2004 British Open Championships - The Conductors Track Records


4BR looks at the track records of the 19 men who will take to the stage this year to try and get their name on the most famous trophy in the banding world.

19 men (no women again) will take the stage at Symphony Hall this year to try and become the winning conductor of the 2004 British Open Champions. Eighteen of them will fail, and only one will get his name etched into brass band history for all eternity - but all will take the stage with sure-fire confidence that 2004 will be their year.

Of the 19 on show, 6 have tasted victory before - MDs, R. Childs, Renton, Parkes, Cutt, Gourlay and King have each had their moment in the sun here. Of those who conducted here last year, Messrs, Sykes, Rushworth, Wyss, Lipari, Bassano, Scott and Evans will not be taking the stage this time, whilst making their debuts are Nigel Weeks with Dalewool and David Roberts at Rothwell.

Some of the non-winning MDs up to now have come close, but all will believe it is their destiny to win.

Who will it be then, and who has the best records here? This is what we turned up in our research. It makes for interesting reading.

Dr. Nicholas ChildsNicholas Childs (Black Dyke)

Made his debut with Tredegar in 1994 and has come close on four occasions since.  He holds the curious record of four second places with three different bands (Tredegar, Fodens and Dyke) since his debut on "Salamander" and this year will be his eleventh appearance. 

Seven prize winning performances to his name already on the record is an impressive return, but what would he give to pick up that trophy and take the title back to Queensbury.

11th appearance
No Wins:
4 Seconds: 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001
2 Thirds: 2002, 2003
1 Fifth: 1999
3 times unplaced: 1994 (16th), 1995 (13th), 1997 (9th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Tredegar: 1994, 1995, 1996
Fodens Courtois: 1997, 1998, 1999
Black Dyke: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Allan WithingtonAllan Withington (Fairey)

Made his debut as far back as 1991, but in 13 attempts so far he has won a 3rd, three 4ths and a 6th to his name.  The early years were the struggle for him at the contest with Brighouse but in the last few years he has seemed to have gotten to grips with the recipe for success.

If he wins with Fairey he will become the first man to complete the "Grand Slam" of all major titles as a conductor.

14th appearance
No Wins:
1 Third: 1998
3 Fourth: 1999, 2002, 2003
1 Sixth: 1995 
8 times unplaced: 1991 (16th), 1992 (15th), 1993 (10th), 1994 (11th), 1996 (20th), 1997 (10th), 2000 (12th), 2001 (8th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Brighouse and Rastrick: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Fairey: 2002, 2003, 2004

Dr. Robert ChildsRobert Childs (Buy As You View)

Made his debut here in 2000 and promptly walked off with the Shield and the Mortimer Trophy. Since then he has won it a second time and come third once as well. Last year though he tasted disappointment after a fine performance and managed 6th place.

5th appearance
2 Wins: 2000, 2002
1 Third: 2001
1 Sixth: 2003

Bands taken at the Open:
BAYV Cory: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Ray FarrRay Farr (Ever Ready)

One of the strangest records at the Open for the multi talented Mr Farr.  A debut as far back as 1976 with City of Coventry, he didn't reappear until 1981 - this time with Grimethorpe whom he took to 5th place.  Another break until 1986 and this time Besses and a year off before a return with Coventry again in 1988 and a 6th place spot.  In 28 years he's made just 10 appearances - it should have been so many more and deserves a better return than he has so far.

10th appearance
No wins:
1 Fifth: 1981
1 Sixth: 1988
7 times unplaced: 1976 (N/K), 1986 (N.K), 1989 (N/K), 1995 (18th), 2001 (12th), 2002 (15th), 2003 (8th)

Bands taken at the Open:
City of Coventry: 1976, 1988, 1989
Grimethorpe Colliery: 1981
Besses o' th' Barn: 1986
Desford: 1995
Ever Ready: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Prof. David KingDavid King (Yorkshire Building Society)

The young David King made his debut at the Open in 1987 with Kennedy Swinton off a number 1 draw no less. He has had a bit of a hit or miss record since - but when he has hit, they have been four knockout punches and he is surely favourite to add to that again this year.

Even though his record with YBS is superb, he has also been seen on the Open stage with other bands - including CWS Glasgow in 1994.
16th appearance
4 Wins: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
1 Third: 1995
1 Fourth: 1989
2 Sixths: 1996, 2000
7 times unplaced: 1987 (7th), 1988 (N/K), 1990 (8th), 1991 (10th), 1994 (10th), 1998 (10th), 2002 (9th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Kennedy Swinton: 1987, 1988
Black Dyke: 1989, 1990, 1991
CWS Glasgow: 1994
Yorkshire Building Society: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Frank RentonFrank Renton (Grimethorpe Colliery (UK) Coal)

1977 saw the first appearance of Frank Renton with Wingates at the British Open - and what an appearance - drawn number 1! The following years he appeared with the declining CWS (Manchester) and took the famous band to their last prize-winning performance in coming 5th in 1980.

