2004 British Open Championships - The Runners and Riders


4BR looks at the 19 contenders from the UK and New Zealand, who will be trying to put their names on the famous Gold Trophy for all eternity.

Dr. Nicholas ChildsBlack Dyke
Conductor: Dr. Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking: 4

Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Principal Euphonium: David Thornton
Soprano Cornet: Alexandra Kerwin
Solo Trombone: Brett Baker
Solo horn: Leslie Howie
Flugel horn: John Doyle

Appearances: 101st time
Debut: 1856

Open Record:
27 Wins: 1862, 1863, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1891, 1895, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1914, 1935, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995
21 Seconds: 1877, 1887, 1888, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1917, 1922, 1934, 1938, 1971, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001
11 Thirds: 1868, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1916, 1937, 1953, 1958, 1963, 2002, 2003
8 Fourths: 1890, 1912, 1919, 1921, 1936, 1970, 1979, 1989
5 Fifths: 1864, 1920, 1936, 1952, 1966
2 Sixths: 1947, 1962
25 times unplaced:
1 Disqualification: 1865

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (11)
2002: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (3)
2001: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (14)
2000: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (15)
1999: 2nd (James Watson) (22)
1998: 8th (James Watson) (7)
1997: DNC
1996: 14th (James Watson) (1)
1995: Winners (James Watson) (15)
1994: 2nd (James Watson) (16)
1993: 2nd (James Watson) (7)

Open Record:
A record like no other band in the world. This will be the Queensbury bands 101st appearance at the contest and they can boast a record of 27 wins, 21 second places and 11 third places. That's close on a 60% success rate of getting in the top three since 1856 - although it does include the strange occurrence of a disqualification back in 1865.

They haven't been out of the top three since 1999, but it is now nine years since the trophy last resided in the Queensbury bandroom when James Watson steered them to victory on "Revelation".  Surely the time has come again?

Dr. Nicholas Childs directs for the fifth time, and they will be looking for a decent draw once more (just the one number 1 draw in 1996) and to rid themselves of those early slips that cost them the chance of victory last year.  They will however, be there or thereabouts once more for sure come results time.

2004 Form:
Both contest and concert wise, Dyke are back to very nearly their very best. The Yorkshire Regional Championships saw them as runners up to a rampant YBS, but it was still an excellent performance that would have won anywhere else in the country that day. On the concert platform they are as slick and professional as you could wish for, so can they translate that from to the contest stage here and win? We will wait and see.

Player to listen out for:
Leslie Howie (Solo Horn) - With such an array of talent around the stands, the excellence of Leslie Howie is sometimes overlooked. A wonderful player both as a soloist and section leader.

James GourlayBrighouse & Rastrick
Conductor: James Gourlay
4BR Ranking: 6

Principal Cornet: Allan Morrison
Principal Euphonium: Stephen Miles
Soprano Cornet: Alan Hobbins
Solo Trombone: James Stockdale
Solo horn: Melvyn Bathgate
Flugel horn: Stephen Rogers

Appearances: 64th time
Debut: 1890

Open Record:
6 Wins: 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1978
3 Seconds: 1965, 1977, 1983
5 Thirds: 1939, 1940, 1973, 1976, 1998
7 Fourths: 1942, 1943, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1999, 2002
4 Fifths: 1960, 1971, 1987, 2003
5 Sixths: 1938,1944, 1959, 1986, 1995
33 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 5th (Major Ian McElligott) (17)
2002: 4th (Major Ian McElligott) (12)
2001: 8th (Allan Withington) (8)
2000: 12th (Allan Withington) (8)
1999: 4th (Allan Withington) (14)
1998: 3rd (Allan Withington) (15)
1997: 10th (Allan Withington) (4)
1996: 20th (Allan Withington) (18)
1995: 6th (Allan Withington) (4)
1994: 11th (Allan Withington) (22)
1993: 10th (Allan Withington) (N/K)

Open Record:
Even under the resurgence of Brighouse with Allan Withington since the late 1990's, the British Open hasn't been a great hunting ground for the boys in purple over the last couple of decades with a best of 2nd place in 1983 and 3rd place in 1998 to show for their troubles. They have of course won the title 6 times, but the last occasion the trophy was in West Riding was in 1978 when Geoffrey Brand took them to victory on "Benvenuto Cellini".

They have been very consistent though in the last few years, with five top 6 finishes since 1998, whilst they have been luckier than most with the draw - just two number 4 spots since 1995.

Last year under the direction of Ian McElligott they performed well to come home 5th but since then they have parted company and turned to the mercurial talents of James Gourlay. It is about time that the trophy went back to Brighouse, and so could this be the year for a seventh heaven triumph?

2004 Form: Excellent. 3rd place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships was a good start to the new partnership with James Gourlay, and that continued with a breathtaking performance at the Masters which saw them just pipped for the title by YBS.

