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Troongate — Whitburn Band and the Land O' Burns Contest

As many of you are aware there has been something of an ongoing discussion about the disqualification of the Whitburn Band from the recent Land O’ Burns contest at Troon.

 

We reported the fact that the Whitburn Band had decided to appeal against this decision and we printed both comments from the band itself and the representative of the SABBA.

Following a further meeting we can now report that the appeal made by the Whitburn band to the SABBA has been rejected and the matter is now officially closed. It has been reported in the press the matter had been discussed by the SABBA at committee level on two occasions and twice rejected. The appeal was based on the Whitburn Band claiming that they felt they had approval to play a cornet player who was in the process of signing with the band at the contest and had received approval for doing this from a senior member of the SABBA to do so. This was rejected by SABBA.

The Whitburn Band has made available to us, the full statement of appeal that it presented to SABBA for their consideration. Following consideration and discussion of the statement and appeal SABBA and the matter is now deemed to be closed by them.

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Official Statement to the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association Executive Committee — Saturday 29 September 2001
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Whitburn Band wish to make the following statement regarding recent events surrounding the Land O' Burns Contest held on Saturday 25th August.

On two separate occasions in the weeks before the contest, Whitburn Band sought clarification on issues relating to the contest performance from the contest organisers, Sandy McAughtrie and Bert Ritchie of Dalmellington Band and on both occasions we were referred to James Abbott, President of the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association.

On Friday 24th August Kenneth Crookston, President of Whitburn Band, telephoned Mr Abbott to ask if we would be allowed to use a particular player as a substitute for one of our regular players who was unfit to play due to medical reasons. This course of action was taken because Messrs. McAughtrie and Ritchie were not prepared to take decisions regarding the contest rules when previously asked.

The player concerned was Andy Digger, a cornet player who was in the process of signing with Whitburn Band but not yet eligible to play in competition. As the event was an own-choice entertainment contest, it was suggested to Mr Abbott that it was unreasonable to expect a player from the band drawn before Whitburn to sight-read a challenging twenty-five minute programme. We therefore requested that Mr Digger should be allowed to perform at the contest and Mr Abbott agreed that under the circumstances this was common sense and that he would be allowed to play.

A few days prior to the contest, the band received Mr Digger's registration card by post from Jim Hyslop, Registrar of the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association. The card contained an error as Mr Hyslop had entered the player's new band as C.W.S. (Glasgow) Band instead of Whitburn Band. Mr Crookston immediately telephoned Mr Hyslop and left a message on his answering service informing him of the error and asking for advice on how to proceed. Mr Hyslop later left a message, apologising for the fact that it was a clerical error on his part, which would be immediately rectified if the card could be returned to him on the day of the Troon contest.

Mr Crookston attended the draw for the contest, which was scheduled to start at 12 pm. At approximately 12.20 pm, a mere 40 minutes before the first band was due to play, the draw commenced although officials of the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association who were scheduled to be there and had the necessary materials to carry out the draw were still not present. It later transpired that Mr Abbott had become lost on the journey to Troon from his home near Edinburgh. However, officials of Dalmellington Band managed to improvise by using paper numbers and Whitburn Band were drawn to play number 3. Having handed in our Adjudicator's scores, Mr. Crookston immediately approached Mr Hyslop and informed him that we would be using a player under the medical certificate rule, as agreed the previous day with Mr Abbott, and offered him the letter from the player's doctor. Mr Hyslop said that we could present it at the registration desk prior to our performance and they both agreed that this was acceptable.

At the same time, Mr Hyslop was given the registration card of James Cunningham, a player who had recently signed with Whitburn Band but was not yet eligible to perform in competition. Mr Cunningham was to perform as a guest player with Newtongrange Band at the contest. It was agreed that Mr Cunningham's card would be returned at the conclusion of the contest.

On registering to play in the contest one of the two registration officials, Andrew Smith, made a comment to one of the percussionists in Whitburn Band that it appeared we had three guest players but neither of the officials made a declaration to Mr. Crookston that this was the case. When later asked by Mr. Crookston if everything was in order following the registration of the band's players, Mr Hyslop replied "fine, no problem". Following this, Mr. Crookston thanked Mr Hyslop for his assistance over the previous few weeks having kept the Registrar busy since the recent departure of the Whitburn Band Secretary.

Immediately before the band's performance, Mr Abbott was present in the registration area and engaged in conversation with a number of Whitburn players and the Conductor, Phillip McCann. Any potential problem could have been easily brought to his attention at this point. However, the band proceeded to play at the contest on the basis that no official declared that there were any irregularities. Under the rules of SABBA any prospect of disqualification on the grounds of a registration irregularity must be advised to the band before they proceed to the stage.

At the end of the contest the results were declared and Whitburn Band were not included. When the adjudicator's remarks were received they were appended with a comment, apparently in the adjudicators handwriting, stating that the band had been disqualified due to registration irregularities. Also, there were no points awarded to the band despite the contest being conducted under closed adjudication rules. At no time prior to the result being announced did either SABBA or Land O Burns contest officials approach any official of Whitburn Band to discuss the potential of disqualification. Unable to locate Mr Abbott, members of the band approached officials from the Land O' Burns Contest after the results, to clarify why the disqualification had occurred given that permission had been granted by the most senior member of the SABBA Executive. No comment was forthcoming and members of Whitburn Band were threatened with physical violence if they did not leave the premises.

