2007 British Open Championships - Conductors Records


4BR looks at the track records of the 18 men who will be trying to win for their bands and also get their hands on a prized Mortimer Trophy to put on top of the television.

Symphony Hall18 men (no women again) will take the stage at Symphony Hall this year to try and become the winning conductor of the 2007 British Open Champions. Seventeen 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 2007 will be their year.

Of the 18 on show, 4 have tasted victory before - MDs, R. Childs, N. Childs, Cutt, and Evans have each had their moment in the sun here. Of those who conducted here last year, Messrs, Seaman and Bastable are away (the latter now living in Australia), King, Stonehouse and McElligott are no longer connected with their bands and Chris Houlding got relegated with Imps. 

Philip Chalk returns with Fairey this year and Andy Duncan after resigning from Whitburn at the end of 2006 returns to conduct them once more. 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 which of them has the best records here? This is what we turned up in our research. It makes for interesting reading.  

DNick Childsr. Nicholas Childs
Black Dyke

Made his debut with Tredegar in 1994 and came close on four occasions before adding his first Open to his CV in 2005 with Black Dyke.  He holds the curious record of four second places with three different bands (Tredegar, Fodens and Dyke) since his debut and this year will be his fourteenth appearance.  

Ten prize winning performances to his name already on the record is an impressive return, and he will be looking to become the first man since Leonard Lamb in 1963 to be a hat trick winning conductor. 

14th appearance 

2 Wins: 2005, 2006
4 Seconds: 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001
2 Thirds: 2002, 2003
1 Fifth: 1999
1 Sixth: 2004
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, 2005, 2006, 2007  

Alan WithingtonAllan Withington
Grimethorpe Colliery

Made his debut as far back as 1991, but in 16 attempts so far he has won only one 3rd, three 4ths and a 6th to his name – the rest have been far out, including last year when an almighty impressive reading was somewhat mysteriously missed by the judges and his band came in 9th (the second year running this has happened).  

The early years were the struggle for him at the contest with Brighouse and he has yet to reproduce the winning knack here as he has done so frequently at the Royal Albert Hall.  If he wins with Grimethorpe he will complete his personal "Grand Slam" of all major titles as a conductor. It is long overdue.

17th appearance 

No Wins:
1 Third: 1998
3 Fourth: 1999, 2002, 2003
1 Sixth: 1995 
11 times unplaced: 1991 (16th), 1992 (15th), 1993 (10th), 1994 (11th), 1996 (20th), 1997 (10th), 2000 (12th), 2001 (8th), 2004 (12th), 2005 (12th), 2006 (9th) 

Bands taken at the Open:

Brighouse and Rastrick: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Fairey: 2002, 2003, 2004
Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal): 2005, 2006, 2007    

Bob ChildsDr. Robert Childs
Cory Band

Made his debut here in 2000 and promptly walked off with the Gold Shield and the Mortimer Trophy. Since then he has won it a second time, has come runner up in the last three years and come third once as well. 

Only the draw conspired against him in 2004 and he was within a hairsbreadth again last time out, but he should be confident of adding a third title to his CV this time around on his eighth appearance. Another second place will surely have him pulling is hair out. 

8th appearance

2 Wins: 2000, 2002
3 Seconds: 2004, 2005, 2006
1 Third: 2001
1 Sixth: 2003

Bands taken at the Open:
BAYV: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 

Ray FarrRay Farr
Reg Vardy

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 31 years he's made just 13 appearances - it should have been so many more and deserves a better return than he has so far. Since taking over at Reg Vardy he has come close to getting in the frame again with three top 10 finishes but last year they finished 17th and this could be his last appearance here for a while if he can’t draw something special out form his band.  

13th appearance 

No wins:
1 Fifth: 1981
1 Sixth: 1988
8 times unplaced: 1976 (N/K), 1986 (N.K), 1989 (N/K), 1995 (18th), 2001 (12th), 2002 (15th), 2003 (8th), 2004 (8th), 2005 (8th), 2006 (17th) 

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, 2005, 2006, 2007    

Andy DuncanAndrew Duncan

A fifth appearance for the talented Scotsman with the Whitburn Band, and he will surely be looking for a repeat of his debut appearance in 2003. 

That runners up spot was a tremendous result (the best ever for a Scottish band at the contest), but since then it has been midfield placings only.  

5th appearance

No Wins
1 Second: 2003
3 times unplaced: 2004 (13th), 2005 (11th), 2006 (10th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Whitburn: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007    

Garry CuttGarry Cutt
Fodens Richardson

What a brilliant record for one of the most effective Musical Directors on the circuit. A debut as far back as 1988 with Point of Ayr Band 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 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. He made an appearance with Leyland in 2002 but returned in 2004 with Fodens to take the title for the first time in 40 years and give him his hat trick of Mortimer Maestro awards.  Last year saw him post his worse result at the contest though.

18th appearance 

3 Wins: 1989, 1996, 2004
2 Thirds: 1994, 2000
3 Fourths: 1992, 1993, 2001
1 Fifth: 1998
1 Sixth: 2005
7 Unplaced: 1988 (N/K), 1990 (N/K), 1991 (11th), 1997 (11th), 1999 (12th), 2002 (11th), 2006 (13th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Point of Ayr: 1988
Kennedy Swinton Concert: 1989
Marple: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Grimethorpe Colliery: 1994, 2000, 2001
Leyland: 2002
Fodens Richardson: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007   

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. 

Four prize winning performances have come his way with the baton - first with Sellers in 1991 and again in 2004, whilst he has also got bands in the frame in 1996 with Fodens and again with Whitburn in 2001.  Strangely, all of them have gained 5th place.  Returns after being relegated after last year’s 15th place.