That was some show, and allied to recent concert performances that have taken the breath away, this looks to be a partnership that could very well go all the way for the first time since 1978.
Player to listen out for:
Allan Morrison (cornet) - Playing better than ever, the former Grimethorpe man has found a new lease of life at Brighouse and has led them with some superb cornet playing on the contest and concert stage this year. 

Dr. Robert Childs Buy As You View Band
Conductor: Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking: 3

Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euphonium: David Childs
Soprano Cornet: Steve Barnsley
Solo Trombone: Chris Thomas
Solo horn: Owen Farr
Flugel horn: Joanne Deane

Appearances: 42nd time
Debut: 1922

Open Record:
2 Wins: 2000, 2002
1 Second: 1950
2 Thirds: 1972, 2001
3 Fourths: 1951, 1975, 1976
1 Fifth: 1974
2 Sixths: 1999, 2003
30 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 6th (Robert Childs) (13)
2002: Winners (Robert Childs) (16)
2001: 3rd (Robert Childs) (20)
2000: Winners (Robert Childs) (22)
1999: 6th (Jeremy Wise) (10)
1998: 13th (Jeremy Wise) (19)
1997: 7th (Jeremy Wise) (16)
1996: 19th (Melvin White) (6)
1995: 13th (Michael Antrobus) (21)
1994: 22nd (Michael Antrobus) (6)
1993: DNC

Open Record:
BAYV make their 42nd appearance at the contest this year, but the first ever when the famous Cory name has not been proudly displayed. It is really only since the arrival of Robert Childs that they have come of age at the contest with two wins in the past four years and a third place in 2001.

Even when they were treble National Champions in the early 1980's, they didn't feature in the prize list at the Open, but they will be one of the favourites this year once more to make it yet another even year success. They certainly have the talent and the resources to do it again for sure.

The band returned to the Open in 1994 after winning the Grand Shield and results moved in the right direction under successive MD's before the arrival of Robert Childs in 2000 and the "Millennium Double".

This year should see them there or thereabouts once more, whilst they have been very fortunate with the draw, with not one early doors slot since 1996. 13 was certainly unlucky for them last year, as they produced the cleanest and most accurate performance of the day, only to come home 6th.  Whatever their representative picks out of the hat though, they will surely make a mark once. A third title is well within their reach. 

2004 Form:
Superb - if a little unlucky. The Welsh Area saw them register a commanding win and they certainly took that form to Glasgow and the Europeans. There though the judges seemed to be on a different planet and they came 6th. Their concert performances have been of the highest class, whilst their recordings are invariably outstanding. A touch of luck perhaps is all they now need. 
Player to listen out for:
Steve Barnsley (Soprano) - last year we said to listen out for him, and he didn't disappoint, and you should do again for in a band of superstar players Steve Barnsley more often than not outshines them all. One of the very best practitioners of the soprano players art around.

Brian GrantCarlton Main Frickley Colliery
Conductor: Brian Grant
4BR Ranking: 24

Appearances: 58th time
Debut: 1921

Principal Cornet: Kirsty Abbotts
Principal Euphonium: Ciaran Young
Soprano Cornet: Claire Taylor
Solo Trombone: N/K
Solo horn: Kate Eggleshaw
Flugel horn: Bridgett Scott

Open Record:
2 Wins: 1922, 1958
5 Seconds: 1941, 1957, 1959, 1969, 1972
3 Thirds: 1948, 1950, 1956
3 Fourths: 1928, 1944, 1963
2 Fifths: 1927, 1946
1 Sixths: 1923
41 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 18th (William Rushworth) (14) 
2002: 19th (William Rushworth) (17) (rel)
2001: 17th (John Hinckley) (6)
2000: 9th (John Hinckley) (21)
1999: 14th (John Hinckley) (11)
1993-1998: DNC

Open Record:
Carlton Main are in need of a good result at the Open this year if they are not to suffer the fate of 2002 and find themselves once more back in the Grand Shield in Blackpool.

The band have won the contest twice though - first as South Elmshall and Frickley under Noel Thorpe back in 1922 on "Lohengrin" and again more under Jack Atherton in 1958 on "Sunset Rhapsody", when they were really going through a purple patch at the contest. The last time they appeared in the prize list was in 1972 though.

The last few years have been a bit of a struggle, although they did come 9th under John Hinckley in 2000.  They have bounced back in great style from just about every adversity life has thrown at them, but their return last year was a fraught affair and they limped home in last place. They cannot afford a repeat of that again if they are to appear here in 2005.

2004 Form:
Poor to Fair - The Yorkshire Regional Championships saw them come 8th, but they then parted company with their MD and under Brian Grant they steadied things rather with a hard earned 13th place at the Masters. There have been some comings and goings of late, but there remains a good quality core. It could be hard for them though. 
Player to listen out for:
Kirsty Abbotts (Principal Cornet) - as good a "top man" as there is on the banding circuit. Over the past few years she has remained a star performer, and a player who would grace any top band in the country. 

