2005 Regionals: Yorkshire - Introduction


Yorkshire can claim to be the heartland of the British Brass Band movement - but is it? The Championship Section should be a corker, but are things as healthy in the other sections?

Yorkshire has a proud boast that it is the very heartland of the brass band movement, and although there may be people from over the Pennines who disagree with that, at the top level, if you look at the last ten years results from the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall, Yorkshire can claim that the facts support their argument to a point.

Since 1993, a Yorkshire band has won the National title on no less than 6 occasions, whilst they can also boast 5 runners up and 4 third places. However, those 6 wins have been shared by just two bands, Black Dyke with 4 victories and Brighouse with a brace and you have to go back to 1992 and Grimethorpe to find a third Yorkshire name gracing the old trophy - whilst further back to 1978 and Yorkshire Imps, to find a fourth.

The Area is undoubtedly exceptionally strong, but that strength isn't always a guarantee of Albert Hall success for the qualifiers here. Still they do take some beating. Last year at the Albert Hall the three qualifiers came 1st, 2nd and 14th pretty good indeed, and it means that four bands will be present in Kensington come October.

15 bands is 5 too many for us and it also can lead to the odd result. It also means that the standard at times isn't as high as the good Yorkshire folk may lead you to believe either. There are undoubtedly some brilliant bands here, but there are also some mediocre ones as well. It should still make for one heck of a contest though and the organisers have taken the failsafe option of employing two adjudicators this year to possibly ensure that the best bands make it through. Nothing especially in Yorkshire though, is certain, so look out for a possible surprise or two come Sunday evening.

The First Section will provide the audience at St. George's Hall with one of the most intriguing contests of the whole weekend, as there is no real outstanding band here that will come to Bradford as out and out favourites.

As with the Championship Section, this one has too many bands competing here the standard over the past couple of years hasn't been as good as many would have you believe. However, when the bands do qualify they do tend to put in decent accounts come the Finals, and last year the qualifiers, Hatfield and Drighlington came 5th and 7th at Harrogate. Since 1998 Yorkshire has produced two eventual National Champions, so the omens may be good.

Yorkshire though has a very good record of producing bands that have gone on and actually won the National title in the Second Section, and last year, the two representatives came runners up and sixth. Hatfield won in 2003 and prior to that Hade Edge won in 2002, Holme won in 1999 and there has also been Chapletown in 1994. In fact since 1998, at least one of the two qualifiers has come in the top four, so whoever gets through this time will travel to Harrogate with high hopes of doing well.

In the Third Section there are lots of good solid bands on display from Armthorpe right through to Slaithwaite, so picking a winner will be a difficult task for both Stan Lippeatt and Derek Broadbent as well as 4BR! An exceptionally difficult test piece will be a stern test indeed, and the standard may suffer because of it no fault of the bands, as it is just too difficult for nearly everyone at this level.
It could well come down to a close fight between three or four bands with the talent to go with their ambitions and those who have mastered the basics required in a test piece that will stretch the bands to the full. Should be well worth taking the time listening to then.

The Third Section has over the past 10 years been a breeding ground for bands that have had high ambitions and plenty of talent to go all the way. Past winners here have included four bands that have gone onto the Championship Section Skelmanthorpe, Rothwell, Todmorden and Marsden, so could the 2005 winner be plotting the same path we wonder.

Not to brilliant a record for the qualifiers though when it comes to the finals of late, with Skelmanthorpe the last National winners way back in 1993, and before that Drighlington in 1987. Old Silkstone got 3rd in 1999 and Horbury Victoria came runners up in 2001, but other than that bands for Yorkshire have failed to make a mark come the finals and last years representatives could only manage 13th and 18th. 

Nice to report that there is a substantial increase in the entries for the Fourth Section with 13 bands making it to Bradford. Thee were just 8 last year, but in 1983 there were 31.

The reduction in bands has also meant that success at the Finals themselves has been a little harder to come by than of late as well with the last Yorkshire winners being Frickley/South Elmshall in 1994 and Todmorden Old in 1995. Since then the closest a band has come to winning the title was in 1999, when Yorkshire Traction Honley came runners up.  Last years representatives came 3rd and 6th not bad, but Yorkshire folk demand better than that don't they?

It should be a great two days of contesting in Bradford once more and 4BR will be there to cover it all. Yorkshire has taken the step with Scotland to employ two adjudicators in the box for each section which is a very sensible and constructive way forward. Peggy Tomlinson continues to do a fantastic job here in keeping the very best bands happy as well as nurturing and developing lesser and new bands into the bargain.  With someone like that at the helm, you can see why Yorkshire people think so much about their bands and how good they are.


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