2008 English National Championships - Runners & Riders


15 of the best bands in England line up to see which one of them can be crowned the National Champion of their country and win a trip to Ostend in 2009.

Black DykeBlack Dyke
4BR Ranking: 3
Conductor: Dr Nicholas Childs

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall
Principal Euphonium: David Thornton
Soprano Cornet: Bert Van Thienen
Solo Trombone: Brett Baker
Solo Horn: Sandy Smith
Flugel: Alex Kerwin
Baritone: Gareth Brindle
Eb Tuba: Jo Cook
Bb Tuba: Matt Routley 

Appearances: Debut
Debut: 2008

Best Result: N/A
Worst Result: N/A

Overall Record:
2007: DNQ
2006: DNQ

Last Year: DNQ

Form Guide:
Stunning if their last competitive outing was anything to go by in Bradford at the Yorkshire Area. .  The last time they entered a contest for the very first time (1978 Europeans) they won, so they have a bit of a proud record to uphold and the pressure will really be on.

The desire to get back to the Europeans once again should spur the band on and Dr Childs has brought in Bert Van Thienen on soprano to give him that extra cutting edge – a slightly contentious move perhaps?

There is quality all through the ranks however and that all important desire to win should see them right at the sharp end come the results.
4BR Player to watch out for:  Sandy Smith – horn. Amid the young tyros of Black Dyke, the calming influence of perhaps the finest tenor horn player of his generation reigns supreme.  

BrighouseBrighouse and Rastrick
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Alan Morrison

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Stephen Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Michael Howley
Soprano Cornet: Martin Irwin
Solo Trombone: Gary MacPhee
Solo Horn: Daniel Powell
Flugel: John Lee
Baritone: Leigh Baker
Eb Tuba: Martin Gill
Bb Tuba: Michael Norton 

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 2nd
Worst Result: 4th

Overall Record:
2007: 4th (A. Morrison) (6)
2006: 2nd (I. McElligott) (6)

Last Year: 4th from number 6 draw

Form Guide:
In need of a little contesting boost, despite excellent concert form. The reigning Brass in Concert Champion certainly knows how to entertain, but it is no quitet having the rub of the green on the test piece stage this year so far, with a fine performance at Bradford missing out on a qualification place for London.

Alan Morrison is however building a decidedly powerful unit under his command, with well placed signings (the experienced Brian Tait from Reg Vardy on bumper up) and internal moves (Martin Irwin now on soprano) giving the band a better balance and more subtle textures.

They could well fancy their chances (they have performed very well on both outings at the contest so far) and this could be a piece that suits their confident approach. If it does really click then Brighouse could be in line for a return to the Europeans for the first time since 2003.   

4BR Player to watch out for: Martin Irwin - soprano.  The return to the apex of the band has seen a highly talented performer bloom once more and given the West Riding lads a real cutting edge once more. 

CarltonCarlton Main Frickley Colliery
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Russell Gray

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Kirsty Abbotts
Principal Euphonium: Lyndon Cooper
Soprano: Gary Bates
Solo Horn: Leah Williams
Flugel: Jim Davies
Solo Trombone: Becky Lundberg
Baritone: Bob Archer
Eb Tuba: Ben Dixon
Bb Tuba: Ray Sykes MBE 

Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 2007

Best Result: 8th
Worst Result: 8th

Overall Record:
2007: 8th (F. Renton) (2)
2006: DNQ

Last Year:
8th from number 2 draw

Form Guide:
Must avoid breaking mirrors, running over black cats and walking under ladders it seems. After a top notch performance at Bradford, lady luck completely deserted them in Cambridge and they failed to even bring a glimmer of musical satisfaction to the three men in the box in coming 18th.  

Strange one that, and we are sure Russell Gray and his team will have put that result behind them, although they won’t want a repeat here for certain.

