2005 Spring Festival - Senior Cup - Introduction and dodgy predictions


If you thought the Grand Shield was a hard contest to pick a winner from, the this year’s Senior Cup will also get you scratching your head and wondering who out of the 20 bands on show will have the class to either take the title or pick up one of the qu

This year it is made all the more harder as the set work, Peter Graham's ‘Montage' is an exceptionally difficult work that may on the face of it seem to be a bit out of place at this level.

There are certainly a number of bands here who will be able to play it, and play it well, but all 20 of them? We think not, and there could by a number of difficult performances to judge as not only does the piece require top class corner players, but also some very solid sections as well to meet the ensembles challenges it lays down.

Just like the Grand Shield though there are a number of band who will have made the trip to Blackpool confident of their chances and with the form to back up their claims. In fact, there are no less than three Regional Champions taking to the stage in the form of Wooley Pritchard Sovereign Brass from the Midlands, Newtongrange from Scotland and Bournemouth Concert Brass from the West of England.  

Each of these three will be looking to make it a ‘double' come Saturday, but they will be hard pushed by a number of other bands who have already had good years, or are good bands who have just had a bit of bad luck – especially at the Regional Championships where some fell foul to some strange adjudication.

Bands like Staffordshire, who are the current Pontins Champions, had a bit of a off day at Burton upon Trent, whilst Wingates put in a fine performance at the difficult North West Area to come home 4th. BTM finally showed the form seasoned observers have long known they are capable of by booking a place at the Royal Albert Hall after coming runners up in Wales, whilst United Co-op Yorkshire had to travel all around the world to hit top class form in the New Zealand National Championships.

Freckleton had a fine end of the year in Scotland, whilst Dobcross Silver showed more than enough quality in recent times at Skegness to show that they will also be putting in a strong challenge here. They are not alone either, and throughout the list of bands there are outfits that if they just play to form and are able to produce three movements of good quality paying could more than do enough to qualify for the Grand Shield in some comfort.

Experience will of course count – most of these bands have good solid players around the stands (some have real star quality players as well) and there will be a real onus on the conductors to ensure that things are kept on a tight lease on this piece, as it is one that can lead to excitement and then disaster in the blink of an eye – just ask the cornet and xylophone players in the last movement with their shock notes!

Still, there are four places up for grabs, and each one of them is like gold dust. To win here is a fine achievement, but there won't be too many wails of disappointment from the bands that get second, third or fourth. Promotion is everything.

So who do we think will get the nod of approval, play to the peak of their form and claim a place one step close to the British Open?

A couple of the bands do stand out and we think it could well be a straight fight between some of the recent form horses. That is why we opt for Staffordshire to be the possible pick of the bunch, closely followed by Wooley Pritchard Sovereign Brass to give the Midlands a one/two. Behind them we have gone for the other Regional Champions in the shape of Newtongrange and Wingates who have showed such good form recently at the Areas, pushing them to the full.

The final two places in the prize frame will also be a tight battle and we think it could well go to anyone of the three of BTM, Dobcross Silver and Stocksbridge. It should be a very interesting contest for sure.

4BR Prediction:

1. Staffordshire
2. Wooley Pritchard Sovereign
3. Newtongrange
4. Wingates
5. Dobcross
6. BTM

Dark Horse: Stocksbridge 


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