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North of England Championship

4BR trawl many past results to bring you this preview and therefore we occasionally make mistakes. If you do spot one, then please email us the correct information and we'll amend the article as soon as possible.

First Section:

The Dolphin Centre
Saturday 16th March
Adjudicator: TBA
Commences: Approx 1.00pm

Competing Bands: Aunt Bessie's EYB (M. Davison): BAE Systems Marine (D. Broadbent): Barnard Castle (G. Hutchinson): Boldon Colliery (C. Bentham): Easington Colliery (D. Dye): Flookburgh (J. Iveson): Gateshead Brass (tba): Harrogate (D. Lancaster): Horden Colliery (J. Beddell): Kirbymoorside Town (J. Woodward): Spennymoor Town (P. Cutler): Westoe STHCT (J. Smith)

There are 12 bands in the hunt for the two places up for grabs for Torquay and it should make for a very interesting contest. There doesn't seem to be any clear cut favourite for the title this year and it could be a scrap between four or five bands to decide who the winners will be.

Aunt Bessie's EYB came down to this section last year after two years in the Championship section where to be fair they struggled a little to make a mark. Two consecutive 9th places in 1999 and 2000 were enough to send them through the trap door and last year they came a creditable 3rd pace. They seem to be on past history a band good enough to beat the rivals at this level but not quite strong enough to hold their own in the level above. Could be in with a positive shout come the results this time around.

BAE Systems Marine were 8th here last year and could well improve on that showing given the chance. We believe they won the Hove contest last year (although we are not too sure about it). They were relegated from the top flight last year after three years (where they were called Vickers Barrow) where they came 6th in 1998, 10th in 1999 and 7th in 2000, so they will be keen to return back.

Barnard Castle have a solid record here and they were 6th last year and 8th the year before. This wasn't as good as they hoped for we suspect as they have come 3rd here in 1997, and so will be hoping for a repeat performance of that result. Boldon Colliery meanwhile have a record of near misses for the title here, in that they came 2nd in both 1998 and 2000, although last year they fell away somewhat to come 7th and could only muster 18th at Pontins. They will be hoping hat good luck comes in even years and a repeat of the millennium is on the cards.

Easington Colliery are a band that has now had a couple of years in the First section following their relegation from the top flight in 2000. The two previous years had seen them come 8th in 1998 and 7th in 1999 and they repeated that result in the lower section 2000. Last year they fell away again a little so they will be keen for a return to better form. Flookburgh meanwhile are a band of mystery to us a bit, as they had a fine record up to 1999 and then just disappeared somewhat for a couple of years. 3rd and 4th in 1998 and '99 seemed to be the start of something, but then they didn't compete at the contest and only this year make a return. They came 2nd at the Fleetwood contest in the second section, so we don't really know what to expect.

Gateshead is now the name given to the band formally known as Northumbria Police and they lost their championship status for this year after a series of results in the top section that saw them drop from 4th place in 1998 to 8th in 1999, 10th in 2000 and 6th last year. Relegation seems a bit harsh, but it is based over two years. They should do well though as the core of the band has remained the same and they could be line for a rapid promotion.

Harrogate are a band that has had an amazing run of success over the past few years and they come here as reigning champions of the section and after coming 16th at the Nationals in Preston and 5th at York and Humberside in the top section. A band that has plenty of quality, they should be the ones to beat and further enhance a record that contains two consecutive top prizes in the last two years.

Horden come up a section this year following a run of three consecutive 4th places in the second section Whether they can make an impression at the higher level is a question we won't find out until Saturday, but they should be confident of taking at least a few scalps. Kirbymoorside are another band that has performed well at this level over the past few years and their record reads 3rd in 1999, 5th in 2000 and 5th again last year. They also came 6th at the Yorkshire and Humberside contest and they should be confident enough to know that they can push for a place on the podium.

Spennymoor Town recently won the County Durham contest and so confidence will be high. They came 10th last year and 6th the year before, so they will be gunning for better things this time around. Could well spring a surprise or two. Westoe STHCT meanwhile are a band really on the up and in the past four years they have won the fourth section in 1998, come 3rd in the third the following year, come 2nd in the second section in 2000 and win it last time out. They were also 11th at the National Finals so they have some form to go on. Could well be up there.

2001 Result:

1. Harrogate
2. Broughton's Brass
3. Aunt Bessie's EYB
4. Nestle Rowntree
5. Kirbymoorside
6. Barnard Castle

4BR Prediction:

1. Harrogate
2. Boldon Colliery
3. Gateshead
4. Aunt Bessie's EYB
5. Kirbymoorside
6. Westoe STHCT

Dark Horse: BAE Systems Marine.

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