The quality is there for all to hear now right through the band, but will the ‘emotional heart on sleeve’ approach which can characterise Russell Gray’s interpretations at times be the right way forward on this piece if they are to take the title and claim their first European appearance. Or will it be another step in the wrong direction and the infinity of the wrong end of the results table?

4BR Player to watch out for: Jim Davies - flugel. Age may weary the bones but sheer class remains as long as this player puts instrument to lips.  

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Philip Chalk

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Mike Eccles
Principal Euphonium: Mark Bousie
Soprano Cornet: Mark Harrison
Solo Trombone: Lisa Sarasini
Solo Horn: Chris Pannell
Flugel: Lucy Murphy
Baritone: Mike Wells
Eb Tuba: Richard Evans
Bb Tuba: Johnny Shaw

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 4th
Worst Result: 9th

Overall Record:
2007: 9th (P. Parkes) (9)
2006: 4th (S. Stonehouse) (14) 

Last Year: 9th off number 9 draw

Form Guide:
Coming nicely to the boil perhaps? Fairey did as much as they needed to do at Blackpool to qualify for London and their third place there was perfunctory rather than inspired – a job done. At Cambridge though it was a different matter.

There they could count themselves more than a touch unlucky they didn’t come in the prizes after a mature and detailed performance that tickled the fancy of many, but not quite the three men in the box.  

It did show however that they have now got the right ingredients in place to challenge for top honours once again and with some well placed additions to the player ranks of late Preston could see Fairey back at the sharp end come the results.  

4BR Player to watch out for: Mark Harrison – soprano. A very talented young performer with a canny knack of being able to just shine at the right moments.     

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Ray Farr

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: John White
Principal Euphonium: Jeff Bell
Soprano Cornet: Malcolm Usher
Solo Trombone: Malcolm Gill
Solo Horn: Martin Armstrong
Flugel: Melissa Maddison
Baritone: Caroline Bell
Eb Tuba: Colin Shaw
Bb Tuba: Keith Hepworth 

Appearances: Debut
Debut: 2008

Best Result: N/A
Worst Result: N/A

Overall Record:
2007: DNQ
2006: DNQ

Last Year: DNQ

Form Guide:
Looking for a boost of contesting confidence? Fishburn hasn’t quite set the contest stage on fire so far in 2008, but they certainly have been making a decent impression with their concert work linked in with MFD Ray Farr.

Didn’t really perform as well as they could at Darlington to finish outside the podium places in their bid to get to London, but there was a solid non nonsense showing at Blackpool in the Senior Cup where they finished 7th.

Nothing to scare the horses as they say – just yet, but there is a settled and experienced line up of players in the ranks and the MD can always draw something a bit different out of the bag every now and again, so hope springs eternal.
4BR Player to watch out for:  Martin Armstrong – horn. He has perhaps worn more club blazers than Nicholas Anelka, but the talented horn player has the stamp of real quality about him wherever he goes.  

FodensFodens Richardson
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Garry Cutt

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Glyn Williams
Soprano: Alan Wycherley
Solo Horn: Sheona White
Flugel: Helen Fox
Solo Trombone: John Barber
Baritone: Natsumi Inaba
Eb Tuba: Les Neish
Bb Tuba: Toby Hobson

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: Winners
Worst Result: 6th

Overall Record:
2007: 6th (G. Cutt) (8)
2006: Winners (G. Cutt) (10) 

Last Year: 6th off number 8 draw

Form Guide:
Lacking in serendipity perhaps? Showed their class in their record breaking win at Blackpool and then showed that they could roll up their sleeves and mix it with the workers on Whit Friday once again.

All that though and lady luck still deserted them in Cambridge where they seemingly produced a top class performance that was enjoyed by everyone except the three men in the box.

6th place was a bitter little pill to swallow at the time, but we are sure they have put that behind them and the last time they came here from a bad result at the Masters they went on to win this contest. Class performers wherever you look, they have the ability to do that once again – although a few supporters will be listening with fingers and toes crossed for luck. 

