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2003 London and Southern Counties Regional Qualifying Championships

Saturday 15th March
Sections 3, 2

Sunday 16th March
Sections 4, 1, Championship

For further details please contact:
Dave Hobbs. Tel: 01473 631591

82 bands have registered to compete at Stevenage this weekend and that in a nutshell is the biggest problem for the London Regional Championships – the numbers. In the past it has been as high as 99 and as recently as 2000 90 bands took the stage, but the problem is that quantity doesn’t always mean quality.

Last year for instance there were 28 bands in the 4th Section, yet there was only one judge – an impossible task, whilst in 1999 there were 33! Until this is resolved (why not two judges and two separate sections each sending two qualifiers) there will be the same complaints about overall playing standards here – putting bands in some sort of order from 27 or more competitors is a joke, and a bad one at that. How can bands be encouraged to get better when they come 15th with a performance that is only fractionally worse than the band that came say 8th or better than the band that came 22nd?

The same applies very much to the other sections and there are too many bands here which are essentially graded in the wrong divisions, leading to them being unable to make much of a mark when it comes to National contests. The top section is a case in point whilst there has been no 1st Section champion (although Alliance did come close last year), Clacton were the last London based band to win the Second Section back in 1977 and Redbridge Youth won the 3rd Section in 1971. Brent won the 4th in 1997 but before that you may have to go back to 1965 and Frank Renton winning with Guildford Silver.

The London area produces lots of players and enthusiastic bands, but they need some help from the organisers and a general re-grading may be the answer. Until then the same problems will surface year in year out.

Still, well done to the organisers for getting so many bands to compete (other areas may take a note) but don’t be surprised if the qualifiers don’t make a great splash come the Finals – it’s not really their fault.

Number of competing bands:

2002: 81
2001: 85
2000: 90
1999: 90
1998: 84
1997: N/K
1996: 80
1995: 80

Other Years:

1990: 79
1989: 72
1987: 87
1986: 72
1985: 99
1983: 81

Championship Section
Adjudicator: Alan Morrison

Starts: After 1st Section

Test Piece: Prague - Judith Bingham

When it comes to reading the stats about how the qualifying bands from the London Region have done at the National Championships over the years it makes for pretty awful reading.

Since 1989 when Newham came 5th on “Odin” not a single qualifier from this contest has come in the top six at the Royal Albert Hall and only twice (and in the same year at that) have bands come in the top 10. On six of those occasions one of the qualifiers has come either last or last but one, and the number of times the bands have come in the bottom six is too many to mention. Why is this?

The bands who get through are solid outfits who on their day can really mix it in top class company, but the reality is that those bands do not get to perform against high quality fields on enough occasions throughout the contesting year, and so when they do, they tend to be found slightly off the pace. There is no London Regional band at the Open and the bands that get an invite to the Masters tend to make up the numbers. The banding world needs a strong presence south of the Watford Gap.

There are signs that it may be changing though and last year both Redbridge and Aveley put in strong accounts in London to come 11th and 12th, but one year isn’t enough and they need to become more consistent in the big competitions. The sad ending to First City Brass means that a third strong band needs to appear to challenge these two outfits year in year out and raise the overall standard in the top section. Maybe Alliance Brass could be the one?
It should be a good contest though and Alan Morrison will have his ears peeled to pick out the best from the rest. Form says it may be the same as last year and that may be OK for Stevenage – it won’t be OK though if the same results from London bands occur once more at Blackpool, Cambridge, Prestatyn and the Albert Hall.

Alliance Brass
P. Parkes

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 5th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 5th
2001: Winners 1st Section

Big things were expected of Alliance Brass when they first burst onto the scene in 2001 and they didn’t disappoint as they won the 1st Section in some comfort. They went on from there to the National Finals at Preston where they put in a very fine effort to come runners up – promotion soon followed. Last year though they found the going a bit tougher and they came 5th under the baton of Ben Ellin. This year though they have thrown down the gauntlet by engaging Peter Parkes to head them at the contest and after his fine win with Desford in the Midlands he will bring a real confidence to Alliance. They could well be a dark horse for a qualification place.

Aveley and Newham
N. Taken

4BR Ranking: 25
Last Year: 2nd
Last Seven Years:
2002: 2nd
2001: Winners
2000: Winners
1999: 3rd
1998: Winners
1997: 2nd
1996: 6th

Aveley and Newham have been the band to beat at the Regional Championships since 1995 and they have only failed to qualify for the Albert Hall twice in that period. They have also won the title three times and been runners up three times so we think once more they will be the favourites. They missed out on a hat trick last year when they were beaten by Redbridge and they were beaten by them again at the Nationals, so is there a shift in power due at Stevenage? Maybe – but we’ll still put our money on them to make it a third victory in four years.

Bedford Town
G. Bennett

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 9th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 9th
2001: 8th
2000: Winners 1st Section
1999: 12th (rel)
1998: 5th 1st Section (prom)
1997: 7th 1st Section
1996: 2nd 1st Section

Bedford came 9th last year, a drop of one place from 2001, but in the overall scheme of things that still represents a fine achievement for a band that was playing in the 2nd Section in 1999. Their win in the 1st Section in 2000 saw them come 7th at London under John Berryman. Since then they have finished up in the low midfield and we can’t really see anything different this year either.

