years emphasises the fact that the band is ideally suited to the huge acoustics of the Albert Hall.

Allan Withington is a fine conductor who is able to bring the best out of his players and the test pieces in London and this year should see more of the same. A disappointing performance in coming 3rd at the Area was put into perspective when they performed brilliantly to win the Masters.

The Open was the usual case of disappointment when they limped home in 8th, but with a band that is one of the few that can really fill the Hall with sound, the Nationals should see the boys in purple close to the summit again.

Buy As You View Cory:
Conductor: Robert Childs
Appearances: 39
Debut: 1924
Best Result: 5 Wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, 6, 6, DNQ, 1)
Overall Record: 5 Wins (1974, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2000): 2 Seconds (1948, 1979): 1 Third (1971): 2 Fifths (1972, 1986): 6 Sixths (1949, 1952, 1967, 1976, 1997, 1998): 23 Unplaced (1924, 1945, 1950, 1951, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1988, 1992, 1994)

The reigning champions will approach the defense of their title knowing they can repeat their triumph of the Millennium year. Although in contest winning terms, 2001 has seen the band lose their Open crown, the Welsh Area title and the European, the standard of their performances at each has perhaps been even greater than they managed in winning two of the three last year.

The Area was a huge knock to their pride as they came 4th (a case really of an odd day at the office) whilst the Europeans saw them give an exhilarating rendition of the set test that possibly exhausted them enough to allow YBS to pip them to the title. The Open saw a heroic deface when they came 3rd and with a set of soloists as good as any around and a sound that borders on the immense, it could well be a repeat of 2000 in London on Saturday. They will be well prepared thatís for sure.

Camborne Town:
Conductor: Brian Grant
Appearances: 32
Debut: 1946
Best Result: 4th place (1977, 1982)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, DNQ, 9, DNQ, DNQ)
Overall Record: No Wins: 2 Fourths (1977, 1982): 1 Fifth (1973): 2 Sixths (1951, 1965): 27 Unplaced (1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998)

The winners of the South West Area make a welcome return to the Finals for the first time since 1998 when they came 9th. The Area win was achieved under the baton of Frank Renton, but for the Finals they will be conducted by Brian Grant, who knows a thing or two about winning a prize at London.

The band has undergone numerous player changes in the past year or so and they did not compete at the Grand Shield or Masters, so whether or not they can make a real mark when they step up in class at the Finals is a bit of a mystery. The last time they were at a National contest was Pontins last year when they came 10th, so that isnít a real marker towards their current form.

Some fine soloists around the stand shouldnít let the band down, whilst Brian Grant should bring intelligence and thought to their reading of the test piece. Whether this is enough against the ďbig boysĒ is another thing though.

CWS (Glasgow):
Conductor: James Gourlay
Appearances: 34
Debut: 1929
Best Result: 2 Wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (1, 11, 7, DNQ, 6)
Overall Record: 2 Wins (1990, 1996): 4 Seconds (1929, 1933, 1934, 1958): 1 Fourth (1992): 1 Fifth (1960): 5 Sixths (1930, 1937, 1993, 1994, 2000): 20 Unplaced (1931, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1945, 1948, 1954, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1971, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998)

The Scottish Area winners make their seemingly annual trip south to London hoping to erase the memory of this yearís Open, when they performed well below expectations and well below capabilities in coming 15th.

They are a band who knows what it takes to win in London and they performed with real merit last year in coming 6th off the number 1 draw. A band with real star performers in their ranks and a conductor of the highest class, they seem to have the ideal combination to do well. However, since winning the Area in style under Nicholas Childs they have not performed as well as they know they can, but with James Gourlay striving to win his first National title and a test piece that should suit their robust approach, 2001 could see them putting up another top class attempt.

Conductor: Gareth Pritchard
Appearances: 4
Debut: 1996
Best Result: 8th (1996)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (8, 13, 10, 15, DNQ)
Overall Record: No Wins: 4 Unplaced (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)

A band that has really come back form the dead in contesting terms in 2001. The rise of EYMS in the 1990ís heralded the arrival of a top class band in the North East to challenge the might of Ever Ready as the regions premier outfit, and for a number of years they had a stranglehold on the Area title. They also travelled to London and performed with real credit. However, the hard times arrived in 2000, but the band strove on and worked hard to overcome the difficulties.

