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The Mineworkers Championships 2002

4BR reviews the thrills and spills of the CISWO contest held in Blackpool over the weekend as Grimethorpe retain their Miners crown - again.

Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal ensured there were to be no upsets at the CISWO Mineworkers Finals this year when they took the title for the 28th time in their history, and the for the 18th consecutive year on Saturday 16th November.

The last time Grimey had tasted defeat here was in 1982, three years prior to the National Union of Mineworkers itself being defeated in the last great industrial dispute of the Thatcher Government, so there was little hope of lesser mortals perhaps inflicting another reversal of fortune a second time.

So it proved, as Grimethorpe, directed on this occasion by James Gourlay off the number 2 spot and in front of the traditional open adjudicator (this year it was David Read) secured the top prize of £1000 and took home the Warwick Vase to it’s perennial resting place in the bandroom trophy case. Even with odds blips and blobs and touch of tuning problems in places, it was a worthy victory for the band and gave James Gourlay his second successive victory here.

Unlike previous years though, 2002 saw a strong effort from the other bands to knock Grimethorpe off their perch and second place went to a very fine performance from Ever Ready directed by Ray Farr who took the stage as the penultimate band and very nearly did enough to win the title for the first time. There were plenty of advocates in the audience for them come the results. However, they just didn’t quite have the edge that the winners seem to have about the technical aspects of the performance and so both band and conductor will have to wait to see if they can break their duck here. (Ray Farr only took Grimey the once, in 1981 when they came 3rd).

Third place went to a delighted Fishburn under the baton of Graham O’Connor who secured a podium place and a cheque for £750 with a solid showing – one that could mark the start of a return to form for the band after a disappointing 2001 season.

Fourth place was taken by Stan Lippeatt and Thorseby, who set the standard off the number 1 draw with a solid and workmanlike performance that many had to come a touch higher. Fourth place and a cheque for £625 was their reward – but it showed that they put behind them the disappointments of Pontins – this was a good show indeed.

Below these four there were a group who were difficult to separate, but David Read knew what he was looking for and plumbed for Dalmellington in fifth, Gregg’s sixth and Newtongrange seventh. All had their moments but lacked the overall quality of the bands above them – Gregg’s in particular benefited from some lovely direction from Major Ian McElligott.

Finally the bottom three weren’t too far behind the rest, but struggled a little with the technical aspects and this highlighted deficiencies that were rightly penalised.

The overall standard though was good, with the top four giving fine accounts of a challenging test piece. Grimethorpe were the winners for the umpteenth time, but there was not a quarrel about the result and once more they can proudly hold aloft the banner of being the CISWO Champions again. The 4BR predictions weren’t too bad, as we picked the top two in our preview whilst our others in order came 5th, 4th, 7th and 3rd. Not bad.

The First Section meanwhile saw victory go to Barnsley Building Society conducted by Chris Hirst who won the title for the third time since 1995 (the other victory came in 1999) when they overcame the set work “Symphony of Marches” to win by a clear two point margin from Welsh representatives, Pontardulais conducted by Dennis Mahoney.

Playing off the number six draw, they gave a well shaped performance that had excellent soloists and was never rushed or overblown and well deserved to win the top prize of £875 and the CISWO Challenge Trophy. Meanwhile Pontardulais who played before them also gave a fine account of Vinter’s work and did just enough to pip Riddings into third spot. They opened proceedings with a strong performance off the number one draw, but it just had too many slips to challenge the top two bands closer. Fourth place went to our pre match favourites Shirland Miners Welfare, who never quite out in the performance they would have hoped for, whilst fifth place went to Kippax. Scottish representatives, Dunaskin Doon popped up to come home 6th.

Below this it was the usual tale of counting the splits as too many players spoiled the performances “going for broke” when possibly a more restrained approach was needed. Still, nearly all had their moments and the overall standard was pretty good. Barnsley however were worthy winners and cold well have done a good job in the higher section if they had the chance.

The 4BR predictions weren’t far off either, with our pre match selections coming home 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 8th, 1st and 5th.

Section Two was won by Strata Brass, who prior to the contest we knew nothing about. However, we were informed that the band from Barnsley were previously known as Weaver Building Group, who had come 8th at the Yorkshire Area Championships. Since July their sponsors had changed their name - and so the band had to follow suit, so that explains why we didn't quite know much about them! On this form however they should be looking forward to the new contest season as they won in some style – a clear two point margin from Stanley Newmarket in second place, with Pride Valley a further two points back in third.

Strata picked up £750 for their troubles as well as the British Coal Corporation Challenge Trophy as they gave a very definitive performance of the three movement “Music for Kantara” by Kenneth Downie. The top two bands were informed were a class above the rest on the day and so there were no quibbles with the overall result. The 4BR predictions however were way out! We only managed three of the top six, with our predictions coming home 4th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 3rd and 2nd – not too great eh – but for Strata Brass, we bet they don’t care we didn’t give them the kiss of death. Well done.

The Third Section saw victory go to Frickley South Elmshall Band conducted by J. Wade, who put in a cracking performance of the set work, “Music for a Festival” by Philip Sparke to pip the youngsters of Shirland Welfare Training in second place, with Buckhaven Methil Miners Band in third, a point further back.

We have been informed that all the band gave as good as they got in this section and the overall standard was very good. The usual mistakes at this level cost many of the bands, but overall there was much to impress – especially from the winners and runners up. Frickley took home with them the NUM Challenge Trophy plus the tidy sum of £625.

Frickley knows what it takes to win here, as they did a double in 1996 and 1997 but could only manage fifth last year. Shirland meanwhile continue their rich progress (they competed here this year after winning the Fourth Section for the past two years) and will be a band to look out for in 2003 for sure. Third placed Buckhaven made the long trip south from Scotland to deservedly take third place, and improve greatly on last year’s 8th place.

The 4BR Predictions were awful though – sorry to put the mockers on so many, and we could only manage joint 6th for out top two tips, 2nd, 11th, 5th and 9th.

Lastly, a fine win in the Fourth Section for Lochgelly under the baton of former CWS soprano star Gavin Lindsay. We tipped them before the contest – and thankfully our usual curse didn’t effect them as they played off the last band on draw to secure a very impressive victory and take home with them £500 and the NACODS Challenge Trophy. We heard the band in the Lower Section Finals in Torquay earlier this year and were very impressed by the band sound and the direction given by the MD. They were very unlucky that day, but this time round the Gods (and in England too!) have smiled upon them and they made the long journey home with a victory to boast!

Second place went to Hetton Silver, who we tipped to come 4th in pour preview (so well done also), whilst the third place on the rostrum was taken in fine style by Grange Moor.

As for out predictions – 1st, 5th, 10th, 2nd, 4th and 9th. Not bad.


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