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Nationals Championship of Great Britain 2003

We cast our eye over the 20 bands that will take the stage on Saturday


The 2003 National Finals sees 20 bands try and win the coveted title of Champion Brass Band of Great Britain. All 8 regions send two qualifiers and the four bands that occupied the top 4 places at last year’s finals get automatic invitations.

This practise is set to continue, although it now seems senseless that the four pre qualified bands have to play at the Regional the following year – what’s the point? The Welsh and Scottish Areas may have the excuse of European qualification, but what about the English Regions? Either scrap the four band pre qualification system and just let the reigning champions through, or keep it and allow the bands the chance to do a concert instead to raise funds for others in their Area to meet some of the costs of going to the Lower Section National Finals. This current approach is laughable.

This year Lancashire has four representatives at the finals whilst Yorkshire and Wales have three each – a fair indication of where the strongest regions are it may be said, whilst the rest send their two qualifying bands to the Albert Hall.

The beauty and the anomaly of the Nationals is that each year some of the top bands in the country fail to get to London – no Yorkshire Building Society or Whitburn (winners and runners up at this years Open) or Grimethorpe this time, whilst no fewer than eight of last years contenders failed to make it back this year.


Alliance Brass
Conductor:
John Clark
4BR Ranking: 94

Principal Cornet: David Geoghegan
Principal Euphonium: Richard Brown
Soprano Cornet: William Cooper
Solo Trombone:
Robert Tooley
Solo horn: Ben Benson
Flugel horn: Ed Pascal

Appearances: 1st time
Debut: 2003
Best Result: Debut

2003 Qualification: 2nd place at the London and Southern Counties Regional Championships, conducted by Peter Parkes – 190pts, in a 10 band field.

Where as some bands can boast a history at the National Finals going back as 1900, Alliance Brass can only go back to September 2000 when they were formed as a First Section band from students and ex students of the Guild Hall School of Music in London. In fact, this contest at the Royal Albert Hall will only be their fifth ever brass band contest!
It is some record of achievement though, and much of the basis of their success is the quality of the players they have within their ranks – nearly all are professional players of some sort in and around the London area, and although this means difficulties with regular rehearsals, they do manage to get together for the preparation for the main events.

The runners up spot at the London Regional Championships may have surprised those outside the area, but on the day, and under the very experienced eye of Major Peter Parkes they were good value for their qualification place, and beating more fancied bands into the bargain.

Another very experienced MD takes the helm for the Albert Hall in the form of John Clarke who for many years was the conductor of the Redbridge Band. He has been away from the scene for a few years, but a reunion of former Guild Hall players saw him pick up the bug again and he makes a welcome return to top level banding.

Plenty of individual quality then (David Geoghagen – ex Dyke) is their top man, so they should do OK – it could be hard though to make a real mark in such a short space of time though.


Dr. Nicholas ChildsBlack Dyke
Conductor:
Dr. Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking: 4

Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Principal Euphonium:
David Thornton
Soprano Cornet:
Michelle Ibbotson
Solo Trombone:
Brett Baker
Solo horn:
Leslie Howie
Flugel horn:
John Doyle

Appearances: 71st time
Debut: 1900
Best Result: 19 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (4)
2001: Winners (Nicholas Childs) (12)
2000: DNQ
1999: DNQ
1998: 5th (James Watson) (11)
1997: DNQ
1996: 3rd (James Watson) (6)
1995: Winners (James Watson) (17)
1994: Winners (James Watson) (19)
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Pre qualified from 3rd place in 2002. 13th place at Yorkshire Regional Championships, conducted by Nicholas Childs - 183pts, in a 15 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins: 19 times - 1902, 1928, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1959, 1961, 1967, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1994, 1995, 2001
Second place: 16 times - 1900, 1923, 1924, 1930, 1932, 1936, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989
Third place: 11 times - 1903, 1913, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1952, 1960, 1973, 1974, 1996, 2002
Fourth place: 3 times - 1912, 1921, 1934
Fifth place: 3 times - 1908, 1955, 1998
Sixth place: 4 times - 1904, 1926, 1956, 1984
Unplaced: 14 times - 1909, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1945, 1953, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1990


13th place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships – thank goodness Dyke were already pre-qualified for this year’s final eh? “Prague” won’t be a test piece that will live long in the memory banks for Black Dyke, and on the day in Bradford they certainly didn’t deserve to come two from the bottom. They didn’t deserve to come top of the pile either though.

The disappointment of St. George’s Hall though has been banished though not forgotten, although the resolve to show the banding world how wrong the result was will certainly play a part in Dyke’s attempt to regain the National title this year. On recent form the band is playing exceptionally well – although minor errors and early draws have blighted their attempts at the Open and Nationals in the past twelve months or so.