The first seeds of a revival were sown in Pontins last year where they performed well, but without success in coming 12th before taking 2nd place at the Area under the baton of Alan Morrison. A disappointing show at the Grand Shield where they came 20th and last may have shown their vulnerabilities, but they have taken the sensible step of engaging Gareth Pritchard who will ensure a steady and thoughtful hand at the tiller on the stage.

Conductor: Ian Robinson
Appearances: 7
Debut: 1985
Best Result: 15th (1988)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, 19)
Overall Record: No Wins: 7 Unplaced (1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2000)

The Northern Champions won the title and the chance to represent their region at London with a superb performance at the Area, which really captured the style of JAZZ. They return however to London determined exorcise the traumas of last year and prove the adjudicators wrong when they were placed 19th and last and had to endure some pretty unpleasant remarks from the box.

Following the Area win the band came a poor 10th at the Grand Shield, so they will know they will have to perform well to make an impression at the Royal Albert Hall. Fishburn have continued to make improvement under Ian Robinson, who can be relied upon to give a thoughtful and intelligent interpretation to a very tricky test piece. 2001 at the Royal Albert is a very big test though for the band and it should give a clear indication of where they stand in the National scheme of things.

Flowers Gloucester:
Conductor: Philip Harper
Appearances: 6
Debut: 1991
Best Result: 10th (1997)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, 10, DNQ, 14, 16)
Overall Record: No Wins: 6 Unplaced (1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000)

What a curateís egg of a year for Flowers! 2001 started with a solid 2nd place at the Yeovil Entertainment Contest, which was then followed by another solid performance under Richard Evans to come 2nd at the Area behind Camborne. This good form was further enhanced with a superb show at the Masters where the band came an excellent 5th under Philip Harper - but then the wheels somewhat fell off.

The Open was a disaster and the band imploded to come last of the 21 on show and be relegated back to the Grand Shield, whilst of late they suffered defeat at the Miners Eisteddfod by Tredegar and Beaumaris, before winning at Wychavon in a pretty weak field.

Flowers are a very good band on their day and have a talented set of solo players and an exciting conductor who could really do something with this test piece. The thought remains however, that up against higher-class fields they remain fragile. They have the talent to do well but in the past two appearances at the Royal Albert Hall they have come 16th and 14th, so we will have to wait and see.

Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
Appearances: 54
Debut: 1909
Best Result: 12 Wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, 3, 4, 1, 3)
Overall Record: 12 Wins (1910, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1950, 1953, 1958, 1999): 9 Seconds (1909, 1911, 1921, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1988, 1990, 1991): 7 Thirds (1912, 1923, 1947, 1954, 1959, 1997, 2000): 4 Fourths (1928, 1957, 1989, 1998): 5 Fifths (1922, 1956, 1978, 1983, 1985): 3 Sixths (1925, 1931, 1961): 14 Unplaced (1913, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1955, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1993)

There cannot be a band at London more determined to win than Fodens, but in doing so have they already set themselves a handicap they may find difficult to overcome?

The departure of Bryan Hurdley will have deprived the band of one of the best trainers in the business and with the complexities of this test piece sheer determination and courage may not be enough. Simon Stonehouse has been brought in to help prepare the band, but itís asking an awful lot of the young man to really make a mark in a fortnight, and so the spotlight falls squarely back on Bram Tovey and his abilities to provide scintillating musical performances.

Fodens definitely have all the players to win the title, but even at the Open their performance had niggles and intonation problems that brass band judges find easy to drop marks for, and this has been a bit of an Achilles heel at the Major contests for a little while. If these can be overcome (and with a bit of deserved overdue luck) Fodens could be the champions again. Knowing their luck though, donít put your mortgage on it just yet.

