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British Open Coverage 2002:

The Track Record – The Conductors

Certain conductors seem to fancy certain contests, but all conductors want to be able to say that they have won the British Open Championships. This will have even more credence this year, as the contest celebrates its 150th anniversary – not a bad entry on the old CV is it?

It’s something to be able to tell your grandchildren and you can show them the physical evidence with banding version of an Oscar – a Mortimer Maestro trophy (except it’s not gold and the sculpture makes the old man look as if he’s had 20,000 volts up his jacksy)

Some conductors have been luckier than others at the Open and some have even won it at their first attempt, but all of them will keep trying until they no longer can get a band to hire their talents.

This year’s field for instance will feature six men who have won the title (down one from last year), but 13 who haven’t (down one also) and 4 making their debuts.

So here are the records of each of the 18 men and 1 woman at this year’s Open.


Nicholas Childs
(Black Dyke):

Made his debut with Tredegar in 1994 and has come close on four occasions since. He holds the curious record of four second places with three different bands (Tredegar, Fodens and Dyke) since then and this year will be his ninth appearance. Five prize winning performances to his name already on the record, but he has yet to emulate his elder brother. Could 2002 be the year for a first win and a return of the famous shield back to Queensbury for the first time since 1995?

Record: 8 attempts
No Wins: 4 Seconds (96, 98, 2000, 2001): 1 Fifth (99): 3 Unplaced


Allan Withington
(Williams Fairey):

Made his debut as far back as 1991, but in 11 attempts so far has only got a 3rd a 4th and a 5th to his name. The early years were the struggle for him and Brighouse but in the last few years he has seemed to have got to grips with the contest, although 2001 saw him once more come out of the prize list in 8th.

This was the last hurrah with B&R and he has since crossed the Pennines to become the main man at Faireys. If he wins the Open it will see him complete a personal “Grand Slam” of Major titles.

Record: 11 attempts
No Wins: 1 Third (98): 1 Fourth (99): 1 Sixth (95): 8 Unplaced


Robert Childs
(Buy As You View Cory):

Two attempts – a win and a third. Not a bad record and one that we are sure he will wish to improve on. Last year saw a very brave attempt to retain the title undone by early blemishes, but this year sees an even stronger line up of personnel at his disposal. The man has shown himself to be focused and determined, so can he take the title back to Wales again?

Record: 2 attempts
1 Win (2000): 1 Third (2002)


John Hinckley
(CWS Glasgow):

The fourth attempt this year for the hardworking MD after three unproductive goes with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery. His 1999 debut saw 14th spot, and 2000 saw further improvement and 9th place. Last year was a lowly 17th. A talented musician with a very big job on his hands to see if some glory can be brought back to the former giants of the Scottish banding scene.

Record: 3 attempts
3 unplaced


James Gourlay
(Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal):

2002 sees Gourlay charged with the task of trying to take the title back to Grimethorpe for the first time since 1991 – a similar task to that of last year when he was charged with doing the same for CWS Glasgow. That ended in 15th place. One of the most impressive records at the Open since his debut in 1995 with Williams Fairey though – he has only once come out of the top 4, including a fine win in 1998.

Could 2002 see another prize-winning performance from the Scot and a return to Grimey glory?

Record: 7 attempts
1 Win (98): 2 Seconds (95, 97): 1 Third (99): 2 Fourths (96, 2000) 1 Unplaced (2001)


David Evans
(DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell):

The debut for the talented young conductor in 2001 ended in a solid 14th place. Has made a big impression with his band since taking over in 2001and directed them to a well-deserved 6th place at the Masters in May of that year. Has continued to impress and with a raft of early season signings now bedded in, he could well direct himself further up the prize list.

Record: 1 attempt
Unplaced (2001)


Ray Farr
(Ever Ready):

Last year Ray Farr took Ever Ready to a well merited 12th place – something they won’t sneeze at again, although they will be hoping for even higher things

One of the strangest records at the Open for the multi talented Mr Farr. A debut as far back as 1976 with City of Coventry, he didn’t re appear until 1981 – this time with Grimethorpe whom he took to 5th place. Another break until 1986 and this time Besses and a year off before a return with Coventry again in 1988 and a sixth place spot. In 26 years he’s made just 7 appearances – it should have been so many more and deserves a better return than he has so far.

