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The British Open Brass Band Championships.
82nd Spring Brass Band Festival
The Winter Gardens Blackpool
Saturday, May 11th 2002

Review: Senior Cup
Qualifying Contest for the 2003 Grand Shield
Test Piece: Carnival Romain, Berlioz arr Frank Wright
Date Posted: 09.05.02

The Competing bands:

ASDA Stocksbridge, D. Renshaw
BTM, D. Stowell
Burry Port Town, M. Thorne
City of Oxford
East Yorkshire Motors Services, G. Pritchard
Freckleton, P. Dalton
Hepworth, M. Bentham
Kingdom Brass, S. Kerwin
Laganvale, S. Cairns
Mossley, J. Davies
Northop, C. Roberts
Ratby Co-operatives, K. Stweard
Rolls Royce (Coventry), D. Lea
Stalybridge Old, A. White
Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda, A. Gibbs
Thoresby RJB, S. Lippeatt
Thorntons Brass, S. Shimwell
Unison Kinneil, E. Dunlea
Woolley Pritchard Brass
Yorkshire Co-operatives, J. Roberts

The second year of the Senior Cup will also see a very strong competition between 20 very evenly matched bands from just about every region of the country. Thee top six places are the ones to aim for here, as it will be these bands that will get automatic promotion to the Grand Shield for 2003 and replace the bottom six from there who fall through the trap door. Winning is great though, and so the contest will not be diluted in any way if the reward for winning and coming 6th is much the same. All this and a fair old test in Le Carnival Romain - should make for a good old-fashioned scrap.

ASDA Stocksbridge were a powerful force in the 1st Section last year and the National Champions had a great 2001. 2002 however has started a bit more low key, as they found themselves up against powerful opposition at the Yorkshire Area and they could only manage 14th place. How they will do here will be interesting though.

BTM are a band that over the past year has slowly come back to the form that saw them just miss out on a trip to the Open in 2000 when they came 4th at the Grand Shield. A poor showing last year when they could only manage 18th, saw them relegated to the Senior Cup, but recent form has been good and they came 5th at the Area, 2nd at Ebbw Vale behind Tredegar and 5th at Yeovil. Plenty of good quality players around the stand, they could well feature highly.

The Champion Band of Wales, Burry Port have engaged Yorkshire Imperial's David Evans to lead their assault. They played this test piece at Ebbw Vale a few weeks ago and out up a decent show to come 5th and also came 5th at the Area Championships in Swansea. Another band with talent around the stand, they have a real star in euphonium player Ceri John, who could prove a points winner on the day.

Nigel Taken will be leading City of Oxford in their challenge and it will be interesting to see how things pan out if his other band, Aveley and Newham are drawn around the same time in the Grand Shield. They came 12th here last year and a well merited 3rd place at the Area, so they will be hoping for a good result here and a possible promotion place.

East Yorkshire Motor Services have Gareth Pritchard at the helm, so that should ensure a very musical reading of the score and a strong challenge. They too were relegated here from the Grand Shield after coming 20th last year and also came 14th the year before, but 2002 has seen an upturn in fortunes and they came 2nd at the North East Regional Championships and will be heading for London later in the year. Could the Senior Cup see another up turn?

Freckleton come to the contest on the back of their 8th place at the North West Regional Championships - not a bad result when you look at the quality of the opposition, but they will be hoping that they will be able to push themselves into a top six place and a place in the Grand Shield in 2003. 18th place last year was a lowly placing though and they should have enough about them to improve on that at least.

Hepworth are another band that will be hoping to improve on last years result - they came a very lowly 19th. However early season form has been good and they recently won the Preston contest and came a very well deserved 5th place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships to show that they can really mix it against top class opposition. This should hold them in good stead and they it won't be a surprise if they are up in the prize list come the results.

Scottish band, Kingdom Brass will be making the long trip to the North West in the hope that they will be at least able to improve on last years 13th place at the contest. 4th place at the Scottish Regional Championships showed that they can play to a very high level, and with the talented Simon Kerwin at the helm, they will be hoping to at least come in the top six.

