The North of England Regional Championships
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Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th March sees the bands from the most
northern outpost of England converge on the naffly named "Dolphin
Centre" in Darlington to try and gain those all important qualification
places for the National Finals in Torquay and London.
The North East has had a lean time of it of late in the National
stakes and there really hasn't been too much to celebrate in any of the sections.
However, all the bands will be hoping to improve on that record and there are
going to be some keenly contested fights come the weekend. The area has a well
run and dynamic contesting scene, but it is finding that difficult to translate
into success nationally.
The second smallest region in terms of competing
bands this year (54) the North of England Championships have taken the welcome
step of inviting Black Dyke to perform an evening concert in an attempt to attract
an even bigger audience to the weekend. We wish them success with the venture.
The Dolphin Centre
Sunday 17th March
Commences: 5.00pm approx
Bands: Broughton's Brass (tba): Cottingham (R. Grantham): Ever Ready
(N. Childs): EYMS (G. Pritchard): Fishburn (G. O'Connor): Gregg's Bakery (G. Cutt):
Nestle Rowntree (W. Rushworth): Newcastle Brown Ale (R. Evans).
An interesting contest awaits on the Sunday evening for who ever
has been given the choice of adjudicating the top section will have
to pick a winner from a closely matched field.
Last year's winners were Fishburn, who gave a super account
of themselves in winning the title for the first time in many years. However,
the rest of the season didn't quite live up to expectations and 19th at Pontins,
10th at the Grand Shield and 18th at the Nationals was less than they hoped for.
They are still a real contender here though, and have recently come 2nd behind
Ever Ready at the Durham contest. With a very wily old pro in Graham O'Connor
at the helm they could well feature again.
EYMS were second last year under
the baton of Alan Morrison and the band went on to perform with much credit at
the Nationals where they came 14th but a little less so at the Grand Shield were
they came 20th. Gareth Pritchard has been given the task of repeating their qualification
of 2001, and with a good young band around the stand they too could be in with
more than a shout.
Ever Ready has an unenviable record of success at the
contest over the years, but they were caught napping last time out and could only
manage 3rd place under Brian Grant that meant they missed out on a trip to the
finals. They have been re united with Black Dyke's Nicholas Childs this year in
an attempt to regain top spot in the area and repeat the double winning years
of 1999 and 2000 when the Welshman led the band to triumph. 2001 was still a pretty
good year though for the band and 2nd place at the Grand Shield led them to the
Open for the first time in donkey's years where they performed really well and
came 11th. Recent successes at the Durham contest and the Miners where they were
2nd behind Grimethorpe shows they are back on form and should be the band to beat.
Brown Ale were 4th last year, and have a very consistent record here over the
past five years. The loss of their sponsorship deal with the famous drinks company
was a severe blow but they are determined to do well here and have brought in
Richard Evans to spearhead their attempt. It could be interesting then.
Cottingham are a band that has come a long way in a short space
of time and Richard Grantham continues to lead them by example.
5th last year was a fine achievement and showed that at this level
they can comfortably produce the goods. 13th at Pontins was a bit
of disappointment, but don't be surprised if they continue to perform
well here and challenge for a podium place.
Gregg's Bakery were 7th last year
and under performed somewhat. They have therefore gone for the excellent baton
work of Garry Cutt (who was in the box here last year) and they should therefore
feel confident of improving on that result at least. They recently came 3rd at
the County Durham contest against Fishburn and Ever Ready, so they know they can
push them hard. They could well do so again.
Broughtons Brass come to the contest freshly promoted and they
have made very solid and steady progress in the last few years.
They came 15th at the National Finals in the First Section and may
find the jump up in class a little difficult this year. However,
they should be hoping to take a couple of scalps given the chance.
Rowntree are the other promoted band in the top flight here this year after two
successive 4th places in the First Section saw them come up. They will be conducted
by William Rushworth, the ex superstar tenor horn player who is making a mark
for himself with the baton, and they came 3rd at the Yorkshire and Humberside
contest last year. Another hoping to take more than a couple of prize scalps.
