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Pontins championships 2001:
Championship section review and dodgy predictions

4BarsRest will be there to try and provide coverage of the weekends action. We we will be providing a retrospective look at each performance in the Championship class and our own judgement on each of the performances within 24 hours of the contest.

We will try and get the full results of all the sections to you as soon as possible.

The Adjudication Panel consists of:
Derek Broadbent, John Maines, David Read, Stanley Lippeatt, Major Peter Parkes and Goff Richards.

The Competing Bands:

All Sections are subject to a pre–draw (details not available at the present time).

The Harry and Margaret Mortimer Championship
Test Piece: Diadem of Gold (G. Bailey arr. F. Wright)

Sunday 28th October

Ashton under - Lyne: (J. Maines)
Aveley and Newham: (N. Taken)
Besses O’ th’ Barn: (G. Pritchard)
B.T. (M. Fowles)
Cottingham: (R. Grantham)
Fishburn: (I. Robinson)
Glossop Old: (G. Pritchard)
Hepworth: (M. Bentham)
JAG Mount Charles: (B. Hurdley)
Kibworth: (J. Berryman)
Longridge: (D. Barry)
Parc and Dare: (C. Roberts)
Point of Ayr: (T. Wyss)
Rhos: (W. Ruston)
Soham Comrades: (M. Ager)
Staffordshire: (D. Maplestone)
SWT Woodfalls: (P. Parkes)
Wingates: (B. Grant)
Wooley Pritchard Sovereign: (S. Bastable)
Yeovil Town: (P. Bailey)
Yorkshire Cooperatives: (J. Roberts)

Chamipionship Section Review:

Ashton Under Lyne (J. Maines)
4BR Ranking - none

A band that appears to be in a bit of a flux at the moment, Ashton appear in the Finals under John Maines and will be hoping to come higher than the 5th place they achieved last year. That appeared to signal that they were a force to be reckoned with at National level after they had literally rocketed up through the sections in the few years prior to that, and as they won the Pontins First Section title in 1999 and the First Section National Finals. However this year has seen them consolidate rather than continue their dramatic rise and 9th place at the Areas was slightly disappointing as was 7th place at the Grand Shield. It will be interesting to see how they fare on Sunday.

Aveley and Newham (N. Taken)
4BR Ranking - 19

The London band travel to Prestatyn as the favourites to take the title for the first time, following a year that has seen them have more ups than downs, and has confirmed their position as credible performers at the highest level. Whether a week is enough to mould the test piece is another thing, but their performance in coming 12th off a number 1 draw at the recent Nationals confirms their pedigree. They have also tasted success at Yeovil and the Areas, but found the step up in class at the Masters, where they were 19th and London a bit more difficult and the Grand Shield was a disappointment as they failed to qualify for the Open, coming 5th. Last year they sounded tired and came 3rd, but they have a fine set of solo players (especially on sop) and this should see them do well.

B.T.M. (TBA)
4BR Ranking - 38

The Welsh band travel to the Finals in good heart after a series of recent performances that has shown that they are very much back on the road to success. Whether this will be enough to see them secure victory as in 1991 and 1992 is a different matter though. Last year saw them come 17th and the previous two years saw them come 12th and 8th, so they have a bit to prove. The Areas saw Gareth Pritchard steer them to 7th place and they came 6th at Yeovil, so recent 4th and 2nd places at Porthcawl and Wychavon suggest that the improvement has be gradual but permanent. However, the last time they were up against a National field at the Grand Shield they were disappointing and came home 18th, so they too will be hoping for better things come Sunday. A good set of soloists around the stand should see them improve.

Besses O' th' Barn (G. Pritchard)
4BR Ranking - 36

We haven't heard a lot from the Besses camp of late but 2001 has been a year of solid rather than spectacular achievement, and this should hold them in good stead for the contest. Gareth Pritchard has worked the band well each time he has taken them and they were a little unfortunate to come 11th at the Grand Shield. However, they performed very well to come 10th at the Masters and 6th place at the Areas was a fine showing in a strong field in the North West. Considering they were 8th at Yeovil at the beginning of the year, this shows that they are very much on the right track and Sunday could well see them very high up the prize list. Good solid performers around the stand, and no distractions for the past few weeks could be the recipe for a first win.

