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2002 Welsh Regional Championships

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.

Just 49 bands will line up in the fine Brangwyn Hall in Swansea this weekend hoping to gain those all-important qualification spots for London and Torquay. Wales may have numerically the smallest entry in the UK, but it is still a very strong region of banding success and the past few years has seen something of a renaissance. There is still a vibrant contesting scene (although this is under considerable threat) and the winning band at the Area gets to represent Wales at the European Championships. That in itself must be addressed if the future of Welsh Championship is to be secured in the future.

In the top section there are two top ten bands and a couple of others making good upward progress, whilst in lower sections Wales can boast last year's Second Section winners. Bands from the north of the Principality offer a strong challenge as well and there is sure to be at least one prize or two making it's way back north.

The biggest problem in Wales seems to be that many of the bands find themselves in the wrong section on a national basis, and many of the bands competing in the 1st and 2nd section may be better off competing in one section below if they are to really make a mark in Torquay.

It should still however make for another well-run (the Welsh are World Champion Committee organisers) championship. Can the renaissance continue?

Championship Section:

Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
Sunday 17th March
Adjudicator: Steve Sykes
Commences: After results of 4th Section

Competing Bands: BTM (D. Broadbent): Seindorf Beaumaris (G. Evans): Burry Port Town (P. Bailey): Buy As You View Cory (R. Childs): Cwmaman Institute (J. Hudson): Northop Silver (C. Roberts): Parc and Dare (C. Roberts): Tredegar (S. Bastable): Wrexham Brass (W. Rushton).

The top 9 bands in the Principality (it would have been 10, but for the withdrawal of Point of Ayr) will be going all out to try and get one of the two qualification places on offer this year for the National Finals, as unlike 2000 and 2001 there is no automatic qualification for either BAYV Cory or Tredegar.

Both bands played very well at the Royal Albert Hall last October to come 5th and 7th respectively, but it wasn't enough to get a top four place and lose the worry of the hassle of not qualifying. It was a good job in fact that BAYV Cory had already pre qualified as Holders last year as they only came 4th - so they know that nothing can ever be taken for granted come the contest. Of the 9 challengers this year, there are the usual suspects of BAYV Cory and Tredegar, plus the vastly improved BTM and Seindorf Beaumaris bands and their fellow North Wales contingent of Northop and Wrexham (who were formally known as Rhos). Add the challenges from the likes of current Champion Band of Wales, Burry Port, Cwmaman and Parc and Dare and you have a pretty strong line up.

Steve Sykes is in the box and he'll know that it will be a tough contest to pick the bones from. Two places and a European spot to play for. Game on!

Tredegar are the reigning champions and will be off in May to represent the Principality at the European Championships in Brussels - the bigger prize for winning last year. Steve Bastable is at the helm and he has continued to work successfully with the band even though they have lost further players to their rivals in the past twelve months. The economics of banding can be cruel at times, but Tredegar continue to maintain very high standards of performances where ever they go, and 2001 saw them come 13th at the Open, 7th at London as well as win at Ebbw Vale and Porthcawl Miners contest. Later in the year however they appeared tired and were beaten at Treorchy into 2nd spot and started the year poorly with 7th place at Yeovil. They will be keen to maintain their record here though but it could be a year where they may have to be satisfied with a podium place only.

Northop were third last year and performed very well to get their place. They went on to come 8th at the Senior Cup under the baton of Ian Porthouse, but they enter this contest with a new MD - Craig Roberts and they will be keen to show that they are the premier force of North Wales banding once again. They have shown they can do it before and come Sunday they may well have enough about them to do it again. Russell Gray will be taking the end chair so there will be plenty of class from the MD of the newly crowned champions of the North West. We will have to wait and see.

