2009 British Open Championships - Runners and Riders


4BR looks at the records and form guide of the 18 runners and riders hoping to win the famous Gold Trophy.

Tom Davoren
4BR Ranking: 21

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ian Roberts
Soprano Cornet: Meirion Davies
Flugel: Jeff Hutcherson
Solo Horn: Trevor Isaac
Solo Euphonium: Mark Hutcherson
Solo Trombone: Jonathan Pippen
Baritone: Tim Jones
Eb Tuba: Kate James
Bb Tuba: Tim Evans

Appearances: 2nd time
Debut: 2008

Open Record:
1 time unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 2nd in Grand Shield (N. Boddice) (prom): 13th (Nigel Boddice) (7)
2007: 6th (J. Katsikaris)
2006: 2nd in Senior Cup (J. Katsikaris) (prom)
2005: 5th (T. Wyss)
2004: 5th (D. Hirst)
2003: 7th (D. Stowell)
2002: 9th (D. Stowell)
2001: 18th in Grand Shield (G. Pritchard) (rel)
2000: 4th (G. Pritchard)
1999: DNC
1998: N/K (A. Morrison)
1997: 11th (A. Morrison)

Open Record:
The debut appearance for the Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen came last year,  36 years after they were formed, and they held their own in coming 13th.

The step up from the Grand Shield came via a fine performance of ‘Vienna Nights’ under Nigel Boddice at Blackpool. 

2009 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Wales)
European: N/A
Masters: 4th
English Nationals: N/A
Yeovil: 3rd
Welsh Miners Eisteddfod: Winners
Ebbw Vale: Winners

BTM will know that although they have a little bit of breathing space to their name after coming 13th last year, they cannot afford to be too complacent if they are not to be drawn into a relegation dog fight to avoid a May trip to Blackpool.

They were disappointed not to have qualified for London at the Welsh Area, but solid outings elsewhere and a fine performance under the baton of Tom Davoren at Cambridge showed that they do have the requisite elements in place to more than hold their own.

It could be close though.

Player to listen out for:
Jeff Hutcherson – back on flugel after spells on cornet and horn, he may now be starting to grey around the temples, but he remains one heck of a fine player.

Black DykeBlack Dyke
Dr. Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking:  4 

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

Appearances: 106th time
Debut: 1856

Open Record:
29 Wins: 1862, 1863, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1891, 1895, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1914, 1935, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995, 2005, 2006
22 Seconds: 1877, 1887, 1888, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1917, 1922, 1934, 1938, 1971, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007
11 Thirds: 1868, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1916, 1937, 1953, 1958, 1963, 2002, 2003
8 Fourths: 1890, 1912, 1919, 1921, 1936, 1970, 1979, 1989
5 Fifths: 1864, 1920, 1936, 1952, 1966
4 Sixths: 1947, 1962, 2004, 2008
25 times unplaced:
1 Disqualification: 1865

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 6th (Nicholas Childs) (1)
2007: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (15)
2006: Winners (Nicholas Childs) (11)
2005: Winners (Nicholas Childs) (13)
2004: 6th (Nicholas Childs) (6)
2003: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (11)
2002: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (3)
2001: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (14)
2000: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (15)
1999: 2nd (James Watson) (22)
1998: 8th (James Watson) (7)
1997: DNC
1996: 14th (James Watson) (1)

Open Record:
A record like no other band in the world. This will be the Queensbury band’s 106th appearance boasting a record of 29 wins, 22 runners up and 11 third places.

Missed the historic hat trick in 2007 by the narrowest of margins, and had the misfortune of picking out Kelly’s Eye from the velvet bag last year.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
English Nationals: Winners
Whit Friday: Saddleworth Champions

After the blip in form that saw them rather unexpectantly come 4th at Bradford, Dr Nicholas Childs has made sure the rumours of possible demise were quickly extinguished. 

The band certainly enjoyed itself on the Whit Friday circuit and was a class apart at the English Nationals where they booked their place at the Europeans in some style.

Fresh back from an exhausting trip to Australia, they wil be keen to put their name back on the Golden Shield for a 30th time.

Player to listen out for:
Paul Duffy –  After careful nurturing from the MD, this young man has blossomed into one of the most exciting soprano talents in the banding world.

BrighouseBrighouse & Rastrick
David King
4BR Ranking:

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Stephen Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Steven Walsh
Soprano Cornet: Martin Devolder
Solo Trombone: James Stockdale
Solo Horn: William Rushworth
Flugel: John Lee
Baritone: Cieran Young
Eb Tuba: Shaun Crowther
Bb Tuba: Simon Gresswell

