2010 Regional Championships - Success or failure?


Was the series of 2010 Regional Championships a success? 4BR takes a final look back over the highs and lows of the qualification contests.

RAHNow that the dust has finally settled on the trials and tribulations of the 2010 Regional Championships, perhaps it is just the right time to have a quick look back and see how it all went – region by region.

Was the 2010 series a success that gives hope for the future? Or did the movement take another step towards terminal decline?

As always with brass band contests, the raw data comes in the numbers.

502 bands took part this year (and increase of 18 from 2009), but still some considerable way below the 567 that took part in 2000 and the 573 in 1990.  

Six of the eight regions showed an increase (one remained the same and one had a reduction), whilst there was real encouragement in seeing a number of new bands take part and the return of some revied former competitors.

Total number of competing bands:

2010: 502
2009: 484
2008: 506
2007: 504
2006: 515

The usual questions were asked about the suitability of venues, costs, prize money, clashing dates and adjudicators decisions – and why can’t the Music Panel pick such excellent test pieces every year.

The usual gripes, groans and bar room opinions then…  


St George’s Hall in Bradford kicked the whole 2010 series off, with the type of contentious contesting that is the lifeblood of the movement.

Brighouse and David King took the top section honours with Carlton Main joining them in London with the pre-qualified duo of Rothwell and Black Dyke, in a contest that raised the odd eyebrow or two.

Elsewhere, Hammonds Saltaire’s 5th place in the First Section was greeted with booing in the hall, which rather took the gloss off Stuart Fawcett’s fairy tale final performance with winners Meltham & Meltham Mills. A revived Knottingley took the Second Section title, a delighted Chapeltown the Third and the returning Worsborough a highly encouraging Fourth.   

Not everyone was happy though, with plenty of complaints about the late finish on Sunday night, which precipitated a forceful bid to host the event in Sheffield backed by the Mercury regional newspaper.

It just went to show though – Yorkshire banding was alive and well, and still the place to be, with numbers up to the joint highest level for a decade.

Brighouse celebrate their victory at St George's Hall

Number of competing bands:

2009: 57
2008: 57
2007: 58

2010 Retrospectives: Yorkshire


This year it was the turn of Glenrothes to host Scotland’s premiere brass band contest, in what turned out to be another sign of banding revivalism north of the border.

Long term things look rosy, but despite attracting a couple of more bands to the contest stage (although still down on five years ago), the grass roots (just 6 bands in the Fourth Section) still looks fragile and in need of nurturing.

Co-operative FuneralCare retained their ‘three into two’ title to show that they were still domestic top dogs, with Whitburn joining them in London and Kirkintilloch missing out.

Elsewhere, there was a wonderful win for Loghgelly in the First Section, a highly encouraging one for Dalkeith in the Second, a brilliant return for Kilmarnock in the Third and a super victory for Dumfries in the Fourth.

The organisation remains brilliant north of the border (although the allocation of points is now an anachronism), but the jury was still out on whether the bands are just as good too.  

Top dogs: Co-op retained their title north of the border

Number of competing bands:

2009: 47
2008: 50
2007: 48
2006: 51

2010 Retrospectives: Scotland

North West:

Despite the clouds that still hang around the future of the Winter Gardens as a long term venue for the North West Area contest, it still managed to attract 78 bands for a single day’s contesting (just 2 bands short of the 20 year high of 80 in 1990).

Foden’s hegemony continued in the top section with perhaps the best performance of ‘English Heritage’ of the Areas, with Fairey and Leyland showing their class to join them at the Albert Hall.  

There was delight for Freckleton and Delph as they won the First and Third Sections off number 1 draws, a fine win for Diggle in the Second Section and a remarkable turn around of fortune for Hazel Grove in the Fourth who went from last to first in 12 months.

There was also the good news of Old Hall’s baritone player making a full recovery after illness struck on stage.

With news that the contest would take place earlier next year, the hard pressed and hard working Regional Committee showed it was trying to make the most of a venue that is well past its sell by date.

Fodens five in a row

Number of competing bands:

2009: 74
2008: 79
2007: 74
2006: 72

2010 Retrospectives: NorthWest

West of England:

The sun shone brightly in Torquay as 73 bands took to the stages at the Riviera Centre – although down on last year and still some way off the 89 competitors that welcomed in the Millennium.

