2007 Spring Festival - Senior Cup introduction and prediction


Which of the 18 bands here will be dancing and singing the alleluias come the results? The successful quartet will make it a step closer to the British Open, whilst the bottom four will drop through the trap door to the Senior Trophy.

WinterIf it is desperation that permeates through the air in the Grand Shield then it's the sense of expectation that courses though the veins in the Senior Cup.

Bands here know that they are at the very least a couple of years away from the promised land that is Symphony Hall and a bash at the likes of Black Dyke, Grimethorpe et al. They also know that it is not a question of being the very best on the day to gain promotion either, as there are four places up for grabs and not just the two as in the Grand Shield.

This gives the contenders a little extra bit of leeway, and although the standard is still very high, having a performance that does contain some nasty little corners here and there isn't completely terminal. More than that though and it is, as there are four bands that will also have the relegation noose placed around their necks as well. It means the contest has just about something for everyone with only a smallish band of midfield contenders with nothing really to worry about.

Over the years the contest has also shown that the rivals fall into three broad camps: Those with high hopes, those with realistic ambitions and those hoping to tread water for another year. This year is no different.

Take for instance the EYMS Band from the North of England. They are the only band in the field that has qualified for the National Finals in London, so part 1 of their aims and objectives for the year as already been met. They will travel with high hopes of making it a double for sure. So too the likes of Wingates, Ratby Co-operatives and Kingdom Brass, all three of which came close to emulating EYMS and gaining a place at the Royal Albert Hall. They too will travel with confidence.

These bands will surely be looking to book their place in the Grand Shield next year, but they will surely be pressed by a whole raft of outfits with realistic ambitions too. Innovate Skelmanthorpe for instance or Pemberton Old JJB Wigan, Bournemouth, Thoresby, Jaguar (Coventry), Freckleton or Dalmellington – all of whom are solid, nonsense top level outfits who on their day can more than take this contest by the scruff of the neck.

Then the ere are the likes of Besses and Cwmaman, both of whom were at the British Open not so long ago and will want to get back there as soon as possible, or Kibworth who just three years ago missed out on Symphony Hall by the narrowest of margins. What will the objectives be for these three we wonder?

Aldbourne, Knottingley, Lindley and Unison Kinneil all can have their moment in the sun, given a decent draw and a good days contesting at the office and they will travel with realistic ambitions as well.  Some of the bands may be treading water come the results, but none will own up before a note has been played for sure.

This is a well matched field of bands and it would tale Nostradamus to predict the top six in order before the contest starts, let alone after it has finished and we wait for the results.

It gets even more difficult though with the set work too – Philip Sparke's ‘Dances & Alleluias', a piece that found favour with the competitors at the English Nationals last year and showed itself to be a stern but enjoyable musical obstacle to overcome.    There is something in it for everyone and plenty of opportunity to make the music flow with lyricism as well as show off the sparkling technique and a good solid stable of soloists.

With all that in mind, who will win the Belle Vue 100 Guinea Trophy and the £600 first prize and who will join them in the Grand Shield next year.

It is a difficult one this but if things go to plan then Wingates will surely be favourites to take the title. EYMS are on a high at the moment too and should fancy their chances of making it into the top three at least whilst Kibworth and Thoresby may well be in line for a step up the ladder as well. Pushing them all the way we go for Kingdom Brass if they hit their recent Fife form once more, Bournemouth and Innovate Sklemanthope as our dark horse.

4BR Prediction:

1. Wingates
3. Kibworth
4. Thoresby
5. Kingdom Brass
6. Bournemouth

Dark Horse:  Innovate Skelmanthorpe


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