Appearances: 69th time
Debut: 1890

Open Record:
6 Wins: 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1978
3 Seconds: 1965, 1977, 1983
5 Thirds: 1939, 1940, 1973, 1976, 1998
7 Fourths: 1942, 1943, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1999, 2002
4 Fifths: 1960, 1971, 1987, 2003
5 Sixths: 1938,1944, 1959, 1986, 1995
38 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw
2008: 8th (Alan Morrison) (16)
2007: 11th (Alan Morrison) (7)
2006: 12th (Ian McElligott) (16)
2005: 7th (James Gourlay) (6)
2004: 11th (James Gourlay) (5)
2003: 5th (Major Ian McElligott) (17)
2002: 4th (Major Ian McElligott) (12)
2001: 8th (Allan Withington) (8)
2000: 12th (Allan Withington) (8)
1999: 4th (Allan Withington) (14)
1998: 3rd (Allan Withington) (15)
1997: 10th (Allan Withington) (4)
1996: 20th (Allan Withington) (18)

Open Record:
It is now over thirty years since Brighouse last took home the British Open title to West Riding. That performance of ‘Benvenuto Cellini’ still remains fresh in the minds of supporters though – especially as it denied Black Dyke a double hat trick.

The history books need to be updated now and although they have come fairly close since, Symphony Hall hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds – a 3rd place in 1998 their best to date.
2009 Form:
Regionals: 5th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
English National: 4th
Whit Friday: 3rd in Saddleworth

There is a  real sense of excitement surrounding Brighouse at the Open this year – especially with David King at the helm.

Ultimate success doesn’t entirley rest on just his shoulders though, as the band has recovered from a poor outing at the Yorkshire Area to bounce back in fine fashion at the English Nationals.

They were unlucky not have finished higher than 4th, and with no Albert Hall to worry about you sense they will be coming here all guns blazing. If their recent appearance at Bridgewater Hall is anything to go by, then they the famous trophy may well be heading back to the purple heart of the White Rose county.

Player to listen out for:
Steven Walsh –  The euphonium player showed a remarkable degree of composure at Bridgewater Hall and led the bottom end of the band with real maturity.

BrisbaneBrisbane Excelsior
Howard Taylor
4BR Ranking: 39 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Genevieve Smith
Soprano Cornet: Jamie Brown
Flugel: Louise Smith
Solo Horn: Steve Ridler
Solo Euphonium: Ashley Gittins
Solo Trombone: Stuart Bent
Baritone: Greg Aitken
Eb Tuba: Julie Woods
Bb Tuba: Dean Morley

Appearances: Debut
Debut: 2009

Open Record:
Debut appearance at the British Open, Brisbane is not the first Australian band to have made the trip back to Blighty to take part in the contest.

The Newcastle Steel (Australia) Band won the Open way back in 1924 (although the Times newspaper didn’t quite print a mock obituary for the death of British banding), whilst there have been occassional visits since, including Hawthorn City in 1982.

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw
Not applicable

Open Record:
Not applicable
2009 Form:
A debut appearance for the recent undefeated heavyweight champion of the Southern hemisphere.

Although the band didn’t compete at their National Championships this year, their recent record of contesting success in both Australia and New Zealand is outstanding, with multiple wins at both events.

Their last apperance in the UK was at the Masters in 2006, where they rather failed to play to their true potential, whilst there has been a umber of recent changes in personnel too – with just 10 players from that Cambridge appearance still in the ranks. 

Led by Englishman Howard Taylor, they have plenty of experienced performers around the stands and a nice mix of youthful vigour too.

They will be enjoying a run out in Warrington with a concert with Wire Brass this week, so they should be in top form to bring much needed pride back to the bruised Aussie contesting pysche.

Player to listen out for: 
Steve Ridler – Fans of Carlton Main will remember Steve as their principal cornet player many moons ago. Now on horn and enjoying life to the full in his adopted homeland, he remains an outstanding performer. 

CarltonCarlton Main Frickley Colliery
Russell Gray
4BR Ranking: 16
Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Iain Culross
Principal Euphonium: Toni Howden 
Soprano: Gary Bates
Solo Horn: Leah Williams
Flugel: Ian Shires
Solo Trombone: Becky Lundberg
Baritone: Bob Archer
Eb Tuba: Ben Dixon
Bb Tuba: Ray Sykes MBE

Appearances: 62nd time
Debut: 1921

Open Record:
2 Wins: 1922, 1958
5 Seconds: 1941, 1957, 1959, 1969, 1972
3 Thirds: 1948, 1950, 1956
3 Fourths: 1928, 1944, 1963
2 Fifths: 1927, 1946
2 Sixths: 1923, 2006
44 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 7th (Russell Gray (12)
2007: 12th (Russell Gray) (11)
2006: 6th (Russell Gray) (19)
2005: DNC
2004: 18th (Brian Grant) (7)
2003: Winners of Grand Shield (W. Rushworth) (prom): 18th (William Rushworth) (14) 
2002: 19th (William Rushworth) (17) (rel)
2001: 17th (John Hinckley) (6)
2000: 9th (John Hinckley) (21)
1999: Winners of Grand Shield (J. Hinckley) (prom): 14th (John Hinckley) (11)
1993-1998: DNC

Open Record:
A bit of an up and down existence at the Open since their return in 2003, it is now 37 years since the band filled one of the top three podium places and 51 years since their last win.