City of Oxford
J. Glynn

4BR Ranking: 84
Last Year: 3rd
Last Seven Years:
2002: 3rd
2001: 3rd
2000: 3rd
1999: 5th
1998: 2nd
1997: Winners 1st Section (prom)
1996: 11th (rel)

A real record of consistency here since they won the 1st Section in 1997 and the following year they came runners up although they never made it to the Albert Hall for some technical rules reason that we can’t quite remember. Since then though they have been strong challengers and have taken 3rd place in the last three years, all under the direction of Nigel Taken. J. Glynn takes over this time and the band will be hoping to just give it that extra push and get a place in the qualification spots. It may have to be another year of waiting though.

Clacton on Sea Co-operative
M. White

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 8th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 8th
2001: 9th
2000: 4th
1999: 6th
1998: 4th
1997: 4th
1996: 4th

Melvyn White continues to direct Clacton on Sea, something he has done since 2000, but his happy knack of getting bands to the finals (20 times and counting) hasn’t rubbed off on them quite yet. They have been close to a podium spot on four occasions but haven’t quite done enough and in the last two years they have fallen away somewhat to fill midfield places. We think it will be much the same once more, although a top six place isn’t beyond them.

Kidlington Concert Brass
C. Underwood

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 7th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 7th
2001: 2nd
2000: 9th
1999: 4th
1998: 6th
1997: 6th
1996: 7th

Catherine Underwood continues to do a fine job with Kidlington although last year they fell away badly and could only come 7th. The year before of course they came runners up and went on to come 20th at the National Finals, but in the past few years they have tended to end up around the fringes of the top six. That should be the place where they find themselves this time as well.

Matthews Norfolk Brass

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: Winners 1st Section (prom)
Last Seven Years:
2002: Winners 1st Section (prom)
2001: 10th (rel)
2000: 7th
1999: 9th
1998: 8th
1997: 4th 1st Section (prom)
1996: 4th 1st Section

Matthews won the 1st Section here last year under the solid direction of David Stowell, but we understand he isn’t directing them in the top section as it clashes with his commitments to the BTM band in Wales on the same day. That would have meant them going to the Nationals in Torquay but due to work commitments of many of the players this proved impossible. They were still promoted though and they will be looking to make more of a mark here this year than they did the last time they were in this section where they tended to end up in the lower midfield places. Should do OK but another top 10 could be as good as it gets.

Redbridge Brass
M. White

4BR Ranking: 36
Last Year: Winners
Last Seven Years:
2002: Winners
2001: 4th
2000: 6th
1999: 2nd
1998: 3rd
1997: Winners
1996: Winners

Last years winners have an impressive record here and last years victory was their third since 1996. They also beat their rivals at the Finals as well when they came 11th and they showed on that day they weren’t out of place in a high class field. Melvyn White is once more at the helm and he knows what it takes to get bands through the tough test of the Regionals. They should do it again and we think it will be nip and tuck between them and Aveley to see who takes the main prize.

Regent Brass
G. Wyatt

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 10th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 10th
2001: 6th
2000: 8th
1999: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
1998: 2nd 1st Section
1997: N/K
1996: 12th

Regent Brass caused one of the real upsets of the London Regionals when they won the title here under Paul Fenson way back in 1994. Since then they haven’t come close to repeating that feat and they did drop down to the 1st Section for a few years. They returned in 2000 and since then they have held their own without causing the top bands any real concern. 10th last year was OK but they will have to improve a few places if they are to avoid the drop.

Soham Comrades
P. Filby

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 4th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 4th
2001: 7th
2000: 5th
1999: 7th
1998: 3rd 1st Section (prom)
1997: 6th 1st Section
1996: 5th 1st Section

Soham have been making steady progress over the past few years under the direction of P. Filby and since they were promoted in 1998 they have more than held their own and have had two top six places including a fine 4th place last year. That could be the signal for a final push for one of the qualification places but it will be hard work to get amongst the two big boys of Redbridge and Aveley. It could well be another year of being there or thereabouts.

Staines Brass
Ian McElligott

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 11th
Last Seven Years:
2002: 11th
2001: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
2000: 2nd 1st Section
1999: 13th (rel)
1998: DNC
1997: N/K
1996: 2nd

A real interesting one this. Ian McElligott directs Staines this year for the first time at the Regionals (Melvyn White had the baton in 2002) and after putting on a superb reading with Brighouse to win in Bradford it will be intriguing if he does the same here – especially as his principal cornet player is in the box. That won’t count for anything and Staines aren’t Brighouse, but the way in which he so beautifully shaped the music with them should be beneficial for Staines. They were 11th last year and we don’t think they will win, but surely they will improve their fortunes. The man is a star in the making so take the time to go and see him in action – he is class.

