British Open Coverage 2002:
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
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
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.
Conductor: Nicholas Childs
Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Appearances: 98 times.
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,
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)
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
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.
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.
Open Record: 1 Win: (2000) 1 Second: (1950) 2 Thirds: (1972, 2001)
3 Fourths: (1951, 1975, 1976) 1 Fifth: (1974) 1 Sixth: (1999) 30
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
Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
Conductor: William Rushworth
Appearances: 52 Times.
Principal Cornet: Kirsty Abbotts
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
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.
Conductor: John Hinckley
Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Appearances: 14 Times.
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.
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.
Conductor: Ray Farr
Principal Cornet: Brian Tait
Appearances: 26 Times.
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.
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.
Conductor: Jim Cant
Principal Cornet: Dave Richardson
Appearances: 6 Times.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Conductor: Brian Grant
Principal Cornet: Alan Morrison
Appearances: 35 Times
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
Conductor: Steve Bastable
Principal Cornet: Gareth Hann
Appearances: 11 Times.
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.
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.
Conductor: Allan Withington
Principal Cornet: Ian Porthouse
Appearances: 58 Times.
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.
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.
Yorkshire Building Society
Dark Horses: Leyland