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2003 All England Masters Championship

The Masters 2003 – Introduction and Prediction

Corn Exchange
Cambridge
Sunday 25th May
Starts at 12.00 noon


The youngest of the brass banding “majors” has now reached that difficult mid teenage years – the time in life when the childish things are put away and the responsible adult comes to the fore. As any doting parent will know, that isn’t the case unless you happen to have given birth to a saint, so just like Harry Enfield’s grotesque pubescent character the Masters displays an intoxicating mix of the good, the bad and the totally but excitingly uncontrollable.

The good of course is the way in which the fathers, Messers Biggs and Franklin have nurtured their young charge through the early days with a sympathetic parental eye which ensured that the bands themselves have had a say about such things as who would mark their exam papers and what subject they would be tested on. The bad is still possibly the parental home which is congested and cramped, doesn’t have enough bedrooms for changing and can leave bands outside in the wet, even if they haven’t misbehaved.

The totally uncontrollable though has been the tantrums of a few bands over the possible inclusion in the school classroom of a Welsh pupil, the continued reluctance of the European Education Board not to allow the winning pupil a seat at the Euro Exam and the couple of odd markings that have come to light from a couple of the enclosed examiners. It makes for a great mix though doesn’t it?

The Masters is now a cracking contest day. A couple of the so called “Big Boys” are missing out, but both Black Dyke and Grimethorpe are not quite like other bands in any respect, and so their absence does not diminish the contest in any way. It would be nice if they were there though.

As for this years line up we have the current European Champions, National Champions, the current Regional Champions from London, the North East, the North West and Yorkshire, the Grand Shield winners and the Senior Cup victors. Not a bad set of bands is it?

There have been very encouraging noises from the bandrooms about the test piece as well. Martin Ellerby has written for this contest before with his “Tristan Encounters” proving a stern but musical test a few years back and it seems that his “Chivalry” will be well received. It has enough technical challenges to test the best soloists and ensembles whilst it is pretty pleasant on the old lugholes. There are we have been informed a few intentional or unintentional musical witty moments as well, so listen out for a bit of “Black Magic Woman” and even “Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”. After the dour landscape of post communist “Prague” we need something to raise a smile or two.

As for our predictions. A fine field should make for a fine contest and with a quality test piece to test the bands we think there won’t be a surprise result – over the years there really hasn’t been one has there? The best bands tend to do well here – the acoustic suits full rounded sounds more than it does filigree quiet detail. That’s why we think there could well be a top six of the top blowing bands this time around.

YBS, Brighouse, Fodens, Fairey and Leyland could well be the top five bands to beat once more, but there are a second tier in the form of high flyers Carlton Main, Rothwell Temperance and the bands who had a bad day at Blackpool such as Sellers, Ransome and Flowers who will be determined to make amends here. Add to that the likes of the inform Mount Charles, Yorkshire Imps, Travelsphere and Ever Ready and you have half the field who are more than capable on their day of comfortably making a mark in the top six.

We don’t think any of the bands will struggle and the likes of Thoresby, Redbridge and Jaguar (both on a roll at the moment), Aveley, Besses, Glossop and Woodfalls could all make a mark if they play to the top of their form.

Still, someone has to make a prediction and we will stand or fall on ours – (we usually fall we hear you say).

Here goes then……

1. Brighouse and Rastrick
2. Yorkshire Building Society
3. Fodens Richardson
4. The Fairey Band
5. Carlton Main
6. Leyland

Dark Horses: Flowers

The contest starts at a more respectable time of 12.00 noon and so the whole shooting match should be over and done with by 9.30pm, just in time to see the highlights of Cardiff City’s winning goal in the Play-Off Finals and a few pints in the Red Cow.

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