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2004 North of England Regional Championships

The Championship Section:
Sunday 21st March

Adjudicator: David Read
Test Piece: Tristan Encounters - Martin Ellerby

The very experienced David Read returns to the judges box here for the first time since 1994, and we think he may have a difficult task in separating out the bands if they all play to form in Tristan Encounters.

Whoever wins here though will have to start translating that local success into something more meaningful on the Nationals stage, as bands form the North East haven’t been covering themselves in too much glory of late. Last year the top two found themselves 12th and 14th in London, and that meant that only once since 1999 has a band gone on to claim a top ten place. You have to go back to 1997 for the last time a top six place was claimed – the only time in the last 16 years that it has been achieved. Some top level success at London is well overdue then.

The picture though isn’t as completely bleak as we may make out though. Both Ever Ready and the likes of EYMS and Fishburn have improved greatly over the last two years, and although only Ever Ready are at the Open, Fishburn just missed out on a trip Birmingham last year and EYMS came in the top ten as well at the Grand Shield. Perhaps the first signs are there of a real revival.

As for this contest though, Ever Ready – or Reg Vardy (Ever Ready) as they are now called will surely be favorites to take another title, but there will be plenty of contenders snapping at their heels. David Read may have a few hard decisions to make come Sunday evening.

Peter ParkesBHK (UK) Ltd. Horden
Conductor: Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking: 62

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners of First Section (prom) (Wilf Beddell)
2002: 7th
2001: 4th 2nd Section (prom)
2000: 4th 2nd Section
1999: 4th 2nd Section
1998: 9th 2nd Section
1997: 3rd 3rd Section (prom)
1996: 4th 3rd Section

What a fantastic year 2003 was for Horden. Just twelve months before they were on the brink of extinction, but they are now just a contest performance away from a place at the Royal Albert Hall.

That win at Dundee was a real catalyst for the band and they went on to claim the Mineworkers Championship late last year as well as coming 6th at Pontins under Peter Parkes. They started this year off in fine fashion with a win at the Durham County Contest, so confidence will be high and they will be looking to show that they will not be out of their depth here. With Peter Parkes to add even more experience, don’t bet against them ruffling more than a few feathers.

Broughton’s Brass
Conductor: J. Bell
4BR Ranking: 102

Last Year: 7th
Last Eight Years:

2003: 7th (K. Bolton)
2002: 4th
2001: Winners 1st Section
2000: 3rd 1st Section
1999: 5th 1st Section
1998: 6th 1st Section
1997: N/K
1996: N/K

Broughton’s came 7th here last year under the direction of Kevin Bolton, and they will be looking to improve on that this time around under the baton of J. Bell.

They have certainly started 2004 in the right way with a second place behind Fishburn at the Durham County Contest in February, so they will be confident of improving on last year’s performance and possibly repeating the 4th place of 2002.

Chester le Street Riverside
Conductor: Ian Robinson
4BR Ranking: 144

Last Eight Years:
2003: 9th (D. Hirst)
2002: 6th
2001: 4th
2000: 4th
1999: 4th
1998: 7th
1997: 4th
1996: 4th

Ian Robinson takes over the baton of Chester le Street Riverside, and the former MD at Fishburn will be looking to return the band formerly known as the Newcastle Brown Ale band, to the form that saw them come 4th five years out of six up to 2001.

Last year they could only manage 9th place under the baton of David Hirst, so they will need a decent result here to stave off the threat of possible relegation to the First Section.

Conductor: Graham Walker
4BR Ranking: 97

Last Eight Years:
2003: 4th (R. Grantham)
2002: 5th
2001: 5th
2000: Winners 1st Section
1999: 8th 1st Section
1998: Winners 1st Section
1997: Winners 2nd Section
1996: Winners 3rd Section

Cottingham and Richard Grantham really made their mark at this contest over the past few years, what with four titles and three quality performances in the Championship Section that brought them two fifths and a fourth place last year.

Graham Walker takes the baton this year, and he has a hard act to follow it seems. If they can produce the form that they showed last year when they pushed the top three very hard indeed then a podium place may not be beyond them.

Gareth PritchardEast Yorkshire Motor Services
Conductor: Gareth Pritchard
4BR Ranking: 41

Last Eight Years:
2003: 2nd (G. Pritchard)
2002: 2nd
2001: 2nd
2000: 3rd
1999: 2nd
1998: Winners
1997: Winners
1996: Winners

Gareth Pritchard will certainly be looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Martin Ellerby’s work, as he was the MD at Besses when it was used at the All England Masters in 1999 and he claimed 7th place (including a 3rd from one of the judges).

EYMS has a super record here to maintain, and has only once failed to qualify for the Finals since 1996. Last year they went on come 14th at London, although they were 9th at the Grand Shield. If they play to form they should qualify again, although they will be looking to claim a fourth title here for sure and not to make it four consecutive runners up spots.

Ray Farr(Reg Vardy) Ever Ready
Conductor: Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 14

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners (R. Gray)
2002: Winners
2001: 3rd
2000: Winners
1999: Winners
1998: 3rd
1997: 2nd
1996: 6th

The name of Ever Ready has been synonymous with success at this contest over the years, and although the band has now gained valuable sponsorship from the car dealers Reg Vardy they will be looking to add their names to the winners list for the 27th time.

They are certainly moving up towards the top tier of Championship banding as well, with them coming 8th at the Open to go with 12th at the Nationals, and also claiming 3rd place at Spennymoor, 15th at the Masters and 4th at the Mineworkers Championships. They are close to really making a mark, and could be a band to watch out for in 2004. Ray Farr takes over from Russell Gary at the helm, and he will be looking to secure his name on the winner’s board here for the first time.

