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British Open Coverage 2002:

The Competitors:

Saturday the 14th September will see 19 of the best bands in the United Kingdom (no representatives from Europe – due to the rules, or the Commonwealth – due to the expense most probably) battling it out on John McCabe’s wonderful “The Maunsell Forts” to see if they can claim the title of the 150th British Open Champions.

The usual suspects will be there of course and this year there is a feeling in many quarters that a possible “outsider” may spring a bit of a shock and do a Marple. We’ll have to wait and see.

There will be contenders, pretenders and hopefuls for us, but every band is here on its merits and every band will be in with a chance of winning the big gold shield, the Belle Vue Challenge Cup and the £3000. All will fancy their chances in some way, with a genuine handful travelling with realistic intentions of wrenching the title from the hard grasp of the Yorkshire Building Society Band and David King.

Who will it be?

Besses O’ th’ Barn
Conductor: Lynda Nicholson
Principal Cornet: Alex Thomas
Appearances: 74
Debut: 1869
Open Record: 7 wins: (1892, 1894, 1920, 1931, 1937, 1959, 1982) 1 Second: (1958) 8 Thirds: (1874, 1885, 1887, 1895, 1902, 1918, 1922, 1923) 6 Fourths: (1869, 1870, 1872, 1891, 1938, 1957) 3 Fifths: (1883, 1956, 1979) 5 Sixths: (1896, 1934, 1964, 1966, 1981) 44 Unplaced
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (13th, 16th, 17th, 21st, -, -,)

The runners up at the Grand Shield in May come to the Open for yet another crack at the title as a rejuvenated band under the direction of Lynda Nicholson. In addition to that success, the band performed with real merit at the Regionals to come 4th and gain qualification to London, and also put in a decent showing at the Masters where they came 11th overall with David Read putting them as high as 3rd.

The return to the Open this year should see them perform much better than their last few outings, where they struggled to make any sort of impression. A good quality band and well directed - Besses could well prove to be a bit of an outside bet for a top 6 place, especially as they seem to be moving in the right direction at last.

Black Dyke
Conductor: Nicholas Childs
Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Appearances: 98 times.
Debut 1856
Open Record: 27 Wins: (1862, 1863, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1891, 1895, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1914, 1935, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995)
21 Seconds: (1877, 1887, 1888, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1917, 1922, 1934, 1938, 1971, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001)
9 Thirds: (1868, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1916, 1937, 1953, 1958, 1963)
8 Fourths: (1890, 1912, 1919, 1921, 1936, 1970, 1979, 1989)
5 Fifths: (1864, 1920, 1936, 1952, 1966)
2 Sixths: (1947, 1962)
25 Unplaced:
1 Disqualification (1865)
Last 6 Years: (starting 1996): (14th, dnc, 8th, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd)

Up until now, 2002 has been a little bit of a curates egg for the band from Queensbury. An exceptional performance at the Yorkshire Regional saw them win in style, but even though they played very well at the Europeans, they had to be content with a slightly disappointing third place. With the defence of their title in London to follow next month, they would dearly love to go to Kensington as British Open Champions.

The last three years has seen the band beaten into second place and many would be delighted with such a record. You get the feeling that Dyke are champing at the bit though to rid themselves of the bridesmaid tag here and with an exceptional line up of star players and solid artisans they will surely be the band to beat. Who will bet against the Shield returning back to Queensbury for the first time since 1995?

Brighouse and Rastrick
Conductor: Major Ian McElligott
Principal Cornet: Nick Payne
Appearances: 61 times.
Debut 1890
Open Record: 6 Wins: (1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1978) 3 Seconds: (1965, 1977, 1983) 5 Thirds: (1939, 1940, 1973, 1976, 1998) 6 Fourths: (1942, 1943, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1999) 3 Fifths: (1960, 1971, 1987) 5 Sixths: (1938,1944, 1959, 1986, 1995) 33 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (20th, 10th, 3rd, 4th, 12th, 8th)

2002 has been a year of great change at Brighouse, what with the departure of their former MD, Allan Withington to Williams Fairey – not before his took them to 3rd place at the Regionals though and qualification back to the Royal Albert Hall. The experiment with Peter Bassano at the Masters was short lived, although for us, he made a favourable impression, and they have now plumbed for a somewhat untried and untested talent in Major Ian McElligott. It should make for interesting listening.

