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2003 North West Regional Qualifying Championships

First Section
Empress Ballroom
Starts: 2.45pm approx

Malcolm Brownbill

Test Piece: Passacaglia on a Theme of Brahms - Arthur Butterworth

A section full of bands more than capable of winning this contest but perhaps not good enough to hold their own at the Championship level. The First Section sees one of the most evenly contested sections of the weekend and it is difficult to see one band really being head and shoulders above the rest on the day.

That should make for an interesting contest, but it may not mean that it will be of the highest standard. We have already heard bands in Yorkshire find the Brahms very difficult indeed and we think it could well take its fair share of casualties here. Whoever wins will deserve it and will be tested to the full, although victory here certainly hasn’t been a passport to guaranteed success at the Finals themselves.

Not since Ashton Under Lyne won the title in 1999 has the National title come back to the North West and only Mossley who came runners up in 2000 have been close since. Apart from them, it has been a series of midfield placings at the Finals.

Malcolm Brownbill has already judged this one in Yorkshire, so he knows the score in more ways than one and will be looking for bands to capture the style of the music and lose the aggression that was so evident in Bradford.

It will make for a hard fought contest.

Blackburn and Darwen
G. Pritchard

Last Year: 12th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 12th
2001: 5th
2000: 9th
1999: 7th
1998: 6th
1997: 6th
1996: 12th Championship (rel)

Blackburn have changed conductors this year and have gone with the experienced Gareth Pritchard to try and reverse last seasons disappointing 12th place. Before that they were more than holding their own, although not quite having enough about them to sneak into the very top prizes. The MD should bring a very musical picture to the performance and that could be a big plus point. A possible return to the top six may be on the cards.

Dobcross Youth
Ted Griffiths

Last Year: 9th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 9th
2001: 1st 2nd Section (prom)
2000: 6th 2nd Section
1999: 2nd 3rd Section (prom)
1998: 5th 3rd Section
1997: 2nd 4th Section (prom)
1996: 8th 4th Section

The superbly trained youngsters of Dobcross and Ted Griffiths are a beacon of excellence for any aspiring organisation. Three promotions in five years has been one heck of an achievement and they played very well here once more last time out. The great pity though is that as they get older the band loses many of its best players as they go the University or get jobs, but somehow Ted manages to unearth yet another crop to take their place. 9th place last year was well done and just a touch higher may be on the cards this time around. They deserve it.

Hawk Green (Marple)
J. Richardson

Last Year: 10th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 10th
2001: 3rd 2nd Section (prom)
2000: 3rd 2nd Section
1999: 11th 1st Section (rel)
1998: 6th 2nd Section (prom)
1997: 6th 2nd Section
1996: 3rd 2nd Section

Hawk Green have been battling it out in the first or second section for the past few years and seem to be a band too good for the second section but struggling to make a mark in the first. That also seems to be borne out by the results over the years so they will be keen to improve on last years 10thplace and make a bid for something higher this time around. Maybe a another solid top 10 place will keep them happy.

Brett Baker

Last Year: 10th Championship (rel)
Last Seven Years:
2002: 10th Championship (rel)
2001: DNC
2000: Winners 1st Section
1999: 5th 1st Section
1998: 11th Championship (rel)
1997: 9th Championship
1996: 2nd 1st Section (prom)

Longridge performed in the Championship Section last year but found the going tough and allied to their non appearance in 2001 were relegated back to this section. However, they have been rebuilding of late and there have been a number of important experienced signings. Brett Baker will have certainly done his homework on the piece (he played it with Black Dyke on the CD recording) so we think they could be very much in the frame this time around. Maybe not quite the winners but pushing for a qualification spot nonetheless.

Moston and Beswick (Manchester)
R. Taylor

Last Year: Winners 2nd Section (prom)
Last Seven Years:
2002: Winners 2nd Section (prom)
2001: 5th 2nd Section
2000: 10th 2nd Section
1999: 7th 2nd Section
1998: 9th 2nd Section
1997: DNC
1996: DNC

Last year Moston and Beswick won the Second Section in some style and went on to perform well at the National Finals in Torquay where they came 4th. Ex Fairey’s man Robert Taylor has been instrumental in the bands continued improvement over the past coupe of years and he now has a solid and competent band under his direction. The step up a grade to the First Section is large though and we think they will be happy with a good midfield placing this time around in preparation for 2004.