4BR Player to watch out for: Sheona White – horn. Great to see such a fine exponent of her instrument playing at the highest level again – and still showing that she is perhaps still the best in the business too. Some player.  

GrimethorpeGrimethorpe Colliery
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Allan Withington

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Crockford
Solo Trombone: Richard Brown
Solo Horn: Arfon Owen
Flugel: Andy Holmes
Baritone: Robert Richardsonn
Eb Tuba: Shaun Crowther
Bb Tuba: Gary Proctor 

Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 2007

Best Result: Winners
Worst Result: Winners

Overall Record:
2007: Winners (A. Withington) (5)
2006: DNQ

Last Year: Winners off number 5 draw

Form Guide:
Looking for a return to tip top form. Strange as it may seem given that Grimethorpe has come runner up at both Bradford and Stavanger this year against top notch fields, but in truth they haven’t really hit the very highest peaks of their undoubted form - yet.

The European was a case in point – at times thrillingly brilliant, at others, decidedly sloppy.

Allan Withington won’t have made the trip across the North Sea to come runner up again we are sure and the band certainly won’t want to give up its title to anyone without one heck of a musical fight. All the class, all the quality, all the ingredients for them to once again take the title with something to spare if they fire on all of their V12 cylinders. Watch out if they do. 

4BR Player to watch out for: Shaun Crowther – Eb tuba.  The foundation stone on which the Grimethorpe sound is based. A fantastic ensemble player and soloist of the highest class – even a cameo role bit part will see him shine.   

HepworthHepworth (Cookson Homes)
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Ian Porthouse

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Principal Euphonium: James Fieldhouse
Soprano: Mark Smedley
Solo Horn: Rebecca Langdon
Flugel: Sian Linney
Solo Trombone: Yvonne Embury
Baritone: Isabelle Radford
Eb Tuba: BenThompson
Bb Tuba: Andy Lincoln

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 2nd
Worst Result: 7th

Overall Record:
2007: 2nd (M. Bentham) (15)
2006: 7th (M. Bentham) (7) 

Last Year: 2nd off number 15 draw

Form Guide:
Disappointing. 2008 hasn’t been a good year for Hepworth – so far that is. A poor return at Bradford where much was expected was followed by a disastrous trip to Cambridge where they completely fell off the radar in coming 21st against opposition they would usually fancy their chances against.

The result of that has been the end of the Mark Bentham era and the booking of Ian Porthouse, who has revitalised the fortunes of Tredegar in the past year. On their day (and they had a fine day here last year) they are more than capable of battling it out against the very best bands in the land, but they do need to restore that swagger they once had in abundance.

Lots of quality around the stands, if the confidence has returned then so should the ability to mix it at the top end of the results table.

4BR Player to watch out for:  Ben Thompson – tuba. What a talent this lad is. Makes a sound to wake the dead and charm the birds from the trees at the same time.    

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Jason Katsikaris

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Nick Walkley
Principal Euphonium: Steve Walsh
Soprano Cornet: Matthew Balson
Solo Trombone: Chris Gomersall
Solo Horn: Aiden Smith
Flugel: Nicky Longden
Baritone: Katrina Marzella
Eb Tuba: Chris Doran
Bb Tuba: Bill Carter

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 3rd
Worst Result: 5th

Overall Record:
2007: 5th (R. Gray) (7)
2006: 3rd (R. Gray) (5) 

Last Year: 5th off number 7 draw

Form Guide:
Full to the brim it seems.  After doing the hard work and making sure they booked their place at the Royal Albert Hall, they warmed up at the Grenland Festival in Norway to rub off the ragged edges before stamping their class on the Grand Shield and returning back to the British Open.

With all that done and dusted they can now plan further ahead and with a settled line up of high quality players and an MD who has brought a touch of extra sparkle to their performances, they could be the dark horse here to even take the title and return to the European for the first time since 2005. 

They have come close before, so don’t bet against them just going that extra step further this time out.

