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2004 North West Regional Championships

Second Section:
14th March

Test Piece: Kaleidoscope – Philip Sparke
Adjudicator: Alan Hope

The Second Section can be something of a mystery zone at many a Regional contest – full of maybe, wannabe bands perhaps, or full of up and coming progressive outfits who are desperate to make that last step to the First Section and possibly the Championship. The North West is a case in point, with plenty of good decent bands, some who are on the up, some who have been treading water for a while, and others on the downward slope. It certainly makes for an interesting contest both for the listener, and for the shrewd adjudicator, Alan Hope.

Last year the North West sent Bollington and Manx Concert Brass to Dundee, and although they didn’t come back as Champions, both bands played very well – Bollington coming runners up off the number 1 draw, and Manx Concert ending up in 8th place.

Over the years the North West has a pretty good record at the National Finals, with Oldham Brass, Ashton Under Lyne and Marple all being declared Champions.

Who will get the nod this year could be anyone’s guess – a stern test will push the bands and MD’s to the full, so we think the best bands should find reward. But contesting as it is – that could be way out.

Blackpool Brass
Conductor: S. Simpson

Last Eight Years:
2003: 6th in Third Section (prom) (S. Simpson)
2002: 5th
2001: 13th 2nd Section (rel)
2000: 14th 2nd Section
1999: 8th 2nd Section
1998: 11th 2nd Section
1997: 11th 2nd Section
1996: 8th 2nd Section

The local band are back in the Second Section for the first time since 2001 when they were relegated after coming 13th here. Since then they have had two decent results in the Third Section, but coming 5th and 6th is not quite the same as moving up on the crest of a win or qualification place. Still, Blackpool are here and they showed their intent to do well when they came third at the recent Preston Guild Hall contest.

Conductor: P. Goodwin

Last Eight Years:
2003: 3rd (P. Goodwin)
2002: 10th
2001: 9th
2000: 9th
1999: 3rd 3rd Section (prom)
1998: 6th 3rd Section
1997: 10th 2nd Section (rel)
1996: 9th 2nd Section

Delph were a little unlucky last year to miss out on a trip to Dundee, when they came third here under the baton of Black Dyke’s tuba player Phil Godwin. Late last year the band came 17th at Pontins. They will be looking to go at least one better here this time around and gain a trip to Harrogate.

N. Law Diggle
Conductor: N. Law

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners of Third Section (prom) (N. Law)
2002: 9th
2001: 4th
2000: Winners 4th Section (prom)
1999: DNC
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: DNC

Norman Law returns to Diggle to spearhead their attempt at winning the Second Section title here this year. Alan Lawton led the band after they won the Third Section last year to the Finals at Dundee where they were triumphant. The band has been moving up the ranks very quickly, so is this a step too far, and will they have to make do with a solid performance and a possible top six place at best?

Conductor: S. Rodgers

Last Eight Years:
2003: Joint 8th (C. Andrews)
2002: 7th
2001: 9th 1st Section (rel)
2000: 8th 1st Section
1999: 4th (prom)
1998: 5th
1997: 5th
1996: 3rd 3rd Section (prom)

Eagley will need a good result here this year to stop a run of form which has seen them fall away each year from 2000. Chris Andrews has left and the new man, S. Rodgers will have his work cut out to stop the decline. We don’t know what form they have brought with them to the contest, so we will have to wait and see.

Conductor: P. Lockett

Last Eight Years:
2003: 10th (E. Campbell)
2002: DNC
2001: DNC
2000: 6th 1st Section (rel)
1999: 9th 1st Section
1998: 2nd (prom)
1997: 4th
1996: 9th 1st Section (rel)

Flixton are also in need of a decent result here to ensure that they are not dragged into a relegation fight. They were 10th last year under the baton of Ewan Campbell, the first time they were back here for two years, so they will be hopeful of improving on that showing.

Conductor: J. Ludden

Last Eight Years:
2003: 7th in Third Section (prom) (H. Bousfield)
2002: 4th
2001: 10th 2nd Section (rel)
2000: 12th 2nd Section
1999: 14th 2nd Section
1998: 9th 1st Section (rel)
1997: 9th 1st Section
1996: 8th 1st Section

Howard Bousfield led to the band to 7th place last year in the Third Section, and strangely that was enough for them to gain promotion. It may therefore be difficult for them to make a mark at the higher level at the first tie of asking, but Greenhall’s have been here before, so we think they could manage it. The band came 14th at Pontins late last year, but new MD john Ludden will be looking to show that they start the new contesting year off well here.

Haslingden and Helmshore
Conductor: D. Holland

Last Eight Years:
2003: 5th (D. Holland)
2002: 3rd
2001: 5th 3rd Section (prom)
2000: 3rd 3rd Section
1999: 6th 4th Section (prom)
1998: 2nd 4th Section
1997: 9th 4th Section
1996: DNC

David Holland and has band just dropped away a little last year when they came 5th here. After coming 3rd the year before that would have been a bit of a disappointment, but they will be confident of doing well her this time once more. The band came 11th at Pontins late last year and warmed up for this contest by coming 6th at the recent Preston Guild Hall contest.