Pemberton Old Wigan
N. Sheppard

Last Year: Winners
Last Seven Years:
2002: Winners
2001: 8th
2000: 2nd 2nd Section (prom)
1999: 13th 2nd Section
1998: 3rd 2nd Section
1997: 7th 3rd Section (prom)
1996: 2nd 3rd Section

Last years winners are back again hoping to repeat their triumph of 2002 which led them to Torquay where they were more than a little unfortunate to come 9th. They won last year under the very experienced baton of Alan Lawton and have gone with the less experiences but talented Nick Sheppard this time around. The Welshman was the sop player with Marple when they won the Open so he will know the pitfalls that may await his band on this piece. We don’t think they will quite do it again this time around, but they will put up a brave and solid defence. Top six material.

Poulton – le - Fylde
S. Tarry

Last Year: 4th 2nd Section (prom)
Last Seven Years:
2002: 4th 2nd Section (prom)
2001: 2nd 3rd Section (prom)
2000: 4th 3rd Section
1999: 14th 2nd Section (prom)
1998: 7th 3rd Section (prom)
1997: 5th 3rd Section
1996: 7th 3rd Section

After two consecutive promotions Poulton now find themselves in the First Section and battling it out against some very competent bands indeed. However, two promotions mean that they are full of confidence and they will be keen to make a mark. A new MD will also be hoping to emulate past achievements, so they will surely be well prepared. Not quite top six material this time we think, but more than capable of holding their own.

Roberts Bakery
C. Cranson

Last Year: 3rd
Last Seven Years:
2002: 3rd
2001: 11th
2000: 10th Championship (rel)
1999: 9th Championship
1998: 7th Championship
1997: 3rd 1st Section (prom)
1996: 3rd 1st Section (prom)

Roberts Bakery have bounced in between the top two sections in recent years and up to 2000 were more than holding their own against the best bands in the region. However their relegation brought a poor showing in 2001 when they came 11th, but last year they showed that they were once more contenders when they just missed out on a qualification spot to Torquay and came 3rd. We think they could well repeat that performance this time around and with the experienced ex Foden euph player Colin Cranson at the helm, they should be up there come results time.

Stalybridge Old
A. Exley

Last Year: 8th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 8th
2001: 8th Championship (rel)
2000: 10th Championship
1999: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
1998: 9th Championship (rel)
1997: 11th Championship
1996: 9th Championship

Stalybridge Old will be directed by the very experienced Alan Exley this year and they will be keen to push for a top six placing at least this time around. Alan knows what it takes to win at the highest level with his years at Yorkshire Imperial and his band were performing well in the Championship level as short a time ago as 2001. Relegation was a bit of a blow though and last year they didn’t really perform to form and came 8th. This time we think it could well be better and a top six place or higher is well within their grasp.

S. Booth

Last Year: 7th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 7th
2001: 12th
2000: 3rd
1999: 3rd 2nd Section
1998: 7th 2nd Section
1997: 2nd 2nd Section
1996: DNC
Stephen Booth takes the helm at Tyldesley this year and they will be keen to keep moving in the right direction after coming 12th in 2001 and 7th last year. They came as high as 3rd here in 2000, so they have shown they can do it. Whether this will be the year they get a qualification spot we will have to wait and see.

United Co-op (Crewe)
J. Sparkes

Last Year: 5th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 5th
2001: 2nd
2000: 7th
1999: 8th
1998: 8th
1997: 5th
1996: 5th

The Sparkes family seem to have been involved with Crewe for many a year and over the past few years here they have really pushed hard for the title. Runners up in 2001 and 5th here last time proves that they will once more be strong contenders. They are due another victory (they have won in the lower sections before 1996) but could this be the year in which they do it. Should be in with a shout.