John HudsonCwmaman Institute Silver (Tower Colliery)
Conductor: John Hudson
4BR Ranking: 18

Principal Cornet: Tim Malpas
Principal Euphonium: Gareth Maidment
Soprano Cornet: Garry Davies
Solo Trombone: Steve Howells
Solo horn: Lucy Rodgers
Flugel horn: Rhian Hills

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 2002

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
1 Fifth: 2002
No Sixths:
1 unplaced: 2003

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 17th (John Hudson) (2)
2002: 5th (John Hudson) (2)
1993-2001: DNC

Open Record:
The 2002 Grand Shield victory was seen by many to be a bit of a surprise, and even more people wrote off the bands chances of making a mark at the British Open itself when they saw that the band from South Wales was drawn number 2 on their debut on "The Maunsell Forts".

However, the band wiped the smile off their detractor's faces when they romped home in 5th place ahead of many more fancied bands, thanks in large to a fine reading by the experienced John Hudson. The repeat performance was not there last year though (even if the dreaded number 2 draw was) and they had a poor day at the office and came home 17th.

They will therefore need a good performance here this time to retain their position in the contest for 2005, but write them off at your peril.

2004 Form:
Good.  2004 had the makings of being a very hard year for the band, but they have shown tremendous character to not only set themselves up here for a third appearance, but to also make their debut at the National Finals in London. 3rd place at Swansea was a real boost to the confidence and if they take that kind of form to Birmingham they could very well set themselves up for 2005 as well.
Player to listen out for:
Tim Malpas (cornet) - Moved from the solo horn spot to Principal Cornet and has overcome some painful surgery and a smaller mouthpiece in fine style.

Nigel WeeksDalewool Auckland Brass
Conductor: Nigel Weeks
4BR Ranking: 76

Principal Cornet: Andrew Large
Principal Euphonium: Riki McDonnell
Soprano Cornet: Colin Clark
Solo Trombone: David Bremner
Solo horn: Brent Large
Flugel horn: Mason Elliott

Appearances: None
Debut: 2004
Open Record: Debut

Open Record:
No Open record for the band as they make their debut there, but they will be keen to show that they are not out of place in this company. Other New Zelanders have made the trip to the UK over the years and have done well - notably Woolston in 1975 when they returned home with 5th place.  In 1953 of course, the National Band of New Zealand returned home as Champions, so there is a record of achievement to uphold here.
2004 Form:
Very good indeed. 4BR witnessed the band retain their New Zealand National title in July with two excellent performances of "Tristan Encounters" and "Enigma Variations" under the baton of Welshman, Nigel Weeks. On that weekend they sounded a high quality band indeed. They can certainly perform away from home as well, with victories at the Australian Championships in both 1996 and 1997, so they won't be short of confidence of doing well.

The band has also been New Zealand Champions in 1957, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1989 and 1991 and won the "World Title" in Brisbane in 1991. The band was established in 1919.
Player to listen out for:
David Bremner (trombone) - Hails from a famous banding dynasty and has already shown his immense talents in the UK before. This is a trombone player of the very highest class. 

Major Peter ParkesDesford Colliery
Conductor: Major Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking: 22

Principal Cornet: David Smith
Principal Euphonium: Paul Walton
Soprano Cornet: Martin Britt
Solo Trombone: Julian Turner
Solo horn: Murray Borthwick
Flugel horn: Brian Winter

Appearances: 31st time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
1 Second: 1979
1 Third: 1980
1 Fourth: 1982
2 Fifths: 1984, 1986
2 Sixths: 1983, 1987
24 Unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: 19th (Major Peter Parkes) (12) (rel)
2000: 20th (Major Peter Parkes) (19)
1999: 13th (Roy Newsome) (3)
1998: 16th (Frank Renton) (2)
1997: 15th (Frank Renton) (6)
1996: 15th (Frank Renton) (16)
1995: 18th (Ray Farr) (5)
1994: 10th (John Clarke) (17)
1993: 13th (Stephen Roberts) (6)

Open Record:
In a way it seems inconceivable that Desford have never won the Open, for during the early 1980's they were head and shoulders above any band in the country. The Open wasn't a happy hunting ground for them though, and even though they came 2nd in 1979 and 3rd in 1980, they never really got close enough to wining the trophy.

A succession of conductors has tried with them since (six between 1993 and 2001), but the best was a 10th place under John Clarke in 1994. Their run at the contest ended finally in 2001, but they returned through the Grand Shield qualification process for another bash this year.
2004 Form:
As ever with Desford, a mystery. Favourites for the Midlands Regional Championships, they came 7th, and they didn't take part in the Masters so that couldn't tell us anything.  At the Grand Shield though they were outstanding, and many thought they should have been the winners. 3rd place was perhaps a touch disappointing, but it did mean that Desford were back in Birmingham again.

Player to listen out for:
David Smith (cornet) - He has been a bit of a stalwart with Desford over the years and has forged himself a fine career as a professional musician. A very talented player.