They have won the contest twice though, first as South Elmshall and Frickley under Noel Thorpe in 1922, and under Jack Atherton in 1958 when had to play for a second time on the day in a ‘play off’ of the top six bands to decide the title.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 7th  (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Butlins Mineworkers: 6th
Masters: 7th
English National: 6th

A season that has yet to really catch contesting fire for Carlton Main. Results have been OK but nothing more, and there is a sense they just haven’t quite built on the encouraging form of the past couple of years.

They were well off the pace at Skegness and at Bradford they seemed to go through the motions with their place arleady pre-booked for the Albert Hall.

The English Nationals saw another hit and miss performance too, so they have something to prove here. They have the ability in spades, but it seems something may be missing at the moment for them to claim another top six finish. 

Player to listen out for:
Iain Culross –  Takes over the end chair as Kirsty Abbotts awaits a new arrival, and the talented, if occassionally nomadic performer could hold the key to Carlton Main’s success on the day. 

Co-opCo-operative Funeralcare
Michael Fowles
4BR Ranking: 18 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Principal Euphonium: Allison Bonner
Soprano Cornet: Caroline Tennant
Solo Trombone: Paul Kiernan
Solo horn: Matthew Maines
Flugel horn: Caroline Munroe
Solo Baritone: Lorraine Bisson
Eb Bass: Willie Young
Bb Bass: Andy Smith

Appearances: 22nd time
Debut: 1956

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
3 Thirds: 1993, 1997, 2004
1 Fourth: 2006
No Fifths:
No Sixths:
17 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 11th (Andrew Duncan) (9)
2007: 14th (Allan Ramsay) (5)
2006: 4th (Allan Ramsay) (15)
2005: 10th (Frank Renton) (15)
2004: 3rd (Ian McElligott) (13)
2003: 2nd at Grand Shield (Nicholas Childs) (prom): 13th (James Scott) (12)
2002: 16th (John Hinckley) (4) (rel)
2001: 12th (James Gourlay) (4)
2000: 11th (Kazuyoshi Uemura) (16)
1999: 9th (Howard Snell) (9)
1998: 12th (Howard Snell) (20)
1997: 3rd (Howard Snell) (5)
1996: 8th (Howard Snell) (15)

Open Record:
Scottish Co-op returned to the Open in 2003 after trying a real mix and match approach with MDs that never quite worked and eventually saw them relegated.

Since then it has been a little bit of a mixed bag, with strong finishes in both 2004 and 2006 and three non descript midfield finishes.

2009 Form:
Regionals: Winners (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
West Lothian: DNC (Barred after 3 consecutive wins)
Land O’ Burns: 2nd

There were rumours flying around all over the place last year that Scottish Co-op were dead and buried – although by a Scottish form of chinese whispers it seems the actual facts got a bit mixed up.

Now the band is Co-operative Funeralcare (see what we mean?) and their future is looking much healthier, with a rehearsal base and new players joining the ranks.

Decent value for their win at the Scottish Area, they have spent the rest of the season quietly going about their rebuilding under the hard grafting Michael Fowles, who led the band to the Scottish Open title late last year. 

Not quite a Lazarus rise from the dead, but getting there we suspect, and they could be the best of the Scots on the weekend.     

Player to listen out for:

Jim Hayes  – A crucial returnee for the band. A class operator who has the ability to stack points up with his playing.

CoryCory Band
Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking: 1

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euphonium: David Childs
Soprano Cornet: Bert Van Theinen
Solo Trombone: Chris Thomas
Solo horn: Owen Farr
Flugel horn: Joanne Childs
Solo Baritone: Susan Thomas
Eb Bass: Simon Howell
Bb Bass: Fraser Bish

Appearances: 47th time
Debut: 1922

Open Record:
3 Wins: 2000, 2002, 2007
4 Seconds: 1950, 2004, 2005, 2006
3 Thirds: 1972, 2001, 2008
3 Fourths: 1951, 1975, 1976
1 Fifth: 1974
2 Sixths: 1999, 2003
30 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 3rd (Robert Childs) (11)
2007: Winners (Robert Childs) (16)
2006: 2nd (Robert Childs) (17)
2005: 2nd (Robert Childs) (16)
2004: 2nd (Robert Childs) (2)
2003: 6th (Robert Childs) (13)
2002: Winners (Robert Childs) (16)
2001: 3rd (Robert Childs) (20)
2000: Winners (Robert Childs) (22)
1999: 6th (Jeremy Wise) (10)
1998: 13th (Jeremy Wise) (19)
1997: 7th (Jeremy Wise) (16)
1996: 19th (Melvin White) (6)
Open Record:
It took Cory 78 years after their Open debut to register their first victory, but since that 2000 Millennium triumph they have been the most consistent band at the contest – with eight podium finishes in nine years.   

The three victories have come off late draws, but they also came close in 2004 as the second band on stage too, so whatever their representative picks out of the velvet bag they should be confident of yet another mention off the stage come the results.
2009 Form:
Regionals: Winners (Wales)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: Winners
Masters:  N/A
English Nationals:  N/A
World Music Championships: Winners

Could 2009 be the year in which Cory achieve an unprecedented ‘Grand Slam’ of major titles?

