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2004 London and Southern Counties Regional Championships

The Championship Section:
Sunday 21st March – after conclusion of Section 3

Adjudicator: Roy Roe
Test Piece: Tristan Encounters - Martin Ellerby

The brass band movement in the UK desperately needs strong and consistent top section bands from the London Region, but it seems, year after year the qualifiers from Stevenage fail to live up to expectations.

It is not to say the bands here are poor quality though – on their day the likes of Aveley and Newham, Redbridge and latterly Alliance Brass can more than hold their own, but they don’t seem to able to bridge the gap between being “journeymen” at the National contesting level and that of true contenders.

There has been no band from the region at the British Open for a number of years, whilst the last time one of the qualifiers here came in the top six at the National Finals was 1989. In 27 performances since then, only in 2000 did both bands get into the top 10. The All England Masters has seen better returns in the last few years, but even the so called “second tier” of national contests such as the Grand Shield, Senior Cup and Trophy, Pontins and Yeovil has not seen consistent prize winning performances from the bands here this weekend.

The reasons for this may vary, but the statistics do not lie. The overall standard of top section banding in the Region is perhaps the weakest in the whole country. There are 12 bands for Roy Roe to judge this weekend, and the contest may divide itself into two main parts – the usual names will be looking to book their hotel rooms for Kensington, whilst the rest will be hoping to hold their own on a very stern test piece.

The top three or so bands challenging for the title should more than be capable of putting in quality performances, but after that we think Roy Roe may be left with a difficult job of sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

John ClarkAlliance Brass
Conductor: John Clark
4BR Ranking: 100

Last Eight Years:
2003: 2nd (P. Parkes)
2002: 5th
2001: Winners 1st Section

Alliance Brass surprised many last year with the quality of their performance in gaining the runners up spot and claiming the second qualification place for the Finals. With a core though of talented professional musicians in the ranks they should do very well again this year, and they showed in London, where they came 19th that if they contested more often they could well be a band to look out for nationally.

John Clark is an experienced MD and if they have had the rehearsal time then they should feature in the top three at least – and possibly even take the title. Lets hope they don’t get too carried away with the celebrations this year though.

Nigel TakenAveley and Newham
Conductor: Nigel Taken
4BR Ranking: 31

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

2004 is a very important year for Aveley after the disappointments of 2003 when they failed to both qualify for the National Finals and fell away to 16th place at the Grand Shield. The Masters saw a fine show though to come 10th, so as we have said – on their day they can more than hold their own at the top level. However, those days were few and far between last year.

2004 started very well with an excellent performance at the Yeovil contest where they came runners up to Flowers. If they can retain that level of consistency then they should be able to put the failures of 2003 behind them and look forward to booking their sixth appearance in the past eight years at the Albert Hall.

Bedford Town
Conductor: G. Bennett
4BR Ranking: not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 9th (G. Bennett)
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 put in a consistent performance here last year to come 9th for the second year in a row. In the three years since coming up from the First Section they have just hovered around the top six, making sure they do enough not to be drawn into a relegation battle - so we think more of the same may be on the cards this time.

Peter BassanoCity of Oxford
Conductor: Peter Bassano
4BR Ranking: 136

Last Eight Years:
2003: 8th (J. Glynn)
2002: 3rd
2001: 3rd
2000: 3rd
1999: 5th
1998: 2nd
1997: Winners 1st Section (prom)
1996: 11th (rel)

City of Oxford would have been desperately disappointed with last year’s result here when they dropped from coming 3rd for the three years prior, to coming 8th on “Prague”. They will be keen therefore to reverse that result and challenge once more for a qualification place.

They went from the contest last year to come 9th at the Senior Trophy contest in Blackpool, so they can hold their own in quality fields. This year Peter Bassano takes the helm. A top six place is well within their grasp at least.

K. MaxwellFriary Guildford Brass
Conductor: K. Maxwell
4BR Ranking: not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners of First Section (prom) (K. Maxwell)
2002: 5th
2001: 13th
2000: 5th
1999: 10th Championship (rel)
1998: 9th Championship (rel)
1997: 5th Championship
1996: 5th Championship

After four years away from the Championship Section, Friary Guildford Brass and Keith Maxwell return to the top level after winning the First Section here last year by two clear points.

That led the band to the Lower Section National Finals in Dundee where they came back with 15th place, so they will need to up their form if they are to make a serious mark here on their return.

Ipswich and Norwich Co-op
Conductor: S. Kenna
4BR Ranking: not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 3rd in First Section (prom) (S. Kenna)
2002: 11th
2001: 5th
2000: 4th
1999: 9th
1998: 9th
1997: 2nd
1996: 10th Championship (rel)

Ipswich return to the Championship Section for the first time since 1996, and after seven years away, they come back to face a very hard test piece in the shape of “Tristan Encounters”. They last competed at the SCABA contest in October where they came 4th in the First Section.