Allan WithingtonFairey FP (Music) Band
Conductor: Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Cornet: Nick Walkley
Principal Euphonium: Michael Howley
Soprano Cornet: Rebecca Crawshaw
Solo Trombone: Roz Davies
Solo horn: Chris Pannell
Flugel horn: Neil Hewson

Appearances: 61st time
Debut: 1938

Open Record:
16 Wins: 1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1998
13 Seconds: 1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1975, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1997
5 Thirds: 1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999
5 Fourths: 1959, 1971, 1996, 2000, 2003
1 Fifth: 1985
7 Sixths: 1951, 1957, 1970, 1978, 1990, 2001, 2002
13 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 4th (Allan Withington) (9)
2002: 6th (Allan Withington) (19)
2001: 6th (Howard Snell) (2)
2000: 4th (James Gourlay) (17)
1999: 3rd (James Gourlay) (12)
1998: Winners (James Gourlay) (16)
1997: 2nd (James Gourlay) (10)
1996: 4th (James Gourlay) (10)
1995: 2nd (James Gourlay) (11)
1994: 7th (Peter Parkes) (20)
1993: Winners (Peter Parkes) (16)

Open Record:
Only Black Dyke have more wins at the British Open than Fairey, and the band from Stockport can lay claim to winning at least one Open title in each decade since the 1940's, including the last time a multiple choice musical question came up in 1942. The list of MD's that have won with the band here reads like a role of the "Greats" in the banding world - Mortimer, Lamb, Hargreaves, Newsome, Parkes and Gourlay, so can Withington add his name to them? If he does he becomes the first conductor to win all four "Majors" of the Open, National, Masters and European. 

The band has an unequalled record of consistency here as well over the past decade or so, what with two wins and only once coming outside the top six. The Open seems to be a fair old hunting ground for the boys and (from this year for the very first time) girls in blue.

Allan Withington is trying for a third time to win the bands 17th Open, and the band has been very lucky with the draw (just the one number two spot in ten years). Once more they should have enough about them to add a possible top six place to their record on their 61st appearance.

2004 Form:
Depends on what you mean by form really. The double National Champions are now a completely different band to the one that triumphed last year at the Albert Hall, so what form they bring here is open to debate. The North West Regional Championships saw them come 2nd, whilst they didn't take part at the Masters. The European saw them produce one very below par performance and one stunner, but that was the last hurrah of the former Fairey's incarnation. There is quality for sure here, but has it had the time to gel with al the comings and goings. Interesting.  

Player to listen out for:
Nick Walkley (cornet) - The son of a famous trombone playing father, here is a player who has the talent and the style to make one of the toughest jobs in banding his for a very long time to come.

Garry CuttFodens Richardson
Conductor: Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 5

Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Glyn Williams
Soprano Cornet: Alan Wycherley
Solo Trombone: John Barber
Solo horn: Martin Armstrong
Flugel horn: Helen Fox

Appearances: 65th time
Debut: 1909

Open Record:
9 Wins: 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1964
6 Seconds: 1911, 1916, 1952, 1987, 1998, 2002
6 Thirds: 1914, 1925, 1957, 1970, 1981, 1985
4 Fourths: 1958, 1965, 1986, 1991
8 Fifths: 1918, 1953, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000
3 Sixths: 1917, 1984, 1994
28 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 7th (Thomas Wyss) (3)
2002: 2nd (Bramwell Tovey) (8)
2001: 7th (Bramwell Tovey) (3)
2000: 5th (Bramwell Tovey) (9)
1999: 5th (Nicholas Childs) (4)
1998: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1997: 9th (Nicholas Childs) (13)
1996: 5th (Phillip McCann) (3)
1995: 8th (Howard Snell) (22)
1994: 6th (Howard Snell) (4)
1993: 11th (Howard Snell) (N/K)

Open Record:
Fodens Richardson are another band with an amazing pedigree at the contest since they first took part in 1909, when they won on their debut under the legendary William Rimmer. Since then they have notched up a further 8 wins, but it has now been 40 years since they last took the trophy back home to Sandbach, and that is 40 years to many.

That was in 1964, when Rex Mortimer led them to victory on "Lorenzo", but since then the closest they have come is three second places in 1987, 1998 (which was very close indeed) and 2002. It has been a poor return for such a talented band.
Last year Thomas Wyss took over the baton, but he couldn't quite inspire his charges and they came home in 7th place. That partnership has now ended and they were to return to the brilliant genius of Bram Tovey, until his orchestral commitments proved insurmountable. Garry Cutt though is as good a choice the band could have made and it could be a partnership that reaps rewards. A decent draw (they have been very unlucky with the balls in the bag in recent times) could well see the 40 years of hurt come to an end.  

2004 Form:
In need of a boost. The year started with the problems of the North West Area when they came 4th and missed the trip to London, whilst they then parted company with their MD's in at times a rather farcical manner. Simon Stonehouse came in a did a sterling job with the band at the Masters where they came 8th and things have certainly improved since. Some of their concert work has been outstanding and there is more than enough talent here for Garry Cutt to weave his brand of magic with. Out of adversity they say… Fodens could well be celebrating come Saturday night.

