2007 North West Regional Championship - Championship Section


Can Fodens retain the local bragging rights or will someone else leave Blackpool as the best in the North West?

Sunday 11th March
Empress Ballroom
Adjudicator: James Scott
Test Piece: Isaiah 40 - Robert Redhead
Commences: 2.30pm approx after First Section results

wireBactiguard Wire Brass
Paul Andrews
4BR Ranking: 64

Last 11 Years:
2006: Winners of First Section (P. Andrews) (prom)
2005: Winners of Second Section (P. Andrews) (prom)
2004: 2nd (J. Hinckley)
2003: 6th (P. Andrews)
2002: Winners of Third Section (P. Andrews) (prom)

The Bactiguard Wire Brass success story of recent years is proof that if you've got belief, desire and commitment, anything is possible.  Wire has made it into the Championship Section in just a handful of years and they'll be relishing the challenge of mixing it with the big boys. 

They did well at Pontins in November in their first senior outing at championship level and in addition came 5th at Brass at the Guild where they were up against some of their fellow competitors this Sunday. They could well take more than a few scalps, and given their confidence, perhaps even more.

BTBritish Telecom
Mike Fowles
4BR Ranking: 67

Last 11 Years:
2006: 6th (M. Fowles)
2005: 5th (M. Fowles)
2004: 5th (M. Fowles)
2003: 6th (M. Fowles)
2002: 9th (M. Fowles)
2001: 5th (M. Fowles)
2000: 4th (P. Bailey)
1999: 8th
1998: 6th
1997: 8th
1996: 6th

BT celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2007 and they started off in superb style by winning at Brass at the Guild in February. 

On their day, they're a very capable and consistent band and they'll be as committed as they always are under Michael Fowles and looking to push on from the top six placings of recent years. Lots of talented players around the stand and a determination to make 2007 a year to remember. Could find it hard to make it to London given that there is just the two places up for grabs, but don't write them off.  

bLACKBURNBlackburn and Darwen
Nick Sheppard
4BR Ranking: 179

Last 11 Years:
2006:12th (N. Sheppard)
2005: 3rd in First Section (prom) (N. Sheppard)
2004: 6th (N. Sheppard)
2003: 5th (G. Pritchard)
2002: 12th (E. Landon)
2001: 5th (E. Landon)
2000: 9th (E. Landon)
1999: 7th
1998: 6th
1997: 6th
1996: 12th Championship Section (rel)

Whenever a band gets promoted it can sometimes be a little daunting as they discover that the ‘next level' can be extremely tough.  Blackburn and Darwen came up in 2006 and found life tough going in Blackpool last year although they still produced a performance of merit. 

They're a very capable outfit but with the way promotion and relegation goes, they'll know they will have to play very well this year to maintain their Championship status and they will have to up their game from Preston where they came 12th.

dOBCROSS sILVERDobcross Silver
4BR Ranking: 65 

Last 11 Years:
2006: 5th (D. Hadfield)
2005: 6th (D. Hadfield)
2004: 7th (D. Hadfield)
2003: 5th (D. Hadfield)
2002: 6th in First Section (prom) (D. Hadfield)
2001: 3rd in First Section (S. Wood)
2000: 4th in First Section (S. Wood)
1999: 10th in First Section
1998: 2nd in First Section
1997: 7th in First Section
1996: 13th in Championship Section (rel)

Dobcross have been pretty consistent of late at Blackpool but the Dennis Hadfield era came to an end in December together with one or two gaps around the stand.

The band will surely come out fighting at Blackpool looking for another solid show, but if they are to come in the top six once more they will have to be at the very top of their form.   

Major Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking:

Last 11 Years:
2006: 2nd (S. Stonehouse)
2005: 2nd (P. Parkes)
2004: 2nd (A. Withington)
2003: 2nd (Steve Bastable)
2002: 2nd (H. Snell)
2001: Winners (H. Snell)
2000: 2nd (J. Gourlay)
1999: 4th
1998: 2nd
1997: Winners
1996: Winners

Fairey's have a great record here in recent years (although they haven't won since 2001) and they had a decent contest season in 2006 with solid shows at the Open, London and Brass in Concert. 

