2004 National Championships of Great Britain - The conductors records


Here's the list they don't like you looking at. Each of the 20 conductors will have some sort of form at the Royal Albert Hall – some good, some nearly great and more than a few with entries that list them as making up the numbers.

This year is unique in that there are a number MDs who return to the Albert Hall after a very long break away from the contest one of over 15 years, whilst some of them can call on experience of appearing here over at least four different decades. Who said this was a young mans game?

These are the men (no women this year again) who will be hoping to write their names into the history books, whilst only two make their debuts.

John ClarkJohn Clark
Alliance Brass

4th time
Debut: 1991

Bands taken at Finals:
Redbridge 1991, 1992,
Alliance Brass 2003, 2004

No Wins
3 Unplaced: 1991 18th, 1992 19th, 2003 19th

John Clark makes his fourth appearance at the Albert Hall 13 years after he made his debut here with Redbridge in 1991. Perhaps it will be fourth time lucky, as the three appearances so far on "Energy" and "The New Jerusalem" and last year on "Enigma" resulted in his charges being close to the bottom of the pile. They 18th out of 23 in 1991 and 19th and last in 1992 and 19th out of 20 last year. Lets hope his luck changes.

David EvansDavid Evans
Fairey FP (Music)

2nd time
Debut: 1999

Bands taken at Finals:
Glossop Old 1999
Burry Port 2003
Fairey FP (Music) - 2004

No Wins
2 Unplaced: 1999 20th, 2003 18th

What a change for the talented Mr Evans. On each of his previous two appearances he has led bands on their debuts and found himself having to work really hard to make an impression with them. Glossop were 20th in 1999 on "Concerto No1", whilst last year he steered the Welsh band Burry Port to 18th. This year he could be the man to steer Faireys to a historic hat trick that's banding for you eh?

Ian McElligottIan McElligott
Scottish Co-op

3 rd time
Debut: 2002

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

No Wins:
1 Fifth: 2002
1 Sixth: 2003

The urbane Ian McElligott makes his third appearance at the Albert Hall, and he brings with him his Scottish outfit that are currently on top form.

With Brighouse he put on a very fine show on "Masquerade" off number 1 no less to come 5th, and last year he once more came in the prizes with a strong performance off the number 17 slot. No wins, but someone with a happy knack it seems of bringing out the best of the bands he directs here.

Nicholas ChildsNicholas Childs
Black Dyke

11 th time
Debut: 1994

Bands taken at Finals:
Tredegar 1994, 1995, 1996
Fodens 1997, 1998, 1999
CWS Glasgow 2000
Black Dyke 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

2 Wins: 1999, 2001
1 Third: 1997, 2002
2 Fourth: 1998, 2003
1 Fifth: 1994
1 Sixth: 2000
2 Unplaced: 1995 9th: 1996 11th

The Welshman, and younger of the Childs brothers makes his 11th appearance here this year and his fourth with Black Dyke. He has won here twice before with Fodens in 1999 and with Dyke on "Albion" in 2001, but last year he had to contend with an early number 3 draw (the second early doors draw in a row) and although his band played well they couldn't hold off the challenges of Williams Fairey, Tredegar and BAYV Cory.

Just the twice has he failed to come in the prizes though both with Tredegar after gaining a fifth place on his debut, but with such a consistent record here, he should at least do that, or maybe even add a third victory to his CV.

Robert ChildsRobert Childs
Buy As You View

8 th time
Debut: 1996

Bands taken at Finals:
EYMS 1996, 1997
Ever Ready - 1999
BAYV Cory 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

1 Win: 2000
1 Second: 2002
1 Third: 2003
1 fifth: 2001
3 Unplaced: 1996 8th, 1997 12th, 1999 19th

Robert Childs makes his 8th appearance at the Finals, and many people forget that he didn't just fall into the BAYV MD position without gaining experience elsewhere.

He made his debut here back in 1996 with the EYMS band the band he helped create and on his debut they came a very creditable 8th on "Isaiah 40" and 12th on "On Alderney Edge" a year later. His final year of apprenticeship came with Ever Ready in 1999 before the glory of 2000 with BAYV Cory as they were then. Ever since it has been a series of near misses, so what will this year hold?

Gareth PritchardGareth Pritchard
East Yorkshire Motor Services

6th time
Debut: 1999

Bands taken at Finals:
Bodmin 1999, 2000
EYMS 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

No Wins:
5 Unplaced: 1999 16th, 2000 15th, 2001 14th, 2002 20th, 2003 14th

A sixth appearances this year for the Welshman in charge of the band from the North East, and he will be hoping that the improvement that was shown last year continues this time around as well when he equalled his best showing here.

He made his debut with the baton in 1999 with Bodmin, but since then he has yet to find that magic formula for success here. Can he do it in 2004?

