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2004 North West Regional Championships

First Section
Saturday 14th March

Test Piece: Coventry Variations – Bramwell Tovey
Colin Hardy

The First Section will be possibly the most keenly fought contest of the whole weekend here. Of the twelve bands on view, all of them will harbour hopes of coming away from the Opera House with at least a qualification place.

Last year both Norwest Co-op Milnrow and United Co-op (Crewe) left here and put up excellent shows for themselves at Dundee where they came 2nd and 3rd. However, you have to go back to 1999 and Ashton under Lyne for a winning Lancashire band at the Finals. Even in this fledgling section though, the Area can boast wins for BT, Longridge, Freckleton and Ashton since 1992, so that tells you something about the strength of the standard here.

Colin Hardy will therefore have a difficult task in picking a winner, but with a stern test piece that will really push the bands here to the full, quality should make its way to the top.

Blackburn and Darwen
Conductor: N. Sheppard

Last Eight Years:
2003: 5th (G. Pritchard)
2002: 12th
2001: 5th
2000: 9th
1999: 7th
1998: 6th
1997: 6th
1996: 12th Championship (rel)

Gareth Pritchard directed the band to 5th place here last year, and under the new direction of another Welshman Nick Sheppard, they will be looking to improve on that and push for a qualification place at least.

Lynda Nicholson took the band to Pontins late last year where they came 12th, whilst they started off the year in Preston with a disappointing 16th place. They come to Blackpool hoping for a quick return to form then.

P. ChristianBollington
Conductor: P. Christian

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners of Second Section (prom) (P. Christian)
2002: 6th
2001: 4th
2000: 7th
1999: 6th 1st Section (rel)
1998: 10th 1st Section
1997: 3rd 2nd Section (prom)
1996: 5th 2nd Section

Bollington were fine winners of the Second Section here last year under the direction of ex Black Dyke baritone player Peter Christian. That led the band onto the National Finals in Dundee where they came runners up after giving a super performance off the number 1 spot.

They certainly seem to be a band moving in the right direction, so can they make it two in a rwo here and book a place for Harrogate?

M. EvansMossley
Conductor: M. Evans

Last Eight Years:
2003: 10th in Championship Section (rel) (M. Evans)
2002: 11th
2001: Winners 1st Section (prom)
2000: 2nd 1st Section
1999: 4th 1st Section
1998: 7th 1st Section
1997: 10th 1st Section
1996: 2nd 2nd Section (prom)

Mossley found life a bit tough in the rarefied atmosphere of the Championship Section, and after coming 11th and then 10th last year here they drop back down a section to see if they can make more of an impression at a contest they won in 2001.

Martyn Evans has worked hard with the band, and although they left here last year to come 18th at the Senior Trophy and at Pontins, they will be keen to show that they have retained enough class about themselves to push for a qualification place at least.

Moston and Beswick (Manchester)
Conductor: M. Obermuller

Last Eight Years:
2003: 6th (R. Taylor)
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

Moston and Beswick had something of a difficult parting of the waves with Robert Taylor last year, and lost a number player in the process, so it will be interesting to see if they have recovered since then. We hope so.

They were 6th last year, on their debut in the section after being promoted in 2002, and went on to come 13th at Pontins under Martin Obermuller. They didn’t take part at Preston, so we wonder if they are holding back to make a big impression here instead. We will wait and see.

Pemberton Old Wigan
Conductor: M. Peacock

Last Eight Years:
2003: 9th (N. Sheppard)
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

Pemberton Old Wigan come to the contest on the back of a fine win at Preston earlier this year when they beat a quality field of bands (including five Championship Contenders), so confidence won’t be a problem then.

Mark Peacock, ex flugel star at YBS and of Fairey’s is the man who led them at the Guild Hall and also leads them in battle here, so after they could only come 19th at the Senior Cup and 9th at Pontins, that win will mean they could well be looking to book a trip to Harrogate later this year.

Conductor: S. Tarry

Last Eight Years:
2003: 7th (S. Tarry)
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

Poulton made a real good stab of things last year here, when on their debut in the First Section they came a very well deserved 7th place. That result further confirmed the rise of the band from the low of relegation from the Second Section in 2000.