Record: 7 attempts
No wins: 1 Fifth (81): 1 Sixth (88): 5 Unplaced


Bramwell Tovey
(Fodens)
:

The man with the longest pedigree in terms of debut – he made his debut with Hanwell back in 1974 on “James Cook” – Mr Tovey has only been back a further seven times and has won it once, come third once and fifth once. That’s a pretty good record; with the 1988 win with Rigid Containers on “Contest Music” the undoubted highlight and 2001 and Fodens on “Les Preludes” perhaps the greatest disappointment.

Many thought he was very unlucky last year to add to that sole win with a performance that was simply electrifying, although not without its mistakes, so could 2002 see a second victory for him and the first for Fodens since 1964?

Record: 6 attempts
1Win (88): 1 Third (86): 1 Fifth (2000): 4 Unplaced


Garry Cutt
(Leyland):

What a fine record for one of the most effective Musical Directors on the circuit. A debut as far back as 1988 with Point of Ayr Band from North Wales heralded a win at only his second attempt with Kennedy Swinton in 1989 to become the youngest winning conductor of the Open.

His partnership with the Marple band was a model of consistent quality performances that led to his second win in 1996 at the Bridgewater Hall. In between he also took Grimethorpe to 3rd spot in 1994 as well as coming 3rd in 2000 and 4th in 2001. A real class act and with a band that could well prove a bit of a dark horse. Came 3rd and 4th on the last two occasions a McCabe work was used here so don’t be surprised to see his name up there again.

Record: 13 attempts
2 Wins (89, 96): 2 Thirds (94, 2000): 3 Fourths (92, 93, 2001) 1 Fifth (98): 5 Unplaced


Brian Grant
(Travelsphere Holidays):

A fifth attempt for the conductor, who previously took the Ransome band on three occasions at the Open and took control of Leyland last year when he steered them to 9th place. He claimed a well-deserved 4th place in 1997 with Ransomes, but the following years saw a dip in form and the band were relegated to the Grand Shield contest after 1999.

An experienced conductor who has also worked with Faireys as resident and Leyland on a professional basis, he has been given chance with Travelsphere to see if he can bring both them and himself back in the prize winning frame. An improvement on 10th place of last for the band cannot be discounted.

Record: 4 attempts:
No Wins: 1 Fourth (97): 3 Unplaced


Phillip McCann
(Whitburn):

The man who as a player won numerous Open titles is still searching for that first victory as a conductor since making his debut with Sellers College Brass as far back as 1989. Two prize winning performances have come his way – first with Sellers and in 1996 with Fodens, but for the most part it has been a quest without reward. His direction of Whitburn over the past few years has been exemplary though and the band has once again taken over the mantle as perhaps the top band North of the Border.

5th place last year was an excellent result for an excellent performance – expectations are high.

Record: 12 attempts:
No Wins: 3 Fifths (91, 96, 2001): 9 Unplaced


David King
(Yorkshire Building Society):

The man with the golden touch and a three-time winner of the title - the most in the field. The young flamboyant David King made his debut at the Open in 1987 with Kennedy Swinton off a number 1 draw that announced to the banding world that here was the “Real Thing”. The early years however were not as successful in terms of prize-winning performances as he hoped, and only a 4th place in 1989 with Black Dyke was his reward. He took a break from the contest in 92 and 93 and returned with CWS (Glasgow) in 1994 without success.

However, his partnership with YBS since 1995 has now in some way given the more mature David King recompense. Only once out of the prizes since and three wins (including a 199 points victory in 1997), his appetite for success remains unsated. Could 2002 see him become the first man since Peter Parkes in 1986 to retain the title.

Record: 13 attempts:
3 Wins (97, 99, 2001): 1 Third (95): 1 Fourth (89): 2 Sixths (96, 2000): 6 Unplaced


Frank Renton
(Kirkintilloch):

1977 saw the first appearance of Frank Renton with Wingates at the British Open – and what an appearance – drawn number 1! The following years he appeared with the declining CWS (Manchester) and took the famous band to their last prize winning in coming 5th in 1980.