Garry CuttGarry Cutt

9th time
Debut: 1994

Bands taken at Finals:
Marple 1994, 1998, 1999
Grimethorpe 2000
Leyland 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

No Wins:
1 Sixth: 2001
6 Unplaced: 1994 8th, 1998 11th, 1999 7th, 2000 10th, 2002 15 th, 2003 17 th

The talented Garry Cutt hasn't really enjoyed his eight appearances at the Albert Hall it seems. Where he was won three times at the Open and once at the Masters, the best he has been able to direct here was 6th place with Leyland in 2001. He has been around the fringes of the prize list a couple of times, but last year he could only direct Leyland into 17th spot.

On his day though he has the ability to make the most of even the most uninspiring score, so this time we may well see his name back in the top six.

Frank RentonFrank Renton

15th time (including 2 appearances at the 1998 contest)
Debut: 1977

Bands taken at Finals:
Wingates -1977
Grimethorpe 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993
Kirkintilloch 1990, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003
Sellers Engineering 1995
Desford Colliery 1998
Travelsphere Holidays 2001
Camborne Town - 2004

1 Win: 1992
1 Third: 1991
2 Fourths: 1993, 1997
9 Unplaced: 1989 9th, 1990 19th, 1995 7th, 1998 12th, 1998 12th with Kirkintilloch, 15th with Desford, 1999 11th, 2001 16th, 2002 14th, 2003 8 th

No National line up would be complete without Frank Renton. This year he makes his 15th appearance with his seventh band, and although he has just the one win to his credit, it was something very special wasn't it?

1992 was a long time ago now and since that Grimethorpe victory the best he has done is a couple of fourths one in defence of the title and one with Kirkintilloch on "On Alderney Edge". Other than that it has been midfield places only, although last year saw him direct the Scots to a well earned 8th place. This time he takes Camborne - his other long term association and he could well make a mark again. You never know with old Frankie do you even into his fourth decade of trying here?

Melvin WhiteMelvin White
Redbridge Brass

18th time
Debut: 1982

Bands taken at Finals:
Newham 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1992
Hendon 1989
BTM 1990, 1991, 1993
Aveley and Newham 1993, 1995, 1997
Woodfalls 1996
Redbridge 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004
Travelsphere 2000

No wins:
1 Fifth: 1991
1 Sixth: 1985
15 Unplaced: 1982 n/k, 1984 n/k, 1987 10th, 1989 7th, 1990 12th, 1992 13th, 1993 10th (BTM) and 15th (Aveley), 1995 17th, 1996 15th, 1997 9th, 1998 20th, 2000 12th, 2002 11th, 2003 15th

Melvin White is most experienced MD in terms of Albert Hall appearances here this year he takes his 18th bow this time around, and although he has yet to better the fifth place he achieved with the BTM band on "Energy" in 1991 he has always been good value for money.

He has been closely associated with London based bands since his debut back in 1982 with Newham on "Contest Music", and to be fair, many of them haven't been the strongest contenders, but his record with them has been good. This is his seventh different band and last year Redbridge were good value for their 15th place. Perhaps a bit higher this time may well be on the cards.

Ray FarrRay Farr
Ever Ready

13th time
Debut: 1976

Bands taken at Finals:
City of Coventry 1976, 1988, 1989
Grimethorpe 1981
Rogerstone 1982
Parc and Dare 1984
Newham - 1986
Hanwell 1987
CWS Glasgow 1991
Williams Fairey - 1995
Ever Ready 2002, 2003, 2004

No Wins:
1 Third: 1988
1 Sixth: 1986
10 Unplaced: 1976 n/k, 1981 10th, 1982 18th, 1984 n/k, 1987 14th, 1989 19th, 1991 12th, 1995 8th, 2002 9th, 2003 12th

Amazing to think that Ray Farr made his debut here as far back as 1976, but in his 12 previous appearances he can only boast 1 third and 1 sixth to his credit.

He has also had a go at winning here with no less than nine bands, but it must be said his latest partnership with Ever Ready seems to be developing very nicely indeed. 12th last year was a good return but the form book has been excellent during 2004 and a third mention off the stage could well be the order of the day come Saturday.

Russell GrayRussell Gray

4 th time
Debut: 2000

Bands taken at the Finals:
Ransome 2000, 2001, 2003
Tredegar - 2004

No Wins:
1 Second: 2000
2 Unplaced: 2001 13 th, 2003 7 th

Just the fourth appearance for the Scotsman at the Albert Hall with the baton. He made an amazing debut with Ransome in 2000 on "Harrison's Dream" that gave them a well deserved second place, and that day he used just about every trick in the book (including some amazing effects with submerged tubular bells), to catch the judges ears.

2001 saw the band come 13th under him, whilst last year he produced a fine account to come home a slightly unlucky 7th. Perhaps the time has come for another close call for the title itself?