BAYV Cory were 4th last year in one of the biggest shocks of the Regional Championships for many a good year. They didn't perform as they could and paid the penalty, so they will make doubly sure that lightening doesn't strike twice this time around. The band with all the players have added to their strength with the signing of Joanne Dean from Tredegar and Robert Childs will make sure that the preparation for the contest has been maximised to the full. They performed admirably last year in defence of their titles and came 3rd at the Open and 5th at the Nationals. The just missed out be a narrow squeak at the Europeans as well, so they ended the year without a trophy, even though their performances in many respects were superior to that of the previous year. The feeling is though that they won't leave anything to chance this time around and should be the band to beat.

Cwmaman Institute were 5th last year and have been strong challengers at the contest for the past five years. Unfortunately they lost their Championship status locally and had to perform in the first section during 2001, which they won with ease, but they still showed that they could perform very well against higher class opposition when they came 3rd at the Senior Cup. John Hudson has been recalled to the cause and he knows more than a thing or two about winning at this level. He will bring a sensible musical approach to a band that has many talented players around the stand and on their day they can really press the bigger bands to the hilt. Could Sunday be such an occasion?

Parc and Dare have gone through the wringer over the past few years but they still have a decent record here at the contest. They should be able to survive well enough again but they need a little bit of luck to go with their hard work if they are to push for a podium place. They came 20th at the Senior Cup and 21st at Pontins and have been making up the numbers at local contests, but they still could do well here given the chance. They last won the title here back in 1989, their fifth title in 14 years, but it could take a bit longer for them to repeat it. They will be hoping to improve however on last year's 6th place.

BTM were 7th last year and they used that solid performance as a springboard for a season that saw the standard of the performances rise rapidly. They are one of the busiest contesting band around and following the Area they came a disappointing 18th at the Grand Shield before moving up through the gears and coming 9th at Pontins, winning Treorchy, coming runners up at Wychavon and Burry Port, 4th at Porthcawl and recently coming 5th at Yeovil. The latter result saw them beat Tredegar for the second time in a row, so they know they can beat one of the big bands on the contesting stage. Plenty of good quality young and experienced players, they will be conducted by Derek Broadbent this year as David Stowell has been booked elsewhere. They last won the title in 1993, and even though this may be just beyond them at present, a qualification spot certainly isn't.

Burry Port won the title of Champion Band of Wales in 2001 as they triumphed in the three contest series that makes up the Championship. However, they actually only won their home town contest and fell away to come 5th at Treorchy after securing 2nd place at Ebbw Vale, behind Tredegar. Mike Thorne has taken the step of taking a break from conducting the band at the Regional Championships and they have therefore teamed up with Philip Bailey, previously at Tredegar and the Young Conductor of the Year in 1998 and currently MD at Yeovil. They are a closely knit band with fine players around the stand and are capable of playing to a very high standard on the day. Could be a bit of a dark horse come Sunday and will be determined to improve on their 8th place last year.

Seindorf Beaumaris come to the contest as first section champions and went on to perform superbly at the National Finals at Preston where they came a well merited 3rd. They came 2nd at the Senior Cup and 3rd at the Rhyl contest, before putting in a real cracker of a performance to take 2nd place behind Tredegar at the Porthcawl Miners Contest. They struggled a little the last time they were in the top section but this time round they are older, wiser and better and they are genuine challengers for a qualification spot. They will be put up a fine account of themselves and this could well be enough for a trip back to London.

Wrexham Brass is the new name for the band formally known as Rhos and the change coincided with a move to new premises late last year. They didn't compete last year but prior to that were a force in the first section. Results last year were 3rd at Buxton (championship section), 4th at Rhyl (top section) and a 6th at Leamington Spa (top section). They went to Pontins late last year and came 17th. They have plenty of determination and bags of talent and 2002 sees them back on the road again. What the Regional Championships this year will hold, we'll have to wait and see, but Wrexham Brass are back and determined to succeed.

The Point of Ayr Band have withdrawn from the contest.

The Bands:

4BR Ranking: 31
Last Year: 7th
Last Five Years: 4th 1997; 2nd 1998; DNC 1999; 4th 1999; 7th 2001

A good record over the past couple of years (1999 saw them fall foul of the administrators) and they were runners up in 1998.