On Sunday 26th August an e-mail was sent to Neil Watson, Secretary of SABBA, asking for clarification as to why the band had been disqualified, and whilst a response was received to the e-mail it was made very clear to the band that this was not an official response but Mr Watson's own comments, not having attended the contest but having spoken to various parties during that day.

Also on Sunday 26th August, Mr Watson made a telephone call to the player who was ill, questioning the validity of the doctor's note that had been provided. The player has since personally contacted Mr Abbott to register his dissatisfaction that this action should be taken, especially as the member concerned is a life member of SABBA, in recognition of his long service to the band movement in Scotland.

Under the rules of SABBA any band wishing to make a protest against another band at a contest should do so in writing to both SABBA and the band they are complaining against, enclosing a cheque to SABBA for £50. Likewise, any band appealing against a decision should follow a similar procedure. By Thursday September 6th Whitburn Band had not received any letter from a competing band, however, in order to protect its own position a letter was then issued to SABBA enclosing a cheque, advising that we wished to appeal against the decision and asking for clarification of the reasons for the disqualification of the band.

When the band arrived at the registration table for the British Open Championships on 15th September, the officials noted that the SABBA Registrar had not validated Mr Digger's new registration card for 2001. As the player was listed on the contest signature sheet provided by SABBA he was allowed to play and the officials of the British Open along with Whitburn Band have since contacted Mr Hyslop and had this second error corrected.

On Saturday 22nd September, the band received a letter from the SABBA Secretary informing them that the result of the Land O' Burns Contest had been upheld at a meeting of the SABBA Executive Committee held on 8th September. Once again the band had been denied the opportunity to be represented at a crucial stage of the decision making process as no invitation to this meeting had been issued. The letter stated that the reason for disqualification was a breach of sections 7a & 7b of the SABBA contest rules which read as follows:-

7(a) If a player is unable to compete due to personal illness or injury, the band representative may, immediately prior to the ballot taking place, apply to the contest controller for a deputy player and support the application by providing the appropriate documentary evidence (e.g. a medical certificate).

7(b) Providing the contest controller is satisfied that the application is genuine, he will instruct the band drawn to play immediately before the band making the application to supply the relevant deputy player complete with instrument and band part. If the band making the application is drawn number one, the band drawn last must supply the deputy player.

If it is the case that the band breached these rules without prior permission of a SABBA official, then this information must have been known to either the registration officials or the contest controller before the performance, in which case rule 8(d) should have been applied. Rule 8(d) reads as follows:-

8(d) If the officials in charge of any contest are satisfied that a band is wilfully violating any rule they shall endeavour to prevent them from playing.

On this occasion, not only were the registration officials fully aware of the situation, they actually confirmed verbally to band officials before the performance that everything was in order.

If it had been the case that the registration officials or contest controller were unaware of the alleged breach prior to the performance, then it must then be true that representatives of another competing band brought this to their notice and thereby raised a protest. In this case the following procedure detailed in rule 8(a) had to be followed.

8(a)�����When a competing band has cause to suspect that any of these rules have been violated by another band at a contest, the said band shall have the right, within 14 days after the date of the contest, to lodge a protest with the secretary of the Association and when doing so they must intimate same by registered letter to the band against whom the protest is made. They must also notify the secretary of the contest in which the violation took place. All three parties must have the notification within the 14 days.

As Whitburn Band received no such notification, either within the time limit or in the period since it's expiry, the decision to disqualify the band taken on the day of the contest can clearly no longer apply. Therefore, the only reasonable course of action open to SABBA is to reinstate the band into our rightful position in the contest result.

To summarise, Whitburn Band's main grievances are;

· Approval was given by a senior member of the SABBA Executive to play Mr Digger as replacement for a player who was declared by his Doctor as unfit to play.

· The procedures at the draw were not carried out in either a timeous or ordered manner.

· No official declaration was made, as required under SABBA's rules, that the band was breaking any registration rules before taking the stage to compete.

· No official complaint has been made within the timescale stated in the SABBA rules.

· Repeated clerical errors were made by SABBA during the registration of Mr Digger.

· The band has been repeatedly denied the opportunity to discuss with either the officials of Land O' Burns Contest or SABBA the disqualification from the contest, despite meetings on the subject being held on the day and 14 days after the contest.

· The Whitburn Band representative was allowed to take the stage for the prize presentation without being informed of the situation, despite the fact that members of other competing bands were already aware of the disqualification.

· No announcement was made to the audience during the presentation to inform them that a band had been disqualified.

· No minutes of the meeting held in Troon have been produced at any stage.

· The adjudicator was advised, under closed adjudication conditions, not to award points to Whitburn Band.

On the basis of the above there is no valid reason why the band should remain disqualified from this contest. We therefore urge the SABBA Executive Committee to give this matter full and immediate attention to facilitate a fair and satisfactory conclusion and re-instate the band forthwith.

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