Kidlington Concert Brass:
Conductor: Catherine Underwood
Appearances: None
Debut: 2001
Best Result: Debut
Last Five Years: Debut
Overall Record: Debut

The real surprise package of the Area qualifiers in 2001, Kidlington will be making a daunting appearance at the Finals on the back of a fine 2nd place at the London Regional Finals in March. There they beat many more fancied bands with a performance of real merit, but they know they will have to perform to an even higher level to make any kind of mark at the Finals.

In National contests they have performed with varying success and last November they came 19th at the Pontins Finals, whilst they came 10th at the Yeovil Entertainment contest in early February this year. The band didnít take part in either the Grand Shield or Senior Cup contests so itís difficult to try and accurately predict the type of form they may be in.

Catherine Underwood is set to become only the second woman to conduct at the premier contest, and this fine musician and her band will have to work very hard indeed to make an impression.

Conductor: Garry Cutt
Appearances: 15
Debut: 1981
Best Result: 3rd (1984)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (7, DNQ, 8, 10, 14)
Overall Record: No Wins: 1 Third (1984): 1 Fourth (1990): 2 Fifths (1993, 1995): 11 Unplaced (1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000)

A band that should be travelling to London with realistic expectations rather than just high hopes. Leyland have recovered remarkably since the loss of their sponsorship and in the past year they have demonstrated that they are approaching the levels of performance that made them such a threat at the Nationals in past years.

Garry Cutt again showed at the Open that he is a conductor and interpretation of scores of the highest class and Leyland have more than enough quality players around the stand to make a mark.

Third place at the Area contest was for many unlucky on a day in which they performed superbly, but the Masters was a poor pouting and they could only manage 13th place. The Open saw a solid 9th place, but there is a feeling that this piece allied to Garry Cuttís fine musicianship could see Leyland make a real forthright attempt to win the title.

Point of Ayr:
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Appearances: 3
Debut: 1981
Best Result: 8th (1997)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, 8, DNQ, 18, Withdrew)
Overall Record: No Wins: 3 Unplaced (1981, 1997, 1999)

What a welcome return to London and the National Finals for the North Wales band, who this time last year were on the very brink of possible extinction and had to pull out of the Finals due to financial problems.

Second place behind Tredegar at the Welsh Area was confirmation that the band can call on a fine group of players to perform on the contest stage, but a lot of the credit for qualification must go to Thomas Wyss who directed the band quite brilliantly on the day and had laid the foundations for the success by taking the band to victory at the Preston Guild Hall contest earlier in the February.

Since then itís been a tale of a little disappointment, when the band could only come 6th at the Grand Shield, but they recovered to come 3rd at the Kerkrade World Music Contest a little later. Mike Fowles will direct a strong performance and they will be hoping to improve on the 18th place the duo had together at the Finals in 1999.

The Ransome Band:
Conductor: Russell Gray
Appearances: 25
Debut: 1945
Best Result: 2nd (1955, 1970, 2000)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, 9, DNQ, 4, 2)
Overall Record: No Wins: 3 Seconds (1955, 1970, 2000): 1 Third (1962): 3 Fourths (1950, 1960, 1999): 3 Fifths (1949, 1953, 1957, 1958): 14 Unplaced (1945, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1977, 1988, 1989, 1997)

Just over twelve months ago, Ransomeís headed for London on the back of a terrible performance at the British Open, which had seen them relegated o the Grand Shield. What happened next should give heart to all competitors.

Ransomeís gave a superb account of the test piece and came a deserved 2nd place to confound all the critics and gain not only automatic invitation to this yearís Final, but also a chance to represent England at the European Championships in Montreaux. This they did with considerable style, but little luck to come 8th and they repeated the good showing at the Masters where they came a solid 8th again. Although they performed poorly at the Area contest, where they came 4th the band has showed enough quality in the past year to suggest a strong showing at the Albert Hall.

Ransomeís have a good set of soloists around the stand and Russell Gray will bring insight and individuality to his reading (as per the bells of last year). 2nd and 4th in the past two years doesnít just come from luck.

