2005 Regionals: North of England - Preview: Championship Section


Darlington kicks off the Regional season, and the top bands here line up to see if they can master Wagner and Rienzi to gain a trip to London. There is an extra third place up for grabs this time, so it should make it a real dog fight.

Date: Sunday 27th February
Adjudicator: Geoffrey Whitham
Test Piece: Overture to Rienzi - Wagner
Commences: 16.15
Draw: 15.00

Who can stop Reg Vardy?  That's the question here in Darlington as the performers formally known as Ever Ready try for a 28th North of England title. Can any of the other nine bands stop them?

John DurrantBarrow Shipyard
J. Durrant
4BR Ranking: Outside top 200

Last Year: 2nd in First Section (promoted)

Last Nine Years:
2004: 2nd in First Section (prom) (J. Durrant)
2003: 2nd (J. Durrant)
2002: 4th  (D. Broadbent)
2001: 8th (B. Maginn)
2000: 7th Championship (rel) (B. Maginn)
1999: 10th Championship
1998: 6th Championship
1997: 2nd (prom)
1996: 3rd

Barrow have one of those records here at the Regional Championships that suggests that they are either too good for the First Section, or not good enough for the Championship. That may be a little unfair as under John Durrant they have been making solid and lasting progress in recent years and will be looking to make something of an impression here this year.

Their best in recent times has been 6th place in the Championship in 1998, but if they play to form they could beat that this year.   

Peter ParkesBHK (UK) Ltd. Horden
Major Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking: 67 

Last Year: 4th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 4th (P. Parkes)
2003: Winners of First Section (prom) (W. Beddell)
2002: 7th (W. Beddell)
2001: 4th 2nd Section (prom) (W. Beddell)
2000: 4th 2nd Section (W. Beddell)
1999: 4th 2nd Section
1998: 9th 2nd Section
1997: 3rd 3rd Section (prom)
1996: 4th 3rd Section

The upward rise of BHK  (UK) Ltd. Horden continues and last year they certainly showed that they were more than able to make a mark at the highest level when they put in a fine show under the experienced Major Peter Parkes to come 4th.

They will therefore by looking to at least equal that this time around, and possibly go even better. The gap between the top three bands and the rest may be a little difficult to bridge, but don't bet against them doing it.  

Brian GrantBroughton's Brass
Brian Grant
4BR Ranking: 124

Last Year: 9th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 9th (J. Bell)
2003: 7th (K. Bolton)
2002: 4th (B. Grant)
2001: 2nd 1st Section (C. Bentham)
2000: 3rd 1st Section (B. Holden)
1999: 5th 1st Section
1998: 6th 1st Section
1997: N/K
1996: N/K

Broughton's have held their own in the last few years here, although 12 months ago they slumped a little to come 9th under John Bell. They will be looking for a better return this time then.

That has meant a return to the rostrum for the experienced Brian Grant who knows a thing or two about getting bands through to the Finals and last took the band here in 2002 when they came 4th. They will be looking for that combination to work once more then and a rostrum place may be the least of their ambitions. 

Ian RobinsonChester le Street Riverside
Ian Robinson
4BR Ranking: 110

Last Year: 5th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 5th (I. Robinson)
2003: 9th (D. Hirst)
2002: 6th (R. Evans)
2001: 4th (A. Swainson)
2000: 4th (R. Payne)
1999: 4th
1998: 7th
1997: 4th
1996: 4th

The band that formally wore the colours of their  famous sponsor Newcastle Brown Ale have been consistent performers here over the years, and apart from a lowly 9th place in 2003 they have always been up and around the podium places come results time.

Last year they did so again, with a 5th place under the baton of the very talented Ian Robinson, and that partnership with the former MD of the Fishburn Band will continue this year once more. Can they better the 4th places of 1999 2001? They will be confident of doing so.  

Graham Walker
4BR Ranking: 109

Last Year: 8th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 8th (G. Walker)
2003: 4th (R. Grantham)
2002: 5th (R. Grantham)
2001: 5th (R. Grantham)
2000: Winners 1st Section (R. Grantham)
1999: 8th 1st Section
1998: Winners 1st Section
1997: Winners 2nd Section
1996: Winners 3rd Section

Cottingham will once again take to the stage under the baton of Graham Walker, and although they didn't really shine 12 months ago, they will be confident of once more pushing for a podium place and a possible ticket to the Albert Hall.

Since winning the First Section in 2000 they have made real and significant progress in the Championship Section, and if they play to the top of their form they could well be booking hotel rooms in Kensington for October. 

