2010 National Championships of Great Britain - The Royal Albert Hall awaits...

5-Oct-2010

The Royal Albert Hall is the venue for what could turn out to be an Australian inspired day of drama...


Albert Hall

Just five weeks after the British Open in Birmingham, an equally dramatic contest is surely to be fought out at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Tredegar’s victory at Symphony Hall realigned the tectonic plates of UK top section contesting. The long held assumptions that the major competitions were the preserve of the banding leviathans of 21st century were blown away – possibly for good.

Potential winners

The list of potential National champions is no longer confined to the small cabal that have lifted the famous silver pot since the turn of the Millennium: Now there is a voracious pack of ambitious contenders ready to pounce on any sign of weakness in the traditional contesting Alpha Males.

Black Dyke has been top dog here for the past two years, but with Grimethorpe licking its wounds at home there could well be a new name, other than Cory, Fairey or the Queensbury holders, engraved on the National Trophy for the first time since Leyland in 2005.  

The ‘big boys’ of the contesting savannah are casting more than just the occasional cursory glance over their shoulders to see who’s snapping at their heels.

And one of the reasons this year is that they are faced with a test piece that provides a very even (if rather short) hunting ground for all 20 competitors.

Cricket

For those who enjoy a cricketing analogy (and this is a bit of an early ‘Ashes’ battle) - as Antipodean tests go, ‘Terra Australis’ is no Brisbane ‘sticky dog’ – a pitch of such deviousness only the very best performers can tame its terrors.

No. Martin Ellerby’s enjoyably enhanced concert work is more of a short of a length quick paced bouncer of a track – a bit like the WACA at Perth on a baking hot day with the Freemantle Doctor blowing in behind Lillee & Thomson at full pelt.

High paced, high pitched and highly entertaining – all held together with a central celebration of all things ‘Aussie’ that is as subtle as Dame Edna swigging Fosters XXXX lager out of a billabong.  

Divided opinion

The piece has divided opinions like no other here since ‘Songs for BL’. No one denies Ellerby’s skill as a gifted banding composer, but this is not his most memorable composition.

It’s certainly a tricky prospect, (the composer’s extra cadenzas will take some playing, but are not quite the equivalent of fending off a throat high Jeff Thomson 90 mile an hour bouncer), whilst the ensemble work is demanding but well within the capabilities of the best bands.

It will also be the only occasion in history that a national anthem has been played 21 times in one day at a brass band contest (and that includes the one go at ‘God Save the Queen’). The Albert Hall could be full of more patriotic Australians standing to attention at the bar than Earl’s Court public houses on a Saturday night.

 It’s brevity (its around 12 minutes) should ensure that the contest (which starts at 10.00am) will be over at a respectful hour, but it may also mean that the three judges of David Read MBE, Derek Broadbent and Dr Chris Davis OBE, are faced with decisions not even a brass band version of ‘Hawkeye’ could settle to everyone’s satisfaction.

Sub plots

There are of course some interesting sub plots at the contest, which adds a touch of spice to the mix too.

Black Dyke’s attempt to claim a hat trick to crown their MDs decade in charge could be foiled by the draw (remember what happened to Grimethorpe’s attempt in 2008) or by his elder brother claiming his second National with Cory to repeat the feat of denying his younger sibling a British Open hat trick a couple of years ago.

Then there is David King and his ongoing quest to claim his first National title on a piece that cynics suggest has more than a few Antipodean connections ostensibly in his favour.

Or what about Frank Renton after his controversial opinions of past few weeks on contests large (and according to him) ‘small’, or Tredegar’s attempt to show that their first ‘Major’ win was not a glorious unexpected ‘one –off’?

Then there is Foden’s under ‘Nationals specialist’ Allan Withington, or the intriguing possibility of a rejuvenated Fairey winning a Geneva sponsored National.  And what about a new name possibly appearing on the big old pepper pot for the first time, such as Rothwell?

Plenty to look forward to then, with 14 bands that played at the British Open locking horns again, as well as 13 from last year’s contest.

Good news

That is good news for Kapitol Promotions who have run a well drilled event for the past few years – learning from some of the mistakes in presentation that blighted many a closing ceremony.

Now things are slick and efficient, and with the day starting and closing at decent times, there should be plenty to sit back and enjoy. Ticket sales are up too we hear.

Those looking to make a real weekend of it can also take the opportunity to pop to Regent Hall on Friday night to hear the current World and European Champion, Cory in a pre national run out, or take a ‘sherbet dab’ to St John’s Square where Enfield Citadel provide their pre National entertainment.

Before the all important announcement of the results there is a short concert featuring Foden’s under Allan Withington with soloists Glyn Williams and Lesley Howie.  

Follow 4BR

4BR will be there of course to give you our take on the action as it happens, as well as news, views and interviews with the leading personalities of the day.

Follow us on twitter too, as we bring you all the action from what promises to be a day of high Australian inspired drama, not even 'Neighbours' or 'Test Match Special' can better.

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