2007 Pontins Championships - Third Section retrospective


It was a band from the North West that made the most of the Northern Landscape test as Flixton took the honours in the Third Section.

Colin Morrison watched the second hand of his watch closely and to the very second of the start time the first band BMP (Europe) Goodshaw struck up with the test piece ‘Northern Landscapes’. An enjoyable Pontins Third Section contest was underway. 

The chosen set work was the Regional test piece for the Third Section in 2003 at a time when the eventual winners this year at Prestatyn, Flixton, held a confident position in the Second Section nationally.

The smile of success: Flixton's MD enjoys the moment
Picture: John Stirzaker

Ian McKnight joined the band in the recent past and under his guidance they gave a very nicely controlled performance, particularly the slower movement ‘Seascapes’, that found favour with the judges Jim Davies and Lloyd Landry.  The MD laid out a quite persuasive reading from the score and the composition classes he attended with Peter Graham whilst studying at Salford certainly payed off big time on this occasion. It was a performance notable for balance and clarity of melodic thinking – a classy show indeed.

Decent accounts from both runners up Wellington (Telford) led by Steve Cook and from Barton Town Band under Garry Oglesby came next in the prize list. There must have been only a small margin between these bands however we just had the tables turned on this one. These two interpretations were again very persuasive delivering both warm and expressive readings from their bands. All three podium prize winners can feel well satisfied with their efforts on the weekend with performances of real merit. 2008 cannot come fast enough.

Overall the contest produced some sensible and crafted playing from just about every band in the field of 13 contenders.

An air of anticipation preceded the performance of John Collins’ Oldham Band (Lees) but unfortunately the performance was a little bit mixed, very good to close but troubled in the first two movements. It was enough just to take the gloss off, although there was further evidence that this is a band certainly on the up.

On the whole 5th placed Littleport Brass guided by Nigel Bramley shaped the piece nicely with a fine feel for the musical content whilst the final top six place went to Coalburn Silver Band who set out a decent stall that was uncomplicated and simply stated. Both bands displayed a nicely rounded, warm bass led sound too – something that the MDs can take great credit for, especially in a non too friendly acoustic. In fact all top six bands could take heart from their efforts that were generally hallmarked by good ensemble work, balance and decent tuning.

BMP (Europe) Goodshaw conducted by Kevin Gibbs delivered with lots of quality, but just missed out on the day. Their performance just ended up in the mid-table; fair enough return perhaps that underlined the strength of this section. However, on another day at another contest they could have featured in the top six quite easily. 

There was really little to separate many of the performances that finished outside the prizes.

Hawk Green, (Philip Pavey) and Whitworth Vale & Healey (John Binns) clearly came with very a determined attitude. With performances that had their moments they finished what appears on paper to be a little off the pace. That would be a little unfair on both however, as the two displayed many of the same attributes of the bands that finished above them. A bit more consistency perhaps would have just popped them into the prize list. Perhaps the overall band nuances were not in the same class as the top bands but they were not too far off.

These bands finished ahead of Emley and Newhall who gave accounts that were simple and strong but just didn’t make you write on your notepad that they were in with real shout of the top prize. The plus points certainly outweighed the minus ones though and there was much to commend in both performances.

It would be unkind to say that the performances of Pemberton Old Wigan JJB 'B' and City of Chester were just ordinary as they captured some good moments in the work. It is just that they were just that little bit further off the pace in the final analysis in what was a strong field of competitive rivals.

There was little doubt at the end of the day that Flixton deserved the title ofe 2007 Pontins Third Section Champions. A fine test piece choice by Jim Scott gave all the bands an equal chance of a decent result at this competition and in the main the music delivered on the day was generally well plotted and well acknowledged by the decent sized audience.

John James


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