4BR Player to watch out for: Nick Walkley – cornet. After seemingly being lost to top line banding after his short stints at Fairey and YBS, the return of the gifted cornetist has been a huge boost to Leyland.    

Mount CharlesMount Charles
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Andrew Duncan 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ian Thomas
Solo Euphonium: Neil Pascoe
Solo Horn: Sarah Whitehead
Soprano: John Small
Flugel: Yasmin Stevens
Solo Trombone: Martin Saunders
Baritone: Terry Sleeman
Eb Tuba: Shaun Woodland
Bb Tuba: Alistair Whitehead

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 11th
Worst Result: 15th

Overall Record:
2007: 15th (A. Duncan) (10)
2006: 11th (N. Weeks) (12)

Last Year: 15th off number 10 draw

Form Guide:
On the up – slowly but surely.  Hard work pays off it seems for Mount Charles and once again they have tested their mettle on various contest stages already in 2008 in a bid to keep moving in the right direction.

They certainly showed their potential at the regional contest in Torquay where they won somewhat against the pre contest odds, and despite fairly unremarkable results at Yeovil and Butlins, the Grand Shield further confirmed their progress when they came 8th against a high class field.

This is a step up in class once more, and although they may not quite have the quality at present to push all the way, they have more than enough about themselves to ensure that they will not be out of their depth by any margin. 

4BR Player to watch out for:  Terry Sleeman – baritone. One of the best in the business and such a solid performer under pressure. A bit of an unsung hero of the instrument.   

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Philip Harper

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Chris Howley
Principal Euphonium: Andy Hicks
Soprano: Spencer O'Leary
Solo Horn: Vicki Reynolds
Flugel: Danny Winder
Solo Trombone: Richard Walker
Baritone: Carolyn Chandler
Eb Tuba: Cathy Simmonds
Bb Tuba: Alan Hodgkinson

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 3rd
Worst Result: 8th

Overall Record:
2007: 3rd (P. Harper) (14)
2006: 8th (P. Harper) (11) 

Last Year: 3rd off number 14 draw

Form Guide:
Below expectations perhaps? On their day PolySteel has all the ingredients to push the very best bands to the limit and they certainly showed that here last year when they came a thoroughly well deserved third.

This year though it hasn’t quite clicked for them and after the merited Yeovil victory they have found life much tougher on the test piece stage. The Area result was a major disappointment and failing to qualify for London brought some misplaced emotions to the surface in cyberspace.

The Masters outing was a tad unlucky and 14th place was a harsh for a performance that saw them close to their best. The return of Chris Howley on top man is a real boost and if they can just

4BR Player to watch out for: Danny Winder – flugel. A classy player with a lovely sense of musical style and understated delivery – and rock steady under pressure too.  

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Jeremy Wise

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ralph Brill
Principal Euphonium: Lisa Brill
Soprano Cornet: Bob Stradling
Solo Trombone: Jayne Murell
Solo Horn: Simon Jones
Flugel: Alan Roberts
Baritone: Simon Rothchell
Eb Tuba: Mike Poyser
Bb Tuba: Graham Patterson 

Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 10th
Worst Result: 10th

Overall Record:
2007: DNC
2006: 10th (M. White) (8)

Last Year: DNQ

Form Guide:
Bubbling. Could this be the year when a London based band really makes a permanent mark on the majors? If Redbridge’s recent form is anything to go by then they could well be the ones to do it.

The Area victory was perhaps expected, and the Grand Shield return of 9th was just above expectations. The Masters though was a different kettle of fish, and under the elegant baton of Jeremy Wise they certainly made an impression in the box to claim 4th spot.

There is a settled look about the band, with plenty of experience and solidity in both solo and ensemble seats and in Jeremy Wise they have a conductor who seems to have regained his contesting appetite. It will be a major seismic surprise if they win, but it won’t be too much of an eye opener if they make yet another significant impact. 