B.T. (M. Fowles)
4BR Ranking - 29

Another band that has been rather quiet of late, but one that could very well be amongst the prizes if they perform as well as they did at the Area, where they came a highly impressive 5th with Mike Fowles. Since then they played at the Grand Shield and came 12th which was a bit disappointing and signalled that they could have a few frailties under pressure. Mike Fowles will surely strive to bring the best out of the band, but the jury is still out on whether they will be able to put up a realistic enough challenge to feature in the prize list. They withdrew last year, so no form as such at the contest, but a sturdy group of soloists and an exciting MD in the middle. Could be one to spring a surprise.

Cottingham (R. Grantham)
4BR Ranking - None

A band that has quietly gone about it business in an effective manner over the past few years, and 2001 sees them make their Championship debut at the contest. The band from the north east region were 12th at the 2000 First Section National Championships but were promoted within their region and came a very creditable 5th place at the Areas this year. They may find the test piece and the opposition more than a little difficult to make a concerted impression with this time around, but if they maintain their current rate of improvement we could be hearing much more from them. A good quality MD has brought sensible readings especially at the Area and this could provide a solid foundation for Sunday.

Fishburn (I. Robinson)
4BR Ranking - 26

The Champions of the North are another band that has had just the one week of preparation on the test piece after the rigours of the Nationals where they performed with much credit to come 18th. Whether a week is enough to bring Diadem of Gold up to winning standard, we will have to wait and see, but Ian Robinson is a very talented MD and his players are more than capable of doing the business. After winning the Area crown the band came a disappointing 10th at the Grand Shield, which may be an indication of where they stand in National terms. The field on Sunday is a bit weaker than the Grand Shield so we expect them to be able to mount a stronger challenge, but they have a long way to travel and may be mentally as well as physically tired. It happened to Aveley last year so it could well be a factor in deciding how well they do.

Glossop Old (G. Pritchard)
4BR Ranking - 32

Back in 1994, Glossop were the 3rd Section Champions at Pontins, so it's a good indication of how far they have come in a short space of time. They haven't entered this contest for a few years so there's no real form guide for us to go on, but any band who has won the 3rd Section National Finals in 1994 and then the 2nd Section the following year must have a good group of players around the stand. Nonetheless they performed disappointingly at the Areas in the Midlands to come home in 10th place in a field of 12, which was way below expectations. They came 20th at the Open so they should be eager to show that they are worthy of being in the biggest of all competitions.

Hepworth (M. Bentham)
4BR Ranking - None

Another band that just as far back as 1998 were coming 7th in the First Section at Pontins. The following year they competed in the Championship class for the first time and came 16th, whilst last year they fell back slightly to come a lowly 18th. 2001 has seen them improve, but they remain a bit of a contesting enigma. The Area at Yorkshire is perhaps the strongest in the country and under the baton of Andy Duncan they performed with much merit to come 9th. However, come the Senior Cup, where they were one of the favoured bands to do well they fell back dramatically under the direction of Kevin Bolton and came 19th and last but one. This means they won't be back next year so it will be interesting to see how Mark Bentham manages to do with the band on Sunday.

JAG Mount Charles (B. Hurdley)
4BR Ranking - 52

The 1999 Champions return again to the scene of perhaps their finest triumph with Bryan Hurdley back at the helm. Last year the band performed well under David Hirst to come 4th, but you felt that they missed the extra class that Bryan Hurdley was able to bring to their performances. It's been a bit of a hit and miss year in 2001 for the band, with them coming 5th at Yeovil and 5th at the Areas to start with, before making their debut at the Masters where they certainly didn't disgrace themselves in coming 17th. The Grand Shield saw them fall back with 14th place on a day where they should have done better, but recently they returned to form with a well earned 3rd place at Wychavon. Bryan Hurdley will bring with him good sense and perhaps the odd dep player and without any distractions in the past few weeks they could well be close to a 1999 repeat.