Given that they have already scooped up the Welsh, European and World crowns on their travels, they will come to Birmingham full of confidence – and it won’t be misplaced either.

Hard to really find a major weakness in the ranks, they will have put in the hard yakka in the Rhondda for weeks prior to their appearance here. Given their record of late, it would be a foolish man to back against them being right in the mix again.  
Player to listen out for:

Bert Van Thienen – The brilliant Belgian is a bit of a musical nomad, but you can hear why just about every band in the world would mortgage their bandroom to have him in the ranks.

DesfordDesford Colliery
James Gourlay
4BR Ranking: 15 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: David Smith
Principal Euphonium: Robin Taylor
Soprano: Richard Evans
Solo Horn: Murray Borthwick
Flugel: Simon Platford
Solo Trombone: Julian Turner
Baritone: Kate Williams
Eb Tuba: Nick Etheridge
Bb Tuba: Paul Thomas

Appearances: 37th time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 1979
2 Thirds: 1980, 2006
2 Fourths: 1982, 2007
2 Fifths: 1984, 1986
2 Sixths: 1983, 1987
27 Unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw
2008: 14th (Nigel Seaman) (3)
2007: 4th (Frans Violet) (10)
2006: 3rd (Nigel Seaman) (12)
2005: 16th (Peter Parkes) (1)
2004: 3rd at Grand Shield (Peter Parkes) (prom): 7th (Peter Parkes) (17)
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: 19th (Peter Parkes) (12) (rel)
2000: 20th (Peter Parkes) (19)
1999: 13th (Roy Newsome) (3)
1998: 16th (Frank Renton) (2)
1997: 15th (Frank Renton) (6)
1996: 15th (Frank Renton) (16)

Open Record:
Although it seems inconceivable that Desford have never won the Open – especially during the early 1980's, they have come close – most recently in 2006 under Nigel Seaman. 

Since their return to the contest in 2004 they have had their ups and downs, with last year’s performance in coming 14th a real disappointment after the high placings of the previous two years.  

2009 Form:
Regionals: Winners (Midlands)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 2nd
Butlins Mineworkers: 3rd

Last year Desford came to the contest as one of the form bands in the country and look what happened.

This year they come with a solid record of early season contesting success – from an understated win at the Area and slightly disappointing 3rd place at Butlins.

A fine performance at Cambridge showed their class and if they can recapture that sense of brio and verve under the mercurial talents of James Gourlay then Desford’s name could be in the mix once more. They certainly have the personnel to do well, espeically if they have had plenty of rehearsal time together.

Player to listen out for:
Robin Taylor – A class act on euphonium – cultured, musical and secure. Not many are in his league.

FaireyFairey Band
Philip Chalk
4BR Ranking:

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Laura Hirst
Principal Euphonium: Gary Curtain
Soprano Cornet: Nick Walkley
Solo Trombone: Roz Davies
Solo Horn: Anita Milde
Flugel: Lucy Murphy
Baritone: Kaite Raisbeck
Eb Tuba: Mick Morris
Bb Tuba: Gary Proctor

Appearances: 66th time
Debut: 1938

Open Record:
16 Wins: 1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1998
13 Seconds: 1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1975, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1997
5 Thirds: 1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999
6 Fourths: 1959, 1971, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005
2 Fifths: 1985, 2006
7 Sixths: 1951, 1957, 1970, 1978, 1990, 2001, 2002
16 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 15th (Philip Chalk) (8)
2007: 7th (Philip Chalk) (12)
2006: 5th (Simon Stonehouse) (8)
2005: 4th (Simon Stonehouse) (9)
2004: 12th (Allan Withington (11)
2003: 4th (Allan Withington) (9)
2002: 6th (Allan Withington) (19)
2001: 6th (Howard Snell) (2)
2000: 4th (James Gourlay) (17)
1999: 3rd (James Gourlay) (12)
1998: Winners (James Gourlay) (16)
1997: 2nd (James Gourlay) (10)
1996: 4th (James Gourlay) (10)

Open Record:
Only Black Dyke can claim more victories at the British Open than Fairey, and the band from Stockport can also lay claim to winning at least one title in each decade since the 1940's, although as yet they haven't added to that so far this Millennium.

The band has an unequalled record of consistency here as well over the past decade or so with just two finishes outside the top 10 since 1996.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (North West)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
English Nationals: 7th
Whit Friday: 2nd in Tameside

Fairey come to the 2009 British Open knowing that they have a last chance to maintain two remarkable records.

To continue the amazing feat of at least one British Open victory per decade since the 1940s seems to be a bit beyond them at present, whilst ensuring their survival at the contest after coming 15th last year is much more realistic given their recent form.

That form has seen them claim a well earned runner up spot at the North West Area to book their place at the Royal Albert Hall, whilst there was plenty to feel encouraged about by their outings at Whit Friday and especially Preston.

They will of course be disappointed if they cannot carry on their Open victory record, but you sense they will be more pleased if they do more than enough to be at the contest in 2010.  