4BR Player to watch out for:  Ralph Brill – cornet. Bags of experience, bags of quality and someone with a bit of nous about his playing too. Just the right qualities you need on a piece like this. 

rEG vARDYReg Vardy
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Steve Malcolm

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Principal Euphonium: Paul Robinson
Soprano: Tom Glendinning
Solo Horn: Steve Hardy
Flugel: Joanne Winspear
Solo Trombone: Chris Bentham
Baritone: Laura Boyle
Eb Tuba: Tony Taylor
Bb Tuba: Alistair Storey

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 6th
Worst Result: 11th

Overall Record:
2007: 11th (R. Farr) (3)
2006: 6th (R. Farr) (4) 

Last Year: 11th off number 3 draw

Form Guide:
Quixotic. 2008 has seen a well overdue return to form for Reg Vardy, but despite an excellent performance in winning the Area contest in Darlington they haven’t quite hit top gear as yet.

The Grand Shield performance showed the potential but also the odd spot of weakness, whilst the Masters outing was much, much better than their eventual 16th place suggested – although not a winner by any means.

The loss of Richard Evans at such a late stage will be a major blow, but Steve Malcolm is a talented deputy and will do a fine job we are sure. A bit of a wait and see one this, but one that could be well worth it if everything clicks into place.  

4BR Player to watch out for: Jim Hayes - cornet. A tremendous signing for the band and one that has given them a principal of undoubted class.    

RothwellRothwell Temperance
4BR Ranking:
Conductor: David Roberts

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: James McCabe
Principal Euphonium: Andrew Marsh
Soprano: Paul Argyle
Solo Horn: Catherine Roberts
Flugel: Brian Winter
Solo Trombone: Nick Walker
Baritone: Andy Padgett
Eb Tuba: Edward Hodkin
Bb Tuba: Ben Ridgeon
Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 2007

Best Result: 14th
Worst Result: 14th

Overall Record:
2007: 14th (D. Roberts) (11)
2006: DNQ

Last Year: 14th off number 11 draw 

Form Guide:
Deceptive. There was a time when it would have been easy to under estimate Rothwell at major contests – not now though.

You always get the feeling nowadays that they are going to be in and around the top six at least if they play to form (and get a decent draw) and that has been shown this year at both the Area contest at Bradford where they came 4th and at the Masters where they delivered a fine account of themselves early doors to come 7th.

If they get a bit of luck out of the velvet draw bag then they should surely improve on last year’s poor return, as they all the right ingredients in place to aim very high indeed.
4BR Player to watch out for: Andy Padgett – baritone. The hair may be even whiter than in years gone by, but his playing ability hasn’t lost any of its sheen. As good a baritone virtuoso as there is around anywhere.  

4BR Ranking:
Conductor: Morgan Griffiths 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Alan Hobbins
Principal Euphonium: Mike Kilroy
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Donaldson
Solo Trombone: Danny Brookes
Solo horn: Kate Eggleshaw
Flugel horn: David Moore
Baritone: Helen Tyler
Eb Tuba: Dave Long
Bb Tuba: Derek Jackson

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2006

Best Result: 9th
Worst Result: 12th

Overall Record:
2007: 12th (R. Evans) (1)
2006: 9th (D. King) (1)

Last Year: 12th off number 1 draw

Form Guide:
Unlucky? Not quite been the year they would have hoped for so far for YBS despite two pretty decent performances at both Bradford and Cambridge that showed that Morgan Griffiths is really starting to reveal the potential of the band once more.

The Masters was a case in point, with a solid showing that perhaps deserved higher than its eventual 12th place, and with a fine line up of principal players and solid ensemble they should be confident of making a mark here this time around.

What they will need though is someone with the ability to pick out a better draw number out of the bag – after two years in which they have had to dust off the National Anthem. Fingers crossed then.

4BR Player to watch out for: Mike Kilroy – euphonium. A top class performer for so many years now and a player who deserves to be placed in the highest echelon of practitioners on his instrument.


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