2004 National Championships of Great Britain - Final Impressions


4BR looks at those little moments of incidents, accidents, of the inspired and perspired, the winners and losers of the Nationals weekend.

Sometimes it isn't the obvious things that stick in the mind days or weeks after an event such as the National Finals. Not the presentations, the results, the performances even - but the little things that you can recount with friends over a pint in the pub; you know, the little personal things that bring a smile to the lips and the obvious remark - "Do you remember…"? 

That will surely be the case when you look back at what happened on the weekend; for there were a whole host of little instances, incidents, accidents, inspired moments, perspired players, perplexed conductors, winners, losers, satisfied and dissatisfied punters that will lodge in the old grey matter to be unlocked and unveiled again in the future.

The little instances:

  • Bands who went for the two soprano option - even Black Dyke and BAYV thought it a good idea, so why then didn't it really work?
  • Bands who went with the split bass trombone cadenza - once more it may have sounded inspired in the confines of the bandroom, but come the contest stage (and one the size of the Albert Hall) it never came off.
  • The time difference between Black Dyke's and YBS's performances - almost three minutes?
  • The dryness of the atmosphere on the stage - it was as if an air conditioning unit had been turned on twenty foot above the players heads.


  • David King leaving the stage in double quick time and heading for the exit sign after the YBS performance.
  • Bob Childs doing an impression of Lot's wife at the end of his bands performance - not a muscle moved for nigh on ten seconds. 
  • The clot who left their mobile phone on at the end of the EYMS performance - and didn't have the good grace or wit to be able to turn it off before the whole hall (judges included) had heard its idiotic ring tone.
  • Having to pay £8.00 for a study score that contained all the errors that should have been found and eradicated weeks ago.


  • The poor percussionist of EYMS who had to endure the slow motion horror of seeing (and hearing) one of the tubular bells come crashing to the floor - no fault of theirs, but a moment that would have chilled the blood on a very hot stage.
  • The absence of Morten E Hansen's name from the programme. He did a sterling job conducting Beaumaris, but the organisers didn't bother to check that his name was omitted from the official programme. A big sorry was forthcoming though.
  • The Study Score - we are being charitable here by calling it an accident. £8.00 for something full of as many errors as Tony Blair's dossier on the reasons for going to War with Iraq.  And no "Sorry Folks" explanation as well.  

Inspired Moments:

  • A whole big raft of "unheralded" solo cornet players who enhanced their reputations - step forward Nick Walkley at Fairey's, Eleanor Ferguson at Whitburn and  Bryan Tait at Ever Ready to name but a few.
  • The small dingy full of soprano players who did the same - step up into the limelight Gary Fountain at Travelsphere, Barri Gwilliam at Beaumaris, Tom Glendinning at Ever Ready  and Jon Small at Mount Charles.
  • Rehearsal mark 152 in the Test Piece - a thing of real ethereal beauty when it came off - and it did more than once. 
  • Bands actually playing quietly!

Perspired Players:

  • Any of the bass ends - trying to fill the Albert Hall without the benefit of a 8" diapson fitted to the lungs was an almost impossible task - but by heck the lads (and a couple of lasses we think) did the Bass End Union proud.  Some sweated the proverbial bucketload full.
  • Soprano and solo cornet players -  7 bars to go - lips like macaroni cheese, and underpants that could stick to the wall of the hotel bedroom. Pressure time.
  • Bass Trom players - the sweat was on for the mysterious individuals who ply the black arts of the bass clef. They deserve a mention - although not too loudly or you won't hear the end of it!
  • Players lugging equipment down to the bowels of the Albert Hall and back again to try and find their buses. Even with the money spent on it, it is still a place that knackers you out.

Perplexed Conductors:

  • The secret of the success was in the music and not the technique for this one, so why did so many whip through it like a dose of Epsom Slats?
  • Dress Sense - Brown suits are not fashionable guys. Ask your wives or girlfriends to pick your ties as well.
  • YBS and David King (there cannot be a combination of circumstances now left to deny them a title here - they have played brilliantly and not won, badly and not won, and now mediocre (by their standards) and not won either). Next year all they will have to do is turn up and the title is theirs at last!
  • John Clark and Alliance Brass - Drawn number 1 (again); the first time on stage with a full band and a test piece that they don't like - one tiny weeny bit! (see our comments page). Their premiere was also their first time through the entire piece. Coming 15th then was a minor miracle of an achievement.
  • What is meant by "organic growth"?


  • Black Dyke - obviously
  • Reg Vardy (Ever Ready) - on the crest of a huge Geordie wave of Ray Farr inspired brilliance (not even Graham Souness could better it)
  • Tredegar - the horror show of Birmingham put back in the box marked "Never to be Opened again". 
  • Peter Roberts - not quite vintage stuff from the "Legend" but still the best in the business and a fine way to leave YBS.
  • David Childs - Euphonium Player of the Year for a second time and perhaps the greatest playing talent in the movement at present.
  • Fairey FP (Music) - not able to make history, but the seeds are there for the future for sure


  • The organisers - bums on seats? The Hall wasn't full (or even two thirds full for that matter) and that could mean financial trouble ahead? What is the answer though?
  • The bands - a winners cheque for £2000 (the same as 25 years ago) doesn't go far on London prices, so coming to the Albert Hall is becoming a huge financial burden for the competitors - even for those top three that did get a little something back.
  • The disappearing audience - whoever they are they missed a treat this year.  Their fault though.

And finally - The Punters:

  • At last, comfortable seats - great
  • Uncomfortable prices at the bars - not so great
  • Keeping quiet when bands took to the stage - great
  • "Shushing" when BAYV entered - strange but rather pointless - not so great
  • Mnozil Brass -  weird, wonderful and wacky. Just what was required to fill the yawning gap between the last performance and the results - great
  • Non existent parking - not so great
  • Plenty of fine entertainment at the Gala Concert - great
  • Terrible lady compere for the results - not so great 

And that was about it for us………

See if you can remember anything else about the day.


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