2008 Midlands Regional Championship - Introduction

5-Mar-2008

The Midlands can offer no less than 82 bands across the sections - all competing for that ultimate goal of National glory. As always, the region will be closely fought so expect thrills, spills and surprises galore.


The Midlands Regional contest can be one of the most exhausting as well as enjoyable regional events – it can also be one of the most frustrating too.

For many the frustration would have been in having to queue in the cold and rain in the car park for the tea and rolls, but there was also a feeling that the results were sometimes a bit odd here too. Nothing ever quite went to musical plan – from a Scottish piper disrupting proceedings a couple of years back to legal disputes over relegations and a general feeling that the venues were never quite as good as the bands deserved.

Things have changed though – and there is a sense that a region which can boast a fantastic number of bands (82 this year – up 1) is starting to catch up in terms of contesting success and overall facilities. The Regional Committee should take a great deal of credit and it will be interesting to see what feedback they get from the competitors as they enjoy the contests this year at the Civic Hall and the Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College.  New venues, new expectations - hopefully not the old results!

There is always a busy and competitive contesting scene in the region – from the fantastic event at Butlins, which has strong organisational and band representation from the area, to contests at Leicester, Derby and many more ports of call in between.

The bands themselves are doing pretty well from top to bottom too, and although there wasn’t a victory to report from either the Royal Albert Hall or Harrogate last year the representatives from the region still did pretty well.

In addition, the areas bands have done well on their travels, with Desford in the Championship Section and Shirebrook in the Third, claiming titles at Butlins in the last couple of months.   

Things are looking up here – if only they could sort out that old hot dog van…


Championship Section:

There is always a keenly fought over event in the top section here with fancied bands not always playing to form  - or even some judges too!

In the last year or so contesting success on a national level has levelled off a bit and in the past two years at London the representatives haven’t really set the world on fire. 10th and 18th last October wasn’t the stuff to scare the living daylights out of the big boys from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Wales. 

There is perhaps a feeling that the overall standard on offer here may just by more UEFA Cup than Champions League, despite Desford’s fine Butlins success and Open appearances of late. Occasional flashes of brilliance at the big events may please supporters but the last time region sent three bands to London was 2001 and since then they can only boast 1 sixth place.

Times are changing though, so it may be time for the bands that claim the two qualification places here to up the ante at the Royal Albert Hall.              


First Section:

There has been a strong First Section in the region now for some time and this contest is perhaps the most accurate reflection of what a true First Section should be like in the UK. 

The bands that do qualify from here invariably go on to do well at Harrogate although last year’s three representatives couldn’t add to the two national victories the region has enjoyed since 2000. 4th, 13th and 14th wasn’t bad, but you sense that whomever gets through this weekend could well do better come September.

The test piece, James Cook – Circumnavigator has caused problems already in Yorkshire (triple tonguing troms are few and far between it seems), so it will be interesting to see how the players and MDs get to grips with it here and try to impress two experienced and wily old judges. 


Second Section:

The region has a very good record of achievement when it comes to sending its representatives to Harrogate, and last year the two bands came 3rd and 15th. In three out of the last four years at least one band has come in the top six there and there was also a national victory in 2004.

The bands will find that the test piece from Kenneth Downie may well suit them – or so they think, but it is more a question of style rather than technical substance. That said there are experienced MDs at the helms of many of the competitors and there are plenty of talented players in the ranks too – so it could be a contest to savour for John Robert s and David Lancaster.
 
   
Third Section:

The two bands who made it to Harrogate last year couldn’t repeat the national victory of 2006 and could only manage 12th and 17th – the first time in seven years that the region hadn’t been able to provide a band to come in the top six.

That may change this year if the bands play to form as there are a number who have shown that they could well be in with a real shout come September if they get through here.

The enjoyable test piece should find favour with both players and audience alike and could well bring out the best in a whole host of contenders. If it does it could mean a tricky old task of picking a winner of the judges Malcolm Brownbill and David Lancaster.       


Fourth Section:

Great to see an old fashioned marathon sized field for the Fourth Section – and it should be an enjoyable contest too for judges Malcolm Brownbill and Kevin Wadsworth.

The test piece isn’t the most technically demanding these bands will come across, but it is nevertheless one of the most enjoyable – made more so because just every band here should be able to make a goof fist of it.

Last year’s representatives went to Harrogate and came 2nd and 13th, and although there hasn’t been a national winner since 2001 the bands in the region are all doing quite well at the moment on their travels. It promises to be a contest to really enjoy then.

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