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Scottish Regional Championship

59 of the best bands north of Hadrian's Wall will be competing at Motherwell Civic Centre on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of March, all hoping either to get an invite for the finals in London or a very, very long bus trip to Torquay.

Scottish banding is strong and full of character and in the premier division they now have three or four bands more than capable of matching and beating anything south of the border. Whitburn and Kirkintilloch are now really strong contenders along with CWS Glasgow in any National contest, whilst Dalmellington and Newtongrange are rapidly improving outfits. 2001 was a good year for the top of the Scottish banding tree, but below it things are not too rosy, and only one band found themselves in the prize list at the Lower Section Nationals in Preston.

Hopefully the success of the top-flight bands will give the others below them the encouragement to perform even better in 2002.

Championship Section:

Motherwell Civic Centre
Sunday 10th March
Adjudicator: David Read
Commences: 2.00pm approx

Competing Bands: Bo'ness and Carriden (T. Swainson): Bon Accord Silver (T. Swainson): CWS (Glasgow) (D. King): Dalmellington (R. Evans): Johnstone Silver (R. Tennant): Kingdom Brass (A. Morrison): Kirkintilloch (F. Renton): Newtongrange Silver (R. Farr): Unison Kinneil (E. Dunlea): Whitburn (P. McCann)

A very interesting line up of good quality bands will take the stage in Motherwell for the premier section. Only CWS Glasgow may have gone on to London to win the National Championship itself, but in the last few years there has been something of a renaissance in Scottish banding at this level. The same cannot be said of Scottish top level conductors it appears as five non Scots will be directing affairs - there is plenty of talent in the Kingdom but it seems the top bands place their faith in a Sassenach or two.

CWS Glasgow should take the stage as favourites once again, but they have shown especially in 2001 that they are far from the near invincible force of old, and they were well beaten at both the Open and National Finals by Whitburn, their traditional rivals. They are conducted this year by the third new face in as many years, as David King is re united with the band for the first time here since directing them to success in 1996. Lots of changes of personnel and a much more committed approach could well see them make it a hat trick of wins.

Whitburn had a great 2001 with fine performances at the two major contests - including a top class show for 5th place at the Open. They recently have welcomed some new faces to the ranks but the core of the band remains and they are in fine form. It should be a straight fight between the two heavyweights once again, and the way Whitburn have the voodoo sign on their rivals, it could well be a first success at the contest since 1999.

Dalmellington came third last year under the irrepressible Richard Evans, and so they have plumbed for a repeat dose of his magic this year as well. They have been around the fringes of the prize list this year with 4th places at Troon and Carnegie, but they are more than capable of producing the goods and a repeat of last years result is not beyond them.

Kingdom Brass came 4th last year under Thomas Wyss who did so much good work with the band since the combined forces of Cowdenbeath and Kelty and Blairadam came together in 2000. 13th at the Senior Cup was a disappointment, but recent form has seen them come 3rd at Troon and Carnegie and a win at Fife. Alan Morrison heads their challenge this time and he has the musical pedigree to know how to do well at the top level. Could be up there come the results.

Kirkintilloch can't wait for the contest season to start again, going by their form in 2001. Winners of the Grand Shield, winners at Troon - West of Scotland competition, plus 16th at the Open and 5th at Spennymoor were fine achievements and only a 3rd place at the Whitburn contest spoilt an amazing run of form. Frank Renton returns for the sixth consecutive year to take the band here, and they will be more than confident of repeating their 2nd place of 1999. They have good reason to be.

Newtongrange were 6th last year and they also had a fair time of it outside Scotland as well, when they 5th at the Senior Cup and 4th at the November Mineworkers Championships. They were also the winners of the Land O' Burns contest at Troon in late August when they beat Kirkintilloch into second place and Johnstone into third. Ray Farr heads their assault again and they could well make a mark and improve on last years result.

Bon Accord have an amazing record at the contest since 1995, with no less than 3 promotions and two relegations in seven years. That's more ups and downs than Joan Collins knickers, but they seem more than capable this time of an extended stay in the top section. Tony Swainson heads the assault, and he has been instrumental in their recent success that has seen them climb from the second section in 1999. Their recent form has included 4th at the Whitburn contest so they should hold their own this time around and possibly imrove on their 7th place last year.

Unison Kinneil came 8th last year, which represented a decline from their amazing runners up spot in 2000. Eric Dunlea heads the band this time around and they won the Whitburn contest to boost confidence after they could only come 15th at the Grand Shield. Will be hoping for a repeat of 2000, but a more likely carbon copy of 2001 is on the cards.

Johnstone Silver have had an amazing last two years, with promotion from the second section in 2000 and further promotion from the first section last year - both as champions. 6th place at the Nationals, a win at Whitburn and Carnegie and 2nd at Troon showed that they can do the business, and they are more than capable of taking a few scalps on their first outing in the top flight.

In 1995 Bo'ness and Carriden were crowned top section champions and went on to perform well at the National Finals where they came 13th. The intervening years have seen them lose their championship status, but 2nd place in the first section last year has seen them return and with 9th place at the National Finals and 2nd places at Whitburn and Carnegie they will enter the contest hoping to repeat their 4th place of 1998.