3rd last year was a case in point, but you can never write off this bands chances (even with the Roger Webster accident scare) and you get the feeling that they are close to producing a real stonker of a show that will secure them their 20th National title. They were close to doing it at the Open, but the Albert Hall seems to suit the Queensbury outfit better.

The record book is unbelievably consistent over the years (46 times in the top 3 in 70 attempts), so they will surely be there or thereabouts again. The odds against another 13th place are very, very long indeed.


Major Ian McElligottBrighouse and Rastrick
Conductor:
Major Ian McElligott
4BR Ranking: 6

Principal Cornet: Allan Morrison
Principal Euphonium:
Stephen Miles
Soprano Cornet:
Alan Hobbins
Solo Trombone:
James Stockdale
Solo horn:
Melvyn Bathgate
Flugel horn:
Stephen Rogers

Appearances: 55th time
Debut: 1913
Best Result: 7 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 5th (Ian McElliogtt) (1)
2001: 11th (Allan Withington) (4)
2000: 4th (Allan Withington) (18)
1999: 2nd (Allan Withington) (13)
1998: Winners (Allan Withington) (14)
1997: Winners (Allan Withington) (6)
1996: 6th (Allan Withington) (13)
1995: 4th (Allan Withington) (15)
1994: DNQ
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Winners of Yorkshire Regional Championship, conducted by Ian McElligott – 197pts, in 15 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins: 7 times - 1946, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1997, 1998
Second place: 4 times - 1963, 1967, 1981, 1999
Third place: 3 times - 1948, 1951, 1975
Fourth place: 6 times - 1945, 1949, 1954, 1956, 1995, 2000
Fifth place: 7 times - 1913, 1950, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1992, 2002
Sixth place: 2 times - 1962, 1996
Unplaced: 25 times - 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 2001

Where as Bradford was a Black Dyke horror show, St George’s Hall saw Brighouse produce perhaps their most compelling contest performance under the baton of Ian McElligott. Since he has taken over at West Riding, Brighouse have been transformed and bear little resemblance to the leviathan that won two consecutive titles here in 1997 and 1998.

That performance on “Prague” was perhaps the best of the whole Regional contests and since that time Brighouse have shown the type of form that could well see them lift a eighth title here this year. The European saw them deliver two fine shows, whilst the Masters and Open saw them just a few heart beats away from claiming victory. On their day they can be awesome and last year off the number 1 draw they produced a corker of a show that set the standard for all the others to beat. If it had been later in the day they may well have pushed closer for the title.

Seven victories in 54 appearances is a fine return, and only once since 1995 have they been outside the top six. 2003 should see them in the top echelons again, and perhaps another victory may well be on the cards.


David EvansBurry Port Town
Conductor:
David Evans
4BR Ranking: 28

Principal Cornet: Roger Boyle
Principal Euphonium:
Ceri John
Soprano Cornet:
Jayne Thomas
Solo Trombone:
Marc Scaife
Solo horn:
Gareth Davies
Flugel horn:
Mark Smith

Appearances: 1st time
Debut: 2003
Best Result: Debut

2003 Qualification: 3rd place at Welsh Regional Championship, conducted by David Evans – 191pts, in a 10 band field.

A first appearance at the Championship Finals for the band that hails from West Wales and who were originally formed in 1896. It is appropriate that Burry Port makes it debut at the Championship Finals this year, as exactly 100 years ago in 1903 they played at the Crystal Palace Contest.

That was in the then 5th Section or Preliminary Cup Contest for “Bands who had not won a cash prize exceeding £2 2 s in the last two years” and conducted by David John they played in the Maze Band stand against the likes of Blaengarw, Hull Waterloo, Burton Latimer Britannia and Stony Stratford. The intervening years may have not been so great and the band were wound up in 1920’s only to resurrected in 1972. Since then they have made steady progress and have laid the foundations for continuing success.

In 2000 they were runners up in the Champion Band of Wales title race and won it the following year, whilst they also claimed 3rd place at the 2002 Senior Trophy. This year they have tasted success at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and came 14th at the Grand Shield in addition to their fine 3rd place at the Welsh Regional Championships when they defeated a number of higher ranked bands and pushed both BAYV Cory and Tredegar hard. They will not be out of place here at the weekend, and with a group of talent players and the experience of David Evans from Yorkshire Imps at the helm they are capable more than holding their own.