In between though came player departures and since the end of the year, more players have come and gone, as has MD Simon Stonehouse.  The great Peter Parkes returns to direct the band and it's going to be interesting to see not only what their line up will be like, but also how they perform. The Major is due another regional win to go with the 30 he already has, but will it come here? 

FodensFodens Richardson
Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 5

Last 11 Years:
2006: Winners (G.Cutt)
2005: 3rd (G. Cutt)
2004: 4th (T. Wyss)
2003: Winners (R. Gray)
2002: Winners (R. Gray)
2001: 2nd (J. Gourlay)
2000: Winners (N. Childs)
1999: Winners (N. Childs)
1998: Winners (N. Childs)
1997: 2nd
1996: 3rd

Last year Fodens claimed their first victory and qualification for London since 2003 under Garry Cutt who'd struggled in the run up to the contest with a bad back. 

With just two places up for grabs this year Fodens will be determined to be heading back to London and a win here will put them in good heart ahead of the Europeans in May. As much talent as any band in the country, but they have had their odd wobbly moment here in the past – they cannot afford to less than 100% on the weekend if they are to head for the Royal Albert Hall again.   

Paul Dalton
4BR Ranking: 41

Last 11 Years:
2006: 7th (P. Dalton)
2005: Winners of First Section (prom) (P. Dalton)
2004: 9th Championship Section (P. Dalton) (rel)
2003: 7th (P. Dalton)
2002: 8th (P. Dalton)
2001: 4th (P. Dalton)
2000: 7th (P. Dalton)
1999: 7th
1998: 10th
1997: Winners of First Section (prom)
1996: 4th in First Section

Freckleton returned to the Championship Section last year after just the one season away and gave a very solid account of themselves in coming 7th.  Paul Dalton works the band very hard and that hard work continues to pay off on the contest stage as their 4th place at Preston last month demonstrated. 

They know they'll find it tough to compete against some of the fancied runners here, but they've shown they're capable of holding their own at the Championship level and another comfortable top ten place could be on the cards. 

Russell Gray
4BR Ranking: 6

Last 11 Years:
2006: 3rd (R. Gray)
2005: Winners (R. Gray)
2004: Winners (G. Cutt)
2003: 4th (G. Cutt)
2002: 3rd (G. Cutt)
2001: 3rd (G. Cutt)
2000: 3rd (H. Snell)
1999: 2nd
1998: 3rd
1997: 3rd
1996: 2nd

Leyland were denied a first hat-trick of wins last year here, but they're a band who've grown in stature since winning the Nationals in 2005. 

They gave an accomplished performance at the RNCM Festival in January and having acquired the likes of Katrina Marzella on baritone they have strengthened the ranks with accomplished performers. They'll be up for this one, particularly as they don't have the added luxury of having pre-qualified for London this time around and it may give them that extra boost to make it to the British Open too. 

PembertonPemberton Old JJB Wigan
Conductor: Mark Peacock
4BR Ranking:

Last 11 Years:
2006: 8th (M. Peacock)
2005: 7th (M. Peacock)
2004: Winners of First Section (M. Peacock) (prom)
2003: 9th (N. Sheppard)
2002: Winners of First Section (A. Lawton)
2001: 8th (J. Maines)
2000: 2nd in Second Section (prom) (J. Maines)
1999: 13th in Second Section
1998: 3rd in Second Section
1997: 7th in Third Section (prom)
1996: 2nd in Third Section

Pemberton Old JJB are another band who've held their own in the top section over the past couple of years – a great achievement given how far they have come in such a short space of time. 

They've started the year off in great form coming 3rd at Preston and they'll be looking forward to Blackpool and ideally a higher placing – a top six place could be on the cards if they can really hit their musical boot straps.   

coopUnited Norwest Co-op Milnrow
Andrew White
4BR Ranking: 113

Last 11 Years:
2006: =10th (A. White)
2005: 8th in First Section (prom) (A. White)
2004: 4th (A. White)
2003: 2nd (C. Whiteoak)
2002: 11th (D. Hebb)
2001: 6th (D. Hebb)
2000: 5th in Second Section (prom) (I. Brownbill)
1999: Winners of Second Section
1998: 4th in First Section (rel)
1997: 8th in First Section
1996: 10th in Championship Section (rel)

Having been promoted to the Championship Section Milnrow found the step up pretty tough going last year.  That experience should put them in good stead though and we are sure they will be looking to improve further this year.