Player to listen out for:
Nick Walkley  – A highly talented performer who has made a name for himself first on cornet and now on soprano.

Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Glyn Williams
Soprano: Alan Wycherley
Solo Horn: Lesley Howie
Flugel: Helen Williams
Solo Trombone: John Barber
Baritone: Natsumi Inaba
Eb Tuba: Les Neish
Bb Tuba: Derek Jackson

Appearances: 70th time
Debut: 1909

Open Record:
11 Wins: 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1964, 2004, 2008
6 Seconds: 1911, 1916, 1952, 1987, 1998, 2002
7 Thirds: 1914, 1925, 1957, 1970, 1981, 1985, 2007
4 Fourths: 1958, 1965, 1986, 1991
8 Fifths: 1918, 1953, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000
4 Sixths: 1917, 1984, 1994, 2005
29 times unplaced.

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: Winners (Garry Cutt) (10)
2007: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (3)
2006: 13th (Garry Cutt) (9)
2005: 6th (Garry Cutt) (18)
2004: Winners (Garry Cutt) (12)
2003: 7th (Thomas Wyss) (3)
2002: 2nd (Bramwell Tovey) (8)
2001: 7th (Bramwell Tovey) (3)
2000: 5th (Bramwell Tovey) (9)
1999: 5th (Nicholas Childs) (4)
1998: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1997: 9th (Nicholas Childs) (13)
1996: 5th (Phillip McCann) (3)

Open Record:
The 2008 champion are a band with an amazing pedigree at the contest – with 11 wins in total since their first way back in 1909.

Consistency has been the name of the game with just the 13th place of 2006 the only time they had been outside the top 10 since 1993.

It is now exactly 100 years since William Rimmer led them to their first success on ‘Il Bravo’ and 81 since they last retained their title.

2009 Form:
Regionals: Winners (North West)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: Winners
English Nationals: 3rd
Whit Friday: Tameside Champions

Can Foden’s retain their title?  The odds are perhaps against them if recent history is anything to go by – but you would be foolish to write off their chances and that of Garry Cutt adding a fifth Mortimer Trophy to his collection.

They won the Area without ever hitting top gear and were a class apart at the Masters, although they weren’t quite up to pace at Preston where they never quite felt at ease.

They are playing with a real confidence and assured class at the moment and have a settled line up of players the envy of just about any rival band. There or thereabouts again we suspect. 

Player to listen out for:
John Barber – Great to see the star trombonist return to action after his freak accident a few months ago. He is as good as they come.

GrimethorpeGrimethorpe Colliery
Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 3

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Crockford
Solo Trombone: Gary MacPhee
Solo Horn: Arfon Owen
Flugel: Andy Holmes
Baritone: Michael Wells
Eb Tuba: Ken Ferguson
Bb Tuba: Phil Convey

Appearances: 63rd time
Debut: 1935

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1967, 1969, 1984, 1991
4 Seconds: 1945, 1963, 1973, 2008
10 Thirds: 1960, 1961, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2000
3 Fourths: 1972, 1998, 2001
7 Fifths: 1976, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2007
3 Sixths: 1946, 1980, 1985
31 Unplaced.

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw
2008: 2nd (Allan Withington) (6)
2007: 5th (Allan Withington) (4)
2006: 9th (Allan Withington) (4)
2005: 12th (Allan Withington) (4)
2004: 9th (Frank Renton) (9)
2003: DNC
2002: 14th (James Gourlay) (10)
2001: 4th (Garry Cutt) (13)
2000: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (20)
1999: 18th (Andreas Sporri) (7)
1998: 4th (Major Peter Parkes) (17)
1997: 5th (Major Peter Parkes) (7)
1996: 7th (Major Peter Parkes) (20)

Open Record:
Just the four wins so far for Grimethorpe – but four memorable wins at that. The first came in 1967 under George Thompson, whilst they repeated it 1969. Geoffrey Brand emulated that in 1984 before Frank Renton led them to victory on ‘Paganini Variations’ in 1991.

The record of late is decent enough, but they haven’t had the best of luck at the draw.

No Open victory as yet for Allan Withington, although he did come close 12 months ago.  

2009 Form:
Regionals: 3rd  (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: 5th
Masters: N/A
English Nationals: DNC

You will never be short of intrigue when discussing Grimethorpe will you now?

2009 hasn’t been the happiest of contesting seasons so far for the band as they rebuild following the departure of high profile personnel late last year. The key remains at the helm though – and Allan Withington has shown remarkable loyalty to a band he knows on their day can wipe the floor against anyone. 

Hit and miss at both Bradford and Ostend (especially at the European it must be said)  they opted out of the English National. No London on the horizon so this could be the right time to give their rivals a bloody nose once more and claim their first Open victory for 17 years.   
Player to listen out for:
Robert Westacott –  Has taken over the end chair with a growing sense of confidence and maturity.