Dr. Robert ChildsBuy As You View Cory
Conductor:
Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking: 3

Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euphonium:
David Childs
Soprano Cornet:
Steve Barnsley
Solo Trombone:
Chris Thomas
Solo horn:
David Cornelius
Flugel horn:
Joanne Deane

Appearances: 42nd time
Debut: 1924
Best Result: 5 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 2nd (Robert Childs) (9)
2001: 5th (Robert Childs) (13)
2000: Winners (Robert Childs) (12)
1999: DNQ
1998: 6th (Jeremy Wise) (17)
1997: 6th (Jeremy Wise) (11)
1996: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1994: 14th (Michael Antrobus) (2)
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Pre qualified from 2nd place in 2002. Winners of Welsh Regional Championship, conducted by Robret Childs – 196pts, in a 10 band field

Overall Record:

Wins: 5 times - 1974, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2000
Second place: 3 times - 1948, 1979, 2002
Third place: 1 time - 1971
Fourth place:
Fifth place: 3 times - 1972, 1986, 2001
Sixth place: 6 times - 1949, 1952, 1967, 1976, 1997, 1998
Unplaced: 23 times - 1924, 1945, 1950, 1951, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1988, 1992, 1994


If any band is going to win the 2003 National Finals then surely they will have to beat BAYV Cory – perhaps the most consistent high-class contest performing band at the moment. The Welsh Regional Champions produced an immense performance on “Prague” that set up their 2003 season, but although they have played as well as anyone all year they have yet to add anymore silverware to the BAYV trophy cabinet in Wales.

The European saw them come as close as humanly possible to take that title, and the recent British Open saw them produce a show that impressed just about everyone except the judges. 6th place was more than a little unlucky, but there was some credence in the argument that their contest performances are at times so clinically efficient that sometimes the Welsh passion is lost in the technical brilliance. When they hit top gear though they are something else indeed, and their resolve to win is second to none. Since Robert Childs took over the helm they have enjoyed their trips to London – winners, runners up and fifth in three years is pretty good isn’t it, so they will be very strong contenders once more for sure.

This will be their 42nd time here and with five wins to their name and not been out of the top six on their last four appearances the odds on them making it a sixth victory are pretty short. If they play to form (and harness that little touch of a passion to add to the technique) they could very well be the Champions again.


Camborne Town
Conductor:
Major Paul Murrell
4BR Ranking: 37

Principal Cornet: Chris Leonard
Principal Euphonium:
Robert Jose
Soprano Cornet:
Jeremy Squibb
Solo Trombone:
Nick Abbott
Solo horn:
Graham Barker
Flugel horn:
Andrew Mitchell

Appearances: 35th time
Debut: 1946
Best Result: 4th place (1977, 1982)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 19th (Paul Murrell) (7)
2001: 19th (Brian Grant) (19)
2000: DNQ
1999: DNQ
1998: 9th (Leonard Adams) (1)
1997: DNQ
1996: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1994: 17th (Derek Greenwood) (8)
1993: 18th (Derek Greenwood) (2)

2003 Qualification: Winners of West of England Regional Championship conducted by Frank Renton – 194pts – in a 11 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
2 times - 1977, 1982
Fifth place: 1 times - 1973
Sixth place: 2 times - 1951, 1965
Unplaced: 29 times - 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002


Camborne are one of those mystery bands that seem to play their best when everyone else has written off their chances. The West of England Championships earlier this year was a case in point. Rumours persisted that they were in terrible form, lacking players and in no shape to win through for a 35th appearance at the Albert Hall. On the day though and under the baton of Frank Renton they produced a fine show on “Prague” to win West of England title yet again and book their place in Kensington.

No Open appearance for the band, or Masters, and they came a lowly 16th place at the Senior Cup back in May under the direction of Paul Murrell, but if the rumours mongers are out in force then beware!

This is the 35th appearance for Camborne at the Finals and they have a best of fourth place in 1977 and 1982. However the last two outings have seen them come 19th, including last year when they were also conducted by Paul Murrell, so they will be hoping for better things this time around.


Major Peter ParkesDesford Colliery
Conductor:
Major Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking: 25

Principal Cornet: Dave Smith
Principal Euphonium:
Mike Kilroy
Soprano Cornet:
Martin Britt
Solo Trombone:
Mark Horton
Solo horn:
Murray Borthwick
Flugel horn:
Brian Winter

Appearances: 20th time
Debut: 1976
Best Result: 4 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 8th (Major Peter Parkes) (13)
2001: DNQ
2000: 11th (Major Peter Parkes) (11)
1999: DNQ
1998: 15th (Frank Renton) (19)
1997: DNQ
1996: 10th (Bramwell Tovey) (3)
1995: 3rd (Major Peter Parkes) (2)
1994: DNQ
1993: 21st (Stephen Roberts) (3)

2003 Qualification: Winners of the Midlands Regional Championship, conducted by Peter Parkes – 192pts, in a 12 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins: 4 times - 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990
Second place: 2 times - 1985, 1992
Third place: 1 time - 1995
Fourth place:
Fifth place:
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
12 times - 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002

On their day Desford can produce the type of performance that can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and they were worthy winners of the Midlands Regional Championship under the direction of Peter Parkes with a performance that was right out of the top draw. On other days though……

Now that they have lost their place at the Open, and due to the fact that they don’t compete at the Masters or Grand Shield, what form they bring to the Nationals could be a bit of a mystery. However, they have real quality players around the stand and a fierce determination to show people that the glory years of 1987 – 1990 are not too distant a memory, so they should be more than capable of repeating or even bettering their 8th place of a twelve month ago.

