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Brass in Concert Championships 2001: Spennymoor Awaits the Entertainers

The Spennymoor Leisure Centre on Sunday 18th November sees the last major contest of the year, when 11 top bands take part in the UK’s premier Entertainment Contest – The Brass In Concert Championships.

Although not all the top bands in the country are in attendance (there are no ticks in the register this year for YBS, Brighouse, Williams Fairey, Buy As You View Cory, Tredegar plus those perennial absentees, Black Dyke), there is still enough quality on stage to make ensure the contest’s status as the top entertainment show in the country. Started in 1977 it is now in it’s silver jubilee year 25 years later.

This year sees a line up of (in playing order) DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell, Kirkintilloch, Leyland, Ransomes, Ever Ready, Fodens, Todmorden Old, Sellers International, Grimethorpe, Besses O’ th’ Barn and Carlton Main. Pretty good value in anyone’s book and bands that all can show off in all sorts of ways to try and catch the ears of the adjudicators Geoffrey Whitham and Nigel Boddice, whilst the soloists will have to try and impress Jim Davies.

Plenty of prizes on offer, from a trophy for the youngest player on the day to one for the best new arrangement or composition to one for the neatest package of musical scores and notes. That’s entertainment Folks!

The usual points will be up for grabs as well with 200 points on offer for the music itself and 60 for entertainment and presentation, to give a winning score out of 260. As usual there will be plenty of debate about the latter as last year Grimethorpe wion the music section by 2 clear points from eventual winners Fodens and by 4 from second placed Leyland and still came 3rd.

Thankfully however, we’ll be spared we hope the awful spectacle of sweaty overweight men prancing about into tutu’s or imported Irish dancers falling over their own feet whilst trying to do a passable impression of Michael Flatley on speed. Thanks must go to Roy Newsome and the bands themselves for agreeing that making complete fools of themselves in the name of entertainment should be the preserve of “The Generation Game” and not brass band bass players.

Still, there should be plenty of standing up, putting on funny hats, loads of untuneful singing etc. However, there will hopefully be some pretty brilliant exponents of the art of brass instrument playing as well, and it will take some player to top Glyn Williams effort with Fodens last year when he managed to play more instruments than Roy Castle in a series of “Record Breakers”. The quality of the soloists on offer will be an undoubted highlight, whilst the number of new arrangements of fairly obscure orchestral pieces will again show the poverty of our own brass band repertoire. Spennymoor awaits the entertainers – lets hope none get paid off.

The Competing Bands:

DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell
4BR Ranking: 23
Conductor: David Evans

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 17
Best Result: Winners 1995. Second place – 1981, 1985. Third place – 1984, 1986. Fourth place – 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992. Fifth place – 1987, 1990, 1997. Sixth place – 1994. Unplaced – 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999.
Worst Result: 12th place 1999.
Last 5 years: 2000 – DNE: 1999 – 12th: 1998 – 9th: 1997 – 5TH: 1996 – 8TH.
2001 Form Guide: Area - 7th: Masters - 6th: Open - 14th: Nationals - DNQ.

2001 has been something of a year of recovery for “The Imps” which had seen them start off in some uncertain style when they parted company with Thomas Wyss after the Areas where they came 7th. David Evans was brought in to great effect however and the Masters saw them come home in 6th place with Roy Newsome actually giving them the top spot. It wasn’t that good but it did herald the start of the recovery proper. The Open saw further realistic entrenchment in 14th place so they won’t be short on confidence.

A good record at the contest, which saw them first compete as far back as 1982 and they had a very consistent record until they took the title in 1995 under Alan Exely. The following years saw them drop back a bit as form and players left and they dropped out in 2000. A welcome return then.

4BR Ranking: 16
Conductor: Allan Ramsey

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 0
Best Result:
Worst Result:
Last 5 years:
2001 Form Guide: Area – 5th: Open – 16th: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 1st: Troon – 1st: Whitburn – 3rd.

What a fine end to a fine year for the Scottish band that for so long had been held in the shadows by the two heavyweights north of the border – CWS and Whitburn. The Area was a bit of a damp squib to start the year, but what a recovery after a fine performance at the Grand Shield upset the apple cart and many more fancied bands to see them take the title and the chance to compete at the Open.