HammondsHammonds Saltaire
Morgan Griffiths
4BR Ranking: 18 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: JJ Lees
Principal Euphonium: Matthew Alsop
Soprano Cornet: Benjamin Richeton
Solo Trombone: Phil Shatliffe
Solo Horn: Helen Varley
Flugel Horn: Martin Tromans
Baritone: Michael Walsh
Eb Tuba: Fiona Timms
Bb Tuba: Roy Bowater

Appearances: 34th time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
1 Second: 1989
2 Thirds: 1995, 2005
3 Fourths: 1977, 1981, 1990
1 Fifth: 1973
2 Sixths: 1996, 2000
20 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 16th (Morgan Griffiths) (5)
2007: 8th (Richard Evans) (18)
2006: 8th (David King) (3)
2005: 3rd (David King) (14)
2004: 14th (David King) (8)
2003: Winners (David King) (10)
2002: 9th (David King) (9)
2001: Winners (David King) (10)
2000: 6th (David King) (3)
1999: Winners (David King) (16)
1998: 10th (David King) (8)
1997: Winners (David King) (11)
1996: 6th (David King) (19)

Open Record:
Many people may only think of the YBS title, but under the name of Hammonds Sauce they made their debut in 1970 under the direction of Geoffrey Whitham and had a decent record of achievement.
The last hurrah for Hammonds was in 1989 but returned they returned as YBS after winning the Grand Shield in 1995 under David King. Since then their record of four wins marked them out as the band to beat at Symphony Hall for over a decade.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 11th  (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
English Nationals: 11th
Brighouse Contest: 2nd

Hammonds are walking a tightrope, and one loss of concentration (or even a cruel draw) could send the former four time champion back to the Grand Shield. 

Morgan Griffiths has put heart and soul into reviving the band’s fortunes of late (and has done a fine job too), but it has been something of a Syphian task. Just when it seemed they had reached saftey they have fallen back with a hard contesting stumble.

They were more than a little unlucky at both Bradford and Preston to be fair, but the young band will know they get nothing for nothing at this level. They need to find form and a little bit of luck if they are to survive.

Player to listen out for:
JJ Lees  – Nice to see the former Pennine Brass principal cornet back in top line banding. Young and talented – he could be a key performer for the band on the day.

HepworthHepworth (Cookson Homes)
Ian Porthouse
4BR Ranking: 12

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Nicholas Payne
Principal Euphonium: James Fieldhouse
Soprano: Mark Smedley
Solo Horn: Rebecca Landon
Flugel: Natalie Beer
Solo Trombone: Yvonne Embury
Baritone: Carole Crompton
Eb Tuba: Simon Mofatt
Bb Tuba: Andy Lincoln

Appearances: 5th time
Debut: 2005

Open Record:
No wins
4 Unplaced:

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 9th (Ian Porthouse) (17)
2007: 8th (Mark Bentham) (13)
2006: 11th (Mark Bentham) (6)
2005: Winners of Grand Shield (Mark Bentham) (prom): 8th (Mark Bentham) (2)

Open Record:
An improving return at Symphony Hall since Hepworth won their place here in 2005, the band has secured two top 10 finishes in the last two years.

Won the Grand Shield in 2005 and came 8th on their debut off the dreadful number 2 draw. 

2009 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Butlins Mineworkers: 2nd
English Nationals: 2nd
Whit Friday: 2nd Saddleworth

A season to cherish so far for Hepworth – and there is still the real possibility of more success to come.

They started off the year by missing the Mineworkers title by a whisker, but followed that with tremendous performances at  both Bradford and Preston. They also enjoyed themselves at Whit Friday too, so who says there is nothing worse than being the bridesmaid rather than the bride?

Full of confidence and always well prepared, they should fancy their chances once more and a top six finish may well be the least of their realistic ambitions. 

Player to listen out for:
James Fieldhouse –   The euphonium player has been on cracking form all year and has been central to the band’s success. If he performs well, so does the band.

Selmer Simonsen
4BR Ranking: 20 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Principal Euphonium: Kenneth Broom
Soprano Cornet: Steve Stewart
Solo Trombone: Luke Williams
Solo Horn: Allan Wardrope
Flugel Horn: Caron Robson
Solo Baritone: James Corrigan
Eb Bass: Andy McKreel
Bb Bass: Dave Truesdale

Appearances: 9th time
Debut: 2001

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
1 Fourth: 2004
1 Fifth: 2008
No Sixths:
6 Unplaced

Last 13 Years
Conductor and draw

2008: 5th (Selmer Simonsen) (15)
2007: 18th (Nigel Boddice) (2)
2006: 7th (Steve Bastable) (2)
2005: 13th (Steve Bastable) (8)
2004: 4th (Steve Bastable) (16)
2003: 11th (Frank Renton) (16)
2002: 12th (Frank Renton) (6)
2001: Winners of Grand Shield (Allan Ramsay) (prom): 16th (Allan Ramsey) (19)
1996 - 2000: DNC

Open Record:
Kirkintilloch has notched up an impressive record of achievement at the Open since they made their debuts in 2001.

The two top six finishes have been excellent value, espeically last year when the pressure was really on them with relegation a real possibility. 
2009 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
West Lothian: Winners
Land O’ Burns: 4th

Kirkintilloch will come to the British Open knowing that they will have to up their form if they are to head back home with another well deserved top six finish.