Kibworth (J. Berryman)
4BR Ranking - None

A band that we feel could very well make an impression at the contest this year, and one who's performances in 2001 have been a model of good sense and musicianship. This we add is almost entirley down to John Berryman who has produced his brand of balanced, clear and well though out readings at each contesting opportunity. The band has clearly responded to his work and their performance in coming 5th at the First Section Nationals was first rate stuff. The band came 7th at the contest last year so even though they are in a higher section at this national contest, they are certainly not outclassed. They won the Area First Section in the Midlands with something to spare and came 6th at the Senior Cup contest in May and 9th in Yeovil. With John Berryman at the helm and with another first rate reading, we think they could well be dark horses come the announcement of the results.

Longridge (D. Barry)
4BR Ranking - None

You'll have to bear with us on this one, because apart from coming 13th at the First Section National Finals in 2000 and 6th in the First Section here in 1999 we can't find much information about the band in recent years, except that they won the National Finals First Section title in 1996. We are a bit of a loss to wonder why they didn't compete at the North West Area Championships, so we know very little about their current form. Darrol Barry takes the baton, and it's a few years since we have seen him on the rostrum. We apologise if we have missed out things, and if anyone knows more please let us know. Real Dark Horses!

Parc and Dare (C. Roberts)
4BR Ranking - 54

The famous Welsh band make a welcome return to the contest after a number of years where they have really struggled to maintain their Championship section status both nationally and locally. Craig Roberts has done sterling work in getting the band back on it's feet and they performed well enough at the Area Championships in March where they came 6th to suggest that the improvement could well be permanent this time around. The Senior Cup was a major disappointment however, where they came 20th and last, but recent performances at local Welsh ranking contests hold out hope for a brighter future. Perhaps not able to really make a mark at this year's contest, but the banding scene is the better for their return.

Point of Ayr (T. Wyss)
4BR Ranking - 21

The third band at the contest that will have had just the one week to lick the test piece into shape after the trials and tribulations of London, where they performed very well to come home 15th. Considering that they very nearly fell through this time last year, theirs is a bit of a Lazarus story of epic proportions. The band doesn't have to travel far to the contest, and they certainly have felt at home here in the past, what with wins in 1982 and 1986. 2001 has seen a revival that possibly culminated at the Welsh Area where Thomas Wyss led a superb performance of JAZZ that gave the band 2nd place. Alan Lawton guided them to 6th place at the Grand Shield before Mike Fowles led the London assault. The return of Thomas Wyss should see the band perform well as he is now a very well established top flight conductor and knows his way around the score. If they have recovered their lips, they could well feature highly.

Rhos Silver (W. Ruston)
4BR Ranking - None

Another band that we have to apologise for not knowing a great deal about in 2001. Rhos were 2nd Section Pontins Champions in 1994 and have continued an impressive climb towards the Championship Section, although they are not ranked as such for the Welsh Area Contest where they didn't compete at this year. They were 16th at the 2000 First Section National Finals, but since then they have gone into hiding somewhat in North Wales. If anyone knows any more, please let us know.

Soham Comrades (M. Ager)
4BR Ranking - None

One of those bands that goes quietly about it's business, whilst always maintaining a good enough standard to make a favourable impression at nearly every contest they compete in. Last year the band played very well to come 8th against a field in which they were considered rank outsiders, whilst the Area Championships this year in London saw them put up another creditable showing to come 7th. It will interesting to hear how they get on with Diadem of Gold, but hopefully they should be able to continue where they left off last year.

Staffordshire (D. Maplestone)
4BR Ranking - None

Andy Culshaw for many years did a fine job with the former Building Society Band but in many ways they underachieved in National contests against higher class opposition. The Building Society and Andy are now both gone and the band has put its faith in David Maplestone. Whether this will improve the bands recent run of results at the contest remains an open question, as the last two years has seen the band come home 13th, but David is a talented musician who can if the mood takes him bring out a very good performance from a band The Area saw them perform well to come 6th but the Senior Cup was a major disappointment, when under the baton of David Maplestone they limped home in 17th place. We will have to wait and see what Sunday brings.