Two subsequent promotions and last years result are good pointers to their form, as is the recent 10th place at the Preston Guild Hall Contest.

Roberts Bakery
Conductor: C. Cranson

Last Eight Years:
2003: 10th (C. Cranson)
2002: 3rd
2001: 11th
2000: 10th Championship (rel)
1999: 9th Championship
1998: 7th Championship
1997: 3rd 1st Section (prom)
1996: 3rd 1st Section (prom)

Last year Roberts Bakery and their long term MD Colin Cranson, the former Fodens solo euphonium dropped right off the pace here and came 10th. That was a real disappointment to them after they had just missed out on a finals place by coming third the year before.

They have been quiet of late – they didn’t take part at Preston for instance, so it will be interesting to see what form they bring with them to the Opera House.

J. MainesStalybridge Old
Conductor: J. Maines

Last Eight Years:
2003: 4th (A. Exley)
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 were placed 4th here last year under the direction of former Yorkshire Imps MD Alan Exley, but instead of that being the springboard for further success they found themselves in great difficulties. So much so that when it came to the Senior Cup in Blackpool a few months later they had to withdraw due to being unable to field a full band.

We hope that is now firmly behind them, and although they came 17th at the recent Preston contest, they do have the experienced John Maines at the helm, and that can only be good for them.

Conductor: R. Taylor

Last Eight Years:
2003: 8th (S. Booth)
2002: 7th
2001: 12th
2000: 3rd
1999: 3rd 2nd Section
1998: 7th 2nd Section
1997: 2nd 2nd Section
1996: DNC

Robert Taylor and his new band will be looking to really make a mark here this year. 8th last year under the direction of Stephen Booth, was a drop of one place from the year before. They have had an influx of new players, and so confidence may be high.

Recently though they could only find themselves in 9th place at the Preston Contest, so in reality they will need to up their game if they are to push for a qualification place.

United Norwest Co-op Milnrow
Conductor: A. White

Last Eight Years:
2003: 2nd (C. Whiteoak)
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)

United Co-op Milnrow were runners up here last year – just missing out on the first place by a point. Carl Whiteoak was at the helm then, and led the band to the National Finals in Dundee where they played exceptionally well to come second under the baton of Andrew White.

That result was the boost they needed, and they rounded off the year with another runners up spot at Pontins, so can they do the same again, or even go one better this time?

A. LawtonVernon Building Society Poynton
Conductor: A. Lawton

Last Eight Years:
2003: 11th (M. Obermuller)
2002: 4th
2001: 10th
2000: DNC
1999: 10th Championship (rel)
1998: 3rd (prom)
1997: 4th
1996: 11th Championship (rel)

The experienced and prize winning Alan Lawton comes back home to Poynton to take the band here this year. They were a lowly 11th last year, and so he will need to ensure that experience rubs off the band if they are to stave off possible relegation.

If the recent 7th place at the Preston Guild Hall contest is anything to go by, then it has started to work, and a possible top six result may well be on the cards.

Results archive:
Full results of previous year's contests together with a results summary can be found in our results archive.

Past Qualifiers:

2003: United Co-op (Crewe), United Norwest Co-op Milnrow
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:

2003: 2nd, 3rd
2002: 5th, 9th
2001: 7th, 8th
2000: 2nd, 13th
1999: 1st, 11th
1998: 6th, 10th

4BR Prediction:

As we said at the beginning, this is going to be the most keenly contested competition of the whole weekend, and anyone of the bands on show here could gain a qualification place at the very least.

That said, we will have to put our necks on the line and make one of our scientifically proven predictions. If form is any guide then the likes of Pemberton Old Wigan, Poynton and United Norwest Co-op Milnrow should be looking forward most to the day. We will go with that, although we think both Mossley and Bollington should be bands to lookout. Moston and Beswick and Tyldesley should battle it out for the last top six place.

1. Pemberton Old Wigan
2. United Norwest Co-op Milnrow
3. VBS Poynton
4. Mossley
5. Bollington
6. Moston and Beswick

Dark Horse: Tyldesley

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