The mid 1980's saw a break away from the Open, before a return with Grimethorpe in 1988 heralded prize winning performances that culminated in the famous "Paganini" win of 1991. Since then he has been seen with Desford on a few occasions and in 2001 lead Travelsphere Holidays to 10th. 1991 and 1992 when he stood top of the world with Grimethorpe may be a while ago, but he remains a maverick at heart with the talent to win any contest. He returns with them again, so can fate give a repeat performance.

17th appearance
1 Win: 1991
1 Third: 1990
3 Fifths: 1980, 1989, 1992
11 times unplaced: 1977 (N/K), 1979 (N/K), 1981 (N/K), 1982 (N/K), 1988 (7th), 1993 (9th), 1997 (15th), 1998 (16th), 2001 (10th), 2002 (12th), 2003 (11th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Wingates Temperance: 1977
CWS Manchester: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982
Grimethorpe Colliery: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2004
Desford Colliery: 1997, 1998
Travelsphere Holidays: 2001
Kirkintilloch: 2002, 2003

Andrew DuncanAndrew Duncan (Whitburn)

A second appearance for the talented Scotsman with the Whitburn band, and he couldn't have really expected a better return on his debut last year.

That runners up spot was a tremendous result (the best ever for a Scottish band at the contest), so he will be looking to go one better this time.

2nd appearance
No Wins
1 Second: 2003

Bands taken at the Open:
Whitburn: 2003, 2004

Ian McElligottMajor Ian McElligott (Scottish Co-op)

2004 will see the third appearance for the former conductor of Brighouse and Rastrick, and one of the busiest MD's at various levels, anywhere in the country.

A pretty good return as well, what with a 4th and a 5th last year, so can he ensure that his new charges come in the top six?

3 appearances
1 Fourth: 2002
1 Fifth: 2003

Bands taken at the Open:
Brighouse and Rastrick: 2002, 2003
Scottish Co-op: 2004 

John HudsonJohn Hudson (Cwmaman Silver)

The British Open though hasn't been as kind to John Hudson as the National Finals since making his debut in 1992 with Wingates, and in his 6 attempts so far he has only got one 5th place in 2002 and a 6th place in 1993 to show for his efforts - eleven years apart.

Apart from these he had a 17th on his debut, followed by that 6th, another 17th and a 21st and ended in 1996 with the now defunct Markfield Band (formally William Davis) coming 21st again. A talented conductor who gives his bands every chance to shine, he makes his third consecutive appearance with the Welsh band this year.

8th appearance
1 Fifth: 2002
1 Sixth: 1993
5 times unplaced: 1992 (17th), 1994 (17th), 1995 (21st), 1996 (21st), 2003 (17th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Wingates Temperance: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
William Davis Construction: 1996
Cwmaman Colliery: 2002, 2003

Major Peter ParkesPeter Parkes (Desford)

The elder statesman at the Open has an amazingly successful record of achievement here since making his winning debut with Black Dyke in 1976. In fact he won on his second appearance too, and followed this with a further three wins with Black Dyke before moving to Fairey and winning with them too in 1993.

That was his last triumph, but what a record it has been, even if the last few years have seen him direct bands that have come towards the bottom of the pile. Don't put it past him though to once again make a mark with this his sixth band, Desford, who he last conducted here in 2001.  

28th appearance
6 Wins: 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1993
4 Seconds: 1978, 1984, 1988, 1991
1 Third: 1992
1 Fourth: 1998
2 Fifths: 1995, 1997
1 Sixth: 1990
12 times unplaced: 1980 (N/K), 1981 (N/K), 1982 (N/K), 1987 (12th), 1989 (8th), 1994 (7th), 1996 (7th), 1999 (17th), 2000 (20th), 2001 (19th), 2003 (15th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Black Dyke: 1976 - 1988
William Fairey's: 1989 - 1994
Grimethorpe Colliery: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Sellers International: 1999
Desford Colliery: 2000, 2001, 2004
Travelsphere Holidays: 2003

Russell GrayRussell Gray  (Tredegar)

The third appearance at Birmingham for Russell Gray and his second with his Welsh band, Tredegar. He also took NSK RHP Ransome to 21st spot on "Ceremony" in 2000.

3 appearance
2 unplaced: 2000 (21st), 2003 (9th)

Bands taken at the Open:
NSK RHP Ransomes: 2000
Tredegar: 2003, 2004

John HinckleyJohn Hinckley (Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel)

The fifth attempt this year for the hardworking MD after four unproductive goes with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery and CWS Glasgow.