16th appearance 

No Wins:
4 Fifths: 1991, 1996, 2001, 2004
12 Unplaced: 1988 (N/K), 1989 (N/K), 1990 (N/K), 1992 (14th), 1993 (16th), 1994 (14th), 1995 (7th), 1999 (11th), 2000 (17th), 2002 (10th), 2005 (14th), 2006 (15th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Sellers International: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Fodens: 1996 
Whitburn: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002   

David RobertsDavid Roberts
Rothwell Temperance

David Roberts makes his fourth appearance at the British Open this year, following his debut with Rothwell in 2004.

He will need to make sure he brings out a good performance from his band this year though as there is a real threat of relegation of they don’t play to form and move up the table from last year’s 14th place.

4th appearance

1 Fourth: 2005
2 Unplaced: 2004 (15th), 2006 (14th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Rothwell Temperance: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007   

Phil ChalkPhilip Chalk

A third appearance for the talented Mr Chalk although this time it is with the band he made his name with as a player. 

The first two appearances came with the Ashton Under Lyne Band who struggled to make the mark and were relegated after coming 19th and bottom of the prize table last year.

3rd appearance

2 Unplaced: 2005 (17th), 2006 (19th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Ashton under Lyne: 2005, 2006
Fairey: 2007  

Mark BenthamMark Bentham
Hepworth (Cookson Homes)

Another of the young up and coming conductors returns this year looking to add another impressive entry onto his CV. 

Two very solid efforts so far with his band, expectations are high this year for a first top six place.

3rd appearance

2 Unplaced: 2005 (8th), 2006 (11th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Hepworth: 2005, 2006, 2007  

Russell GrayRussell Gray
Carlton Main Frickley Colliery

The fifth appearance at Birmingham for Russell Gray this year and after three fairly non descript attempts before last year he produced a fine performance from his band to secure 6th place – their best performance since 1972.

More of that would be fine.

5th appearance

1 Sixth: 2006
4 unplaced: 2000 (21st), 2003 (9th), 2004 (18th)

Bands taken at the Open:
NSK RHP Ransome: 2000
Tredegar: 2003, 2004
Carlton Main: 2006, 2007  

Nigel TakenNigel Taken
Aveley and Newham

A fifth appearance at the British Open for Nigel Taken this year after he made his debut back in  1989. 

Hasn’t been able to set the world of fire as yet and this could well be his last appearance for some tie if he cannot drag a top notch performance from his band this year after coming 16th last time out.

5th appearance
4 unplaced: 1989 (N/K), 1990 (N/K), 1991 (13th), 2006 (16th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Asphaltic Newham: 1989, 1990, 1991
Aveley and Newham: 2006, 2007  

EvansRichard Evans
YBS Band

A 24th appearance for one of the great conductors at the British Open in the last 30 years or more.

Two wins, 3 times runners up and four times third is some record and to cap it all he won the contest at his very first attempt in 1975 with Wingates. First time back since 2000 when he somewhat disappointingly left the stage for what was erroneously reported as the last time (by the 4BR Editor in fact!) off the number 1 slot. Great to see him back.

24th appearance

2 Wins: 1975, 1994
3 Seconds: 1981, 1990, 1992
4 Thirds: 1977, 1989, 1991,1996
2 Fourths: 1985, 1988
1 Fifth: 1993
3 Sixths: 1976, 1982, 1998
8 Unplaced: 1983 (N/K), 1984, (N/K), 1986 (N/K), 1987 (N/K), 1995 (19th), 1997 (8th), 1999 (8th), 2000 (18th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Wingates: 1975, 1976
Fairey: 1977
Leyland/DAF/BNFL: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Flowers: 2000
YBS: 2007 

HarperPhilip Harper

Just the second appearance for the talented Philip Harper, and he will surely be looking for a better return than his one and only appearance so far in 2001 when he directed Flowers to 21st and last place.

Change of name from the band and a change of fortune too should be on the cards.

2nd appearance

1 unplaced: 2001

Bands taken at the Open:
Flowers: 2001 (21st) 

VioletFrans Violet

A third appearance for one of the best conductors in Europe – he is already a three time European Championship winning conductor.

He first appeared with the Scottish Co-op Band in 1993 when he took them to a very impressive 3rd place and then again in 1995.

3rd appearance

1 Third: 1993
1 Unplaced: 1995 (10th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Scottish Co-op: 1993, 1995
Desford: 2007 

Allan RamsayAllan Ramsay
Scottish Co-op

A third appearance for the hard working Scotsman. Made his debut with the Kirkintilloch Band  2001 when he led his fellow Scots to a solid 16th place on their Open debut and then produced a fine performance from Scottish Co-op to come 4th last year.  

3rd appearance

1 Fourth: 2006
1 unplaced: 2001 (16th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Kirkintilloch: 2001
Scottish Co-op: 2006, 2007  

MorrisonAlan Morrison
Brighouse & Rastrick

Nearly a decade has passed since Alan Morrison was last in front of a band here at Symphony Hall, but in the interim he was one of the best performers on the stage as principal cornet of the band he now conducts - although they didn't have much luck.

Made his debut with Sellers International in 1996 and had three apearances with them with a best of 11th and falling down to 18th.  He returns this year with Brighouse and with a record to improve upon we are sure. 

4th appearance

3 unplaced: 1996 (11th), 1997 (12th), 1998 (18th)

Bands taken at the Open:
Sellers International: 1996, 1997, 1998
Brighouse & Rastrick: 2007  


Nigel Boddice is making his conducting debut at the contest this year.


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