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The Yorkshire Regional Championships:

St. George's Hall, Bradford.
56 Bands
Saturday 2nd March and Sunday 3rd March

We take a look at the Championship Section of perhaps the strongest region in the UK. All our usual coverage about the band hoping to gain qualification to the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall come October.

Championship Section:
Sunday 3rd March
Adjudicator: James Scott
Commences: Approx 3.30pm

Competing Bands: ASDA Stocksbridge (D. Renshaw): Black Dyke (N. Childs): Brighouse and Rastrick (A. Withington): Carlton Main Frickley (J. Hinkley): Drighlington (C.Hardy): DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell (D. Evans): Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) (J. Gourlay): Hepworth (M. Bentham): Marsden Silver (A. Widdop): Ntl Skelmanthorpe (K. Wadsworth): Pennine Brass (I. Porthouse): Rothwell Temperance (D. Roberts): Sellers International (P. McCann): Yorkshire Building Society (D. King): Yorkshire Cooperatives (J. Roberts).

What a contest we have in store on the Sunday afternoon with an extended field (15 bands this year due to some hassles about relegation and promotion) in the strongest of the Regions.

Black Dyke under Nicholas Childs starting their revival with a win here last year that was the catalyst to them becoming National Champions at the Albert Hall, but bands such as Yorkshire Building Society, Grimethorpe, Brighouse and some others will be going out full throttle to try and knock the Queensbury outfit off their pedestal. They remain however the band of the moment and will be brimming with confidence now that they hold the title of champion Band of Great Britain. They will surely be the band to beat.

The biggest threat to Dyke repeating their triumph should come from the trio mentioned, but there are other bands that have been busy in the transfer field and others who have gone through a bit of a shake up in an attempt to gain one of the two extra qualification spots on offer. (Black Dyke and YBS are already pre qualified so it is feasible that the bands that could come third and fourth also get to qualify).

Grimethorpe, who were unlucky last year not to qualify have brought in James Gourlay and are playing very well if their concert at the RNCM was anything to go by, whilst Brighouse, who were a little a lucky last year have been strengthened with new signings in the close season and should be all the stronger for it. Yorkshire Building Society meanwhile lost a number of players to other top bands, but David King seems blessed with the knack of unearthing prodigious new talent and the new recruits have been performing as well as any of their predecessors in concerts of late and so should be able to provide Dyke and co with the strongest possible challenge.

Sellers have been re united with Philip McCann and he has immediately shown signs that his relationship with the band can bring results against top class opposition, whilst DUT Yorkshire Imperial have been the busiest band of the lot in the murky waters of the transfer field and have near enough a new third of a band to strengthen their challenge.

Carlton Main remain a strong, if at times unpredictable challenger and it will be interesting to see if they either play as well as their performances at the 2001 Masters or if they fall by the wayside as they did here last year. They are a dark horse however and shouldn't be discounted. Rothwell Temperance meanwhile has been quiet of late but should be able to put in a solid performance, as should both Ntl Skelmanthorpe and Yorkshire Cooperatives.

Of the bands that took the plunge as it were and got promoted, all will be hoping that their first year in the top section won't be a chastening experience. All are strong enough to play the piece well with both ASDA Stocksbridge and Pennine Brass showing last year that they should survive with comfort in this class of opposition whilst Marsden and Drighlington, could find it a bit more difficult. Hepworth however will be brimming with confidence after their recent run of successes and will be hoping to take more than a few scalps come Sunday from more illustrious opposition. They are certainly playing well enough at the moment.

So a great contest to look forward to, and with so many of these bands capable of producing real top class performances of the set test, "Whitsun Wakes", James Scott could have his work cut out. However, there is a distinct difference in class between the top four or five and the rest, that it shouldn't be a surprise if the winners and qualifiers come from the usual suspects. James Scott proved last year in Wales that he won't go for the band that plays the loudest and will be looking for (we think) the band that creates the best musical picture of what the composer wanted to achieve. Play loud and hard and we think you won't come anywhere - put a bit of thought into it and you could come up roses.

The Bands:

ASDA Stocksbridge:
4BR Ranking: 34
Last Year: Winners of First Section
Last 5 Years: 8th 1997, DNC 1998, 12th 1999, 1st 1st Section 2000, 1st 1st Section.

The National First Section Champions return to the big time after two successive Regional wins in the First Section. A fine solid and unpretentious band that will be capable of performing well, they showed throughout last year that they would be more than able to hold their own at the higher level.

Perhaps not quite good enough at the moment to come in the prizes but should do enough to survive and prosper and take a few notable scalps. Derek Renshaw has worked extremely hard over the past few years and bringing Stocksbridge back to the championship contest has been a fine achievement.