Steve BastableSteve Bastable

4th time
Debut: 2000

Bands taken at the Finals:
Tredegar 2000, 2001, 2003
Staffordshire - 2004

1 Second: 2003
1 Fifth: 2000
1 Unplaced: 2001 7th

Steve Bastable returns to the Albert Hall a twelve month after so very nearly winning here with Tredegar on "Enigma". That was some performance and benefited greatly from one of the most musical interpretations heard for many a day at the contest. It may be asking too much him to repeat that with Staffordshire this year, but he is certainly a man in demand and his time to pick up the winners laurels may come sooner than you think.

David KingDavid King
Yorkshire Building Society

Appearances: 12 th time
Debut: 1987

Bands taken at Finals:
Kennedy Swinton 1987
Black Dyke 1989, 1990
YBS 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003

3 Seconds: 1989, 1995, 1998
2 Third: 1994, 2001
2 Fifths: 1987, 1996
1 Sixth: 2002
3 Unplaced: 1990 7th, 1999 8th, 2000 17th

No National title to the name of the most successful contest conductor of the past 20 years. He has won everywhere else, but not in London at the Royal Albert Hall. Can he finally do it this year and become the first MD to win all four major championships? We will have to wait and see, but who would bet against it?

Bryan HurdleyBryan Hurdley
Mount Charles

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 1995

Bands taken at Finals:
Bo'ness and Carriden 1995
Flowers 1999
Mount Charles - 2004

2 Unplaced: 1995 13th, 1999 14th

Just the third appearance at the Royal Albert Hall for the talented Mr Hurdley a sparse return for one of the most experienced and valued band trainers in the business.

He made his debut with the Scots of Bo'ness a decade ago when he came 13th on "Songs for BL" and followed this in 1999 on "Concerto No 1" with Flowers when he directed them to 14th place. Third time lucky then perhaps?; but surely, third time well overdue.

James GourlayJames Gourlay
Brighouse and Rastrick

9 th time
Debut: 1988

Bands taken at Finals:
BTM 1988
Williams Fairey 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
CWS Glasgow 2001
Grimethorpe 2002
Brighouse and Rastrick - 2004

1 Second: 1997
1 Third: 1998
1 Fourth: 1996
1 Fifth: 1999
4 Unplaced: 1988 14th, 2000 8 th, 2001 10th, 2002 7th

Amazing to think that this will be the third decade that James Gourlay has conducted here. His first appearance was as a young man with the Welsh BTM Band on "Seascapes" when they came 14th, but then there was quite a break before he returned with Williams Fairey.

Those were to date his most successful appearances including 2nd place on "Alderley Edge", but after that high point the results fell away (although they were still pretty impressive). He last appeared with Grimethorpe in 2002, so a return with a revitalised Brighouse may yet see him clinch a National win to go with his Open victory.

John HudsonJohn Hudson
Cwmaman Institute

Appearances: 5th time
Debut: 1990

Bands taken at Finals:
CWS Glasgow 1990
Tredegar 1993
Wingates 1995
Bodmin 1997
Cwmaman Institute - 2004

1 Win: 1990
1 Second: 1993
2 Unplaced: 1995 10th, 1997 10th

Now that isn't a bad record is it? Four appearances 1 win, 1 second and 2 top 10 places, but this year will see only the fifth appearance at the Royal Albert Hall for John Hudson. Why no one has booked him more often since his amazing winning debut in 1990 is a bit of a mystery, especially after he followed that up with a runners up place on his second showing with Tredegar on "Devil" two years later.

Great to see him doing some fine work with another Welsh band, so don't be surprised if he carries on his fine record here this year once more.

David StowellDavid Stowell
Travelsphere Holidays

Appearances: 3rd time
Debut: 1989

Bands taken at Finals:
PMG Heart of England 1989
Flowers 1995
Travelsphere Holidays - 2004

2 Unplaced: 1989 11th, 1995 14th

A third appearance in three decades for the hard working David Stowell a man who has been responsible for bringing Travelsphere Holidays back to the form that made them strong contenders here over the years.

He made his debut way back in the mists of 1989 when he took the now defunct Heart of England Band on "Odin" to come a creditable 11th, whilst he appeared for his second time in 1995 with Flowers (who are still going strong) when they came 14th on the much-maligned "Songs for BL". A decade later he returns once more welcome back!

Roy CurranRoy Curran

Appearances: 5th time
Debut: 1979

Bands taken at Finals:
Birmingham School of Music 1979, 1980
Kirkintilloch 1985
Coal Products 1989

1 Third: 1979
3 Unplaced: 1980 10th, 1985 13th, 1989 20th

Another MD making a return after a very long break away from the Championship Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.

Roy Curran made his debut way, way back in 1979 when he took the now long expired Birmingham School of Music to a brilliant 3rd place off the number 1 spot on "Volcano". They were some band in those days, but the following year they dropped away to 10th place and it was another five years before Roy appeared again this time with Kirkintilloch. Four years later and with Coal Products from the North East, Roy directed the band to 20th place on "Odin" and that was that until this weekend. Five appearances in four decades it may feel like his debut all over again.

Morten E Hansen and Andrew Duncan are making their debuts at the contest.


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