His 1999 debut saw 14th spot on "…Dove Descending", and 2000 saw further improvement and 9th place. His last appearance with Carlton Main on "Les Preludes" saw a lowly 17th place.  He returned with the Scots, CWS Glasgow on "The Maunsell Forts" but could only direct them to 16th spot. He didn't appear last year but returns with his third different band in the form of Yorkshire Imps.

5th appearance
4 unplaced: 1999 (14th), 2000 (9th), 2001 (17th), 2002 (16th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Carlton Main Frickley Colliery: 1999, 2000, 2001
CWS Glasgow: 2002
Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel: 2004

James GourlayJames Gourlay (Brighouse and Rastrick)

2004 sees Gourlay charged with the task of trying to take the title back to Brighouse and Rastrick for the first time since 1978 - a similar task to that of 2001 and 2002 when he was charged with doing the same for CWS Glasgow and Grimethorpe. That ended in 15th and 14th place.

One of the most impressive records at the Open since his debut in 1995 with Williams Fairey though - he never came out of the top 4, including a fine win in 1998. With his other two charges though, it has been not so good. Can he return to the glory days with Brighouse?

9th appearance
1 Win: 1998
2 Seconds: 1995, 1997
1 Third: 1999
2 Fourths: 1996, 2000
2 Unplaced: 2001 (15th), 2002 (14th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Williams Fairey: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
CWS Glasgow: 2001
Grimethorpe Colliery (UK) Coal: 2002
Brighouse and Rastrick: 2004

Garry CuttGarry Cutt (Fodens Richardson)

What a fine record for one of the most effective Musical Directors on the circuit. A debut as far back as 1988 with Point of Ayr Band from North Wales heralded a win at only his second attempt with Kennedy Swinton in 1989 to become the youngest winning conductor of the Open in its history.

His partnership with the Marple band was a model of consistent quality performances that led to his second win in 1996 at the Bridgewater Hall and three further prize-winning spots. In between he also took Grimethorpe to 3rd place in 1994 and 2000 and 4th in 2001. His last appearance was in 2002 with Leyland when they came 11th.

15th appearance
2 Wins: 1989, 1996
2 Thirds: 1994, 2000
3 Fourths: 1992, 1993, 2001
1 Fifth: 1998
6 Unplaced: 1988 (N/K), 1990 (N/K), 1991 (11th), 1997 (11th), 1999 (12th), 2002 (11th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Point of Ayr: 1988
Kennedy Swinton Concert: 1989
Marple: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
Grimethorpe Colliery: 1994, 2000, 2001
Leyland: 2002
Fodens Richardson: 2004

Brian GrantBrian Grant (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery)

A sixth attempt for the conductor, who previously took the Ransome band on three occasions at the Open and who has also taken Leyland and Travelsphere Holidays.

His debut was the best - 4th place on "Whitsun Wakes" but after then it was 11th and then 20th as Ransome were relegated back to the Grand Shield. After a year away he returned with Leyland to come 9th and then with Travelsphere when they came 17th. He returns this year with his fourth band.

6th appearance
No Wins:
1 Fourth: 1997
3 Unplaced: 1998 (11th), 1999 (20th), 2001 (9th), 2002 (17th)

Bands taken at the Open:
NSK-RHP Ransome: 1997, 1998, 1999
Leyland: 2001
Travelsphere Holidays: 2002
Carlton Main Frickley Colliery: 2004

Philip McCannPhillip McCann (Sellers International)

The man who as a player won numerous Open titles is still searching for that first victory as a conductor since making his debut with Sellers College Brass as far back as 1988 on "Contest Music" no less.

Three prize winning performances have come his way with the baton - first with Sellers in 1991 and then in 1996 with Fodens and again with Whitburn in 2001.  All gained 5th places. He returns this year back to his Alma Mater and will be looking to repeat at least that 1991 result.

14th appearance
No Wins:
3 Fifths: 1991, 1996, 2001
10 Unplaced: 1988 (N/K), 1989 (N/K), 1990 (N/K), 1992 (14th), 1993 (16th), 1994 (14th), 1995 (7th), 1999 (11th), 2000 (17th), 2002 (10th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Sellers International: 1988-1995, 2004
Fodens: 1996 
Whitburn: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Steve BastableSteve Bastable (Kirkintiloch)

2004 sees the fourth appearance at the Open for the talented Mr Bastable. He made his debut with Tredegar and gained 8th place on "Ceremony" in 2000 and then followed the disappointing 13th on "Les Preludes" in 2001.  His final appearance with Tredegar was in 2002 when he directed the Welsh band to 8th place for a second time. He didn't appear last year and has gone further afield this time to make his debut with a Scottish band and Kirkintilloch.

4th appearance
3 Unplaced: 2000 (8th), 2001 (13th), 2002 (8th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Tredegar: 2000, 2001, 2002
Kirkintilloch: 2004

Nigel Weeks and David Roberts are making their debuts.


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