Irish band Laganvale will be making the trip across the Irish Sea hoping also to improve on last years 9th place. A band that has quietly consolidated its place against the opposition, it should once again do well enough to retain its place at the Senior Cup for yet another year.

Mossley are a band that just over a year ago, many people were tipping for a move into the big time. The loss of MD Simon Stonehouse was a blow but they played well enough at the North West Regional Championships to come 11th. Jim Davies takes the helm for this years assault, but we will have to wait and see if they can do enough to gain one of the top six places.

North Wales band, Northop are another band that will be hoping to improve on last years result when they came 8th here. They have struggled a bit since then and could only manage 7th place at the Welsh Regional Championships. Craig Roberts leads them again and this talented young MD has made his mark, even though at the present time he really hasn't had the results to back up his good work.

Ratby Co-operative dropped out from the Grand Shield after coming 15th here in 2000, but they did show the year before that they were capable of performing really well as they came 6th in 1999. Their first year in the Senior Cup last year saw them come 15th again, so they will be keen to improve on that this year. 7th place at the Midlands Regional Championships may be an indicator of better things to come.

Just a few years ago, Rolls Royce Coventry were at the British Open itself, but a series of poor results sees them now back in the Senior Cup, after coming 16th last year in the Grand Shield. 7th place in the Midlands Regional Championships wasn't too bad, but they will have to play to something approaching the form they showed in 1999 when they qualified for Birmingham if they are to make a mark here.

Stalybridge Old are another band that will be hoping to rediscover some good form at the contest this year. They were 19th last year at the Grand Shield and they started the year with a disappointing 8th place at the North West Regional Championships. They will be hoping for an improvement in their fortunes here.

Welsh band Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda came 15th in the Grand Shield back in 1999 and didn't compete in 2000, but last year they more than held their own in the new Senior Cup to come 7th and just miss out on promotion to the Grand Shield. They too are on good form of late and qualified for the National Finals in the First section in Torquay after coming 2nd in the 1ST Section in Wales last month.

Stan Lippeatt should be confident of coming up amongst the top qualifiers with his band Thoresby Colliery UK Coal, as last year they were at the National Finals in London and this year just missed out on another trip after coming 3rd at the Midlands Regional Championships. 14th here last year was a disappointment but they have the talent and determination to do well. Could score highly.

Thornton's Brass have the experienced Stephen Shimwell at the helm and they will need to show the type of for that saw them recently come 3rd at Preston if they are to score highly here. They came 10th here in 1999 and followed that up with 11th in 2000 and 17th last year to drop down from the top section. 8th at the Midlands Regional Championships may indicate where they may finish here.

Scottish band Unison Kinneil are another band that dropped out from the Grand Shield to the Senior Cup after coming a lowly 15th here last year but they recently won the Whitburn Invitation Contest and came 5th at the Scottish Regional Championships, so hopes will be high that they can take that form with them on the long trip to Blackpool.

Woolley Pritchard Sovereign Brass have engaged Tredegar's talented MD Steve Bastable to head their attempt to gain promotion to the Grand Shield, and the band will be keen to improve on their last two outings here, when they could only manage 13th in the top section in 1999 and were 10th in the Cup last year. Came just 12th at Yeovil and 10th at the Midlands Regional Championship, so they may have their work cut out to come high up here this time as well.

Yorkshire Co-operatives will be directed by John Roberts, and they were very unlucky to come a lowly 13th at the recent Yorkshire Regional Championships, where they did perform well. They were 11th here last year and so will be hoping to improve on that result as well.

So 20 bands - all fairly evenly matched and with a good test piece to test them it could see close run result. The top six should sort themselves out though and experience, good tight ensemble and top rate euphonium player could be the key to success.

4BarsRest Prediction:

1. Hepworth
2. BTM
3. ASDA Stocksbridge
5. Thorseby UK Coal
6. Freckleton

Dark Horse: Unison Kinneil

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