This will be their 20th appearance at London, and with four wins, two second places and a third they have shown they like the old hall. Maybe not quite there for the top prizes, but don’t write off their chances.


Gareth PritchardEast Yorkshire Motor Services
Conductor:
Gareth Pritchard
4BR Ranking: 42

Principal Cornet: Craig Gaskell
Principal Euphonium:
Melanie Pattison
Soprano Cornet:
Graham Drury
Solo Trombone:
Mark Unsworth
Solo horn:
Alison Grantham
Flugel horn:
Joanna Peacham

Appearances: 7th time
Debut: 1996
Best Result: 8th (1996)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 20th (Gareth Pritchard) (3)
2001: 14th (Gareth Pritchard) (10)
2000: DNQ
1999: 15th (John Roberts) (18)
1998: 10th (John Roberts) (5)
1997: 13th (Robert Childs) (5)
1996: 8th (Robert Childs) (14)
1995: DNQ
1994: DNQ
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Runners up at North of England Regional Championship, conducted by Gareth Pritchard – 190pts, in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
Fifth place:
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
6 times - 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002

The seventh appearance at the Finals for the band from Hull – a fine achievement since all of them have come since 1996. Robert Childs was the man behind their amazing rise through the sections, but they have shown tremendous character to remain as one of the North East’s strongest bands and qualifiers, even when playing strength has fluctuated.

Under Gareth Pritchard they have shown that the return to top form has a more permanent feel to it since his appointment in 2001 and they won the Senior Cup in 2002 and came a solid 9th at this years Grand Shield. This year they pushed Ever Ready close at the Regionals to book their place at the finals once again, so they can mix it when they want.

Last year they came 20th off an early draw and on a very difficult set work, but the year before they came 14th. Their best here has been as high as 8th back in 1996, and so they will be aiming for that once again. Maybe not a prize winner, but still capable of more than holding their own.


Ray FarrEver Ready
Conductor:
Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 12

Principal Cornet: Bryan Tait
Principal Euphonium:
Paul Robinson
Soprano Cornet:
Tron Otto Berg
Solo Trombone:
Chris Bentham
Solo horn:
Andrew Hall
Flugel horn:
Joanne Winspear


Appearances: 34th time
Debut: 1963 as Craghead Colliery, 1969 as Ever Ready
Best Result: 4th place (1976)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 9th (Ray Farr) (8)
2001: DNQ
2000: 13th (Stephen Roberts) (3)
1999: 19th (Stephen Roberts) (8)
1998: DNQ
1997: 5th (Stephen Roberts) (10)
1996: DNQ
1995: 19th (Alan Exley) (12)
1994: 16th (Alan Exley) (4)
1993: 17th (Geoffrey Whitham) (16)

2003 Qualification: Winners of the North of England Regional Championship, conducted by Russell Gray – 191pts, in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
1 time - 1976
Fifth place: 2 times - 1982, 1997
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
30 times - 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002


Ever Ready are a band on the up it seems. The partnership with Ray Farr has really paid dividends in recent months and even though they won the North East Regional Championship under the baton of Russell Gray, he directed them to 15th place at the Masters and then a fine 8th place a month ago at the Open, and they are now playing with a confidence that should hold them in good stead at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Regional win is something they have been used to over the years, but in their 33 previous appearances here they can only boast a fourth place in 1976 and two fifth places in 1982 and 1997. In their seven appearances in the past ten years the best was the day on “Alderney Edge” but last year they performed very well to come 9th. There is the talent around the stand and a sense that Ever Ready are due to make a mark here once again. This could well be the year in which they do it.


Allan WithingtonFairey FP (Music) Band
Conductor:
Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 5

Principal Cornet: Ian Porthouse
Principal Euphonium:
Morgan Griffiths
Soprano Cornet:
Kevin Crockford
Solo Trombone:
Kevin Gibbs
Solo horn:
Owen Farr
Flugel horn:
Neil Hewson

Appearances: 41st time
Debut: 1945
Best Result: 8 wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: Winners (Allan Withington) (14)
2001: 4th (Howard Snell) (2)
2000: 8th (James Gourlay) (9)
1999: 5th (James Gourlay) (14)
1998: 3rd (James Gourlay) (16)
1997: 2nd (James Gourlay) (13)
1996: 4th (James Gourlay) (7)
1995: 8th (Ray Farr) (3)
1994: 2nd (Major Peter Parkes) (5)
1993: Winners (Major Peter Parkes) (9)