Not a great record of late at the Open, with the last two years in particular seeing them perform well below par. What the Major will bring to the boys from West Riding we’ll have to wait and see. It could well end in either tears or triumph.

Buy As You View Cory
Conductor: Robert Childs
Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Appearances: 39 Times.
Debut 1922
Open Record: 1 Win: (2000) 1 Second: (1950) 2 Thirds: (1972, 2001) 3 Fourths: (1951, 1975, 1976) 1 Fifth: (1974) 1 Sixth: (1999) 30 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (19th, 7th, 13th, 6th, 1st, 3rd)

2001 was the year in which the Millennium Champions of 2000 put up brave defences of the titles, which were won in thrilling fashion 12 months previously. They fell short, only because of a few minor glitches it must be said and these seemed to have been rectified for 2002 with some strong signings. A superb win at the Welsh Regionals was a real sign of their intentions, and although their proposed Masters debut was scupperred they will enter the Open as one of the favourites to win the title.

A fine record over the past few years at the Open will surely be maintained if present form is anything to go by. Robert Childs has an exceptional team of players at his disposal and they won’t be short of preparation for sure. Will 2002 see a repeat of the Millennium triumph?

Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
Conductor: William Rushworth
Appearances: 52 Times.
Principal Cornet: Kirsty Abbotts
Debut 1924
Open Record: 1 Win: (1958) 5 Seconds: (1941, 1957, 1959, 1969, 1972) 3 Thirds: (1948, 1950, 1956) 3 Fourths: (1928, 1944, 1963) 1 Fifth: (1927) No Sixths: 39 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): ( -, -, -, 14th, 9th, 17th)

Carlton Main have gone through the wringer a bit in the last few months with players coming and going, and rumours flying that the band was in very serious financial problems as well. The departure of John Hinckley and the non appearance at the Masters to add to their 9th place at the Yorkshire Regionals may have sunk lesser bands, but by all accounts they have been working their socks off under the direction of newly appointed MD, William Rushworth.

Last years performance was a disappointment after two years of improvement at the contest and they will need a decent result this time around to safeguard their position at the contest. They certainly have the ability to do well against high class opposition (as they have done at the Masters before now) and with a bit of luck they should do enough to be here next year at least.

Cwmaman Institute Silver (Tower Colliery)
Conductor: John Hudson
Principal Cornet: Richard Davies
Debut: 2002
Open Record: Debut this year
Last 6 years (starting 1996): (-, -, -, -, -, -, )

What a story this is. Just a few years ago, Cwmaman were playing in the First Section in Wales after a series of poor performances at local contests led to their relegation. However, some inspired direction and a spirit born out of adversity has led them into the big time – and it is very well deserved. 2002 saw them come 4th at the Regional Championships and they then came 3rd at the Ebbw Vale contest where they gave the Grand Shield test piece an early run out. Then came Blackpool and a performance that well merited its top prize on a day when others simply blew it.

They come to the Open full of confidence, and will not be here simply to make up the numbers. Some fine players around the stand, and a very crafty old head to direct operations – Cwmaman will do themselves proud and won’t be out of place in this company for sure.

CWS (Glasgow)
Conductor: John Hinckley
Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Appearances: 14 Times.
Debut 1956
Open Record: 2 Thirds: (1993, 1997) 12 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (8th, 3rd, 12th, 9th, 11th, 12th)

2002 has been a huge disappointment so far for CWS Glasgow. The traditional heavyweight champions of Scotland seem to have hit the buffers a bit in recent months – starting with the Regional Championships where they came 7th under David King and then came 8th at the European under Ray Farr. They have since reorganised themselves somewhat and have appointed the hard working and talented John Hinckley as MD. Last month they didn’t do anything of note at the Land O’ Burns Contest when they came a disappointing 4th, but the Open is a different kettle of fish entirely.

The last couple of years have seen the band slip somewhat at the contest and even last year with James Gourlay they under performed and came 12th. They now need a decent performance to stop the threat of relegation, but with enough talent around the stands to grace any band in the country, they should have enough about them to move back towards the top half of the prize list at least.

DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell
Conductor: David Evans
Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Appearances: 58 Times.
Debut 1938
Open Record: 3 Wins: (1970, 1971, 1980) 1 Second: (1966) 2 Thirds: (1962, 1975) 4 Fourths: (1967, 1973, 1974, 1978) 2 Fifths: (1965, 1994) 3 Sixths: (1943, 1972, 1979) 43 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (22nd, 14th, 19th, 15th, 18th, 14th)

Another band that has seen major changes in personnel in 2002 – and perhaps one of the main reasons why they didn’t really gell as they would have hoped at either the Yorkshire Regionals, where they came 8th or the Masters where they came 16th. They have had time on their side though and the signings (all top class players, especially the new Principal Cornet) should now have bedded in.

The last couple of years at the Open have been something of bland affair, with performances that have not quite captured the judges ears enough to take them out of the mid field mire. David Evans is a young talent with a big future as an MD and this could well be the breakthrough year for the band at the contest.

Ever Ready
Conductor: Ray Farr
Principal Cornet: Brian Tait
Appearances: 26 Times.
Debut 1966
Open Record: 1 Fourth: (1987) 2 Fifths: (1977, 1982) 23 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (-, -, -, -, -, 12th)

The runners up at the Grand Shield of 2001 gave a real fine performance at the Open last year which seemed to give them a top up of confidence for 2002, which started with a fine victory at the North East Regionals and continued with a very solid 13th place at the Masters.

Another band with talented players all around the stand, they will be looking to improve further on that 12th place of 2001 and will travel with high hopes of doing well. The forthcoming months are going to be busy – London in just a few more weeks, but this year could be one in which a North East band makes a real impression at the contest. A repeat of 1977, 1982 or even 1987? Wait and see.

Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Appearances: 62 Times.
Debut 1909
Open Record: 9 Wins: (1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1964) 5 Seconds: (1911, 1916, 1952, 1987, 1998) 6 Thirds: (1914, 1925, 1957, 1970, 1981, 1985) 4 Fourths: (1958, 1965, 1986, 1991) 8 Fifths: (1918, 1953, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000) 3 Sixths: (1917, 1984, 1994) 27 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (5th, 9th, 2nd, 5th, 5th, 7th)

Where as 2001 was a year to forget (although they did produce some of the most memorable performances of the contest year), 2002 has been one to savour for the outfit from Sandbach. The appointment of Russell Gray was inspired, and he directed them superbly to win the North West Regional Championships and the Masters. Bramwell Tovey returns for the Open though and this could well be the little added extra that could well see the band regain the title for the first time since 1964.

A fine record on paper at the Open over the past few years hides the real truth somewhat. 1998 was lost by the closest of margins possible, whilst last years performance was an amazing musical experience – flawed but quite, quite brilliant. Bram Tovey will surely not want to be robbed again and so this year could see him take his second title and the bands tenth. Sit back and enjoy.

Glossop Old
Conductor: Jim Cant
Principal Cornet: Dave Richardson
Appearances: 6 Times.
Debut 1888
Open Record: 5 Unplaced
Last 5 Years (starting 1996): (-, -, -, -, 14th, 20th)

Glossop Old has returned to Jim Cant, their former MD in the glory days when they raced up through the sections to become British Open competitors, to steer them at this years contest. 2002 saw them paired together at the Midlands Regional where they came a disappointing 6th and they weren’t at the Masters, so they have had time to prepare in full and comfortably won the Buxton contest in the interim.

The last two years have seen the band perform adequately at the Open and 14th place 2000 was a good return. 20th last year however means that they will have to beat a few bands to ensure their continued participation at the contest for 2003. Plenty of talent and a hard working and sensible MD will bring out the best in the band, and that could well be enough to see them fight another day next year.

Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
Conductor: James Gourlay
Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall
Appearances: 57 Times.
Debut 1935
Open Record: 4 Wins: (1967, 1969, 1984, 1991) 3 Seconds: (1945, 1963, 1973) 10 Thirds: (1960, 1961, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2000) 3 Fourths: (1972, 1998, 2001) 6 Fifths: (1976, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997) 3 Sixths: (1946, 1980, 1985) 28 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (7th, 5th, 4th, 18th, 3rd, 4th)

The brass band equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters make their appearance at the Open after a quiet contesting year – just the runners up spot at the Yorkshire Regional so far. By the end of 2002 though, they could well be Open, National and Spennymoor Champions for they have the talent and the drive to impose themselves once more as the premier brass band in the land.