Hawk Green (Marple)
Conductor: J. Richardson

Last Eight Years:
2003: 13th in First Section (rel) (J. Richardson)
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 had a bit of a yo-yo feeling when it comes to the results here in the last few years. They gained promotion from the Second Section for the second time in four years in 2001, but after gaining 10th and then 13th place last year they return back. John Richardson is the man at the helm, and he recently led them to 8th place at the Preston Guild Hall contest.

Manx Concert Brass
Conductor: I. Clague MBE

Last Eight Years:
2003: 2nd (I. Clague MBE)
2002: 9th
2001: Winners 3rd Section (prom)
2000: 4th 3rd Section
1999: Winners 3rd Section
1998: 16th 3rd Section
1997: 3rd 3rd Section
1996: Winners 4th Section

Manx will make their annual trip across the Irish Sea from the Isle of Man, and it is a trip they have certainly enjoyed in recent years. They have won the Fourth Section in 1996 and the Third twice in 1999 and 201 whilst last year they came runners up here and had to make the even further trip to Dundee. There they came 8th but showed more than enough to give them confidence here again.

Old Hall Brass
Conductor: N. Parkinson

Last Eight Years:
2003: Joint 8th (N. Parkinson)
2002: 5th
2001: 8th
2000: Winners 3rd Section (prom)
1999: Winners 4th Section (prom)
1998: 8th 4th Section
1997: Winners 4th Section
1996: DNC

Old Hall have more than held their own here since being promoted from the Third Section in 2000. Two 8th places and a 5th have been their reward, so they will be determined to improve on that this time out.

They showed what for they may be bringing to the contest at the Preston Guild Hall contest where they came 7th a few weeks ago.

Silk Brass AstraZeneca (Macclesfield)
Conductor: K. Mackintosh

Last Eight Years:
2003: 10th (K. Mackintosh)
2002: 2nd 3rd Section (prom)
2001: 3rd 3rd Section
2000: 10th 3rd Section
1999: 6th 3rd Section
1998: 9th 3rd Section
1997: DNC
1996: DNC

Silk Brass held their own here last year when they came 10th under the direction of Ken Mackintosh. That was a solid performance, but they will be hoping to possibly challenge for a top six place at least this time around. They showed good form towards the end of the year when they came 3rd at Pontins, so they will be looking to maintain that form here as well.

Skelmersdale Prize
Conductor: C. Dickinson

Last Year: 7th
Last Eight Years:
2003: 7th (I. Bateson)
2002: 8th
2001: 6th
2000: 2nd 3rd Section (prom)
1999: 4th 3rd Section
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: 6th

Skelmersdale will be looking to make that step up here this year to take them into the top six and possibly into a qualification place. They have been around the top six places in the last three years, so hopes will be high that they can do it. What form they bring to the contest, we don’t know, but with a new MD this year they will be well worth listening out for.

Wire Brass
Conductor: P. Andrews

Last Year: 6th
Last Eight Years:
2003: 6th (P. Andrews)
2002: Winners 3rd Section (prom)

Wire should be one of the favourites for the title here this year after coming 6th last year and following that up with runners up spot at Pontins and just a few weeks ago winning the Preston contest in fine style. Paul Andrews seems to have created a band here that can win wherever they go, and they will be very confident of adding the title here to their ever bulging list of triumphs.

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

Past Qualifiers:

2003: Bollington, Manx Concert Brass
2002: Moston and Beswick, Lancashire Life Morecambe
2001: Dobcross Youth, Poulton le Fylde
2000: Oldham Brass, Pemberton Old Wigan
1999: United Norwest Co-op Milnrow, Oldham Brass ‘97
1998: Ashton Under Lyne, Flixton
1997: Haydock Travel, Tyldesley
1996: Berisford Cardway, Mossley
1995: United Co-op Crewe, Moston and Beswick

North West bands at the Finals:

2003: 2nd, 8th
2002: 4th, 6th
2001: 7th, 13th
2000: 1st, 5th
1999: 2nd, 9th
1998: 1st, 11th

4BR Prediction:

As we said – this could be anyone’s contest come results time, but there are one or two bands that may just fancy their chances more than their rivals. Recent form from the Preston Contest may be a good guide, and if that’s the case Wire Brass should be the band to beat. Manx are the other band we think will continue their recent good form here, whilst they could be pushed all the way by Diggle and Delph. Blackpool should be in with a good shout whilst the top six could be completed by Haslingden and Helmshore. Our dark horses are Silk Brass.

1. Wire Brass
2. Manx Concert Brass
3. Diggle
4. Delph
5. Blackpool
6. Haslingden and Helmshore

Dark Horses: Silk Brass

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