2003 Qualification: Runners up in the North West Regional Championship, conducted by Steve Bastable – 193pts, in a 11 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins: 8 times - 1945, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1965, 1986, 1993, 2002
Second place: 4 times - 1946, 1947, 1994, 1997
Third place: 5 times - 1966, 1978, 1980, 1992, 1998
Fourth place: 4 times - 1984, 1987, 1996, 2001
Fifth place: 4 times - 1962, 1975, 1988, 1999
Sixth place: 6 times - 1953, 1958, 1959, 1982, 1990, 1991
Unplaced: 9 times - 1948, 1955, 1957, 1963, 1972, 1979, 1983, 1995, 2000

The Champions. Fairey FP (Music) Band are the only outfit here this year who can boast an unbroken ten year appearance record at the contest (in fact you have to go back to 1989 for the last time the Stockport lads were not competing here) and their record of success has been second to none in that time.

The winners in 1993 and again last year they can also boast three second places as well as only twice coming out of the prizes – that takes some beating. Last year they were very special indeed and gave Allan Withington his third title into the bargain and although they didn’t make the trip to the Europeans as a result they very nearly made it a “backwards” double at the Open when only a few bars of momentary technical disaster robbed them of the title.

They are a band that has put behind them the uncertainties of the loss of their long term sponsorship and with a new association with the appropriately named FP (Music) Group they seem reborn of confidence. The determination is there for them to become the first Fairey band to retain their title – and the talent is there in abundance too. With Allan Withington at the helm, don’t bet against them.


Philip HarperFlowers
Conductor:
Philip Harper
4BR Ranking: 18

Principal Cornet: Kevin Robbins
Principal Euphonium:
Mark Hadlington
Soprano Cornet:
Chris Howley
Solo Trombone:
Andrew Norman
Solo horn:
Richard Knight
Flugel horn:
Julia Telling

Appearances: 8th time
Debut: 1991
Best Result: 10th (1997)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: DNQ
2001: 9th (Philip Harper) (11)
2000: 16th (Richard Evans) (4)
1999: 14th (Bryan Hurdley) (2)
1998: DNQ
1997: 10th (Paul Cosh) (1)
1996: DNQ
1995: 14th (David Stowell) (14)
1994: 11th (David Williams) (17)
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Runners up at the West of England Regional Championships, conducted by Philip Harper – 193pts, in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
Fifth place:
Sixth place:

Unplaced: 7 times - 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001

Flowers make their eighth appearance at the Finals – all since 1991 when they made their debut on “Energy” when they came 13th under Derek Broadbent. Since then they have yet to better the 9th place they achieved in 2001, but they are a band that are more than capable of making a mark at this level.

They are sometimes a tad fragile on important occasions, and the West of England Championships this year saw them ride their luck a little to claim the second qualification spot behind Camborne. However, when they are in the mood they can really mix it and the Masters this year when they came 5th was a case in point – they were very good indeed. No Open place (they were very unfortunate not to qualify this year it must be said), but this shouldn’t count against them here.

If they get a good draw (they have had a few duff ones) they could very well feature highly as they have plenty of fine players and a MD who invariably delivers the goods. They could be a smart bet as a dark horse.


Thomas WyssFodens Richardson
Conductor:
Thomas Wyss
4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium:
Glyn Williams
Soprano Cornet:
Alan Wycherley
Solo Trombone:
John Barber
Solo horn:
Andrew Armstrong
Flugel horn:
Helen Fox

Appearances: 56th time
Debut: 1909
Best Result: 12 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 4th (Bramwell Tovey) (20)
2001: 2nd (Bramwell Tovey) (20)
2000: 3rd (Bramwell Tovey) (15)
1999: Winners (Nicholas Childs) (5)
1998: 4th (Nicholas Childs) (20)
1997: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (2)
1996: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1994: DNQ
1993: 11th (Howard Snell) (13)

2003 Qualification: Winners of the North West Regional Championships, conducted by Russell Gray – 195pts, in a 11 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins: 12 times - 1910, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1950, 1953, 1958, 1999
Second place: 10 times - 1909, 1911, 1921, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1988, 1990, 1991, 2001
Third place: 7 Times - 1912, 1923, 1947, 1954, 1959, 1997, 2000
Fourth place: 5 times - 1928, 1957, 1989, 1998, 2002
Fifth place: 5 times – 1922, 1956, 1978, 1983, 1985
Sixth place: 3 times - 1925, 1931, 1961
Unplaced: 14 times – 1913, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1955, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1993

Fodens will surely be there or thereabouts come results time – the past six years have seen them win once, come second once, third twice and fourth twice, but it is also true to say that even when the stage has been set for them to add another title to the 12 they already have, the Gods, and sometimes their form have deserted them.