James Gourlay has the opportunity this year to improve their (and his) fortunes at the contest, and with a little bit of luck they could well take the title. The past two years under Garry Cutt they gave two performances that rolled back the years, but still it wasn’t quite enough. An interesting combination this though – reminiscent of Howarth and the Grimey miners of yesteryear, and it could prove to be just as successful. Ones to make sure you listen to.

Conductor: Frank Renton
Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Appearances: 1
Debut: 2001
Open Record: 1 unplaced
Last 5 Years (starting 1996): (-, -, -, -, -, 16th)

The Grand Shield winners of 2001 have continued on their upward slope since winning a place at the Open, and 2002 saw them get off to a great start by winning the Scottish Regionals in some considerable style under the baton of Frank Renton. A lot of the credit must go to Resident Conductor Allan Ramsey and we are sure the band is as well prepared as any come Saturday. They also have London and Spennymoor to look forward to in the coming few weeks as well as an expensive trip to Bergen for the Europeans in eight months time.

16th place was a fair return last year, but they have improved since them, and even though they could only manage 2nd place at the Land O’ Burns contest a few weeks ago, you can be sure they had one eye on this coming weekend and beyond.

Conductor: Garry Cutt
Principal Cornet: Leon Renilson
Appearances: 33 Times.
Debut 1948
Open Record: 1 Win: (1994) 3 Seconds: (1981, 1990, 1992) 3 Thirds: (1989, 1991, 1996) 2 Fourths: (1985, 1988) 1 Fifth: (1993) 2 Sixths: (1982, 1998) 21 Unplaced.
Last 6 years (starting 1996): (3rd, 8th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 9th)

2002 has seen the Leyland band once more climb those extra few rungs back towards the top of the brass banding tree, with 3rd place and qualification for the London Finals secured in March at Blackpool and 7th place at the Masters showing that a return to the days of being real contenders for the Open title have returned.

Garry Cutt has been employed for this attempt, a shrewd move if ever there was one and he should be more than able to coax a top class performance from a quality band. Whether it will be enough to see them regain the title they won so thrillingly under Richard Evans in 1994, remains to be seen, but their name will surely be or many peoples lips come Saturday evening. Ones to listen out for.

Travelsphere Holidays
Conductor: Brian Grant
Principal Cornet: Alan Morrison
Appearances: 35 Times
Debut 1934
Open Record: 2 Wins: (1954, 1988) 1 Second: (1980) 5 Thirds: (1946, 1952, 1974, 1982, 1986) 2 Fourths: (1983, 1995) 3 Fifths: (1948, 1949, 1964) 3 Sixths: (1950, 1953, 1969) 19 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (16th, 17th, 21st, 10th, 7th, 10th)

Brian Grant has already tasted success with the Midlands based band when he directed them into second spot at the Regional Championships in March and third place at the Masters. Both showed that on their day, the former GUS band can cut the mustard with the best around. They will be hoping however that the curse of the early draw that so blighted them in 2001 doesn’t seek them out again. Lightening can’t strike five times can it?

Some worthy performances of late at the Open – especially last year when Alan Morrison on soprano shone like a beacon on “Les Preludes”. Brian Grant has done well at the contest also over the years and this should put them in good stead. They will certainly be looking to improve on the midfield finishes of the past three years for sure and with a strong player line up they could well feature highly.

Conductor: Steve Bastable
Principal Cornet: Gareth Hann
Appearances: 11 Times.
Debut 1976
Open Record: 1 Second: (1996) 1 Sixth: (1997) 9 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (2nd, 6th, 7th, 7th, 8th, 13th)

The band for the Welsh valleys continue to produce quality performances wherever they go – but in 2002 they failed to win through to the National Finals and have lost further players in recent months. A win at the Ebbw Vale contest and two fine shows at the Europeans showed that on their day the band can still produce the goods, whilst in Steve Bastable they have one of the best young conducting talents on the circuit.

Since 1996 however they have progressively come lower down the pecking order at the Open and 13th last year was a fair result for a disappointing show. They can and should perform better this time around – and they will need to if they are to avoid the possibility of a drop from the contest. Plenty of talent and some fine players as always should be enough for them, and you never know, they might well sneak in the frame.