Black Dyke:
4BR Ranking:
Last Year: 1st
Last 5 Years: 5th 1997, 1st 1998, 7th 1999, 3rd 2000, 1st 2001.

The National Champions are the form band of the moment and will be seeking to repeat their triumph of 2001 that was the catalyst for their successes further into the year.

A superb group of solo players are complimented by some equally impressive back up men and a good sonorous bass end provides a firm foundation. They will be fully prepared for sure and Nicholas Childs and his team will leave nothing to chance. They have had their slips her, notably in 1999 but the band to beat this time around we think.

Brighouse and Rastrick:
4BR Ranking: 6
Last Year: 3rd
Last 5 Years: 1st 1997, 7th 1998, 2nd 1999, 5th 2000, 3rd 2001.

And what of the boys from West Riding? On their day they are perhaps the most exciting band on "planet banding", but apart from a superb performance at the Masters last year they were a major disappointment and Allan Withington will be expecting more from his charges this time around.

They have fallen back a little from the great years of the late 1990's but have enough class and sheer grunt power to overcome just about any obstacle.
Plenty of new faces should see them in a stronger position, but what "Briggus" will take the stage?

Carlton Main Frickley:
4BR Ranking: 14
Last Year: 10th
Last 5 Years: 4th 1997, 9th 1998, 1st 1999, 10th 2000, 10th 2001.

The surprise winners of 1999 have found life a little tougher of late at the Regionals and will be keen to improve their lot from two disappointing 10th places in the past two years.

However, they have shown enough class against tough opposition (Masters 2001) to show that they can on their day pull out all the stops and be a real force. John Hinckley continues to add sensible direction and this could come in handy on "Whitsun Wakes". Not flashy or brash but solid and dependable - this could be the thing to gain success come Sunday.

4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 6th in First Section
Last 5 Years: 9th 1997, 10th 1998, 13th 1999, 2nd 1st Section, 6th 1st Section.

How will Drighlington do? It's difficult to say, but the band from the small village between Leeds and Bradford have reunited themselves with Colin Hardy, who masterminded much of their success in the past.

It's a big step up from the First Section, but they decided to go for it and so can't be short on confidence of surviving. Colin Hardy puts a lot of thought into everything he does, but could this be enough to see them doing anything other than defeat a few bands below them.

DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell:
4BR Ranking: 24
Last Year: 7th
Last 5 Years: 10th 1997, 5th 1998, 8th 1999, 7th 2000, 7th 2001.

No band has been busier in the transfer market than "Imps" so it's difficult to say how they will do. They have been consistent rather than spectacular of late at the Regionals so they will be hoping to improve on the 7th places of both 2000 and 2001.

David Evans has brought a fresh approach to the band and they performed very well in coming in the prizes at the Masters last year, but there are 9 new faces around the stand and it may take a little time for everything to gell together.

Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal)
4BR Ranking: 7
Last Year: 4th
Last 5 Years: DNC 1997, 3rd 1998, DNC 1999, 2nd 2000, 4th 2001.

Grimethorpe were superb last year, not only here but also at the Open, and going on their recent concert form there aren't too many bands that can give a performance of technically difficult music like they can.

A great team of cornermen and plenty of class in the inner sections could see them really up there come Sunday night, whilst James Gourlay is one of the most musically gifted of all conductors on the circuit. He didn't have much luck last year with Glasgow, but this could be the start of a promising partnership. A bit hard on Garry Cutt though. Ones to watch and listen to.

4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 9th
Last 5 Years: 3rd 1st Section 1997, 5th 1st Section 1998, 5th 1999, 9th 2000, 9th 2001.

A band in very good form at the moment with two consecutive wins under their belt coming into the contest. They have proved that they can survive with a bit of comfort at this level but will now be hoping to make the next step on their progress towards the top.

Mark Bentham has brought solid and musical performances to the band and they have some fine players around the stand, so with their recent successes to bolster their confidence they could well improve on last years 9th place. It will be tough for them to come in the prizes but don't be surprised of they take a few notable scalps.

Marsden Silver:
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 5th in 1st Section
Last 5 Years: 1st 3rd Section 1997, 3rd 2nd Section 1998, 6th 2nd Section 1999, 3rd 1st Section 2000, 5th 1st Section 2001.

Another band that has had the confidence to take the bull by the horns and step up in class to compete against the real heavyweights of Yorkshire banding. Like Drighlington it is hard to say how they will do, but it could be a bit of a struggle against this quality of opposition.

