There was a wonderful story of almost unlimited contest patience and dedication that unfolded in the Fourth Section on Sunday morning in Perth, as thirteen bands provided excellent entertainment on Alan Fernie's 'St Andrew's Variations' set-work.
It culminated, after a remarkable period of 96 years of trying, with Dysart Colliery Band directed by Ross Brotherston, claiming their first Scottish Championship title — and in the process securing their place at the National Finals for the first time too. They will be joined there by Newmains & District.
The Scottish Championship was for many decades a totally separate contest (and in a way it remains so today), with the first event taking place in 1895. Dysart last tasted success in 1921 in the then Third Section — the year in which car tax was first introduced, Ernest Shackleton set sail for his last trip to Antarctica and the first Poppy Day was held.
No wonder their players didn't quite know how to celebrate victory.
Wonderful to see
It was simply wonderful to see, with tearful supporters and players (both very young and slightly older!) all taking it in turns to lift the trophy that ended perhaps one of the longest ever runs of unsuccessful competitive endeavour (with just a ten year break when they battled to even survive) in banding history.
And no wonder Band Secretary Ian McAlpine was still in a state of utter bewilderment when he spoke to 4BR: "It's beyond words how we feel at the moment," he finally managed to say.
"We've been through some difficult times and went through a long period where we weren't able to compete: Our numbers dwindled, but we kept going.
We owe so much to so many dedicated people such as the late Bruce Fraser who helped us back. I'm sure many of us will be raising a glass or two to him in the days ahead".
Aims and objectives
Ian also acknowledged the contribution of many others, including his own daughters who played in the band, including the 'Best Instrumentalist' award winner Fiona Dick who has been a member for the past 25 years.
"We sat down last year and put plans in place that we wanted to have as our aims and objectives — with this weekend just the start.
Our conductor Ross Brotherston is doing a superb job, and we are fortunate to have players with Championship and First Section experience who have added so much to the band. We are now ahead of schedule, so all we can now do is plan for Cheltenham."
Before the historic announcement, the audience had enjoyed a trio of performances from the non-competitive ensembles of the Section 4B class, who received critiques to help them in their further development by adjudicator Lynda Nicholson.
The Fourth Section judges, Dr Brett Baker and Sheona White then spoke of the enjoyable time they had in listening to the competitors, with Sheona also enjoying a bit of banter with her former teacher, John Boax, as she spoke of her pride on being able to return to adjudicate at a contest that held many happy memories for her.
The bands that had displayed musical style, contrasts in dynamics, good tuning and balance had featured in the prizes she said as she congratulated all the competitors for their fine efforts, although also pinpointing some concerns with what she playfully called 'over-enthusiastic' accompaniment.
No such problems though for the splendidly confident Dysart and to a lesser extent the neatly managed Newmains & District under Michael Marzella, who used all his years of experience to help steer his band to their first National Finals appearance.
Just behind them came a host of spirited performances led by third placed Bon Accord B directed by Jennifer Cook, with the remaining top-six places claimed by Dundee Instrumental, Penicuik Silver and Dumfries Town on a day that will live long in the memory for all the right contesting reasons.
It is said that success comes to those that wait — so after 96 years of trying, no one could begrudge Dysart Colliery their wonderful moment of victory celebration.
We've been through some difficult times and went through a long period where we weren't able to compete: Our numbers dwindled, but we kept goingBand Secretary Ian McAlpine
Test Piece: 'St Andrews Variations' (Alan Fernie)
Adjudicators: Dr Brett Baker and Sheona White
1. Dysart Colliery (Ross Brotherston) — 180*
2. Newmains & District (Michael Marzella) — 179*
3. Bon-Accord Silver B (Jennifer Cook) — 178
4. Dundee Instrumental (Robert McDonald) — 176
5. Penicuik Silver (Stuart Black) — 174
6. Dumfries Town (John Taylor) — 173
7. Newland Concert Brass (Paul McKelvie OBE) — 172
8. Kilmarnock Concert (Scott Walker) — 171
9. Highland Brass (Mark Bell) — 170
10. Stranraer Brass (Yvonne Williamson) — 168
11. Hawick Saxhorn (David Robb) — 167
12. Forfar Instrumental (Terrence Jackson) — 166
13. Queensferry Community Brass (James Anderson) — 164
*Top two bands qualify for National Final at Cheltenham
Youngest BBb Player:
Best Instrumentalist: Fiona Dick (Horn) — Dysart Colliery