Since the 1999 win they have had the best MD and the best draws, but still they couldn’t quite get the judges to pronounce them the winners (even though on at least two occasions the majority of the audience though they should have). The break from the prize winning Russell Gray after the Masters has seen them turn to former Eb tuba player Thomas Wyss to lead them both at the Open and here (Bram Tovey has professional engagements elsewhere in the World) and although they had an early draw at Birmingham they didn’t really set the stage on fire and came 7th.

If they manage to get a decent draw here and it all clicks into place, then look out – if not their sometimes fragile confidence could consign them to a top six place at best. At the highest level here it could well come down to their rep at the draw picking another late number out of the bag.


Ian BrownbillHaydock
Conductor:
Ian Brownbill
4BR Ranking: 34

Principal Cornet: Mark Jones
Principal Euphonium:
Ian Scotson
Soprano Cornet:
Ian Twiss
Solo Trombone:
Joanne Moss
Solo horn:
Phil Lancaster
Flugel horn:
Alison Tinsley

Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 1968
Best Result: Unplaced 1968

2003 Qualification: 3rd place at the North West Regional Championships, conducted by Ian Brownbill – 192pts, in an 11 band field.


This is not the first time that the Haydock Band have made it to the National Finals. After the band won the then Second Section National Finals in 1968, they were invited to compete at the following years Final on “High Peak” at the Albert Hall. Drawn 21st they performed under the baton of H. Oakes, and although they didn’t come anywhere they had at least made their debut at the top.

The band has a long history, formed in 1861 and they also made their debut at the British Open in 1917 under the great J. Greenwood as well as returning back in 1929. Latterly they have begun to taste more success, especially under the baton of the talented Ian Brownbill.

They were promoted up from the First Section in 2001 and came 6th at the notoriously difficult North West Regional Championships in 2002 as well as 11th in the Senior Trophy. This year though they have certainly made their mark and fully deserved their 3rd place at Blackpool, beating some famous and higher ranked bands in the process, whilst they showed this was not a one off as they came 4th at the Senior Trophy to gain promotion to the Senior Cup next year as well. This will be a very stern test for the young band, but this is the next step on a very secure upward progression.


Frank RentonKirkintilloch
Conductor:
Frank Renton
4BR Ranking: 11

Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Principal Euphonium:
Andy Mclean
Soprano Cornet:
Stephen Stuart
Solo Trombone:
Marion Brackpool
Solo horn:
Alan Wardrope
Flugel horn: Colin Gallacher

Appearances: 8th time
Debut: 1968
Best Result: 4th in 1997

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 14th (Frank Renton) (16)
2001: DNQ
2000: DNQ
1999: 11th (Frank Renton) (3)
1998: 12th (Frank Renton) (6)
1997: 4th (Frank Renton) (17)
1996: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1994: DNQ
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Runners up at the Scottish Regional Championships, conducted by Frank Renton – 189pts in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
1 time -1997
Fifth place:
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
7 times - 1968, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2002

Kirkintilloch make their eighth appearance at the Finals – 35 years after their debut back in 1968 when they were conducted by Robert Oughton. This time though they make the long trip south with high hopes of bettering their best ever placing of fourth in 1997.

2003 has been a good year for the band, what with their European Championship appearance and another very solid performance at the British Open where they came 11th. The partnership with Frank Renton suits both parties to the full and even though last year they came 14th they have the quality to feature here this time.

The Scottish Regional Championships saw them claim second spot behind Scottish Co-op, but it was the qualification that counted and for the fourth time in six years they have made it to Kensington. They are now experienced contenders at this level, and with the mercurial talent of Mr Renton at the helm, they cannot be discounted from making an impressive mark.


Garry CuttLeyland
Conductor:
Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 8

Principal Cornet: Andrew Lord
Principal Euphonium:
Bill Miller
Soprano Cornet:
Brian Heyes
Solo Trombone:
Neil Samuel
Solo horn: Donna Lewis
Flugel horn:
Lucy Murphy

Appearances: 18th time
Debut: 1981
Best Result: 3rd (1984)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 15th (Garry Cutt) (6)
2001: 6th (Garry Cutt) (8)
2000: 14th (Howard Snell) (16)
1999: 10th (Richard Evans) (6)
1998: 8th (Richard Evans) (4)
1997: DNQ
1996: 7th (Richard Evans) (9)
1995: 5th (Richard Evans) (5)
1994: 7th (Richard Evans) (6)
1993: 5th (Richard Evans) (4)

2003 Qualification: 4th place at the North West Regional Championships, conducted by Garry Cutt – 191pts in an 11 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:

Third place: 1 time - 1984
Fourth place: 1 time - 1990
Fifth place: 2 times - 1993, 1995
Sixth place: 1 time – 2001
Unplaced: 12 times 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002

Leyland are a very good band – winning the All England Masters Championship this year will tell anyone that; but the Open dealt the popular band from the North West a severe body blow when they lost their position at the contest after two years when they came 11th and 14th. Rules are rules, but this was a harsh blow.