Their last contesting appearance at Land O’ Burns was a bit of a disaster – 4th behind their traditional rivals of Whitburn and Co-operative Funeralcare, but also behind First Section Johnstone. 

That could be the shock to the system the band require though as on their day they are serious contenders for silverware, especially under the command of the Norwegian Selmer Simonsen, who led them to London qualification at Dundee. 

You suspect they will be keen to show their rivals north and south of the border just who has the Saltaire bragging rights.

Player to listen out for:
Steve Stewart – On fire at the moment, the soprano star is great to watch but even better to listen to when he hits top form.

Jason Katsikaris
4BR Ranking:

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Leon Renilson
Principal Euphonium: Philippe Schwartz
Soprano Cornet: Matthew Balson
Solo Trombone: Daniel Brooks
Solo Horn: Kate Eggleshaw
Flugel: Nicki Longden
Baritone: Katrina Marzella
Eb Tuba: Chris Doran
Bb Tuba: Bill Carter

Appearances: 37th time
Debut: 1948

Open Record:
1 Win: 1994
3 Seconds: 1981, 1990, 1992
3 Thirds: 1989, 1991, 1996
3 Fourths: 1985, 1988, 2008
1 Fifth: 1993
2 Sixths: 1982, 1998
23 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: Winners of Grand Shield (J. Katsikaris) (prom): 4th (Jason Katsikaris) (4)
2007: 3rd (R. Gray)
2006: 4th (R. Gray)
2005: 15th (F. Renton)
2004: 13th at Grand Shield (G. Cutt)
2003: 14th (Peter Bassano) (5) (rel)
2002: 11th (Garry Cutt) (5)
2001: 9th (Brian Grant) (5)
2000: 10th (Howard Snell) (10)
1999: 8th (Richard Evans) (17)
1998: 6th (Richard Evans) (5)
1997: 8th (Richard Evans) (14)
1996: 3rd (Richard Evans) (13)

Open Record:
Leyland returned after five years in the Blackpool wilderness in 2008 and showed their class in coming 4th.
They made their Open debut back in 1948 lasting to 1961, but returned in style (white jackets and all) after winning the Grand Shield in 1981 under Richard Evans.

The following years saw victory in 1994, and six podium finishes. They also had the odd experience of trying to retain their title off the number 1 slot in 1995 only to come 19th.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 8th (North West)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
English Nationals: 5th
Whit Friday: 3rd in Tameside

Leyland are many people’s value bet for a podium place this weekend – and given the way they play you can see why so many punters are keen to put a few quid on at the Birmingham bookies.

It’s been a bit of an odd contesting year though for the band – a superb performance at Blackpool was rewarded with 8th place to miss out on a trip to the Royal Albert Hall, whilst they rather flattered to decieve at Preston to come 5th.

They gave the test piece a good airing at Bridgewater Hall last weekend and sounded in fine nick, and with talent both around and in front of the stand an each way odds payout on a top three finish seems well placed value.

Player to listen out for:
Philippe Schwartz – Some player this guy. When someone like Steven Mead says he is the real deal then you should take note.

RothwellRothwell Temperance
David Roberts
4BR Ranking: 11 

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: James McCabe
Principal Euphonium: Andrew Marsh
Soprano: Paul Argyle
Solo Horn: Catherine Roberts
Flugel: Richard Golding
Solo Trombone: Nick Walker
Baritone: Andy Padgett
Eb Tuba: Edward Hodkin
Bb Tuba: Ben Ridgeon

Appearances: 15th time
Debut: 1927

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
1 Fifth: 2005
1 Sixth: 1928
12 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2009: Winners of Grand Shield (D. Roberts) (prom);
2008: 17th (Dave Roberts) (2) (rel)
2007: 9th (David Roberts) (1)
2006: 14th (David Roberts) (10)
2005: 5th (David Roberts) (12)
2004: 2nd at Grand Shield (D. Roberts) (prom): 15th (David Roberts) (14)
1996 - 2003: DNC

Open Record:
A fifteenth appearance at the British Open for Rothwell, with their first as long ago as 1927.

The best they had done so far is the 5th place in 2005, whilst they were relegated to the Grand Shield following their 17th place last year.  They returned immediately to the contest after winning at Blackpool. 

2009 Form:
Regionals: Winners  (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: Winners
European: N/A
Masters: 10th 
English Nationals: DNC

There was a real sense of injustice amongst supporters about Rothwell’s relegation last year from the British Open, but despite the anger felt at the time, the band used it to brilliant effect.

2009 has seen them produce excellent performances under David Roberts to shut up critics and rivals in the process.

The win at Bradford was the starting point – built on the solid virtues that are the band’s hallmark, whilst there was real class in claiming their place back at Symphony Hall with a top notch performance to take the Grand Shield.  

Exhausted by the time of Cambridge they took the sensible step of dropping out of the English Nationals so that they could have plenty of time to prepare for their assaults both here, the Albert Hall and The Sage later in the season.