Thoresby RJB:
Conductor: Stan Lippeatt
Appearances: 5
Debut: 1970
Best Result: 6th (1975)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ)
Overall Record: No Wins: 1 Sixth (1975): 4 Unplaced (1970, 1990, 1991, 1994)

Perhaps the only other real surprise result of the 2001 Area Contests was the second place by Thoresby RJB at the Midlands contest in March. Not that it wasnít deserved as the band gave a thrilling account of JAZZ, but they beat not only Ransomeís but also Desford to ensure their spot at the Finals for the first time for nearly ten years.

Following the win however they travelled to the Senior Cup in Blackpool only to come 14th in not a very strong field and so it may be difficult to suggest how they will perform come the Albert Hall. Stan Lippeatt can be guaranteed to have worked the band hard and he will be keen to repeat the success he had with the band back in 1994 when he and the band came 9th playing ďTheme and CooperationĒ. It may need a very big effort from all concerned though.

Travelsphere Holidays:
Conductor: Frank Renton
Appearances: 42
Debut: 1935
Best Result: 6 wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (14, DNQ, DNQ, DNQ, 12)
Overall Record: 6 Wins ( 1935, 1955, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1966): 2 Seconds (1938, 1972): 6 Thirds (1946, 1956, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1983): 6 Fourths (1947, 1949, 1959, 1961, 1974, 1986): 1 Fifth (1969): 1 Sixth (1995): 20 Unplaced (1936, 1937, 1958, 1962, 1967, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000)

Oh how they will be wishing that they donít draw number 1 for a third consecutive time following their secretaryís innate skill in pulling out Kellyís Eye from the sack at both the Open and the Masters.

On both these occasions it spelt the end of the bands realistic chances, with the Masters performance blighted from the start to come 18th and the Open full of excellent style and playing to come a well-deserved but unfortunate 10th. Travelsphere certainly have the ability to perform well, but last year at the Finals they displayed some noticeable fragility. They have improved since then and it will be interesting to see if Alan Morrison plays soprano again (brilliantly at the Open it must be said) or reverts back to the Principal Cornet spot.

They won their Area contest with some comfort and with Frank Renton at the helm they are sure to give a worthy and musically interesting performance. Good soloists around the stand will put them in good stead but the draw may deal them another hammer blow if one of the band has kicked a black cat or broken the shaving mirror in the hotel. Should do well though.

Conductor: Steve Bastable
Appearances: 17
Debut: 1964
Best Result: 2nd (1993)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (11, DNQ, DNQ, 3, 5)
Overall Record: No Wins: 1 Second (1993): 1 Third (1999): 2 Fifths (1994, 2000): 2 Sixths (1977, 1979): 10 Unplaced (1964, 1967, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996)

Another band that travels to London determined to put a poor performance at the British Open behind them, where they came 13th and never really performed as they could and should have.

The band has overcome many difficulties in the past two years and continues to perform well at the ďmajorĒ contests. The Area victory was based on a superb reading by Steve Bastable and was well merited and since then the band has improved through hard work and commitment to the cause. Good quality soloists around the stand will ensure solidity and Steve Bastable will surely bring with him a very musical approach to the test piece.

Tredegar perform well at the Nationals and their approach seems to suit the hall, with 5th place last year and 3rd in 1999 complimenting runners up spot in 1993 and 5th in 1994. They shouldnít be discounted form the scheme of things if they have shaken off the disappointment of Birmingham.

Conductor: Phillip McCann
Appearances: 21
Debut: 1968
Best Result: 3rd (1981, 1989)
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (17, 16, 13, 9, DNQ)
Overall Record: No Wins: 2 Thirds (1981, 1989): 2 Fifths (1990, 1991): 17 Unplaced (1968, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)

A band full of confidence following a superb performance at the British Open where they came 5th and which benefited from an excellent interpretation from Phillip McCann and equally fine playing form his players around the stand.

Whitburn started the year by claiming 2nd spot at the Area contest behind CWS (Glasgow) and since then they have continued to improve and develop into a band that is now more than capable of coming high up the prize list in London. The traumas of Troon seem to have a galvanising effect on the band and this will put them in good stead for the Finals.