The step up to the Championships Section is a large one, and they could do well to take a few scalps on their return.

Kidlington Concert Brass
Conductor: Catherine Underwood
4BR Ranking: 147

Last Eight Years:
2003: 6th (C. Underwood)
2002: 7th
2001: 2nd
2000: 9th
1999: 4th
1998: 6th
1997: 6th
1996: 7th

One of the most consistent bands at the London Regional Championships, Kidlington put in solid performances under Catherine Underwood, that more than hold their own against the opposition here.

They last qualified for the Finals in 2001, but since then they have hovered around the top six without possibly suggesting they may be due a return to the Albert Hall. They recently came 12th at the Yeovil contest, so they will be looking to improve on that form here and push for a possible podium finish.

KM Medway
Conductor: G. Wilson
4BR Ranking: not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 4th in First Section (prom) (G. Wilson)
2002: 9th
2001: 3rd
2000: DNC
1999: 8th Championship (rel)
1998: 5th Championship
1997: N/K
1996: 3rd Championship

KM Medway return to the Championship Section for the first time since 1999, after they secured their promotion with 4th place in the First Section here last year.

They too will face a very stiff test on their return, but they have the experienced Graham Wilson at the helm to guide them through some very treacherous contesting waters. They did come 3rd against bands here at the Autumn SCABA contest in Folkestone in October.

Melvin WhiteRedbridge Brass
Conductor: Melvin White
4BR Ranking: 40

Last Eight Years:
2003: Winners (M. White)
2002: Winners
2001: 4th
2000: 6th
1999: 2nd
1998: 3rd
1997: Winners
1996: Winners

Redbridge and Melvin White are going for a hat trick of wins here this year, and if they play to form they could very well do it. Last year was another 12 months of solid progress for the band, and they left Stevenage to come 4th at the Senior Cup and qualify for the Grand Shield, and put in a quality account of themselves at Cambridge where they came 13th.

London saw them come 15th with another solid performance, whilst they started the year at Yeovil in slightly disappointing fashion where they could only come 11th. On their day though they can really shine, and with the wily qualifying skills of Melvin White at the helm, they should be confident of at least making it back to Kensington again.

Regent Brass
Conductor: R. Ward
4BR Ranking: not in top 150

Last Eight Years:
2003: 5th (G. Wyatt)
2002: 10th
2001: 6th
2000: 8th
1999: 2nd 1st Section (prom)
1998: 2nd 1st Section
1997: N/K
1996: 12th

A fine result last year for Regent Brass when they came 5th under the baton of G. Wyatt. That was their best result here since winning the title here in 1994 under Paul Fensom.

A repeat of that result would certainly be most welcome, although a top six place should be well within their capabilities. They came 5th at the SCABA Autumn contest late last year.

Melvin WhiteSoham Comrades
Conductor: P. Filby
4BR Ranking:124

Last Eight Years:
2003: 4th (P. Filby)
2002: 4th
2001: 7th
2000: 5th
1999: 7th
1998: 3rd 1st Section (prom)
1997: 6th 1st Section
1996: 5th 1st Section

The Comrades will be making the trip this year desperately keen to improve on the past two years when they have put in two real performances of merit to finish just outside the top three.

Last year they went on to come 12th at the Senior Trophy, so they are another band who can more than hold their own nationally if given the chance. They have the quality to at least maintain their fine record year we think. They came 4th at the SCABA Autumn contest late last year.

Welwyn Garden City
Conductor: D. Jones
4BR Ranking: 121

Last Eight Years:
2003: 7th (D. Stokes)
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 Garden City did very well last year to come 7th on “Prague” and more than hold their on their debut in the Championship Section.

D. Jones takes over from David Stokes for this years assault on “Tristan” and he will have certainly earned his corn if he can get a repeat or better than a twelve month ago this time around. They did come second to Aveley at the SCABA Autumn contest late last year.

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

Past Qualifiers:

2003: Redbridge Brass, Alliance Brass
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 & SC bands did at the Finals:

2003: 15th, 19th
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

4BR Prediction:

Last year’s top three should be this year’s top three for us – although perhaps not quite in the same order.

Of the trio of Redbridge, Alliance and Aveley we think the latter will return to the top of the London tree this year. They sounded a quality outfit in Yeovil, and if they can rid themselves of a lack of consistency at times they should have enough quality around the stands to regain their title.

The second spot we think may just go to Redbridge as they may have had the opportunity to out in more rehearsal time on the test piece than Alliance – and on this piece, quality rehearsal time is at a premium. Alliance may have to be content with third place this year, but with some real classy players in prime positions within the band, they could well do enough to snatch a qualification place or even victory. It will be very close between all three bands though.
After that though and it becomes a bit more open. City of Oxford and Soham should be up in the prize list once more and Kidlington should make it to the top six as well. Our dark horses are Friary Guildford.

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

Dark Horse: Friary Guildford

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