Consistent and always well prepared they will be looking for a possible top six finish at the very least.     

Player to listen out for:
James McCabe – One of the most under rated principal cornet players around. No misplaced flashiness or showmanship – just quality and lots of it. 

GUSVirtuosi GUS
John Berryman
4BR Ranking: 24

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: James Fountain
Principal Euphonium: Mark Giles
Soprano: Gary Fountain
Solo Horn: Simon Smith
Flugel: Cliff Pask
Solo Trombone: Chris Jeans
Baritone: Jo Stephenson
Eb Tuba: Linda Hobbs
Bb Tuba: Mike Smith

Appearances: 37th time
Debut: 1934

Open Record:
2 Wins: 1954, 1988
1 Second: 1980
5 Thirds: 1946, 1952, 1974, 1982, 1986
2 Fourths: 1983, 1995
3 Fifths: 1948, 1949, 1964
3 Sixths: 1950, 1953, 1969
21 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2009: 2nd in Grand Shield (John Berryman) (prom):
2008: 4th in Grand Shield (John Berryman)
2007: 5th in Grand Shield (Rob Wiffen)
2006: 10th in Grand Shield (David Stowell)
2005: 4th in Grand Shield (David Stowell)
2004: 5th in Grand Shield (David Stowell)
2003: 15th (Major Peter Parkes) (1) (rel)
2002: 17th (Brian Grant) (15)
2001: 10th (Frank Renton) (1)
2000: 7th (Melvin White) (6)
1999: 10th (Melvin White) (23)
1998: 21st (Melvin White) (1)
1997: 17th (John Berryman) (12)

Open Record:
The Virtuosi GUS Band has had many a name in their history at this contest since making their debut in 1934.

Since then they have won the contest twice – famously off the number 1 spot under Stanley Boddington in 1954 as Munn & Felton, and again as Rigid Containers under Bram Tovey in 1988.

They return to the contest for the first time since 2003 after coming runner up at the Grand Shield .

2009 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Midlands)
Butlins Mineworkers: 4th
Grand Shield: 2nd
Masters: 6th
A famous name returns to the British Open after six long years of trying to get out of the pit of despair that is the Grand Shield at Blackpool.

The return is welcome as the band has been on good form under the baton of John Berryman for some time now, although they haven’t always enjoyed the rub of the contesting green.

That was seen at the Area where they came 4th, but they did deliver solid performances at Skegness and the Masters to show that on their day they are more than capable of mixing it in high class company.

They will need to do that here if they are to make any sort of mark on proceedings, but with talent around the stands (and some of it is very talented indeed) they should more than hold their own.

Player to listen out for:
James Fountain – The young principal cornet player may have a face of an angel but he also plays like one too. A performer with a huge future ahead of himself.

Steven Mead
4BR Ranking: 17

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Chris Bradley
Principal Euphonium: Evelyn Bradley
Soprano Cornet: Scott Forest
Solo Trombone: Alex Phillip
Solo horn: Iain Fleming
Flugel horn: Jim Chamberlain
Solo Baritone: Anne Crookston
Eb Bass: Graham Fraser
Bb Bass: Alan Gourlay

Appearances: 18th time
Debut: 1971

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 2003
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
1 Fifth: 2001
1 Sixth: 2007
14 times unplaced

Last 13 Years:
Conductor and draw

2008: 10th (Steven Mead) (9)
2007: 6th (Andrew Duncan) (17)
2006: 10th (Andrew Duncan) (13)
2005: 11th (Andrew Duncan) (3)
2004: 13th (Andrew Duncan) (10)
2003: 2nd (Andrew Duncan) (8)
2002: 10th (Philip McCann) (7)
2001: 5th (Philip McCann) (9)
2000: 17th (Philip McCann) (4)
1999: 11th (Philip McCann) (18)
1998: 20th (Archie Hutchison) (3)
1997: 13th (Richard Adams) (8)
1996: 17th (Chris Houlding) (7)

Open Record:
Whitburn made their first appearance at the British Open in 1971, returning a second time after winning the Grand Shield in 1991.
1995 saw them regain their place at the Open and ever since they have performed solidly with some notable performances in the Millennium seeing them come runner up in 2003 to go with top six finishes in 2001 and 2007.

2009 Form:
Regionals: 3rd (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: 10th
Masters: N/A
Land O' Burns: Winners
West Lothian: 2nd

Perhaps Whitburn is coming to the boil just at the right time after a pretty non descript year that until now has seen them miss out on their regular trip to London and fail to impress at the final of the West Lothian Contest as well as the European.  

Steven Mead returns once more and his brand of musicianship seems to bring out the best in his band, even if they don’t always get the rub of the adjudicators green.

The recent Land O’ Burns victory saw them beat their domestic rivals of Co-operative Funeralcare and Kirkintilloch, so confidence will have been boosted in time for the trip south.

If they can build on that they have every opportunity to post another top 10 finish, and perhaps even better.   

Player to listen out for:
Iain Fleming – A stalwart of Whitburn band for many a year, and a performer who does the business wherever he goes.


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