A decent showing there led them on to win the controversial Troon contest a few months back, but a disappointing 3rd place at the recent Whitburn contest may have dented the confidence a bit coming into this one. Allan Ramsey has a good team to work with and by all accounts they put up a very interesting entertainment show. Whether this could be enough on their debut remains to be seen though. Summon the Heroes?

4BR Ranking: 8
Conductor: Richard Evans

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 17
Best Result: Winners – 1989, 1991, 1992, 1997. Second place – 1984, 1993, 1998, 2000. Third place – 1982, 1983, 1988, 1994, 1999. Fourth place – 1985, 1987, 1995. Fifth place – 1986.
Worst Result: 5th place 1986.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 2nd: 1999 – 3rd: 1998 – 2nd: 1997 – 1st: 1996 – DNE.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 3rd: Masters – 13th: Open – 9th: National – 6th.

2001 has been the year of the return of the Leyland band as a true competing force at National level contesting following a dismal couple of years when things seemed to be teetering on the edge of extinction. That may sound harsh, especially as their record is virtually second to none here, but at both the Open and the Nationals in 1999 they seemed to had become a spent force.

The players and committee have rallied to fine effect and their form at the Area and the National this year confirmed their return in full. Still - they can be a bit wobbly at times (such as the Masters) but on their day they are one of the most enterprising and scintillating entertainment outfits around. Garry Cutt has done most of the hard graft on the contest stage, but for these occasions there is only one man that can do the biz with them – Tricky Dicky. He makes another return like a latter day Frank Sinatra and will most probably be just as good. Come fly with me indeed. Leyland are back in town.

The Ransome Band

4BR Ranking: 12
Conductor: Russell Gray

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 6
Best Result: 5th place – 2000. Sixth place – 1998, 1999. Unplaced – 1977, 1978, 1979.
Worst Result: 10th place 1979.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 5th: 1999 – 6th: 1998 – 6th: 1997 – DNE: 1996 – DNE.
2001 Form Guide: Area - 4th: Masters – 8th: Open – DNQ: National – 13th: European – 8th.

2001 has been something of a year of entrenchment for Ransomes. The National of 2000 heralded them in as a force to be reckoned with, but they have shown that they are no flash in the pan merchants with solid if unspectacular performances wherever they have played this year. The Area saw them be a little complacent as the threat of not qualifying for the Nationals was taken from them but they returned to form at the Masters with a fine 8th place and where one of the judges had them as high as 4th. The added bauble of the European saw them perform without a little luck and the trip cost them the chance to get back into the Open. The Nationals however saw them perform well to come 13th in a strong field.

Not the greatest of track records at the contest with only a 5th place last year as their best, but it must be added that in the last three years they have never been out of the prizes. Perhaps some added entertainment spice to match their good playing could see them come even higher.

Ever Ready
4BR Ranking: 17
Conductor: Stephen Roberts

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 24
Best Result: 4th place – 1977. Fifth place – 1978, 1983. Sixth place – 1984. Unplaced – 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
Worst Result: 12th place 1992.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 7th: 1999 – 11th: 1998 – 7th: 1997 – 11th: 1996 – 10th.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 3rd: Masters – 7th: Open – 12th: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 2nd.

The only band on show to have played at all the Spennymoor contests, Ever Ready can be said to have been more ever present than ever successful on their own front door. A best of 4th in the first year is the best they have done, and for the most part they have found themselves in the lower reaches of the prize list. Stephen Roberts however is no stranger to the contest and has a fine track record of bringing interesting new arrangements and compositions to light here. This could well do the band a favour.

Ever Ready are a band on the up at the present, even though the year started somewhat disastrously with them missing out on their annual pilgrimage to the Nationals. The Grand Shield saw them display great character under Ray Farr to secure a long awaited return to the Open, where they performed with vigour and style to come home a well-deserved 12th. In between they put up a superb effort in coming 7th at the Masters and showed that on their day they could very well mix it with the big boys. They will need more of that at Spennymoor to make a better mark than last years encouraging 7th place.

