4BarsRest World Rankings Review 2003
Rankings Guru Jim Casey looks back at the 2003 contesting season and gives further insight into the workings of the system and the plans for 2004.
2003 was a monumental year for the 4BarsRest World Rankings. In response to many reader’s requests we expanded to include the vast majority of band contests that take place anywhere in the World and have as a result increased the number of bands in the system from 182 to the current total of 425. We have also increased the published rankings (the ones we have real confidence in!) to the top 150 and this will increase to 200 around Easter, by which time we will have enough results counting to be truly meaningful.
It was a momentous year for Fairey FP (Music) Band too. They began the year ranked 4th as Williams Fairey, 2002 National Champions and heading for Bergen and the European Championships. A roller coaster of a year for them saw them lose their sponsorship, withdraw from the European on financial grounds, come 2nd at the North West Area, 8th at the All England Masters and 4th at the British Open. But they finished as National Champions, again, under new management, heading for Glasgow in May with a real chance of breaking the YBS monopoly at the European and top of the 4BR World Rankings with 1,283 points.
Buy as you View Cory started predictably enough by winning the Welsh Area and they came close to European Championship glory for the first time since 1980, losing by the narrowest of margins to YBS. They will count themselves a bit unlucky to have finished 6th at the Open and their 3rd place performance at London illustrated what a technically superb band they are. But this all adds up to underachievement for this most ambitious band from the Welsh Valleys and although they remain ranked 2nd, they finish as one of the biggest fallers in terms of points lost over the year.
It was a game of two halves for Fodens Richardson. With Russell Gray in front of them they retained the North West Area title and produced a performance of real class at the Masters in Cambridge, losing out only to Leyland, courtesy of an adjudication system that possibly still needs a few refinements. However, during his mysterious departure, Russell seems to have taken the key to the bandhall trophy cabinet with him and Fodens struggled to reproduce their early form in the Autumn majors. So last year’s leaders finish down 2 places at number 3 and also the year’s biggest fallers.
Being an odd numbered year, we fully expected Yorkshire Building Society to win absolutely everything and while they didn’t quite manage it, they didn’t really disappoint us either. Incredibly, they began by finishing 6th at Bradford, immediately putting paid to their dream of victory in London in October. Their resolve certainly wasn’t weakened though and in Bergen they produced two remarkable performances to retain their European title, again. Incidentally, in doing so, they are the first band in history to win a major contest five years in succession. Not satisfied with this (and who would really have expected them to be?), they provided us with some interplanetary magic in Birmingham to regain their British Open title with one of the finest winning performances ever heard in Symphony Hall. Still no National title for the most colourful band around but could 2004 finally be the year Dr. King breaks his duck at the Albert Hall? Don’t bet the mortgage against it.
Second biggest fallers of the year, down from 3 to 5, are Black Dyke and Nicholas Childs. A strange 13th place at Bradford didn’t hurt them too much having pre-qualified for London, but no European appearance, 3rd at the Open and a slightly unlucky 4th at the RAH is below par for the Queensbury giants. Expect them to be near the top of the other list in a year’s time.
2003 was a good year for...
In the biggest climbers list we have the usual mixture of established top bands, who have enjoyed some great moments during the year, and emerging bands who have made steady progress throughout 2003.
Hepworth, ASDA Stocksbridge and Haydock all had special moments that gave them spectacular leaps up the table, but the highest points climbers of the year were Whitburn, who like YBS and Black Dyke got off to the worst imaginable start at their area, finishing in 6th place, their lowest since 1967. They consolidated at the West Lothian Festival of Brass, winning with new conductor Andrew Duncan, finished a disappointed 2nd at Land O’ Burns but then produced the performance of a lifetime at the British Open to almost spoil YBS’s day. Their Scottish Open prospects were blown out of the water after a few problems on the day so they had to settle for 8th place and see their long-standing rivals Scottish Co-op take the title. But the 400 points Whitburn collected in Birmingham more than made up for any disappointment they have had in the rest of the year.
The progress also made by Co-op and Kirkintilloch during the year is reflected by the fact that 3 of the top 6 climbers are from Scotland and on this form we must wonder if one of the major titles will soon be going North of the Border again.
Tredegar will look back with fondness to 2003, the year they almost won the National. 2nd to Cory at the Welsh Area was a decent start for them but 3rd at Ebbw Vale and later 4th places at the Welsh Miner’s Eisteddfod and the Scottish Open were a bit disappointing. 9th at the Open was unexceptional for Tredegar as well but their beautifully crafted London performance in October almost gave them the day of their dreams. Many people had them one place higher and even more had them ahead of the eventual winners, but their second 2nd place in 10 years gave them a bundle of points that guaranteed that they would be one of the highest climbers of the year.
2003 was a bad year for...
Grimethorpe’s year of relative contesting inactivity (no points for playing at the Proms we’re afraid) accounts for their inclusion in the above list and we all wondered if Cwmaman would be able to maintain their lofty standing achieved in 2002. Alas, they haven’t, so far, but perhaps 2004 will see them settle to their expected status. Marple and Point of Ayr continue in freefall and are showing few signs of recovery but it’s not all bad for the bands in the 20 worst performers of the year. To be included in this list, you have to have achieved some pretty good results in the first place and even now, they are all in the top 75 overall.
Below is a list of the top 25 ranking contests of the year, showing the points awarded to the top 4 prizewinners in each. Not too much explanation is necessary, but in the absence (so far – we’re working on it, honestly!) of a full system description, it is a good illustration of the relative value of each event and it may answer many of the questions we get asked during the year.
So, apart from the expansion to the top 200 that will be published, what else is ahead for us in 2004? Well, we will continue to closely monitor the relative strength of each geographical region to ensure that the basic principle at the heart of the system continues to perform correctly. You will see that in the latest set of rankings, many of the overseas bands have moved up a few places relative to the British bands, courtesy of a small, and after reading much of the recent correspondence, much needed adjustment to the regional multipliers. We will also try to keep you updated more regularly than about once a month that we manage at present. Keep the queries coming. They are a useful tool for us to properly illustrate the workings of the system and some of them are even good fun to answer.
In short, more of the same, but bigger and, as each new contest takes place, better.
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