Gareth PritchardEast Yorkshire Motor Services
Conductor: Gareth Pritchard
4BR Ranking: 47

Last Year: 2nd

Last Nine Years:
2004: 2nd (G. Pritchard)
2003: 2nd (G. Pritchard)
2002: 2nd (G. Pritchard)
2001: 2nd (A. Morrison)
2000: 3rd (G. O'Connor)
1999: 2nd
1998: Winners
1997: Winners
1996: Winners

What a fine record for one of the most hard working bands in the land, but what would they give to gain a victory here under Gareth Pritchard. For the past four years they have been the bridesmaid and not the bride, and although on a few of those occasions they were more than a few steps behind the winners, they have also been a very close to taking the victors bouquet on at least a couple of occasions.

Can they do it this time? We will have to wait and see but another trip to London should be more than within their grasp once more.  

Ian McElligottFishburn
Ian McElligott
4BR Ranking: 30

Last Year: 3rd 

Last Nine Years:
2004: 3rd (G. O'Connor)
2003: 3rd (G. O'Connor)
2002: 3rd (G. O'Connor)
2001: Winners (I. Robinson)
2000: 2nd (I. Robinson)
1999: 3rd
1998: 5th
1997: 3rd
1996: 8th

Another fine record of achievement here, but because over the years the bands who have made the trip from the North down to London haven't made a mark, coming third hasn't been a means of nicking a ride as well.

This time of course they could come third and make it, but you get the feeling that they are more determined than ever to do it on their own steam, and if they play to the top of their form they could well obtain their first winners pennant since 2001. London here we come but as Champions? 

David LancasterHarrogate
David Lancaster
4BR Ranking: 111

Last Year: 6th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 6th (D. Lancaster)
2003: 6th (D. Lancaster)
2002: 2nd 1st Section (prom) (D. Lancaster)
2001: Winners 1st Section (D. Lancaster)
2000: Winners 2nd Section (D. Lancaster)
1999: N/K
1998: 3rd 2nd Section
1997: 4th 3rd Section (prom)
1996: 2nd 3rd Section

Another band who will surely be looking to make the breakthrough here this year and gain one of the three qualification places on offer and book a place at the Royal Albert Hall.

David Lancaster continues to improve his band realistically and with an eye for the long term, and given that in the last two years here they have made it into the top six, that will be the least of their ambitions this time. Can they go a few places higher though and get that all important qualification place?

Ray FarrReg Vardy
Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 12

Last Year: Winners

Last Nine Years:
2004: Winners (R. Farr)
2003: Winners (R. Gray)
2002: Winners (N. Childs)
2001: 3rd (B. Grant)
2000: Winners (N. Childs)
1999: Winners
1998: 3rd
1997: 2nd
1996: 6th

Can there be a shorter priced favourite to win a Regional title this year than the band who now sport their third new name here? 27 times they have won the Regional title, and this year they are of odds on to make it number 28. (the most any band in the country would have won an Area title)

Given their form of late you can't really bet against them, but they have come undone in the past although because they have already pre qualified they should be suitably relaxed. If they play like they have done in the past year then number 28 should be in the bag.  

John HudsonShepherd Building Group Band
J. Hudson
4BR Ranking: 158

Last Year: 7th

Last Nine Years:
2004: 7th (C. Hirst)
2003: 5th (W. Rushworth)
2002: 8th (W. Rushworth)
2001: 4th 1st Section (prom) (W. Rushworth)
2000: 4th 1st Section (C. Hirst)
1999: 2nd 1st Section
1998: Winners 2nd Section
1997: N/K
1996: 4th 2nd Section

The band that were once sponsored by a chocolate maker (Nestles) are now sponsored by a money maker in the form of the Shepherd Building Society and they will be looking for a decent return here this year.

John Hudson takes the helm (the third MD in as many years) but it should signal a strong assault on the podium and qualification places. They have come a long way since winning the Second Section title here in 1998, but they would love to go a long way further come results time. London perhaps? 

Past Qualifiers:

2004: Ever Ready, EYMS
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:

2004: 3rd, 20th 
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

4BR Prediction:

Can't really look farther than a top three of Reg Vardy, Fishburn and EYMS although it may not be quite in that order.

Reg Vardy are a class above the rest on paper at least and after the fine achievements of last year will surely be looking to stamp their authority here. We can't really see the being beaten if they play to form, but both Fishburn and EYMS are very good bands on their day and any scent of weakness could very well be exploited. Not this time though we think.

It shuld mean that the qualification places go to the best bands here, but do not discount the likes of Harrogate and Broughtons as well as the other contenders. If there are any slips for the top three one of more of these could well find themselves in the frame and saving for a trip down south.

That said, we think it could well be Harrogate who fill fourth spot, with Broughtons just behind and Barrow making up the top six. Shepherd Building Group are our dark horses.  

1. Reg Vardy*
2. Fishburn
4. Harrogate
5. Broughtons
6. Barow Shipyard

Dark Horse: Shepherd Building Group

* Reg Vardy has already pre-qualified for the Finals. Therefore two additional bands will qualify for the Finals with them. 


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