4BR Ranking: 3
Conductor: Ray Farr

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 12
Best Result: Winners – 1987, 1988, 1990, 1998, 2000. Second place – 1996, 1997, 1999. Third place – 1991. Fourth place – 1983, 1984. Sixth place – 1986.
Worst Result: 6th place 1986.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 1st: 1999 – 2nd: 1998 – 1st: 1997 – 2nd: 1996 – 2nd.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 2nd: Masters – 4th: Open – 7th: National – 2nd.

What an amazing year for the band from Sandbach. Never has a band had so much publicity, good wishes and general support in a year that in fact has seen them not actually win anything. This is mainly because lady luck has certainly not smiled in their direction. The Open and Nationals saw them give two of the most musical performances heard for many a long year at the venues, but still they came away with only hard luck. 4th at the Masters is a fine result for many bands, but for Fodens it marked possibly their worse performance for a long time at a major contest. They’ve had plenty of upheavals of late and have used their fair share of stickmen into the bargain, but they are a class act nonetheless.

A fine record in Spennymoor in surprisingly only 12 outings here over the years and with 5 wins and 3 seconds and a third place in their last 9 performances here, shows how good they are at the entertainment format. Last year was no exception, with a programme of well thought out and brilliantly executed music under the baton of Ray Farr that featured euphonium player Glyn Williams tour de force virtuoso performance. You never know what we might get from the duo this year. Watch out.

Todmorden Old
4BR Ranking: 19
Conductor: Dennis Hadfield

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 1
Best Result: 9th – 2000.
Worst Result: As above.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 9th.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 6th: Masters – 16th: Open – 11th: National – DNQ.

A year of solid achievement for Todmorden Old amid internal squabbles and rumblings that could have sunk many a band into the mire. Hopefully that’s all behind the hard working outfit now and they will approach Spennymoor after a year in which they have performed with merit wherever they have played. The Area saw them put up a fine showing to come 6th in perhaps the strongest Area contest in the country, whilst the Open saw another solid and workmanlike performance that secured them 11th – ahead of many other more fancied bands. The Masters was the one disappointment and to be fair it was a day at the office that they would rather forget.

A very hard working band, they have in Dennis Hadfield a man who asks for and usually gets 100% commitment. Last year was their debut at the contest and they came 9th so this year they shouldn’t be fazed and could well improve.

Sellers International
4BR Ranking: 25
Conductor: Philip McCann

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 8
Best Result: Third place – 1992: Fifth place – 1993, 1999. Sixth place – 2000. Unplaced – 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998.
Worst Result: 9th place – 1996.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 6th: 1999 – 5th: 1998 – 8th: 1997 – 7th: 1996 – 9th.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 12th: Masters – 15th: Open – DNQ: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 4th.

The return to Sellers of Phillip McCann is seen by many to have been long overdue; especially as he was somewhat shamefully treated there the last time he had the baton. Sellers owe him much as he had taken the band to very nearly the very top of the contesting tree before they parted company. 3rd place in 1992 has been their best effort so far, but that was under his control and his return could well see the band start returning to those happier days.

2001 then could end on a better note; as for the most part it has been a year of immense disappointment. The Area was a disaster, as was the Masters and the Grand Shield for that matter, where 4th place in a not very strong field heralded the start of the end for Alan Exely. The start of the McCann second term though could be well worth listening out for, especially as they have secured the arranging skills of Andy Duncan to fall back on.

Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal

4BR Ranking: 7
Conductor: Garry Cutt

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 21
Best Result: Winners – 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1994, 1999. Second place – 1978, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995. Third place – 1985, 1987, 1990, 2000. Fourth place - 1996.
Worst Result: 4th place 1996.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 3rd: 1999 – 1st: 1998 – DNE: 1997 – DNE: 1996 – 4th.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 4th: Open – 4th: National – DNQ.

What a record eh? 9 wins, 7 seconds and a worst performance in 21 attempts of 4th. No one but no one has done so much to develop the entertainment contest into a near art form as Grimethorpe, and their reputation as Kings of the format is well deserved.