Last won the title in 1993 to go with their other win 1991 and will be keen to at least repeat 1998. Derek Broadbent heads the assault and they could well be in with a big shout.

Seindorf Beaumaris
4BR Ranking: 53
Last Year: 1st in 1st Section
Last Five Years: 1st 1st Section 1997; 7th 1998; 6th 1999; 10th 2000; 1st 1st Section 2001

A bit up and down in the past five years, they have two promotions and a relegation to their name (a bit of a Man City feel), but this time around they appear a strong and very confident outfit.

Plenty of talented young players, they should be challenging come Sunday night.

Burry Port
4BR Ranking: 50
Last Year: 8th
Last Five Years: 2nd 1st Section 1997; 3rd 1st Section 1998; 1st 1st Section 1999; 7th 2000; 8th 2001

The Champion Band of Wales will be hoping to improve on their last two outings here when they have come 7th and 8th.

They like the Brangwyn Hall though and have three title wins here since 1995. Should be hoping to improve on that record this year.

Buy As You View Cory
4BR Ranking: 5
Last Year: 4th
Last Five Years: 2nd 1997; 1st 1998; 3rd 1999; 1st 2000; 4th 2001

A great record at the contest over the years (7 wins since 1975), but one that has seen the odd blip, so they won't want to have a repeat of last year in particular.

Robert Childs hasn't yet won a contest that both his brother Nicholas took in 1995 and 1996 and his father won in 1977. 2002 could very well be a family hat trick.

Cwmaman Institute
4BR Ranking: 43
Last Year: 5th
Last Five Years: 5th 1997; 4th 1998; 5th 1999; 6th 2000; 5th 2001

A very consistent record of achievement since they came into the top section in 1995. 4th place is their best so far, but on their day they can really push hard for a qualification spot.

Won the First section title in 1991, 1993 and 1994 and will be keen to add to the tally.

Northop Silver
4BR Ranking: 47
Last Year: 3rd
Last Five Years: 6th 1997; DNC 1998; 4th 1999; 8th 2000; 3rd 2001

Another band with a very consistent record, they were runners up to Tredegar in 1996. Since them they have performed well and have a 4th and 3rd spot in the past five years.

They also won the first Section title in North Wales in 1992, so they have been no stranger to contests wins. Looking for their first top section title though.

Parc and Dare
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 6th
Last Five Years: 9th 1997; 5th 1998; 7th 1999; 5th 2000; 6th 2001

Another band with a consistent record over the past five years without ever suggesting they could really put up a strong challenge. 5th place in 1998 and 2000 have been the best so far, so they will be keen to beat that.

They have also won the title on 5 times since 1975, although their last success was in 1989.

4BR Ranking: 9
Last Year: 1st
Last Five Years: 3rd 1997; 6th 1998; 2nd 1999; 2nd 2000; 1st 2001

The reigning champions have a fine record, with only the 6th place in 1998 the last time they were out of the top three since the 1980's. However, they will be keen to put some early season poor form behind them and repeat last years success.

They have won the title 8 times since 1975 and will be keen to improve on that record come Sunday.

Wrexham Brass
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: DNC
Last Five Years: 1st 2nd section 1997; 2nd 1st Section 1998; 2nd 1st Section 1999; 1st 1st Section 2000

A top section debut for the band from North Wales. Wrexham have done well when they were called Rhos and they will be keen to start well under their new name.

They won the third section title in 1993 and the second section title in 1997 as well as the first section title last year to end the Rhos name on a win.

2001 Result:

1. Tredegar
2. Point of Ayr
3. Northop Silver
4. BAYV Cory
5. Cwmaman
6. Parc ad Dare

4BR Prediction:

1. BAYV Cory
2. BTM
3. Tredegar
4. Seindorf Beaumaris
5. Cwmaman Institute
6. Burry Port

Dark Horse: Northop Silver

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