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Report & Result: 2018 North of England Regional Championship: Championship Section

NASUWT Riverside makes it a North of England Area double as they head back to the Albert Hall as champions again with Reg Vardy in tow.

  NASUWT Riverside retain the Area title under David Roberts

Circumstances outside NASUWT Riverside's control left a somewhat controversial mark on the result of a keenly fought Championship Section contest in Durham. It may also be one that takes some time to be settled.

Thankfully it won't be centred on the authenticity of their win; a fine defending champion's victory and a thoroughly deserved one at that, thanks to a performance that bore the hallmarks of David Roberts' detailed appreciation of the score.


It was executed with a level of classy solo confidence and precise ensemble textures that will see them head to the Royal Albert Hall with a host of silverware to their name.

Prizes for 'Best Soprano' (Phil Tait), 'Euphonium' (Jamie Beeston), 'Trombone' (Malcolm Gill), 'Basses' and 'Percussion', emphasised the comprehensive nature of a barnstorming rendition of 'Odyssey' — topped of course by the lifting of the rather incongruous 'FA Cup' Regional Trophy.

Little wonder the band celebrated every bit as joyfully as players of any north of England football team would do if they had just won the 'original' — although thankfully David Roberts didn't have to run across the pitch to like Bob Stokoe at Wembley in 1973 to congratulate his outstanding principal cornet Tina Mortimer.

Very fine

"They gave us a very fine, very well-directed performance," adjudicator Michael Fowles (joined by Howard Evans) later told 4BR. "There were some moments of unease, but it was balanced and focused from start to finish. There was so much to enjoy in it."

And although the most immediate thoughts were on a long night of celebration (the £200 first prize wouldn't have gone far on champagne), those will have soon turned to the Grand Shield in Blackpool, where they will be rightly confident of making it a qualification 'double' (they came fourth last year) by filling their Autumn CV with appearances at both Birmingham and London.

Who will actually join them at Kensington Gore now remains open to investigation and debate.


Reg Vardy's appeal against their post-contest disqualification, for allegedly breaking player registration requirements, may drag on for a little while yet. Whatever the rights and wrongs it has left everyone in a rather confusing state of limbo.

If the decision of the Regional Committee is upheld then the band will miss out on a record 50th Albert Hall appearance, their place taken by third placed Fishburn.

On the day they also gave a performance worthy of a winner — aided by the contribution of Lode Violet from Brass Band Willebroek, signed for the contest. Russell Gray's lyrical approach drew on the emotional core of the composition, one that built in growing passion and intensity to the commanding final chord.

It was a compelling account that resulted in many in the audience trying to squeeze the metaphorical cigarette paper between them and NASUWT Riverside.


The judges were faced by the same dilemma — later stating in their thorough remarks that both bands would have felt that they "had left something behind the rehearsal room". "The first two minutes of the piece are crucial in stamping your authority on the rest of the work," Michael added. "There were one or two moments when it felt uncomfortable for both bands."

For the moment Fishburn will have to wait — although a rejuvenated band had earlier set the contest alight with a performance led by David Hirst that was perhaps the most coherent of the day.

Sumptuous individual contributions, especially in the central section put them within touching distance of the Albert Hall — one that may still be grasped (even if it is in a manner they wouldn't really have wanted).


EYMS very nearly grabbed that Kensington spot for themselves with an evocative performance under Stig Maersk. Flowing with passion that at times just bubbled over with enthusiasm, is showcased a band that will also travel to the Grand Shield full of confidence that won't be misplaced.

Behind them came joy for Westoe as their fifth place equalled their best top-flight finish since the days when they were known as Harton Colliery in 1978, whilst sixth place went to Shepherd Building Group ahead of a trio of hard working accounts from Easington Colliery, York Railway Institute and Kirbymoorside.

And despite the rather unsatisfactory nature of the time line involved with the post-results procedures, the results shouldn't deflect from the excellence of the 2018 winners, or the fact that the top-flight level in the North of England has become a vibrant, engrossing battle between a host of rapidly improving local rivals.

Prizes for 'Best Soprano', 'Euphonium', 'Trombone', 'Basses' and 'Percussion', emphasised the comprehensive nature of a barnstorming rendition of 'Odyssey' — topped of course by the lifting of the rather incongruous 'FA Cup' Regional Trophy4BR


Championship Section:

Test Piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)
Adjudicators: Howard Evans & Michael Fowles

1. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)*
2. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)**
3. Fishburn (David Hirst)
4. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)
5. Westoe (Jason Smith)
6. Lockwood Brass (John Roberts)
7. Shepherd Building Group (Richard Wilton)
8. Easington Colliery (Ian Robinson)
9. York Railway Institute (Dr David Lancaster)
10. Kirkbymoorside Town (Sarah Woodward)

*Qualify for National Final
**Pending disqualification appeal

Best Soprano: Phil Tait (NASUWT Riverside)
Best Principal Cornet: Lode Violet (Reg Vardy)
Best Euphonium: Jamie Beeston (NASUWT Riverside)
Best Trombone: Malcolm Gill (NASUWT Riverside)
Best Basses: NASUWT Riverside
Best Percussion: NASUWT Riverside


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Sarah Groarke-Booth

BA (Hons) MA
Conductor, Adjudicator, Compere, Actor