Leyland have a very solid record at this contest as well, and although they are making their 18th appearance it has really only been since the Richard Evans years that they have come to London with genuine hopes of lifting the title. The best effort so far has been a third place back in 1984, but as recently as 2001 they came 6th under Garry Cutt. Although they haven’t won the North West Regional title itself since 1994, they are nearly always more than good enough in a strong field to make their annual trip to the Capital (only 1997 dents their record in the past decade) and once more this year they did all that was asked of them - just.

They have the talent and the MD to do very well, but much will depend on their confidence going into the contest after the travails of Birmingham.


Russell GrayRansome
Conductor:
Russell Gray
4BR Ranking: 21

Principal Cornet: Gary Wyatt
Principal Euphonium:
Rob Woods
Soprano Cornet:
David Bird
Solo Trombone:
Richard Dixon
Solo horn:
George Thackeray
Flugel horn:
Della Pearce

Debut: 1945
Best Result: 2nd (1955, 1970, 2000)
Appearances: 26th time

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: DNQ
2001: 13th (Russell Gray) (16)
2000: 2nd (Russell Gray) (8)
1999: 4th (Brian Grant) (20)
1998: DNQ
1997: 9th (Brian Grant) (18)
1996: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1994: DNQ
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Runners up at the Midlands Regional Championship, conducted by Brian Grant – 190pts in a 12 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
3 times - 1955, 1970, 2000
Third place: 1 time - 1962
Fourth place: 3 times - 1950, 1960, 1999
Fifth place: 3 times - 1949, 1953, 1957, 1958
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
15 times - 1945, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1977, 1988, 1989, 1997, 2001

Ransome have returned to the man who possibly knows them the best – Russell Gray; and after a disappointing few months after the qualification for London, the MD who delivered them their best result at this contest since 1970 returns once more.

The bands early year form was good and under Brian Grant they did what was expected of them in gaining qualification, but the disappointment of 17th place at the Masters and 21st place at the Grand Shield led to something of a shake up. If they are to make a mark at the Nationals – just as they did so memorably in 2000, then they will have to play to the top of their form. Russell Gray though is a man with something of a Midas touch in contests and you can be guaranteed that Ransomes will give a most musical performance. Whether that will be enough for them to repeat 2000, or even 1999 is another matter though but do not discount them or the Scotsman.


Melvin WhiteRedbridge Brass
Conductor:
Melvin White
4BR Ranking: 38

Principal Cornet: Gavin Hall
Principal Euphonium:
Lisa James
Soprano Cornet:
Cliff Pask
Solo Trombone:
Su Cordiner
Solo horn:
Ruth Miller
Flugel horn:
Alan Roberts

Appearances: 9th time
Debut: 1988
Best Result: 13th in 1996

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: 11th (Melvin White) (15)
2001: DNQ
2000: DNQ
1999: DNQ
1998: 20th (Melvin White) (12)
1997: 18th (Graham Wilson) (16)
1996: 13th (Graham Wilson) (10)
1995: DNQ
1994: DNQ
1993: DNQ

2003 Qualification: Winners of the London and Southern Counties Regional Championship, conducted by Melvin White – 191pts in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
Third place:
Fourth place:
Fifth place:
Sixth place:
Unplaced:
8 times 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002

The last time a “Southern” band won the National title, the Rhine Republic was proclaimed, Lenin was entering the last year of his life and Huddersfield Town beat Cardiff City to the First Division title on goal difference. 1923 was a very long time ago.

However, it would more than foolish to totally discount the chances of Redbridge. They may not win the Nationals, but they have more than enough quality about them to more than make a mark. Under Melvin White they retained their London and Southern Counties Regional title in some style this year and went on to come 13th at the Masters and 4th at the Senior Cup. Add to that the fact that they performed very solidly to come 11th here last year and you have a band very much on the up.

Plenty of quality around the stands and a crafty performer with the baton, it may be another year yet before the cup remains south of the Watford Gap, but do not write off their chances of a good finishing position.


James Scott Scottish Co-op
Conductor:
James Scott
4BR Ranking: 13

Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Principal Euphonium:
Allison Bonner
Soprano Cornet:
Alexandra Kerwin
Solo Trombone:
Paul Kiernan
Solo horn:
Lyndsey Smith
Flugel horn:
Caroline Tennant

Appearances: 36th time
Debut: 1929
Best Result: 2 Wins

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: DNQ
2001: 10th (James Gourlay) (15)
2000: 6th (Nicholas Childs) (1)
1999: DNQ
1998: 7th (Howard Snell) (18)
1997: 11th (Howard Snell) (14)
1996: Winners (Howard Snell) (18)
1995: DNQ
1994: 6th (Howard Snell) (16)
1993: 6th (Allan Withington) (1)

2003 Qualification: Winners of the Scottish Regional Championships, conducted by Nicholas Childs – 193pts in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
2 times - 1990, 1996
Second place: 4 times - 1929, 1933, 1934, 1958
Third place:
Fourth place:
1 time - 1992
Fifth place: 1 time - 1960
Sixth place: 5 times - 1930, 1937, 1993, 1994, 2000
Unplaced: 22 times - 1931, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1945, 1948, 1954, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1971, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001

The performers formally known as CWS (Glasgow) make their 36th appearance at the Finals this year, and after a couple of seasons where they have had their fair share of lows, 2003 has seen them return back to the forefront of Scottish banding and possibly British banding as well.

