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
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
Record: 8 attempts
No Wins: 4 Seconds (96, 98, 2000, 2001): 1 Fifth (99): 3 Unplaced
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
Record: 11 attempts
No Wins: 1 Third (98): 1 Fourth (99): 1 Sixth (95): 8 Unplaced
(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)
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
(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)
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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
Record: 2 attempts
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Record: Debut this year.