United Norwest Co-op Milnrow
C. Whiteoak

Last Year: 11th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 11th
2001: 6th
2000: 5th 2nd Section (prom)
1999: Winners 2nd Section
1998: 4th 1st Section (rel)
1997: 8th 1st Section
1996: 10th Championship (rel)
In 1996 Norwest Milnrow were in battling it out in the Championship Section, but after being relegated they went on something of a roller coaster ride into the second section and back up. In the last two years they have performed solidly, coming 6th in 2001 but 11th last year. They will need a good result though to ensure they don’t fall back down the trap door and with a new MD this year they might just well do it.

Vernon Building Society Poynton
M. Obermuller

Last Year: 4th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 4th
2001: 10th
2000: DNC
1999: 10th Championship (rel)
1998: 3rd (prom)
1997: 4th
1996: 11th Championship (rel)

Another bit of a yo-yo band when it comes to this contest, Poynton seem to be too good for this section yet not good enough for the Championship. They didn’t compete in 2000 but returned in the past two years to improve on each outing. 4th last year could be the sign that they are going on an upswing once more towards the Championship Section.

Past Winners:

2002: Pemberton Old Wigan
2001: Mossley
2000: Longridge
1999: Ashton Under Lyne
1998: Congleton Silver
1997: Freckleton
1996: British Aerospace
1995: United Norwest Co-op (Rochdale)
1994: Blackburn and Darwen
1993: United Norwest Co-op (Wardle)
1992: B.T.

Winning Conductors:

2002: A. Lawton
2001: S. Stonehouse
2000: M. Cotter
1999: M. Evans
1998: D. Evans
1997: P. Dalton
1996: S. Wood
1995: R. Curran
1994: P. Dalton
1993: A. Briggs
1992: J. Maines

Test Pieces:

2002: Royal Parks – G. Lloyd
2001: The Undaunted – E. Ball
2000: Music for the Common Man – K. Downie
1999: Kenilworth – A. Bliss
1998: Purcell Variations – K. Downie
1997: Ballet for Band – J. Horovitz
1996: Spectrum – G. Vinter
1995: Land of the Long White Cloud – P. Sparke
1994: Maoriana – A. Butterworth
1993: The Forest of Dean – D. Bourgeois
1992: Celebration – E. Gregson


2002: G. Richards
2001: B. Thompson
2000: A. Hope
1999: R. Roe
1998: B. Buckley
1997: M. Brownbill
1996: N/K
1995: R. Roe
1994: R. Nesome

Past Qualifiers:

2002: Pemberton Old, Ashton Under Lyne
2001: Mossley, United Co-op Crewe
2000: Longridge, Mossey
1999: Ashton Under Lyne, Stalybridge
1998: Congleton, Dobcross
1997: Freckleton, Berisford Cardway
1996: British Aerospace, Longridge
1995: United Norwest Co-op, British Aerospace

North West Bands at the Finals:

2002: 5th, 9th
2001: 7th, 8th
2000: 2nd, 13th
1999: 1st, 11th
1998: 6th, 10th

Last Years Result:

1. Pemberton Old Wigan – A. Lawton 190pts
2. Ashton Under Lyne – J. Maines 189pts
3. Roberts Bakery – C. Cranson 188pts
4. Vernon B.S. Poynton – M. Obermuller 187pts
5. United Co-op Crewe – J. Sparkes 186pts
6. Dobcross Silver – D. Hadfield 185pts
7. Tyldesley – M. Peacock 184pts
8. Stalybridge Old – A. White 183pts
9. Dobcross Youth – T. Griffiths 182pts
10. Hawk Green Marple – J. Richardson 180pts
11. United Norwest Co-op Milnrow – D. Hebb 179pts
12. Blackburn and Darwen – E. Landon 178pts

4BR Prediction:

We know it is going to be difficult for all the bands, but after hearing some of Yorkshire’s finest come a cropper by treating the music with little respect, we think the Lancashire bands may have had their spies out and learnt a few lessons. Class should always tell, and the bands who can produce full rounded sounds with no hardness and a lack of aggression should do well. That’s why we have gone for those with the experience and knowledge, and that’s why we will most probably put the kiss of death on them. Still, we plumb for Crew and Longridge as the qualifiers with a close run thing for the rest of the places.

1. United Co-op Crewe
2. Longridge
3. Roberts Bakery
4. Stalybridge Old
5. Blackburn and Darwen
6. Pemberton Old

Dark Horse: Dobcross Youth

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