Player to listen out for:
Phil Green (Eb Tuba) - One of the very best Eb tuba players around. Tremendous sound and the technical ability to shame just about any cornet player. A wonderful exponent of his craft. 

Frank RentonGrimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
Conductor: Frank Renton
4BR Ranking: 10

Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Soprano Cornet: Nigel Fielding
Solo Trombone: Richard Brown
Solo horn: Sandy Smith
Flugel horn: Ian Shires

Appearances: 58th time
Debut: 1935

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1967, 1969, 1984, 1991
3 Seconds: 1945, 1963, 1973
10 Thirds: 1960, 1961, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2000
3 Fourths: 1972, 1998, 2001
6 Fifths: 1976, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997
3 Sixths: 1946, 1980, 1985
28 Unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: DNC
2002: 14th (James Gourlay) (10)
2001: 4th (Garry Cutt) (13)
2000: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (20)
1999: 18th (Andreas Sporri) (7)
1998: 4th (Major Peter Parkes) (17)
1997: 5th (Major Peter Parkes) (7)
1996: 7th (Major Peter Parkes) (20)
1995: 5th (Major Peter Parkes) (19)
1994: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (14)
1993: 9th (Frank Renton) (18)

Open Record:
Four wins for the lads of Grimethorpe, but nothing since 1991 when this old team was last united in victory. Others have come close since then, most notably Garry Cutt, but for a band of such talent they are overdue another victory.

Their first came in 1967 under the great George Thompson, whilst they did it again in 1969. Geoffrey Brand emulated that 1967 win in 1984 on "Comedy" before Frank Renton claimed the last triumph with them on "Paganini Variations". Close since, but not close enough and after a lowly 14th place in 2002 they didn't compete last year after dispensation was given to them by the organisers.

They have made a few odd choices over the years to lead their assault here, and they haven't really had any problems with the draw, so can the old magic of 13 years ago be rekindled?  They will entertain us though.
2004 Form:
Wait and see. The Yorkshire Regional Championships were a huge let down for this duo. 5th place was as good as they could have hoped for with a performance that was littered with errors, and they didn't compete at the Masters. Concerts and recordings are performed with an élan that is quite brilliantly breathtaking, but the contest stage sometimes sees them fall short. Could this be the year for a fifth win then?
Player to listen out for:
Richard Marshall (cornet) - The finest cornet player of his generation and still a young man. Sit back and enjoy a very special talent. 

Steve BastableKirkintilloch
Conductor: Steve Bastable
4BR Ranking: 15

Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Principal Euphonium: Andy Mclean
Soprano Cornet: Stephen Stewart
Solo Trombone: Marion Brackpool
Solo horn: Allan Wardrope
Flugel horn: Paul Michael

Appearances: 4th time
Debut: 2001

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
No Fifths:
No Sixths:
3 times unplaced

Last 11 Years
Conductor and draw
2003: 11th (Frank Renton) (16)
2002: 12th (Frank Renton) (6)
2001: 16th (Allan Ramsey) (19)
2000: DNC
1999: DNC
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: DNC
1995: DNC
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Open Record:
Kirkintilloch make their fourth appearance at the contest this year after first making their debut in 2001 on "Les Preludes". The band qualified for the contest after winning the Grand Shield in some style, and under Allan Ramsey they put up a solid show in coming home 16th whilst their long-term association with Frank Renton heralded further improvement in both the following years with 12th and 11th. 

The talented Steve Bastable takes the helm this year and it could well be a partnership that sparks into life and a top 10 finish at least. The talent is there for all to hear (and to see in the soprano players case) and they could well feature highly.

2004 Form:
Variable. The Scottish Championships saw the band miss out on a trip to London when they came 3rd once more behind their perennial rivals Scottish Co-op and Whitburn. Since then they have been busy, but their last outing at Troon was possibly one they will want to forget. If they get it right though, then look out. 

Player to listen out for:
Stephen Stuart (Soprano) - the archetypal soprano player - great to listen to, great to watch, and even greater to spend time with in the bar afterwards. A real "star".

Ray FarrReg Vardy (Ever Ready)
Conductor: Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 13

Principal Cornet: Bryan Tait
Principal Euphonium: Paul Robinson
Soprano Cornet: Tom Glendinning
Solo Trombone: Chris Bentham
Solo horn: Andrew Hall
Flugel horn: Joanne Winspear

Appearances: 29th time
Debut: 1966

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
1 Fourth: 1987
2 Fifths: 1977, 1982
No Sixths:
25 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 8th (Ray Farr) (4)
2002: 15th (Ray Farr) (11)
2001: 12th (Ray Farr) (11)
2000: DNC
1999: DNC
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: DNC
1995: DNC
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Open Record:
The band made its first appearance at the Open in 1966 after they had won the Grand Shield contest that year as Craghead Colliery on "Main Street" conducted by late Eric Cunningham.

They didn't make an immediate mark though (they changed their name to Ever Ready at the 1969 contest) and registered two fifth places in 1977 and 1982 and a fourth in 1987 under Eric Cunningham again before dropping out after 1990.

