As Napoleon found out to his own cost at Waterloo, no battle is decided until all the combatants have taken to the field of play.
In his case in 1815 the deciding moment came with the last minute intervention of the Prussians, whilst fast forward to 2018 and it was Eccleston under the command of John Wood that claimed a deserved victory in the Empress Ballroom as the last band of the day.
Until then, judges Leigh Baker and Gary Davies had penned in a fine accounts from Allerton Brass and Uppermill to head to Cheltenham, but fresh from their recent skirmish victory in Preston, the Lancashire village band entered the fray as the 16th and final contender to secure a first ever North West Area title and a National Finals place for the first time since 2007.
"We're all thrilled," Band secretary Carolyn Musgrave told 4BR on Tuesday night as the band made an immediate return to rehearsal with the Area Trophy in their grasp.
"A few years ago we were going through some difficult times, but a fantastic spirit and real commitment got us through and in the last year or so under John we are enjoying success again."
That communal determination, the signing of new players and John's inspirational leadership have certainly paid dividends of late — with the Area victory being their third win to go with two podium finishes in their last six contests.
"We are such a settled and happy band," Carolyn added, "...and the piece really caught everyone's imagination. We gave it a run out at Preston and came away with victory, so we were confident of doing well in Blackpool and upsetting the 4BR predictions! We're now secretly hoping for another Philip Harper composition for Cheltenham!"
His 'Napoleon on the Alps' certainly brought a great deal of exciting, colourful playing from all the sixteen contenders, with fine early performances from Littleborough (off number1), Hoover (Bolton), (3) Douglas Town (4) and Allerton (5) followed by the excellent pre-comfort break effort from Uppermill (8) all finding their way into the eventual top-six.
However, the eventual victory standard was raised by Eccleston at the end of what had been a thoroughly enjoyable, if occasionally variable contest full of bands led by MDs all showcasing their Napoleonic tendencies in bringing out the determined tread of expectancy in the opening section, followed by the deep seated reflections of the second and the bravura drive of the finale as 'Boney' headed for glory over the Alps astride his prancing stead 'Marengo'.
Speaking on behalf of the duo before the results, Leigh Baker first made the important point that although the contest took place in the cavernous surroundings of the Empress Ballroom, both he and Gary could hear all the detail they required from their imperial eyrie-like perch above the bands (including the neat back row cornet reference to Beethoven's 'Eroica' symphony).
He also pointed out that in terms of qualification criteria it was the top three that delivered the essential element of consistency they were looking for, whilst a number found it in at least two of its three contrasting sections, but not quite all.
And whilst some of the essential basics such as tuning were variable at times lower down the results list, he also pinpointed the quality of the solo playing from principal cornets in the middle section.
The winners certainly gave them that just when victory seemed to be heading to a disciplined Allerton Brass led by Adam Taylor — that bluff drive to Alpine glory in the final section played with control and admirable reserves of stamina.
And as mentioned by Leigh, it meant that Uppermill in particular could count themselves unlucky that there were only two qualification places on offer after their fine account just missed out on the trip Cheltenham as Eccleston entered the battle field to gain a decisive last gasp victory the Duke of Wellington let alone Napoleon would have been proud of.
We gave it a run out at Preston and came away with victory, so we were confident of doing well in Blackpool and upsetting the 4BR predictions!Eccleston Band
Adjudicators: Leigh Baker & Gary Davies
1. Eccleston Brass (John Wood)*
2. Allerton Brass (Adam Taylor)*
3. Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
4. Littleborough (Adrian Woodhead)
5. Douglas Town (Ken Mitchell)
6. Hoover Bolton (Craig Mann)
7. Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
8. City of Chester (Ewan Easton)
9. Greenalls (Phil Boardman)
10. Stalybridge Old (David W. Ashworth)
11. Hawk Green (Neil Hewson)
12. Skelmersdale Prize (James Hall)
13. Golborne Brass (Matthew Shaw)
14. Thornton Cleveleys (Stephen Craig)
15. Pilling Jubilee Silver (Steve Hartley)
16. Dobcross Silver (Grenville Moore)
Best Percussion: Douglas Town
*Qualify for National Final at Cheltenham