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The 2002 4BarsRest awards:

Band of the Year

Last year saw Yorkshire Building Society walk off with our inaugural award following a year in which they won the European Championships and the British Open as well as doing well in the other majors of the 2001. They were clear winners.

This year is much more difficult. For the first time since 1996 there were no multiple winners at the majors, with all four contests going to four separate bands: The Masters went to Fodens, The European to YBS, the Open to BAVY Cory and the Nationals to Williams Fairey. No band really outshone their rivals and became the dominant force of the year, although must be said only YBS competed at all four contests and there was the ludicrous furore over Cory and the Masters. (The English bands need to sort this out once and for all by demanding that the winners get an invite to the European). So who do you choose?

We think that the four bands worthy of consideration should include the winners of the majors – class told at each of the Majors this year and these four are possibly the classiest bands around at present. However, there should be nominations we think for others as well, with other European bands such as Manger (Norwegian and SIDDIS Champions) worthy of consideration as well as Eikanger, and 13 Etoiles. Don’t forget our Australian friends Kensington and Norwood or Dalewool Auckland Brass or some closer to home who have had a great year such as Cwmaman (Winners of the Grand Shield and 5th place at the Open) or Black Dyke or a revitalised Brighouse. Plenty to think about then.

Fodens Richardson

What a fine year for the band from Sandbach. If only they could have won at London or Birmingham then it would have been close to being perfect, but 12 months that can boast being All England Masters Champions and North West Regional Winners, runners up at the Open and Spennymoor and 4th place at the Nationals can’t be bad. Add to this the securing of a very lucrative long-term sponsorship deal and Fodens must be happy with their present lot.

Russell Gray was a bit of an inspirational signing whilst the musical direction of Bram Tovey has been a highlight for anyone who loves banding. If only Tovey’s intuitive brilliance can for once be translated into tangible rewards Fodens would be unbeatable. They topped the 4BR rankings as well, so they can possibly lay claim to being the best band in the land in 2002?


Many people may have thought that the historic achievements of 2000 couldn’t be repeated, but 2002 saw BAYV Cory come very close indeed to repeating that success. They started off by winning the Welsh Regional Championships in fine style, before they scored a superb win at the Open – a day when they were head and shoulders above the rest of the field. The Nationals seemed to be theirs for the taking, but they failed only by dent of an outstanding performance from Williams Fairey. They were very, very close to doing it though.

Three contests wins then (it could have been four, but the Masters now seems out of their reach) and a runners up spot is a fine return, whilst the releases of some well received CD’s show that the band isn’t resting on it’s laurels. Big, bold and possibly a touch brash BAYV Cory are name everyone mentions now as the band to beat – that’s some achievement in itself.

Williams Fairey

There were rumours going around at the beginning of 2002 that not all was well at the bandroom in Stockport and things didn’t start to well when Howard Snell’s swangsong performance in the UK was spoilt by their arch rivals Fodens beating them once more to North West crown. However the band complete with new signings was binding together well and come the Masters they produced a cracker of a show under the exuberant baton of Frank Renton. That Fodens pipped them again though must have fuelled their resolve and although they could only manage 6th at the Open, the foundations of success had been laid by the arrival of Allan Withington.

The Nationals saw them perform brilliantly and they deservedly won the day (and a trip to the Europeans for the first time in a decade) with a performance that was at times breathtaking. They could do with releasing a new CD or two but they won’t exchange that for their London triumph for sure.

Yorkshire Building Society

In any other year, the winning of one major would be seen as something of an achievement in itself, but YBS may be a touch disappointed that 2002 only saw them retain the European Championship for a fourth consecutive year. After losing a core group of players at the end of 2001 though, retaining the European in such brilliant fashion in Brussels in May should be heralded as a superb effort as they gave two performances on the day that will live in memory banks for a very long time. On that day they were simply unbeatable.

The rest of 2002 though didn’t quite reach those heights as they came 3rd at the Yorkshire Regionals, 6th at the Masters and 9th at the Open. The Nationals also saw them come 6th again but they performed very well indeed and were a touch unlucky. Some great CD releases also showed that they are still an immensely classy and at times breathtaking band, so look out for them again in 2003.


This isn’t just a case for putting in a foreign band to keep our readers east of “La Mange” happy – Willebroek deserve their place because once more in 2002 they showed that they are on their day a very, very fine brass band indeed. It would of course be difficult to suggest how they would do if they competed at more than just the one contest against British opposition, but come the European Championships they don’t half take some beating.

In Brussels this year they showed their class to come runners up, beating Black Dyke, Tredegar and CWS Glasgow from the UK as well as Eikanger, 13 Etoiles and Oenkerk into the bargain. It takes a very good band to do that. In addition they have once more won their National Championships, so they will once more be a force to reckon with in Bergen.

4BR Band of the Year 2001:
Yorkshire Building Society

How to vote....

Make sure you read all the articles for each category before going to the voting form.

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