The band returned in 2001 after coming runners up at the Grand Shield and under Ray Farr they have since performed solidly at the contest, coming 12th then 15th in 2002. Last year though they produced a very fine performance to come 8th (and off an early draw), so they could be worth a few bob or two this year to make it back into the top 6.  

2004 Form:
Very good indeed. Ray Farr has sparked new life into the band since his arrival what with their concert work and their contest successes. Another North of England title was claimed at the start of the year, and since then they have produced the goods big style at the Masters where they were third. If they continue like this they should make a serious mark here. 
Player to listen out for:
Bryan Tait (cornet) - He has been on the end for the band for what seems an age, and in that time he has always been top class.

David RobertsRothwell Temperance
Conductor: David Roberts
4BR Ranking: 21

Principal Cornet: Thomas Hutchinson
Principal Euphonium: Jamie Ogden
Soprano Cornet: Paul Argyle
Solo Trombone: Will Porter
Solo horn: Catherine Roberts
Flugel horn: John Ward

Appearances: 10th time
Debut: 1927

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds: 
No Thirds:
No Fourths: 
No Fifths:
1 Sixth: 1928
8 times unplaced

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
1993-2003: DNC

Open Record:
A tenth appearance at the British Open for Rothwell, with their first as long ago as 1927 on "The Merry Wives of Windsor".  The best they have done was in the following year when they came 6th, but subsequent efforts have not led to another mention from the stage. Their last appearance under the Rothwell name was 1947.

They return though after a very fine performance at the Grand Shield when they came runners up on "Les Preludes" to Sellers International. David Roberts has done wonders with this band over the past few years since they hit Championship status in 1999. They have the ability to perform well and are off to Switzerland later this year to compete once more at the Swiss Open.

2004 Form:
Good. 6th place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships in Bradford was an excellent return in such a strong contest and although they didn't quite perform to the best of their abilities at the Masters where they came 15th, they had shown enough quality to qualify here at Blackpool a few weeks previously. The MD may be nursing a broken bone or two, but you feel that they will more than hold their own here.
Player to listen out for:
Paul Argyle (soprano) - One of the new breed of soprano players just about ready to take over the mantle from the established stars. A real talent.

Philip McCannSellers International
Conductor: Philip McCann
4BR Ranking: 11

Principal Cornet: Nick Payne
Principal Euphonium: Mark Bousie
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Crockford
Solo Trombone: Rebecca Lundberg
Solo horn: Leah Williams
Flugel horn: Natalie Atwell

Appearances: 13th time
Debut: 1998

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds: 
No Thirds:
No Fourths: 
1 Fifth: 1991
No Sixths:
11 times unplaced

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2000-2003: DNC
1999: 17th (Peter Parkes) (21) (rel)
1998: 18th (A. Morrison) (14)
1997: 12th (A. Morrison) (9)
1996: 11th (A. Morrison) (2)
1995: 7th (P. McCann) (9)
1994: 14th (P. McCann) (13)
1993: 16th (P.McCann) (20)

Open Record:
Lucky 13 for Sellers maybe? In the 12 appearances so far they haven't quite caught the ear of the judges, although they did come 5th in 1991 on "Paganini Variations" with Philip McCann at the helm. Things slipped rather after that a bit, although they just missed out again on the top 6 in 1995 and their first tenure at the Open finished in 1999 when they could only manage 17th under Peter Parkes on "…Dove Descending" and were relegated.

It has been a long haul back, but they have done it superbly. The return of Phillip McCann has been central to this and they will therefore be looking to book their place in the top 10 at least.

2004 Form:
Excellent. Sellers are one of the most improved bands around over the last two years and it was capped in some style at the Grand Shield were they took their first major title in their history. At the Yorkshire Regional Championships they came a very close 4th behind Brighouse to just miss out on a trip to London as well, whilst at the Masters they came a solid 11th. They could be up for it here big style.
Player to listen out for:
Kevin Crockford (Soprano) - One of the all time top soprano players, Crockford remains at the top of his game and is determined to add to five Open wins.

Ian McElligottScottish Co-op
Conductor: Ian McElligott
4BR Ranking: 9

Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Principal Euphonium: Allison Bonner
Soprano Cornet: Gordon Jenkins
Solo Trombone: Paul Kiernan
Solo horn: Lyndsey Smith
Flugel horn: Caroline Tennant

Appearances: 17th time
Debut 1956

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
2 Thirds: 1993, 1997
No Fourths:
No Fifths:
No Sixths:
14 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 13th (James Scott) (12)
2002: 16th (John Hinckley) (4) (rel)
2001: 12th (James Gourlay) (4)
2000: 11th (Kazuyoshi Uemura) (16)
1999: 9th (Howard Snell) (9)
1998: 12th (Howard Snell) (20)
1997: 3rd (Howard Snell) (5)
1996: 8th (Howard Snell) (15)
1995: 10th (Frans Violet) (20)
1994: 9th (David King) (21)
1993: 3rd (Frans Violet) (2)

Open Record:
The Scottish Co-op as they are now known as, returned to the Open last year after tasting relegation in 2002 after a couple of years at the contest where they certainly played below form. Two early draws in those two years may not have helped but relegated they were and it says a lot about the band that they bounced back first time under the direction of Nicholas Childs at the Grand Shield in 2003.