Not a bad record of late at London but one that they feel they can improve on. 9th in 1999 is a realistic target to beat for the band at the moment.

Williams Fairey:
Conductor: Howard Snell
Appearances: 38
Debut: 1945
Best Result: 7 wins
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (4, 2, 3, 5, 8)
Overall Record: 7 Wins (1945, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1965, 1986, 1993): 4 Seconds (1946, 1947, 1994, 1997): 5 Thirds (1966, 1978, 1980, 1992, 1998): 3 Fourths (1984, 1987, 1996): 4 Fifths (1962, 1975, 1988, 1999): 6 Sixths (1953, 1958, 1959, 1982, 1990, 1991): 9 Unplaced (1948, 1955, 1957, 1963, 1972, 1979, 1983, 1995, 2000)

One of the perennial favourites for the title, Faireyís gave notice of their intent to win the Nationals this year with a scorching performance at the Areas that left a high class field in itís wake and took the North West crown in some style.

Since then however it hasnít all gone the Stockport based bandís way and the Masters was an acute disappointment off a number 2 draw when they came 9th and followed this off another number 2 draw at the Open to come a slightly fortunate 6th. The concert the following day however confirmed that they are still more than capable of playing to a standard few others can match, and they will be hoping for a kinder draw in London to enable them to really make a better impression than they managed last year when they came 8th.

Howard Snell will be directing with his usual brilliance and he is able to call upon a team of solo players of the highest class. With a bit of luck then, the Nationals could be heading back to Stockport for the first time since 1993.

Yorkshire Building Society:
Conductor: David King
Appearances: 14
Debut: 1957 (as Hammonds Sauce)
Best Result: 2nd (1995, 1998):
Last Five Years: 1996 onwards (5, DNQ, 2, 8, 17)
Overall Record: No Wins: 2 Seconds (1995, 1998): 1 Third (1994): 1 Fourth (1972): 1 Fifth (1996): 9 Unplaced (1957, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1999, 2000)

What can possibly stop David King and his Yorkshire Building Society Band winning the National title for the very first time and in doing so finally confirm the brilliance of the past ten years that has seen them win every other contest on more than one occasion?

What indeed. At the Masters this year it was a combination of a slightly dodgy placing from a judge and the brilliance of Brighouse, whilst last year at the Nationals it was possibly a combination of speed of tempo and a little over confidence. Whatever it was, you can guarantee it wonít happen again if David King has anything to do about it.

The Open and European Champions are playing to a level few can ever hope to match at the moment, but they can and have been beaten Ė first by Black Dyke at the Area contest in Yorkshire and then by Brighouse at the Masters and it must be said, the Royal Albert Hall in recent years hasnít been their most favourite venue Ė coming 17th last year and 8th the year before.

They are due a slice of luck though and with a conductor and players at the peak of performance the Hall and audience in 2001 may witness and hear a show that will take the title at last.

Our Prediction:

Given that we did pretty well at the Open in getting 5 out of the top 6 right, we have got to think we could do well this time. However, itís a much more open field at the Nationals and there are some bands that tend to play better at the Royal Albert Hall than others.

So weíve gone for horses for courses a bit and plumbed for those bands that tend to do the business year after year. There may a surprise or two, but in reality itís going to be a shoot out between the big boys we think. Thatís why weíve gone for YBS to take the one title that has eluded them so far Ė itís time for them to produce a real scorcher of a performance at London, and we think itís going to very close between the real big blowing bands of Cory, Black Dyke, Fodens, Brighouse and Faireys. Travelsphere and Tredegar should do well as should Whitburn, Leyland and CWS (Glasgow). After that itís anybody's guess.


Yorkshire Building Society
Buy As You View Cory
Black Dyke
Brighouse and Rastrick
Williams Fairey

Dark Horses: Travelsphere Holidays

Last Years Result:

Buy As You View Cory
The Ransome Band
Fodens Courtois
Brighouse and Rastrick
CWS (Glasgow)

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