2010 Butlins Mineworkers Championship - Second Section retrospective


No doubt about the winners in the Second Section as East London once again came up trumps in Skegness.

2bd Section
Another Butlins Trophy for East London Brass

There was never any doubt about the winners in the Second Section.


Once again East London Brass under the baton of the inspirational Jayne Murrill took back to Walthamstowe, the Butlins Trophy and the £2,000 first prize – and just as they were 12 months ago, they were worthy champions.

They will now be short priced favourites to do a ‘Double/Double’ in Stevenage too, as they produced a performance that wouldn’t have been too far out of the prizes if they were competing in the First Section.

With a full, warmly toned ensemble sound, secure soloists and one of the best MDs around at this level, theirs was an outstanding performance of Keith Wardles’ ‘Folkmusic’ test piece that had character and musicality to go with the mastery of the tricky technical corners and motifs that littered the score.


The MD was very pleased with the result too. “I’m delighted of course,” Jayne told 4BR. “It was a difficult test piece to get to grips with and we didn’t really appreciate just how difficult until the final few rehearsals when we finally managed to get things together. I was very happy by the way it went on stage, and I have to thank my players once again for the way they performed under pressure. They are really committed and the effort they put in is now paying off.”

Jayne’s remarks echoed much of what adjudicator Kevin Wadsworth spoke about to 4BR after the contest.

Get to grips

Kevin accurately pointed out that many of the bands failed to really get to grips with what he called ‘the mechanics’ of the work – the technical aspects that covered balance and dynamic especially, on what he conceded was a very stern test.

”This was without doubt a very difficult piece,” he told 4BR. “The bands really had to try and establish a coherent musical picture, from what at times was quite segmented writing. For Richard (Marshall) and myself in the box, we felt that perhaps bands needed to try and differentiate the dynamics more. There was a great deal of what I would call ‘grey’ dynamic playing – not enough real effort to try and make the most of the pianissimos and double fortes.”

There were many plus points to enjoy in each of the performances however. “There was some great flugel playing all day and we felt that a number of conductors really did try and bring character to the music,” he added.

No doubt

There was no doubting the winners though. “The prize winners were very good, but the winners themselves were clear cut. It was very well thought out and directed, and it was a performance of considerable musical merit.”

Although there were a batch of varying performances for Richard and Kevin to ponder over at the start of the contest, the standard soon picked up when Leigh Baker and the South Yorkshire Police Band took to the stage.

The former Brighouse baritone player was a busy man on the day (taking time out to go and listen to as many bands as he could playing his test piece in the Fourth Section), but not before he had drawn a musical account from his payers to set an early marker that was only beaten by two very good performances from East London and Haslingden & Helmshore.


It also says a great deal about how far the Mineworkers Contest has come in the past few years that a quarter of a century after the end of the most damaging industrial dispute in recent British history, a Police band from the heartland of the British mining industry battle it out in this company without an eyelid being batted.  The only rivalry on show nowadays is on the contesting stage. Congratulations to one and all for that.

With East London providing the adjudicators with a clear cut marker that couldn’t be beaten there was still much to enjoy in the performances that filled the remaining top six places.

Haslingden & Helmshore were excellent value for their runner up spot courtesy of a purposeful performance under the direction of David Holland, whilst Becontree Brass also delivered a well managed account to come in fourth place.

Sop star Geoff Hawley and Matlock will have taken a great deal of encouragement from coming home in 5th, whilst Middleton took the final top six place under the direction of Matthew Stringer.

Varying standard

After this the standard did start to vary according to Kevin, with the bands having increasing difficulty in establishing technical cohesiveness and musical clarity.

For the bands that came in the midfield placings from Leicester Co-op SMW in 7th down to Lewis Merthyr in 12th that consistency of execution and the inability to really differentiate the dynamics cost points, whilst the final three bands did find that the piece stretched them towards their limits.

For the winners though, Stevenage can’t come soon enough, whilst for the likes of Haslingden & Helmshore, South Yorkshire Police and Becontree Brass, timely boosts to their contesting confidence ahead of the Areas.

For the rest?  More hard work if they are to make it to Harrogate.

Iwan Fox


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