Graham O’ConnorFishburn
Conductor: Graham O’Connor
4BR Ranking: 28

Last Eight Years:
2003: 3rd (G. O’Connor)
2002: 3rd
2001: Winners
2000: 2nd
1999: 3rd
1998: 5th
1997: 3rd
1996: 8th

Fishburn has just missed out on a trip to London in the past two years, but after a fine win at the Durham County Contest in February they will be looking to extend that form here and claim a trip down south to Kensington for the first time since 2001.

Graham O’Connor is the experienced man at the helm, and last year under him they just missed out on a British Open place when they came 4th at the Grand Shield and went on to claim 3rd place at Pontins. With 2004 starting off with a win, and with plenty of fine talent around the stands, they could be the band to look out for this year.

Gateshead Brass
Conductor: Derek Broadbent
4BR Ranking: Not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 8th (J. Roberts)
2002: Winners 1st Section
2001: 6th (rel)
2000: 10th
1999: 8th
1998: 4th
1997: N/K
1996: 3rd

Derek Broadbent takes over the conducting duties at Gateshead from John Roberts for the tilt at the title here this year. Last time out they could only manage 8th place so they may need a decent result to ensure they are not drawn into any relegation battle. To be fair though, that was a pretty good result on their first outing in the top section after gaining promotion as winners from the First Section in 2002.

Late last year they came 15th at Pontins under Derek, but started the year off in decent style when they came runners up to BHK Horden at the Durham County Contest.

David LancasterHarrogate
Conductor: David Lancaster
4BR Ranking: 112

Last Eight Years:
2003: 6th (D. Lancaster)
2002: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
2001: Winners 1st Section
2000: Winners 2nd Section
1999: N/K
1998: 3rd 2nd Section
1997: 4th 3rd Section (prom)
1996: 2nd 3rd Section

David Lancaster and his band have been making excellent upwardly mobile progress now for close on ten years, and last year’s 6th place at the contest was an excellent achievement.

They started the year off at the Brass at the Guild Hall Contest in Preston where they came 12th against a strong field of bands, so they will be looking to improve on that form here to better last year’s result. It may be a hard task though.

Nestle Rowntree
Conductor: Chris Hirst
4BR Ranking: Not in top 150

Last Seven Years:
2003: 5th (W. Rushworth)
2002: 8th
2001: 4th 1st Section (prom)
2000: 4th 1st Section
1999: 2nd 1st Section
1998: Winners 2nd Section
1997: N/K
1996: 4th 2nd Section

Nestle will be hoping to improve on last year’s excellent result when under the direction of William Rushworth they gained 5th place. That partnership has now ended, so the new team under the baton of Chris Hirst will be trying to ensure that they can maintain their good form here of late and press for another top six place.

No real recent form as a guide for us, so we will have to wait and see how they do.

Westoe (STHCT)
Conductor: TBA
4BR Ranking: Not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 5th in First Section (prom) (J. Smith)
2002: 3rd
2001: Winners 2nd Section (prom)
2000: 2nd 2nd Section
1999: 3rd 3rd Section (prom)
1998: Winners 4th Section
1997: N/K
1996: N/K

Westoe South Tyneside Health Care Trust, to give the band its full name make the leap up to the Championship Section after two years in the First when they didn’t qualify for the Lower Section National Finals, but had good enough results to top the grading tables.

They will be faced with a very difficult test on their debut though and with no news as yet to us as to who is at the helm, (J. Smith took them when they came 9th at the Mineworkers First Section) they are a bit of a mystery. We hope they won’t find the experience too daunting come Sunday.

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

Past Qualifiers:

2003: Ever Ready, EYMS
2002: Ever Ready, EYMS
2001: Fishburn, EYMS
2000: Ever Ready, Fishburn
1999: Ever Ready, EYMS
1998: EYMS, British Steel Teeside
1997: EYMS, Ever Ready
1996: EYMS, British Steel Teeside
1995: Fishburn, Ever Ready
1994: Ever Ready, British Steel Teeside
1993: Ever Ready, Fishburn
1992: Fishburn, Ever Ready
1991: Ever Ready, North Skelton
1990: Ever Ready, North Skelton
1989: Ever Ready, Coal Products (CPL)

*Pre Qualified

How North of England bands did in London:

2003: 12th, 14th
2002: 9th, 20th
2001: 14th, 18th
2000: 13th, 19th
1999: 15th, 19th
1998: 10th, 17th
1997: 5th, 13th
1996: 8th, 19th
1995: 16th, 19th
1994: 16th, 18th
1993: 17th, 20th
1992: 15th, 16th
1991: 8th, 20th
1990: 14th, 23rd
1989: 17th, 20th
Last Years Result:

4BR Prediction:

Even though the usual suspects should be battling it out for the prizes come Sunday night, the contest may spring one or two surprises.

(Reg Vardy) Ever Ready should have enough class and nous about them to claim a 27th first prize – they have some super players around the stand, and under Ray Farr they are starting to perform to a very high level indeed, whilst the scrap for the second qualification place could well be the highlight of the day.

Both Fishburn and EYMS are more than capable of winning the contest, but on this occasion we think it will be second place they will have to be content with. It will be hard to separate them though, but Fishburn seem to be a band on the up under the wily old Graham O’Connor, and we see them booking their place at London. EYMS will push them to the limit, but behind them it could be an open field for any of the rest of the bands to claim a top six place.

If Horden play to their recent form then we think they should claim fourth spot, with Cottingham and Nestle making up the top six. Our dark horses for this one will be Broughton’s.

1. (Reg Vardy) Ever Ready
2. Fishburn
4. BHK (UK) Ltd Horden
5. Cottingham
6. Nestle Rowntree

Dark Horse: Broughton’s Brass

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