The band hail from just outside Huddersfield and are the proud owners of their own band club and run the successful Marsden March Contest. Alan Widdop has directed the band on their steady progress and the ex Black Dyke bass trombone player has taken them from the depths of the third section to now, and the top section is perhaps the hardest are of them all. We hope they do well, but it may be a step too far for them at the moment.

Ntl Skelmanthorpe:
4BR Ranking: 50
Last Year: 5th
Last 5 Years: 6th 1st Section 1997, 4th 1st Section 1998, 3rd 1st Section 1999, 11th 2000, 5th 2001.

Now with the backing of the company ntl, Skelmanthorpe directed by ex Black Dyke and Brighouse tenor horn player Kevin Wadsworth have secured themselves very firmly as a solid performer in the top section and in Yorkshire in particular.

5th place last year was an excellent achievement from a band that has a good blend of young and old that compliments each other very nicely. They performed well in coming 4th at the Senior Cup last year and will be looking for another performance like that on "Jazz". May not be in the prizes but should do well.

Pennine Brass:
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 2nd in First Section
Last 5 Years: Did not compete before 2000. 1st in 2nd Section 2000, 2nd 1st Section 2001.

A band that has come a very long way in a very short space of time. Pennine has shown in the past year or so that it has made the progress with a solid foundation of good organisation and a group of very talented players.

Ian Porthouse provides very musical and detailed readings of his scores and like their rivals of last year ASDA Stocksbridge they should be strong enough in all departments to survive with a bit of comfort in the top flight. This year may not see them challenging for the honours but they have enough quality to take more than a few scalps.

Rothwell Temperance:
4BR Ranking: 30
Last Year: 8th
Last 5 Years: 2nd 1st Section 1997, 1st 1st Section 1998, 10th 1999, 8th 2000, 8th 2001.

Rothwell had a superb 2000,but a relatively quiet 2001, where they consolidated their position in the top flight.

David Roberts continues to give the band sensible direction and they have some real up and coming stars amongst their ranks. 4th place at the Grand Shield was about right for them at the time, but they are certainly ambitious and will want to improve on their mid table outings of the last three years when they have come 10th, 8th and 8th. Could do well.

Sellers International:
4BR Ranking: 19
Last Year: 12th
Last 5 Years: 6th 1997, 6th 1998, 4th 1999, 6th 2000, 12th 2001.

Sellers are re united with the man who was the architect for much of their initial success when he created the band over ten years ago - and for many it couldn't have come soon enough as the band was lurching dangerously on the slippery slope of relegation to the First Section.

Since his arrival he has instilled renewed confidence and style and the band were excellent at Spennymoor and should approach the Regional challenge knowing that they should be closer to the top of the pile rather than the bottom where they found themselves last year (unluckily it must be said). Failure to qualify for the Open meant that Mr McCann's brand of no nonsense, sensible approach to the basics was what the band was crying out for. Now he's here it could be a return to better things.

Yorkshire Building Society:
4BR Ranking: 1
Last Year: 2nd
Last 5 Years: 3rd 1997, 2nd 1998, 6th 1999, 1st 2000, 2nd 2001.

The band that has the ability and talent to win any and every contest it plays in have gone through a period of change of late when a number of star players left the band for pastures new.

The replacements have been individually hand picked by David King and they will no doubt be class acts, so nothing much has changed there has it, and recent reports suggest the band is playing quite superbly. Whether this will be enough to regain a title they last won in 2000 we will wait and see, but there is so much class around the stand, especially in the solo positions that it will be a class band that can possibly beat them. Whoever can, should become Regional Champions - but is there someone good enough out there to do it?

Yorkshire Cooperatives:
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 11th
Last 5 Years: 10th 1st Section 1997, 7th 1st Section 1998, 2nd 1st Section 1999, 4th 1st Section 2000, 11th 2001.

The band located in Brighouse are directed by John Roberts and have proved themselves a competent and solid outfit rather than a band capable of spectacular one off performances.

This has been good for them in many ways, as they have consolidated themselves in the top section. 11th last year was about right, but they have worked hard and they came 11th at the Senior Cup last and 14th at Pontins as well. They are up against some pretty tough bands though and could find themselves towards the bottom rather than top. It won't be for the want of trying though and the band that sprang to life through James Shepherd will be hoping to beat a few rivals at least.

2001 Result:

1. Black Dyke
2. Yorkshire Building Society
3. Brighouse and Rastrick
4. Grimethorpe Colliery
5. Ntl Skelmanthorpe
6. Todmorden Old

4BR Prediction:

1. Black Dyke
2. Grimethorpe Colliery
3. Yorkshire Building Society
4. Brighouse and Rastrick
5. Sellers International
6. DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell

Dark Horse: Hepworth

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