Last year they opted for the experience of James Scott and a solid 13th place was achieved, and they have played a "safe" hand this time around with the appointment of Ian McElligott, who should steer them in the right direction once more, even though he is the sixth new face at the helm here with the band since 1998.

Not a brilliant record here at the Open since they made their debut back in 1956 as CWS Glasgow under E. Clayton. That was their only appearance at the contest until 1988 after they had won the Grand Shield on ""Un Vie de Matelot" directed by Howard Snell. Two well-deserved third places have followed in 1993 and 1997, but it has mainly been middle of the road stuff since.

2004 Form:
Very good. The Scottish Regional Championship win was achieved under the baton of Dr. Nicholas Childs with some comfort, whilst they produced two excellent shows under the same direction at Glasgow and the Europeans to come 3rd overall. If they can bring that sort of form here they could well feature highly.
Player to listen out for:
Paul Kiernan (trombone) - A very high quality performer for the Scots for a very long time.

Russell GrayTredegar
Conductor: Russell Gray
4BR Ranking: 7

Principal Cornet: Darren Thomas
Principal Euphonium: Darren Morris
Soprano Cornet: Iwan Fox
Solo Trombone: Jonathan Pippen
Solo horn: Natalie Gibson
Flugel horn: Andrea Lewis

Appearances: 14th time
Debut 1976

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 1996
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
No Fifths:
1 Sixth: 1997
11 times unplaced
Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 9th (Russell Gray) (18)
2002: 8th (Steve Bastable) (18)
2001: 13th (Steve Bastable) (17)
2000: 8th (Steve Bastable) (12)
1999: 7th (James Scott) (20)
1998: 7th (James Scott) (11)
1997: 6th (James Scott) (3)
1996: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (9)
1995: 13th (Nicholas Childs) (2)
1994: 16th (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1993: DNC

Open Record:
A 14th appearance for the band from South Wales, after making their debut back in 1976 after winning the Grand Shield under the direction of the late John Childs on "The Frogs".

They had three years at the contest before dropping out, and they had to wait until they qualified on "Spectrum" in 1994 before they once more appeared at the Open. Since then they have been one of the most consistent bands at the contest, with a high spot of second place on "The Severn Suite" in 1996 under Nicholas Childs. They haven't quite reached those heights since, but top 10 finishes in seven of the past eight years shows that on the day they can be serious challengers.

The draw has been kind to them of late (and late they have been with two 18's and a 17), but they did record their last top 6 finish off number 3 in 1997.

2003 Form:
OK. Runners up to their rivals BAYV at the Welsh Regional Championships was about par for the course and they did win at the Ebbw Vale Contest. Nothing since then on the contesting front, but they have been busy in the transfer market and should bring with them experience and talent enough to secure another single figure finish if things go to plan. 

Player to listen out for:
Andrea Lewis (flugel) - One of the most consistent performers on the flugel horn anywhere in the banding world.  

Andrew DuncanWhitburn
Conductor: Andrew Duncan
4BR Ranking: 8

Principal Cornet: Eleanor Ferguson
Principal Euphonium: Evelyn Bradley
Soprano Cornet: Kay Mckenzie
Solo Trombone: Mark Boyd
Solo horn: Iain Fleming
Flugel horn: Jim Chamberlain

Appearances: 13th time
Debut: 1971

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 2003
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
1 Fifth: 2001
No Sixths:
10 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 2nd (Andrew Duncan) (8)
2002: 10th (Philip McCann) (7)
2001: 5th (Philip McCann) (9)
2000: 17th (Philip McCann) (4)
1999: 11th (Philip McCann) (18)
1998: 20th (Archie Hutchison) (3)
1997: 13th (Richard Adams) (8)
1996: 17th (Chris Houlding) (7)
1995: 12th (Chris Houlding) (16)
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Open Record:
Whitburn first made an appearance at the British Open back in 1971 as Whitburn Burgh directed by A. Fleming, and they appeared again 1973, 1975, 1983 and 1984. After that though they dropped out only to return after winning the Grand Shield on "Le Cranival Romain" in 1991, although they only lasted a year.
1995 saw them regain their place at the Open after coming runners up to YBS on "Pageantry" at the Grand Shield and since that time they have performed solidly under four different MD's. The highlight would  have been the fifth spot on "Les Preludes" under Philip McCann but that was topped by a magnificent performance on "The Planets" that saw them push YBS for top spot and gave their soprano player Gordon Jenkins the soloist prize.

Andrew Duncan continues at the helm, and with a liking for early draws (only two second half performances since 1995) they will be confident of doing well whatever fate decides. A dark horse maybe, but one worth a few bob on each way. 