SWT Woodfalls (P. Parkes)
4BR Ranking - 47

Surely one of the favourites to take the title for the first time. Woodfalls have performed well all year and have been strengthened by recent signings as well as having Peter Parkes at the helm to spearhead the bands attempt to win one of the few prizes that the Major hasn't got his hands on in his long career. 13th last year was a major disappointment as the previous two years had seen the band come 2nd and 3rd respectively, and the 3rd place that they achieved under Peter Parkes at the Area Championships was well merited. The Masters was a step up in class and the band found it hard work and came home 20th, whilst they did not get an invite to either the Grand Shield or the Senior Cup, which was a surprise to many. Without the distractions of London and the Open, Pontins is a realistic chance for the band to win a bit of serious silverware in 2001.

Wingates (B. Grant)
4BR Ranking - 35

Another band that should travel to Prestatyn with realistic expectations rather than just high hopes of doing well. Wingates have had a season of consolidation that should hold them in good stead not just for this contest but very much for next year. The band were runners-up to Rothwell at the contest last year and performed very well, and they took that good form into the new year to come 7th at the strong North West Area Championships under Brian Grant. They followed this with a solid showing at the Grand Shield where they came 9th, so in many ways it confirms our analysis. A fine group of soloists (especially on sop and euph) and an experienced MD (just back from London) should be enough to see the band up and about there come Sunday night.

Wooley Pritchard Sovereign (S. Bastable)
4BR Ranking - None

In 1996, this band was crowned Pontins Champions after a dramatic and spectacular rise through the sections that saw them win the Fourth Section in 1989 and the Third in 1990 and become Second Section Nationals Champions in 1991. However, the following years have been rather more of a struggle and last year they could only finish 15th under the baton of David Maplestone. They did come 4th the year before, but as this year has shown, they still have yet to return to the levels of the band 1996. The Areas saw them come 5th, whilst the Senior Cup saw them come home in the middle of the field and 10th. They have decided to put their faith in Steve Bastable this year and the talented MD of Tredegar will be hoping to reverse their fortunes and get them a high placing.

Yeovil Town (P. Bailey)
4BR Ranking - None

Yeovil are another band that has made dramatic progress since they won the National Third Section title in 1996 under Steve Sykes. The following years has seen the band move up the sections and they are now firmly ensconced in the South West top section. This is their first year in the top section here, but they came 5th in the First Section in 1999 and went on to come 3rd at the 2000 National First Section Finals. Philip Bailey continues to work the band hard and his perseverance certainly paid off at the South West Areas in 2001, where the band came a highly creditable 4th. However in the last few weeks they propped up the field at the Wychavon Contest, so they will be going full throttle to show that that result was just a temporary blip in form. They are up against a pretty stern field however, so it may be a year of consolidation rather than spectacular success.

Yorkshire Co-operatives (J. Roberts)
4BR Ranking - None

The Yorkshire band makes it's way to Pontins on the back of a fairly average season in terms of contesting success, but one that sees them more than holding their own in a very strong Yorkshire Area. Last year they didn't compete here, but the year before they came 3rd in the First Section contest. The Area this year was a real test of character and one they came through as they performed well to come 11th out of 12 in the toughest area of them all. It was no disgrace. However, they didn't take this form with them to the Senior Cup where they could only manage 11th in a field they could have done so much against. Could Pontins 2001 see a real charge at a first top section title?

4BR Prediction:

That's the line up them for what should be a very interesting contest. Nearly all the bands have a chance of winning, especially as the standard between the best and the rest is not that great. A couple of bands stand out as being slightly above the rest in terms of class, but in general terms this is a contest between the second tier of Championship Section bands in the country as only one of the competitors feature in the Open and only three were in the National Finals, and the best showing there was 12th place.

Still there are plenty of high class players on show and many talented conductors, whilst some of the bands will surely be pushing for inclusion at the Open and qualification for the Nationals in 2002. We think its going to be a close run contest, but the bands with the experience, good soloists (especially sopranos) and the time to have worked up the piece should do well. Hope to see everyone there.

4BR Prediction:

Aveley and Newham
Besses O' th' Barn
Point of Ayr
SWT Woodfalls
JAG Mount Charles

Dark Horses: Fishburn and Kibworth

Last Years Result:

Rothwell Temperance
Aveley and Newham
Mount Charles
Ashton Under Lyne
Stalybridge Old

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