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London and Southern Counties 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.

First Section:

Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre
Sunday March 17th
Adjudicator: Roy Sparkes
Commences: 10.00am

Competing Bands: Alder Valley Brass (C. Reeves): Betteshanger Welfare (K. Dennison): Brent Brass (P. Fensom): Capital Concert Brass (E. Campbell): Chichester City (J. Williams): City of Cambridge (R. Hull): Denham Hendon Brass (P. Cox): Egham (G. Green): Epping Forest (M. Easener): Fairlop Brass (K. Jordan): Friary Guildford Brass (K. Maxwell): Ipswich Coop (S. Kenna): KM Gillingham (G. Wilson): Luton (T. Brotherhood): Matthews Norfolk Brass (D. Stowell): Tilbury (R. Nunnery): Welwyn Garden City (D. Stokes)

The bands that all want to play at the top level can sometimes be a desperate bunch, and there is no denying that there will be more than a few performances this weekend around the country where the desire to win far outweighs the sensibilities of playing to the strengths of the band on stage.

The First Section can be a bit of a "Never Never Land" for bands as many can perform quite comfortably at this level, but if they gain the promotion they immediately find the rarefied atmosphere of the top section too much for them and they almost immediately return back from whence they came. London is no exception and five of the bands of show here have tasted and lost their status in the top flight in the past five years alone.

Whether any of the 17 bands trying this year could survive at the higher level is debatable - but it won't stop them trying bloody hard to get there. It should be an interesting contest.

Alder Valley will be hoping to gain one of the three qualification places on offer and they come to the contest after coming 12th at the Folkestone contest and after coming 9th here last year. On the face of it they appear to be prime examples of the "YO -Yo" syndrome as they were 5th here in 1997 and won the title in 1998, only to struggle in 11th place for two years in the top flight and return back. What 2002 will hold we'll wait and see.

Betteshanger Welfare has been consistent performers here over the past four years and has the experienced Kenneth Dennison at the helm. They were 8th in '98 and followed this with 11th, 13th and 8th last year. They also came 12th at the Folkestone contest. Brent Brass meanwhile were playing in the fourth section in 1997 and have made a remarkable rise through the sections in the intervening years. That 1997 victory in the basement section was followed by a repeat win in the third section in 1998 and a further 3rd spot in 1999 won them a further rise to the second section. Two years of a 5th and a 4th has seen them climb to this spot and they will approach the contest with confidence in their ability to make a real mark. From 4th Section National Champions in 1997 to the edge of competing against the likes of Black Dyke and YBS - some band eh?

We know very little about Capital Concert Brass other than they came 9th at Reading. We apologise if we have missed something here - so can someone tell us a little about this mystery band?

Chichester City are another band that has come up through the sections in the past few years and they were performing in the third section in 1998. That year saw them promoted on the back of a 2nd place in 1997 and 7th that year, and they went on to secure a 5th and runners up spot in the higher section to gain promotion here last year. They were 7th at Folkestone in this section and 4th at Hove, so they will be hoping to improve on the 14th place they got here last time out.

City of Cambridge came 11th last year, their first in the section following their promotion as second section champions. They came back to the section following their relegation in coming 12th in 1998, so they will hope to spend a longer time here on this occasion. They come to the contest after gaining 2nd place at the East Anglia contest. Denham Hendon are another of those bands that has tasted the rare delights of the championship section in the past two years only to find it a little too hard and return back down. In the period 1997 to 1999 they were placed 3rd, 4th and 8th at this level and then when they were promoted they could only struggle to 10th and 11th places and fell back through the trap door. What will 2002 hold then?

Egham are a band on the up and the past four years have seen them get a better result each year. They were 5th in the second section in 1998 and followed that up with 2nd in 1999 and promotion here. They came 9th at their first attempt and 6th last year, whilst they came 9th at Folkestone in the top section and 10th in the first, and also getting a 3rd place at the Milton Keynes contest.

Epping Forest have spent the last two years at this level and have a 14th place in 2000 and 10th last year under their belts. This followed three years in the second section that saw them come 4th in 1997 and 1998 and then 6th in 1999 to gain promotion. They came 8th at the Folkestone contest. Fairlop meanwhile come to the contest after three years at this level when they have been a bit of a midfield challenger. 10th in 1999, 6th in 2000 and 12th last year are solid returns and they also came 15th at Folkestone. They were promoted here after two consecutive runners up spots in 1997 and 1998 and the band were national Champions I the Third Section in 1995.

Friary Guildford Brass are yet another band that has the experience of a spell in the top flight and they fell from there in 1999 after three years in which they came 5th in '97, 9th in '98 and 10th in 1999. Back in the first section they have been more comfortable and came 5th in 2000 and 13th last year. They were 6th at the Folkestone contest. Ipswich Co-op have performed well here over the years and came 2nd at the contest in 1997 and have followed this up with a run of 9th, 9th again, 4th and 5th last year. They came 3rd at the Harrow contest and 8th at Folkestone in the top flight last year.

KM Gillingham were third last year after not competing in 2000. They too have been in the top flight in the last five years and came 5th in 1998 and 8th in 1999. They were 3rd at Folkestone and 2nd at Milton Keynes, but showed fine form in winning both at Hove and Harrow last year. Luton meanwhile slumped to 15th place last year after three years in which they were pushing for a podium place. They came 6th in 1998, 5th in 1999 and 7th in 2000, so the result of 2001 was a major let down for the band.

Matthews Norfolk Brass are back in the first section following a four year spell in the top flight in which they performed well enough but couldn't quite make it to the podium places. They were 8th in 1998, 9th in '99, 7th in 2000 and 10th last year, so they were very nearly surviving. They return however back to the section they last played in in 1997 when they came 4th. They come to the contest after winning the East Anglia contest in this section last year.

Tilbury meanwhile last performed at this level in 1998 and 1999 when they came 15th and 13th and lost their status. They soon returned however and they came 4th in the lower section in 2000 and won it last year in some style. They then went onto the National Finals in Preston where they came 14th. Finally, Welwyn Garden City came 4th here last year after coming 10th the year before and 3rd in 1999. They were second section champions here in 1998 and came 5th at the Folkestone contest and 7th at Pontins last year.

2001 Result:

1. Alliance Brass
2. Staines Brass
3. KM Gillingham
4. Welwyn Garden City
5. Ipswich Co-op
6. Hatfields of Colchester

4BR Prediction:

1. KM Gillingham
2. Welwyn Garden City
3. Denham Hendon
4. Egham
5. Matthews Norfolk Brass
6. Capital Concert Brass

Dark Horse: Brent Brass

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