Lochgelly Maintain 1st Section Status

The Lochgelly band made their return to the 1st section of Scottish Brass Banding at the Scottish Championships in Motherwell on Sunday 12th March. The Lochgelly band have not competed at this level since 1993. Then, the band played “Forest of Dean” and were placed 10th, a result which led to relegation and the start of a slow slide all the way to the 4th section. There are at least eight members of the band from 1993 who are still in the band today and for them the return to the 1st section is just reward for their loyalty.

The testpiece for the 2006 contest was Goff Richards “Voyage of Discovery”, a wonderfully descriptive piece of music and one which the band enjoyed playing. The band had been well prepared for the contest by resident conductor Brian Paterson and new MD Alan Fernie. Alan Fernie in particular was very upbeat about our chances and had banned all negative talk from the bandhall. Whatever it was, it worked, because morale in the band was very high going into the contest. We even had our traditional bad last rehearsal before contest day, so everything was going well. Or so it seemed…

Contest day dawned and we awoke on the Sunday morning to find that Scotland had been covered with more snow than Kate Moss could get through in a lifetime. Fife was particularly badly hit and with a 7am leaving time from the bandhall things looked bleak. Through sheer determination, probably mixed with a little recklessness, everyone made it to the bandhall where the bus was miraculously waiting. A long slow journey west to Motherwell over a snowbound M8 followed and we made it to the conert hall to find that we were the only band that had turned up. Some members of other bands had made it too and we heard tales of bands being stuck in the snow and others whose bus companies had decided not to travel. With the very real prospect of the contest being cancelled the SBBA decided that there would be a delay of 2 hours to allow bands to make it to Motherwell. At the re-arranged draw it was discovered that the Ayrshire bands had been hardest hit and in a section with four bands from Ayrshire in it a decision was made to allow them to have late draws. Another problem which cropped up was that several bands had individual players who had not made it due to the weather conditions. The SBBA should be congratulated for their sensible handling of the situation by allowing bands to borrow players from other bands in order to have the contest at all. Lochgelly meanwhile had another problem. Our timpani player, who was 38 weeks pregnant started to have contractions. She was whisked off to Wishaw General hospital to be checked out where thankfully both her and the baby were found to be fine. She did however miss the contest so we had to borrow a timp player from the band who had been drawn before us. In a stroke of luck this turned out to be contest favourites Dalmellington.

And so to the performance itself. Drawn number seven, the band took to the stage in confident mood and gave a good account of the testpiece. It wasn’t perfect however and individual slips and problems with balance cost us dear. Alan Fernie declared himself pleased with our performance but we knew that we could have done better. At the results our name was not read out in the top four announced from the stage and at that point the nerves set in. We eagerly gathered round as someone grabbed a sheet containing the full results and read them out. We had finished sixth, which everyone agreed was probably fair given our performance. The band statto then announced that this result would see us safe in the section and there would be no relegation worries. Our aim had been achieved. Although the result leaves us in the middle of the section in respect of grading points we will still have a lot of work to do next year to maintain our status. Still, that is the nature of banding and the price of success and it is a task we relish.

The contest was won by the favourites Dalmellington who really showed some Championship section class and will go to the National finals with real expectation of a Scottish victory. We wish them well. Taking second place and the second berth at the National Finals was Broxburn & Livingston who, after last years result, showed what they are truly capable of. Spare a thought for Kilmarnock and Granite City who are the bands facing the drop to the second section. This will be an especially bitter pill for our old rivals Granite City who, like us, were only promoted last year.
Our thanks go to Alan Fernie and Brian Paterson who prepared the band so well for this contest. Thanks also to each and every member of the band who all played their part. The band can now look forward to the next contesting year and the challenges that lie ahead.

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