2004 Form:
Fine. Runners up at the Scottish regional Championships meant that they will be making the long trip South in October once more for the Nationals, and they have just won the Troon, Land O' Burns event with a selection the MD's work, so confidence should be high. Some new signings have strengthened the ranks and a well-received CD release may be the prelude to another top showing here. 

Player to listen out for:
Jim Chamberlain (Flugel) - as good a flugel player as there is around and certainly a player who would walk into any band in the country.

Prof. David KingYorkshire Building Society
Conductor: Prof. David King
4BR Ranking: 1

Principal Cornet: Stuart Lingard
Principal Euphonium: Morgan Griffiths
Soprano Cornet: Peter Roberts
Solo Trombone: Andrew King
Solo horn: Sheona White
Flugel horn: Iwan Williams

Appearances: 29th time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
1 Second: 1989
1 Third: 1995
3 Fourths: 1977, 1981, 1990
1 Fifth: 1973
2 Sixths: 1996, 2000
16 times unplaced.

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: Winners (David King) (10)
2002: 9th (David King) (9)
2001: Winners (David King) (10)
2000: 6th (David King) (3)
1999: Winners (David King) (16)
1998: 10th (David King) (8)
1997: Winners (David King) (11)
1996: 6th (David King) (19)
1995: 3rd (David King) (18)
1994: DNC
1993: 14th (David Marshall) (3) (rel)

Open Record:
Many people may only think of this band under their present title, but under the old name of Hammonds Sauce the band made its debut at the contest as far back as 1970 under the direction of that great character Geoffrey Whitham. The band came fifth in 1973, fourth in 1977 on "Diadem of Gold" and fourth again in 1981 on "Variations on a Ninth". The last hurrah was in 1989 when they came runners up to Kennedy's Swinton on "Diversions on a Bass Theme". After that things went downhill somewhat and they lost their place at the Open after coming 14th under their new name of YBS in 1993.

They returned after winning the Grand Shield in 1995 and since then they have been the band to beat here. Each of the four wins though have been followed by disappointing defences of their titles and it is interesting to note that draw wise they seem only to win when drawn in the second half of the contest.  Whatever the draw though, can you bet against them in the form they are in to retain the Open title for the first time and complete the penultimate leg of a truly unique "Grand Slam".

2004 Form:
What can you say? Winners at Bradford with a performance that was simply awesome (and won by three points); winners at the Europeans (with an own choice performance that took the breath away); winners at Cambridge (when they played below par and still took the title). Only two contests to go to make history. If it goes to plan then all the money could be on London.

Player to listen out for:
Morgan Griffith (euphonium) - The man who has completed the player jigsaw for YBS. Immensely talented and with perhaps the last true euphonium sound in the business.

John HinckleyYorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel
Conductor: John Hinckley
4BR Ranking: 25

Principal Cornet: Mark Rogers
Principal Euphonium: Cyrille Bonard
Soprano Cornet: Richard Hanson
Solo Trombone: Nick Hudson
Solo horn: Chris Bonard
Flugel horn: Jane Freeman

Appearances: 59th time
Debut: 1938

Open Record:
3 Wins: 1970, 1971, 1980
1 Second: 1966
2 Thirds: 1962, 1975
4 Fourths: 1967, 1973, 1974, 1978
2 Fifths: 1965, 1994
3 Sixths: 1943, 1972, 1979
43 times unplaced

Last 11 Years:
Conductor and draw
2003: 10th (David Evans) (7)
2002: 7th (David Evans) (14)
2001: 14th (David Evans) (16)
2000: 18th (Thomas Wyss) (2)
1999: 15th (Thomas Wyss) (1)
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: 22nd (Alan Exley) (4) (rel)
1995: 16th (Alan Exley) (17)
1994: 5th (Alan Exley) (1)
1993: 12th (Alan Exley) (15)

Open Record:
A 59th appearance for the "Imps" this year since they made their debut in 1938 as Yorkshire Copperworks conducted by William Halliwell. Since then they have won the title on three occasions - including the Trevor Walmsley "Double" in 1970 and 1971 and the John Pryce -Jones victory of 1980.

Up until then they were real contenders each year, but since that time they have only once reached the top 6 in 1994 under Alan Exley on "Salamander" - off number 1 no less. Organisational changes (and some rubbish draws) have played their part and they fell away to come 22nd in 1996 and get relegated. They returned in 1999 as a combined band with Rothwell, but since then they have reverted once more to their traditional name.

The last few years have seen them make progress up the results table and they just missed out on a top 6 place in 2002 and made the top 10 again last year under David Evans. That combination has since ended, but John Hinckley is a safe man to have in front of you and they should continue to prosper.

2004 Form:
Poor. The 13th place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships was a disaster, and relegation to the First Section arose, whilst they could only manage 17th at the Masters when the signs that the combination of David Evans and the band had run its course. The partnership soon ended, so it will be interesting if they can regroup here and perform to their potential. 

Player to listen out for:
Nick Hudson (Trombone) - take the opportunity to listen to perhaps the best trombone player around.  Sheer class. 


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