Welwyn Garden City
D. Stokes

4BR Ranking: N/A
Last Year: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
Last Seven Years:
2002: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
2001: 4th 1st Section
2000: 10th 1st Section
1999: 3rd 1st Section
1998: Winners 2nd Section
1997: 5th 2nd Section
1996: 10th 1st Section (rel)

Welwyn are the other band from the 1st Section to be promoted up to the Championship level this year after they had two good seasons in which they came 4th in 2001 and runners up last year. That result meant that they made the trip to Torquay where they came 14th. They also qualified for the Nationals back in 1998 when they came 12th in the 2nd Section. David Stokes directs again and the band may find it hard to make a real mark. A low midfield place may be the best they can hope for.

Past Winners:

2002: Redbridge Brass
2001: Aveley and Newham
2000: Aveley and Newham
1999: First City Brass
1998: Aveley and Newham
1997: Redbridge Brass
1996: Redbridge Brass
1995: John Laing Hendon
1994: Regent Brass
1993: John Laing Hendon
1992: London Electricity Redbridge
1991: London Electricity Redbridge
1990: John Laing Hendon
1989: Asphaltic Newham

Winning Conductors:

2002: M. White
2001: N. Taken
2000: N. Taken
1999: J. Wise
1998: M. White
1997: G. Wilson
1996: G. Wilson
1995: J. Wise
1994: P. Fensom
1993: J. Wise
1992: J. Clark
1991: J. Clark
1990: M. White
1989: N. Taken

Test Pieces:

2002: Whitsun Wakes – Michael Ball
2001: Jazz – Philip Wilby
2000: Variations on an Enigma – Philip Sparke
1999: Blitz – Derek Bourgeois
1998: Montage – Peter Graham
1997: A Lowry Sketchbook – Phillip Wilby
1996: Sounds – John Golland
1995: Un Vie De Matelot – Robert Farnon
1994: Partita – Philip Sparke
1993: Of Men and Mountains – Edward Gregson
1992: Frontier – Michael Ball
1991: Journey Into Freedom – Eric Ball
1990: The Beacons – Ray Steadman - Allen
1989: Prisms – Peter Graham


2002: J. Scott
2001: S. Sykes
2000: G. Richards
1999: D. Read
1998: J. Scott
1997: R. Newsome
1996: K. Bolton
1995: J. Scott
1994: F. Renton
1993: K. Dennison
1992: D. Read
1991: N/K
1990: J. Watson
1989: D. Stephens

Past Qualifiers:

2002: Redbridge Brass, Aveley and Newham
2001: Aveley and Newham, Kidlington Concert
2000: Aveley and Newham, First City Brass
1999: First City Brass, Redbridge Brass
1998: Aveley and Newham, City of Oxford
1997: Redbridge Brass, Aveley and Newham
1996: Redbridge Brass, Staines Brass
1995: John Laing Hendon, Aveley and Newham
1994: Regent Brass, John Laing Hendon
1993: John Laing Hendon, Aveley
1992: London Electricity Redbridge, Asphaltic Newham
1991: London Electricity Redbridge, Alder Valley Aldershot
1990: John Laing Hendon, London Electricity Redbridge, Aveley
1989: Asphaltic Newham, John Laing Hendon

*Pre Qualified

How London bands did in London:

2002: 11th, 12th
2001: 12th, 20th
2000: 7th, 9th
1999: 12th, 13th
1998: 18th, 20th
1997: 17th, 18th
1996: 13th, 18th
1995: 12th, 17th
1994: 15th, 19th
1993: 14th, 19th
1992: 13th, 19th
1991: 18th, 21st
1990: 15th, 18th, 21st
1989: 5th, 7th

Last Years Result:

1. Redbridge Brass – M. White 194pts
2. Aveley and Newham – N. Taken 192pts
3. City of Oxford – N. Taken 191pts
4. Soham Comrades – P. Filby 190pts
5. Alliance Brass – B. Ellin 187pts
6. First City Brass – J. Wise 185pts
7. Kidlington Concert – C. Underwood 183pts
8. Clacton on Sea Co-op – M. White 181pts
9. Bedford Town – G. Bennett 179pts
10. Regent Brass – G. Wyatt 176pts
11. Staines Brass – M. White 175pts
12. Hatfields of Colchester – T. Davey 174pts

4BR Prediction:

London has been something of two horse race in recent year and with the exception of First City’s win 1999 it has either been Redbridge or Aveley for the title since 1996. Bookies will have stopped taking bets on whether anyone else will win this year and we will have to agree with them. Redbridge won twelve months ago but we think Aveley and Newham should take the title back with them on this occasion. It will be close and Alliance Brass may have something to say, but our £2.00 each way is on Aveley and Redbridge winning the places for the Royal Albert Hall.

Alliance should get the podium place in third, whilst it will be a bit of a separate contest below that for 4th –6th. City of Oxford seem to do well here and should make it into 4th spot with Soham just behind and Kidlington making up the top six. Watch out for Staines and Ian McElligott though as they could well make an impression.

1. Aveley and Newham
2. Redbridge Brass
3. Alliance Brass
4. City of Oxford
5. Soham Comrades
6. Kidlington

Dark House: Staines



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