In addition they have shown that all the hype of the ludicrous “Brassed Off” stuff has not affected them on the serious contest stage either and in Garry Cutt they have one of the very best MD’s in business. 2001 has proved the fact with superb performances at both the Area (where they were a little unlucky not to qualify for the Nationals) and the Open where Garry Cutt moulded a cracker of a show on Les Preludes. They also have some of the most talented players around the stand and their celluloid experiences have certainly given a few of them the thespian tendency to show off their acting talents on the Spennymoor stage. We are sure they will try and out do the opposition again both in the playing and entertainment departments – so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Besses O’ th’ Barn
4BR Ranking: 36
Conductor: Gareth Pritchard

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 20
Best Result: 4th place 1993: Fifth place – 1984, 1985. Sixth place – 1977, 1982. Unplaced – 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000.
Worst Result: 11th in 1991 and 1994.
Last 5 years: 2000 – 10th: 1999 – 9th: 1998 – DNE: 1997 – DNE: 1996- DNE.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 6th: Masters – 10th: Open – DNQ: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 11th: Pontins – 15th: Yeovil – 8th.

A real mixed year for Besses in 2001 and Spennymoor sees them fresh from the disappointment of gaining 15th spot in a very average field in Pontins. Besses are a very good band on their day, but 2001 has not seen too many of them for their liking. The Area showed promise and the Masters reinforced their progress under Gareth Pritchard, but since then it’s been a series of major down turns both at the Grand Shield and Pontins and it will take some effort from the band to recover against this strong field.

Gareth Pritchard has a quality team of players around the stand, and some are well worth watching (please refer to Pontins report) and last year they performed with merit off the number one spot to come home 10th. A worthy if unspectacular run of 20 attempts has seen them come only as high as 4th nearly ten years ago, and Gareth Pritchard could open his goody box of quality arrangements to take a few more scalps, but most probably it will be another day down at the bottom end of a high quality field.

Carlton Main Frickley
4BR Ranking: 14
Conductor: Paul Andrews

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 8
Best Result: 4th place – 1979, 1982: Unplaced – 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984.
Worst Result: 10th place 1978 and 1980.
Last 5 years: First appearance since 1984.
2001 Form Guide: Area – 10th: Masters – 3rd: Open – 17th: National – DNQ.

Carlton Main makes a welcome return to the contest for the first time since the year of the Miners Strike in 1984. That was a year that everyone in the coalfields did well to survive and Carlton Main themselves went through many lows before 1999 saw them back to winning ways when they won the Grand Shield and returned to the Open. Since then they have maintained the progress under the baton of John Hinckley and the highlight of this years campaigns was undoubtedly their 3rd place at the Masters where the three judges placed them 2nd, 4th and 10th. The Open saw them fall back a bit to come home 17th, but they have the ability to play well above themselves on the day and take more than a few notable scalps.

Paul Andrews takes the baton for their first foray into the premier entertainment contest, and it will be something of a baptism of fire for all concerned. Whether they perform above expectations we will have to wait and see, but it’s a joy to report that one of the most famous names in the banding world has made it back.

4br prediction:

Entertainment Contests are notoriously hard to predict as on their day any of the bands could literally draw a white rabbit out of the hat and give the audience and judges alike a feast of entertainment last bettered only on “Opportunity Knocks”.

What we will get is hard to say as the novelty items have thankfully been struck a blow by a combination of common sense and good taste by Roy Newsome and the bands themselves. As we said, there is no accounting for taste – especially when any remnant of it has been thrown out of the bloody window by dressing up in silly clothes, juggling jelly or generally making an arse of oneself in the cause of gaining an extra point or two off the entertainment judges. Until the scoring system is properly sorted out, then we are afraid someone is going to make themselves look a complete plonker come Sunday night – and for what?

The best bands always sound the best bands whatever they play. It’s in the quality of the sound, the production, the musicianship – not in the tutu’s and red noses

There will be some brilliant solo playing that will entertain the audience royally and some arrangements and compositions that will do the same. Why do we need the amateur dramatics then?

Thus we think that the best bands will come out on top – and the best bands for us are the ones who have shown their class all year on whatever contest stage. Therefore we plumb for Grimethorpe closely followed by Fodens and Leyland to fill the top three places on the podium, with Sellers, Ransomes and Todmorden filling the other places. Our dark horse we think could well be Yorkshire Imps.

4BR Prediction:

Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
Sellers International
Todmorden Old
Dark Horses: DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell.

Last Years Result:

Sellers International

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