Conductor: Philip McCann
Principal Cornet: Charles Cullen
Appearances: 10 Times.
Debut 1971
Open Record: 1 Fifth: (2001): 9 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (17th, 13th, 20th, 11th, 17th, 5th)

Whitburn are a band going places. Fifth place at the Open last year was followed by 8th at London and second place at the Scottish Regional Championships this March will mean yet another long trip south for the band. They can’t be complaining though and in recent years they have established themselves very much back at the top of the Scottish and British banding tree.

An oddish record at the Open though – every good year seems to be followed by a bad one and so they will be hoping that they can buck the trend this time around and possibly repeat or better last year’s performance. Another band with the talent and work ethos to match - don’t be surprised to be impressed with their efforts once again on Saturday.

Williams Fairey
Conductor: Allan Withington
Principal Cornet: Ian Porthouse
Appearances: 58 Times.
Debut 1938
Open Record: 16 Wins: (1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1998) 13 Seconds: (1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1975, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1997) 5 Thirds: (1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999) 4 Fourths: (1959, 1971, 1996, 2000) 1 Fifth: (1985) 6 Sixths: (1951, 1957, 1970, 1978, 1990, 2001) 13 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (4th, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th)

You have to back to 1994 for Williams Fairey to not appear in the prize list at the Open, and if recent form is anything to go by, that run should continue in 2002. Runners up at the North West Regional in Howard Snell’s domestic swan song they then teamed up with Frank Renton to give a thrilling performance at the Masters only to be pipped by their traditional rivals Fodens. Since then though the arrival of Allan Withington will mean that the Stockport band will once more travel to the Open as one of the short priced favourites for the title.

The last couple of years have seen fine, rather than inspired performances from the band at the Open, and last years show off number 2 was very much in the same mould. It was if the band knew their luck was out (number 2 is the worse draw statistically of the lot) and their performance didn’t quite come off as you would have expected. Give them a better draw this time around, and there is very much a chance that the title could once more find its way into the Williams Fairey trophy cabinet and give Alan Withington the honour of being the first man to win all four “majors”.

Yorkshire Building Society
Conductor: David King
Principal Cornet: Stuart Lingard
Appearances: 26 Times.
Debut 1970
Open Record: 3 Wins: (1997, 1999, 2001) 1 Second: (1989) 1 Third: (1995) 3 Fourths: (1977, 1981, 1990) 1 Fifth: (1973) 2 Sixths: (1996, 2000) 15 Unplaced.
Last 6 Years (starting 1996): (6th, 1st, 10th, 1st, 6th, 1st)

2002 didn’t quite start in the fashion YBS would have hoped for – what with the loss of several key players and a rather sub par performance at the Yorkshire Regionals where they could only manage 4th spot, whilst the Masters saw them come home in 6th place. If people thought that this was a sign of a band on the slide, then the European made them eat their words, and their win there was simply awesome in it’s execution. YBS were back on track.

What then of the Open this year? Given that their record has the strange look about it of good year/bad year the band will be hoping to stop the trend and hopefully become the first band since Black Dyke 15 years ago to retain their title. With their players all on top form, and David King at his imperious best, you wouldn’t want to bet against it would you now?

So, who do we think come Saturday at about 5.00pm will be declared the 2002 British Open Champions?

Well, the usual suspects are there to be reckoned with and bands such as BAYV Cory, Black Dyke, Williams Fairey, YBS, Grimethorpe and Leyland should be pushing for the top spots. However, we’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Fodens could well end their long wait for the title and triumph. A combination of a quality toned band and a master musician at the helm may prove irresistible – although the keen readers amongst you would remember that we also tipped them for the title last year and they came 7th!

Strangely, we can’t really see much of a difference from last year this time around either for the top places – we actually got 6 of the 7 right and although you may think we are playing safe, the quality of the real top bands should be enough to see off any lesser challenges. It will be close though – the top bands will perform McCabe’s work with near flawless technique, but it may be the MD’s who can find the atmosphere that the music so demands that could be the ones that will grasp the trophy. It should be one hell of a contest.

4BarsRest Prediction:

Yorkshire Building Society
Black Dyke
Williams Fairey
Grimethorpe Colliery

Dark Horses: Leyland

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