The Bands:

Bo'ness and Carriden
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 2nd in 1st Section
Last Five Years: 7th 1997; 4th 1998; 8th 1999; 8th 2000; 2nd in 1st Section

Not a bad record over the years and they did win here in 1995, but it could be harder this time around.

Tony Swainson heads the band and with plenty of young talent sprinkled around the stands they should do more than enough to survive. A mid field finish could be par for the course.

Bon Accord Silver
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 7th
Last Five Years: 5th 1st Section 1997; 10th 1st Section 1998; 1st 2nd Section 1999; 1st 1st Section 2000; 7th 2001

An impressive return to the top section last year was accompanied by a well deserved 7th place and Tony Swainson again heads the band (he'll be a busy man). He was also at the helm when they won the second and first section titles with the band.

They have done enough during the past 12 months to ensure they could well repeat last years result with comfort.

CWS (Glasgow)
4BR Ranking: 12
Last Year: 1st
Last Five Years: 1st 1997; 1st 1998; 3rd 1999; 1st 2000; 1st 2001

An amazing record of success here over the past few years with only the 3rd pace of 1999 the only time since 1996 that they have not taken the top prize.

David King leads the band this time around, and they will be hoping to put the disappointments of 2001 behind them. They should be the band to beat.

4BR Ranking: 53
Last Year: 3rd
Last Five Years: 4th 1997; 8th 1998; 5th 1999; 6th 2000; 3rd 2001

A fine record of consistency (they were even 5th and 6th in 1995 and 1996), but they have yet to really give just enough to push themselves into the top two places. Close though last year.

Richard Evans has a second go with the band and with plenty of quality players and with "Dicky" on form all ready this year with the stick they could well make that final push into the qualifying spots.

Johnstone Silver
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 1st in 1st Section
Last Five Years: 6th 1st Section 1997; 6th 1st Section 1998; 10th 1st Section 1999; 1st 2nd Section 2000; 1st 1st Section

Two straight promotions through the sections will ensure that this will be a band that travels with high hopes and sky-high confidence. The gap between the first and top section however is large and they could find themselves battling it out in midfield this time around.

Raymond Tennant leads the assault, and they could and should be comfortable contenders. Not quite at the top, but don't be surprised if they take their fair share of plaudits and scalps.

Kingdom Brass
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 4th
Last Five Years: Did not compete as Kingdom Brass until 2000. 2nd 1st Section 2000; 4th 2001

The third year for the amalgamated band, and they will be hoping to repeat the fine performance at the contest of 2001, when they came a well-deserved 4th.

Thomas Wyss has been working hard with Williams Fairey, so its Alan Morrison who heads their challenge. A band capable of doing really well on their day, but they may have a battle on their hands to repeat last years performance.

4BR Ranking: 16
Last Year: 5th
Last Five Years: 3rd 1997; 5th 1998; 2nd 1999; 4th 2000; 5th 2001

Another band with a very fine record here, but one that has not seen a winning performance for over ten years.

Frank Renton heads the band again, but it has been the ongoing work of Alan Ramsey that has propelled the band forward in the past 12 months or so. This could well be their best chance for many years to break the duopoly at the top of the prize list.

Newtongrange Silver
4BR Ranking: 38
Last Year: 6th
Last Five Years: 5th 1997; 3rd 1998; 6th 1999; 5th 2000; 6th 2001

Another band that has performed well and has consistently come around the fringes of success here since 1996 in fact.

Ray Farr takes the helm for the second year in a row and hopes will be high that they can finally get the break and repeat their runners up spot of 1995. With a bit of luck they could well feature.

Unison Kinneil
4BR Ranking: 46
Last Year: 8th
Last Five Years: 8th 1997; 9th 1998; 1st 1st Section 1999; 2nd 2000; 8th 2001

Unison will be hoping that Eric Dunlea will be able to inspire the band to repeat the fine result of 2000, instead of the 8th place of last year - but it could be a hard task.

Archie Htcherson was the Scot who inspired them then, and they have returned to home grown talent to try and repeat the feat. It may well be beyond them, but they have enough talent to improve on last year though.

4BR Ranking: 10
Last Year: 2nd
Last Five Years: 2nd 1997; 2nd 1998; 1st 1999; 3rd 2000; 2nd 2001

What a fine record. Any band would be pleased with this series of results (and performances) at the Regionals, but Whitburn have an appetite for success at the highest level now and they will be disappointed if they can't repeat their triumph of 1999.

Philip McCann directs again, and it could well be the year that they do it. The form of 2001 suggests they will be there or thereabouts come the results, but will it be 1st place?

2001 Result:

1. CWS Glasgow
2. Whitburn
3. Dalmellington
4. Kingdom Brass
5. Kirkintilloch
6. Newtongrange

4BR Prediction:

1. CWS Glasgow
2. Whitburn
3. Kirkintilloch
4. Dalmellington
5. Newtongrange
6. Unison Kinneil

Dark Horse: Johnstone Silver

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