The loss of their position at the Open was rectified in fine fashion at the Grand Shield where under the baton of Nicholas Childs they returned straight back to the premier event, coming runners up to Carlton Main, whilst earlier in the year they were clear winners of the Scottish Regional Championship – four points clear winners.

The recent Open saw them consolidate under the baton of James Scott where they came 13th and the 1973 National winner takes the band here this time as well. Twice winners in the 1990's Co-op have the personnel to do very well here once more. Possibly not a third title, but a mention off the stage is well within their compass.


Derek RenshawStocksbridge
Conductor:
Derek Renshaw
4BR Ranking: 23

Principal Cornet: Matthew Knowles
Principal Euphonium:
Simon Willis
Soprano Cornet:
Anthony Thompson
Solo Trombone:
Jamie Ashden
Solo horn:
Adele Fullilove
Flugel horn:
Martin Grimes


Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 1990
Best Result: 10th in 1990

Unplaced: 2 times - 1990, 1991

2003 Qualification: Runners up at the Yorkshire Regional Championship, conducted by Derek Renshaw – 195pts in a 15 band field.

The qualification of Stocksbridge from the all powerful Yorkshire Regional Championships as runners up to Brighouse and Rastrick was perhaps the surprise result of the whole 2003 Area Championships. Given that they beat some of the most famous, as well as the most potent contesting bands in the UK into the bargain says a lot for them and their playing on the day in Bradford, and although they couldn’t quite maintain that form at the Grand Shield where they came 12th, they are certainly not out of place here amongst the best bands in the land.

This year also marks a return for them after quite a few years away from the pinnacle of top contesting (in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s they were regulars at the Open). The last time Stocksbridge were at London was 1991 on “Energy” directed by Hugh Megarrell when they were drawn number 1 and came 17th in a 23 band field. The previous year they did fair better coming 10th. They will be hoping for better this time, and the signs and personnel are there to make sure they do it.

Derek Renshaw, a former Principal Cornet player of the band has built a very solid outfit in the last few years, winning the First Section National title in 2001 and then going on to more than hold their own at Bradford in the following years. This will be a very stern test indeed, but don’t be surprised if they take more than their fair share of high value scalps once more.


Steve BastableTredegar
Conductor:
Steve Bastable
4BR Ranking: 10

Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Principal Euphonium:
Darren Morris
Soprano Cornet:
Iwan Fox
Solo Trombone:
Steve Legg
Solo horn:
Natalie Gibson
Flugel horn:
Andrea Lewis


Appearances: 19th time
Debut: 1964
Best Result: 2nd (1993)

Last Ten Years: (Position, MD, Draw)

2002: DNQ
2001: 7th (Steve Bastable) (14)
2000: 5th (Steve Bastable) (13)
1999: 3rd (Thomas Wyss) (11)
1998: DNQ
1997: DNQ
1996: 11th (Nicholas Childs) (4)
1995: 9th (Nicholas Childs) (7)
1994: 5th (Nicholas Childs) (11)
1993: 2nd (John Hudson) (8)

2003 Qualification: Runners up at the Welsh Regional Championship, conducted by Thomas Wyss – 193pts in a 10 band field.

Overall Record:

Wins:
Second place:
1 time - 1993
Third place: 1 time - 1999
Fourth place:
Fifth place:
2 times - 1994, 2000
Sixth place: 2 times - 1977, 1979
Unplaced: 12 times - 1964, 1967, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2001

Tredegar make their 19th appearance at the Royal Albert Hall this year, and since they first made their debut in 1964 they have found the trip up the M4 very much to their liking – especially in the last ten years. They were runners up here a decade ago on “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” as well as coming third in 1999 and fifth in 1994 and 2000. Only once in their seven appearances in the last decade have they been outside the top 10.

2003 though has been a curates egg of a contesting year for the Welsh band, with a solid 9th place at the Open and runners up at the Regional Championships to BAYV Cory coupled with disappointing returns against home grown opposition at Ebbw Vale and recently Porthcawl.

Steve Bastable returns once more to make his third appearance on the London stage after Thomas Wyss left for Fodens and Russell Gray was pre booked for Ransome. It has been a good partnership in the past and with their liking for the Albert Hall stage they could well feature in the top ten once more.

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