Flowers bloomed to take the top section title and deny Camborne the opportunity of being the first band in well over a decade to retain its Championship title.

Elsewhere the quality of the best bands in the lower sections showed that once again the region would send highly competitive outfits to Harrogate.

Portishead and Filton were clear winners in the First and Second Section, Sidmouth delivered a fine win in the Third, and there was absolute explosion of joy in the Fourth as the youngsters of Test Valley Brass beat a field of 19 rivals.

A well-run event, with five highly competitive sections, the West of England had plenty to smile about.

Flower power in Torquay

Number of competing bands:

2009: 74
2008: 72
2007: 75
2006: 79

2010 Retrospectives: West


Although numbers are yet to return to the Millennium year high (90) there was further encouragement for the Midlands Regional Committee as they continue to drive the Area contest forward in its new surroundings of Bedworth.

The highest number for Fourth Section entrants (24) for a decade was something to celebrate, although the Second Section continues to shrink alarmingly.  

Virtuosi GUS showed that they are returning to former glories with their win in the top section, whilst there was delight for a long overdue return to the winner’s enclosure for Langley in the First Section.

Sarah Groarke became the first of just three women this year to win a Regional title when she led Tintwistle to an impressive success in the Second Section, Porthywaen took the Third and Shipston Town bagged a great success in the Fourth.

GUS triumph in the Midlands

Number of competing bands:

2009: 76
2008: 81
2007: 81
2006: 80

2010 Retrospectives: Midlands


The announcement that Welsh banding will get together to discuss ways in which it could try and copy the success of Scotland in developing grass roots banding was an encouraging note to end a vibrant 2010 championships in Swansea.

Numbers were up this year from the all time low of 2009, but still have some way to go to reach the levels of just a few years ago, when 50 bands appeared at the contest.

The quality of the competing bands is not in question at present however, with Tredegar taking the top section title with an inspired performance to beat Cory with a delighted Tongwynlais also heading to London.

Elsewhere, bands with eyes on Harrogate glory showed their class too, with Pontardulais and Tylorstown taking the First and Second Section titles, the talented youngsters Goodwick the Third, and a delighted Crwbin the Fourth.  

An inspired Tredegar take the Welsh title

Number of competing bands:

2009: 39
2008: 43
2007: 47
2006: 50

2010 Retrospectives: Wales

London & Southern Counties:

As always they came in their numbers to Stevenage, and whilst the Area still has a little way to go to return to the 94 competitors that crammed into the Arts & Leisure Centre in 1999 & 2000, David Hobbs and his team are still running a remarkable event.

There is now emerging quality to go with the quantity too, with Redbridge delivering a highly polished performance to take the top section title yet again, to head to the Albert Hall with Aveley & Newham in tow.

Meanwhile, East London Brass confirmed their class in romping home in the Second Section and Friary Guildford also showed their rivals a clean pair of musical heels in the First Section.

Fulham sounded a highly competitive outfit in the Third, whilst Battle Town retained their Fourth Section title in splendid fashion. The weekend confirmed that a much derided area would be represented in both sets of finals by highly competitive bands later this year.

Wise after the event for Redbridge and their MD

Number of competing bands:

2009: 76
2008: 79
2007: 79
2006: 82

2010 Retrospectives: London

North of England:

Not only was there the encouragement of an increase in the number of competing bands that made it to the starting line this year in Darlington (including at least two new bands) there was further evidence that the quality continues to improve too.

The Regional Committee showed itself to be very adept at overcoming any problems the elements threw at it and Alan Hope will be delighted that the region will send a host of strong bands to both finals later this year.

Reg Vardy’s class was evident as they took the top section title, whilst Barton delivered perhaps the best rendition of ‘A Moorside Suite’ heard anywhere around the country to take the First Section honours.

Cockerton and Ferryhill delivered highly encouraging performances in taking the Second and Third Section honours, whilst Stape Silver and the youngsters of NASUWT Riverside produced two little corkers to head for Harrogate in the Fourth.

Reg Vardy
Back at number 1 for Reg Vardy

Number of competing bands:

2009: 41
2008: 45
2007: 42
2006: 43

2010 Retrospectives:


2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007
2006   2005   2004 (1)   2004 (2)   2003
2002   2001