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 1st in the 1st Section
Last Five Years: 1997 not known; 6th 1st section 1998; 5th 1st section
1999; 3rd 1st section 2000; 1st 1st section 2001
A band that has made steady
and solid progress and one that has a very good record of achievement here. We
don't know how they did in 1997, but since then it's been upwards and onwards.
don't know who's at the helm either but they will be keen to keep up the progress.
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 5th
Last Five Years: 1st 2nd section 1997; 1st 1st section 1998; 8th 1st section
1999; 1st 1st section 2000; 5th 2001
Another band that has done well in
recent years here. From winning the 2nd Section title in 1997 they now find themselves
challenging for a place at the National Finals.
A well respected band with
plenty of talent around the stands - they could well just improve again this years.
4BR Ranking: 17
Last Year: 3rd
Last Five Years: 2nd 1997; 3rd 1998; 1st 1999; 1st 2000; 3rd 2001
Last year was a major let down for this band and they will be very
keen not to see a repeat performance this time around.
Nicholas Childs heads
the assault and this combination was unbeaten here in under his tenure in 1999
and 2000. They have worked hard and with enough talent around the stands to cope
with the demands of the piece, they should be able to regain the title.
4BR Ranking: 39
Last Year: 2nd
Last Five Years: 1st 1997; 1st 1998; 2nd 1999; 3rd 2000; 2nd 2001
fine record here ever since Robert Childs brought them up through the ranks in
the early 1990's. Wins in 1996, 1997 and 1998 were followed by a little bit of
a dip in form nationally and they were really struggling a year or two back.
they still managed to come 2nd, 3rd and 2nd again last year was a testament to
a band with an amazing fighting spirit. Back on track now, they could well repeat
last year's result.
4BR Ranking: 32
Last Year: 1st
Last Five Years: 3rd 1997; 5th 1998; 3rd 1999; 2nd 2000; 1st 2001
year's result wasn't the surprise that many thought as the band had been playing
really well under Ian Robinson up to the contest. However, the rest of the year
fell away somewhat and so they will be keen to repeat their triumph.
consistent record of achievement here will put them in good stead, and they should
still have enough class and know-how to do well again. Whether it's enough to
topple Ever Ready again is another matter though.
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 7th
Last Five Years: 2nd 2nd section 1997; 2nd 2nd section 1998; 1st 1st section
1999; 8th 2000; 7th 2001
Disappointing last year when they came a very lowly
7th, Gregg's will be looking forward to this years contest with confidence much
A good record of achievement over the past few years has seen them
rise from the second section in 1998 to the top flight and the opportunity of
a trip to the Albert Hall. Garry Cutt is a fine reader of scores and this could
be a bit of a masterstroke. Could be up there this time.
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 4th in 1st Section
Last Five Years: 1997 not known; 1st 2nd section 1998; 2nd 1st section
1999; 4th 1st section 2000; 4th 1st section 2001
Nestle are another band
that has come up through the sections in recent years, although they only came
4th in the First Section in both 2000 and 2001 and so on paper they may find the
top flight difficult.
William Rushworth has been doing good work though
and they should be well prepared for the challenge ahead. Whether or not they
can muster enough firepower to make a real challenge we will have to wait and
Newcastle Brown Ale
4BR Ranking: None
Last Year: 4th
Last Five Years: 4th 1997; 7th 1998; 4th 1999; 4th 2000; 4th 2001
fine record her since 1997 for the band with the famous name, but it's a record
that they would early love to improve on. Coming 4th is like losing in the FA
Cup semi finals and four times in the last five years suggests they may need a
little extra something to do it.
Richard Evans has been brought in then,
and can the get hip swiveller do the business? It should mean an exciting performance
and one that could well see them get a podium seat at last.
3. Ever Ready
4. Newcastle Brown Ale
6. Northumbria Police
4. Newcastle Brown Ale
5. Greggs Bakery
Dark Horse: Nestle Rowntree