The mid 80’s saw a break away from the Open, before a return with Grimethorpe in 1988 heralded prize winning performances that culminated in the famous “Paganini” win of 1991. Since then he has been seen with Desford on a few occasions and in 2001 lead Travelsphere to 10th spot (completing a year of terrible draws and more than a little hard luck). 1991 and 1992 when he stood top of the world with Grimethorpe may be a while ago, but he remains a maverick at heart with the talent to win any contest. Kirkintilloch are a fine band and could be a bit of a dark horse outside bet. They should come higher than last years 16th place.

Record: 14 attempts
1 Win (1991): 1 Third (90): 3 Fifths (80, 89, 92): Unplaced 9 times


Steve Bastable
(Tredegar):

The Musical Director of Tredegar Band is one of the clutch of talented and exciting breed of aspiring young conductors who are now forcing their way to the top of the banding tree.

A product of Salford College and the tuition of David King and Roy Newsome, he played at the top level with Black Dyke and Williams Fairey in Major contest winning performances before concentrating on his conducting first with the Flowers Band and since late 1999 with Tredegar, whom he took to the Welsh Regional title in 2001.

2002 sees his third appearance at the Open following his debut 8th place on “Ceremony” and the disappointing 13th on “Les Preludes” last year. Could be one to watch out for.

Record: 2 attempts
2 Unplaced


Lynda Nicholson (Besses O’ th’ Barn)
One of the most talented musicians and inspirational music teachers gets the chance to prove her worth at the very highest level at the Open this year.

Only the second woman to have the honour of conducting at the contest, Lynda Nicholson has already shown that she can mix it with the boys with a fine qualifying performance for the Nationals with the band early this year.

Has the talent and the drive and a very clear and clean conducting style. One to look out for, and someone who you can guarantee has worked their socks off.

Record: Debut this year


Major Ian Mc Elligott (Brighouse and Rastrick)
The former Director of Music at the Coldstream Gaurds isn’t a stranger to the brass band world, although this will be his debut at a contest of this importance. He also has the immensely difficult task of following a man who moulded Brighouse into one of the most formidable contesting outfits of recent years – Allan Withington - not Peter Bassano who was somewhat unceremoniously dumped after the Masters.

He has conducted such Army bands as the Royal Green Jackets so the Purple and Gold won’t come as such a shock and he does have the experience of working with the Staines Band as a bit of a fall back. It will be very interesting to see what comes of his debut on the 14th.

Record: Debut this year.


William Rushworth (Carlton Main)
Another young man making his debut this year with the baton, but a man who has more than enough experience from his playing days to take the Open in his stride.

William Rushworth made his reputation (and some reputation it is) as a player of immense abilities and with a fulsome and interesting character. His talents have never been questioned and when he hung up his tenor horn after playing with distinction for the likes of YBS, Black Dyke and Leyland he took the plunge into conducting with considerable success in the North East with the Rowntree Band. Reports suggest a fine talent with the stick, so cast an eye over him.

Record: Debut this year.


John Hudson (Cwmaman Silver)
A welcome to the stage of the British Open for the man who has already got a “major” title in his cabinet at home in Norway – the Nationals of 1990.

The British Open though hasn’t been so kind to him since making his debut in 1992 with Wingates, and in his 5 attempts so far he has only got one 6th place in 1993 to show for his efforts. Apart from that he had a 17th on his debut, followed by that 6th, another 17th and a 21st and ended in 1996 with the now defunct Markfield Band (formally William Davis) coming 21st again.

He hasn’t appeared since, but that is a shame for he is a very talented and hard working MD with a very crafty sense of knowing what it takes to make a mark in a big contest. Should do well.

Record: 5 attempts
1 Sixth (1993): 4 unplaced


Jim Cant (Glossop Old)
Jim Cant makes his conducting debut at the British Open this year, although like many of conductors he is no stranger to the contest and was a member of the Williams Fairey Band on bass trombone when they won the title in 1998.

He conducted Glossop with considerable success up until two years ago – leading them in fact to the 1994 3rd Section and 1995 Second Section National titles as well as winning the 4th Section title with Hollingforth in 1993. His return should hopefully signal a return to form for the band and for this hard working and very consistent MD.

Record: Debut this year.

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