Butlins saw them in pretty inconsistent form and they struggled a little in coming 9th. They will have to up the ante then to make a significant mark here.

PoyntonVernon Building Society Poynton
Alan Lawton MBE
Ranking: 148

Last 11 Years:
2006: 3rd in First Section (A. Lawton) (prom)
2005: 6th (A. Lawton)
2004: 2nd (A. Lawton)
2003: 11th (M. Obermuller)
2002: 4th (M. Obermuller)
2001: 10th (M. Obermuller)
2000: DNC
1999: 10th in Championship Section (rel)
1998: 3rd in First Section (prom)
1997: 4th
1996: 11th Championship Section (rel)

The good times are really back at Poynton and they deserve their place back in the Championship Section. 

Alan Lawton is one of the movement's finest trainers and his commitment to the movement was acknowledged last year when he was awarded the MBE. Poynton have some fine players around the stand and they have been working their socks off of late so it will be interesting to see how they cope on Sunday. 

Andrew Berryman
4BR Ranking: 28 

Last 11 Years:
2006: 4th (Dr R. Newsome)
2005: 4th (P. McCann)
2004: 3rd (R. Curran)
2003: 11th (R. Curran)
2002: 5th (B. Hurdley)
2001: 7th (B. Grant)
2000: 5th (A. Lawton)
1999: 6th
1998: 5th
1997: 4th
1996: 7th

Wingates are a band that certainly can't be discounted this weekend. They came 4th here last year under Dr Newsome and have been working with Andrew Berryman in recent months.

It's a partnership that's flourishing although they didn't give as solid an account of themselves at Butlins in January where they were some way off the pace in coming 10th. If they can play to the form that they have shown here in the past few years they could well be in with a shout, but a qualification place would be a bit of a surprise.  

Past Qualifiers:
2006: Fodens, Fairey, Leyland*
2005: Leyland*, Fairey FP (Music)
2004: Leyland, Fairey FP (Music)*, Wingates
2003: Fodens*, Williams Fairey*, Haydock, Leyland
2002: Fodens*, Williams Fairey*, Leyland, Besses
2001: Williams Fairey, Fodens*, Leyland
2000: Fodens*, Williams Fairey*, Leyland
1999: Fodens, Leyland, Williams Fairey*, Marple
1998: Fodens*, Williams Fairey*, Leyland, Marple
1997: Williams Fairey, BBS
1996: Williams Fairey, BNFL
1995: Wingates, BNFL, Williams Fairey*
1994: BNFL, Marple, Williams Fairey*
1993: BNFL, BBS, Williams Fairey

*Pre Qualified  

How North West bands did in London:
2006: 5th, 6th, 7th
2005: 1st, 8th
2004: 10th, 16th, 19th
2003: 1st, 5th, 17th, 20th
2002: 1st, 4th, 13th, 15th
2001: 2nd, 4th, 6th
2000: 3rd, 8th, 14th
1999: 1st, 5th, 7th, 10th
1998: 3rd, 4th, 8th, 11th
1997: 2nd, 3rd
1996: 4th, 7th
1995: 5th, 8th, 10th
1994: 2nd, 7th, 8th
1993: 1st, 5th, 11th  

4BR Prediction:

This has been one of the most closely fought regional contests over the years and we don't anticipate it being any different in 2007.  Last year the North West had the added luxury of sending three bands to London with Leyland being the National Champions, but this year it's back to two, so if Faireys, Fodens and Leyland hit form, one of them will miss out.

Realistically we believe it will be between these three for the top two places but don't discount Wingates, BT or Pemberton from upsetting the odds on the day. 

1. Foden's Richardson
2. Leyland
3. Fairey
4. Wingates
5. BT
6. Freckleton

Dark Horse: Pemberton Old Wigan.


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