2005 Spring Festival - Senior Trophy - Introduction and dodgy predictions

5-May-2005

One of the real indications that the revamped Spring Festival has become a success has been the amount of bands who now clamber to try and get an invitation to the Senior Trophy. Who will it be?


Just over twenty years ago and this contest had died on its feet, but with some clever marketing and the very real chance of ambitious bands finding themselves just three steps and three years away from the British Open itself it has had new life breathed into it. So much so in fact that if it were possible, a fourth contest could very well be held, such is the demand for one of the places that arises from the relegation of the bottom four bands here.

There is therefore a real keen edge to the contest, with at the top end, the bands striving for promotion and at the bottom, bands trying desperately that they don't lose their cherished position in the British Open pyramid system. Once you are out of it, it may take you a heck of a long time to get back in.

The good thing about the contest this year is the fact that the organisers have chosen a very sensible and enjoyable test piece for the bands to work on. All of them should be more than capable of putting up a very good contesting show on ‘Connotations', but that it not to say it will be an easy piece to overcome.

It may now by nearing 30 years of age, but it still is a piece more than capable of biting the unwary on the backside and upsetting their chances of success. There are demands on soloists, ensemble, percussion and the MD's, and looking at them in particular there are not too many we think who may have had first hand experience of this work, as it has been a little neglected by Championship standard bands in the past ten years.  Much then could depend on how they approach a work that is essentially a modern piece of writing, but in many ways lends itself to a traditional approach.

The bands themselves are a good old mixture of the good, the ambitious, the slightly jaded, the strugglers and the over achievers, and much can be said of the MDs! There are some that will surely fancy their chances and will travel with realistic hopes of gaining a promotion place at least, whilst others will quietly but confidently take to the stage. All will travel with a great deal of hope.

Of the bands on show, there is one Regional winner in the shape of Albourne who took the First Section title in the West of England and one qualifier for the National Finals itself at the Royal Albert Hall in the shape of BHK (UK) Horden from the North East.  The runners up at Pontins last year are here in the shape of Tongwynlais Temperance, whilst the First Section winners there, Wrexham Brass also make the trip north. Camborne Town has been perennial contenders, winners and qualifiers at Torquay in recent years and it wasn't so long ago that Haydock forced their way to London from the very difficult North West Region.

Kidlington has also done that, whilst Pemberton Old Wigan are of course the reigning First Section National Champions and put in a tremendous showing here less than a couple of months ago at the Areas in the top section.  Others such as Mid Rhondda, Thorseby and Yeovil all have very good records of late at big contests, so it certainly isn't a weak field is it.

Which of these bands and others we haven't mentioned will therefore come out on top come results time?

A few do stick out for us and Camborne if they play to form should be the band to beat for us. We have heard them a number of times in the past year or so and they do sound like a quality top section band when they are on song, so they are our tip to take the title.

Behind them,we think a bit of experience may work wonders and two bands in the shape of Alliance Brass with John Clarke at the helm and Tongwynlais Temperance under Gareth Pritchard may battle it out for the podium places, whilst the last promotion spot should go to either Pemberton Old Wigan or BHK (UK) Horden. The last top six place could well be filled by Thorseby or Ratby, although do not discount Yeovil if they are on song.

4BR Prediction:

1. Camborne Town
2. Alliance Brass
3. Tongwynlais Temperance
4. Pemberton Old Wigan
5. BHK (UK) Horden
6. Thorseby Colliery

Dark Horse: Ratby Co-operative

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