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National Finals - 1st Section: Contest details, runners and riders, our dodgy predictions and test piece review..


First Section:
Test Piece: Fantasy for Brass Band (Malcolm Arnold)
Adjudicators: Richard Evans and Geoffrey Whitham

Preston Guild Hall, Sunday, September 3rd
Commences after Second Section.

Bands:
Alliance Brass (B. Ellin) London
ASDA Stocksbridge (D. Renshaw) Yorkshire
Bo’ ness and Carridan (A. Swainson) Scotland
Broughtons Brass (C. Bentham) North
Cinderford (L. Baglin) West
Harrogate (D. Lancaster) Yorkshire
Johnstone Silver (R. Tennant) Scotland
Kibworth (J. Berryman) Midlands
Mossley (S. Stonehouse) N. West
Pennine Brass (I. Porthouse) Yorkshire
Ratby Cooperative (K. Steward) Midlands
Seindorf Beaumaris (G. Evans) Wales
Staines (M. White) London
Thornbury (P. Harper) West
Treherbert (G. Sheppard) Wales
United Coop (Crewe) (J. Sparkes) N. West

This is going to be a difficult one to try and predict. Some really good bands find themselves up against a good testpiece and each other, and it won’t be a surprise if the judges will find it difficult to find the winners.

Some names pop out as bands to look out for, and the main challenge would seem to come from the traditional banding strongholds of Yorkshire and Lancashire, with possible contenders having a good bash from Wales and Scotland.

Pennine Brass, the current French Open Champions are a fine young band and have a string of good results behind them in the past two years to boost their confidence, including coming runners up in the Second Section last year. Harrogate, the champions of the North and ASDA Stocksbridge who took the Yorkshire title ahead of Pennine will also be given short prices at the bookies and will be worth a flutter. Harrogate came 11th in the Second Section Finals last year and so have made a big leap in their standard of playing, whilst ASDA Stocksbridge came 6th in this section last year and will be out to improve on that.

The Scottish champions, Johnstone Silver have been playing well of late and they will present a strong challenge with Bo’ness and Carridan, a famous name north of the border. Both have very experienced men at the helm, which should prove useful on this test piece. The west country send champions Thornbury under Philip Harper, and he is a young man who is making a name for himself with very well thought out readings of testpieces, whilst Lyndon Baglin, one of the great euphonium players is found taking the stick with Cinderford.

Wales will have two very strong outfits on parade, with Seindorf Beaumaris in particular a band that thrives at National Finals. Could this year see the final push of the band towards Championship status? Treherbert could be the dark horses for us, as they have a very experienced line up of ex championship section players who have seen it and in many cases, done it all. They will travel with high expectations.

The North West sends two good quality bands in the form of Mossley who hope to improve on their runners up spot of last year under Simon Stonehouse. Their performance at winning the Area title was memorable indeed and they should be up and around the prizes. United Coop (Crewe) are another hard working band that has consistently done well at both Area and National level and could also be in with a shout.

The Midlands have high hopes from Kibworth who will be conducted by John Berryman, one of the nicest and most experienced band trainers around. He will now the test piece inside out, and this should bode well for his charges. Ratby Cooperative came runners up to Kibworth at the Areas and pushed them close so they will also be hoping for a good result especially as they came 5th last year in the Finals.

The resurgence in the North of England could be given a boost by Broughtons Brass who came runners up to Harrogate at the Area and could be a surprise package at the Finals.

Finally to London, and two bands that are capable of causing an upset or two. Staines will be taken by Melvin White, who has a fine track record as a band trainer and will have prepared his outfit well and will hope to improve on last year’s 14th place and Alliance Brass, who won the Area title by a clear two point margin and could surprise many.

And who do we think will win? Well, the First Section is notoriously difficult to predict, but of course we’ll put our heads on the block are make absolute fools of ourselves!

4BR PREDICTION:
ASDA Stocksbridge
Pennine Brass
Mossley
Kibworth
Harrogate
Seindorf Beaumaris
Dark Horse: Bo’ness and Carridan

Test piece review:
For test piece review - click here

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