Eccles Celebrate Finals Qualification and Promotion

March 2nd 2015

March 1st 2015 was yet another successful date for the Eccles Borough Band.

Drawn to play 16th out of 16 bands and playing ‘Variations on Maccabeus’ by Kevin Norbury, we came 2nd at the North West Regional 2nd Section Contest at Blackpool’s famous Winter Gardens.

This result means that Eccles Borough have now qualified for the National Finals to be held in Cheltenham in September. The band have now qualified for the finals in 3 of the past 7 years. We will be joined in the second section finals by Tyldesley Band who won this contest and we offer them our full congratulations.

As well as nationals qualifications, this result also secured the Bands promotion to the First Section from January 2016.

Considering the band have only been in the Second Section for 15 months it is once again a reflection of the talent and hard work within the Band at this current time.

Eccles’ Musical Director, Mareika Gray stated that “The hard work we have put in at Eccles in the past few years is now starting to pay dividends. We have a great set of enthusiastic players sat around the stands and our recent results are a testament to all their hard work”.

“We now have plenty to look forward to and hopefully the bands momentum can continue and we can make an impact in both the national finals in September and then in the First Section from January onwards”.

What others have said……..

If there was one result that may have raised the odd eyebrow on Sunday in Blackpool, then it came in the Second Section, where Tyldesley claimed their first Area title success since 1960.

However, under the direction of Robert Taylor they secured their place at Cheltenham with a performance that certainly ticked all the right ‘Maccabeus’ boxes for judges Simone Rebello and Gordon Higginbottom – and came on the back of their recent podium finish on the same piece at the Brass at the Guild contest. It is the band’s first National Finals appearance since 1997.


In a contest that certainly showed the strength in depth of Second Section banding in the North West, it was a performance that beat off the strong challenge of Butlins champion Eccles Borough, with Besses Boys just missing out in third.

They produced the early contest marker under James Holt that many listeners felt would take some beating, whilst Eccles rounded off the contest under Mareika Gray with a rendition full of confident ensemble and solo playing.


There seemed to be widespread agreement with the results as they were announced in the hall, with solid accounts from Pemberton Old, Middleton and Silk Brass taking sixth, fifth and fourth positions respectively – all producing renditions of merit on what proved to be a stern test of technique and musicality.

With Simone stating that the judges wanted to hear the character of each variation to come through immediately, and that the role of percussion had been important in doing just that, the announcement of Besses and Eccles in third and second place was greeted with general approval.

Haydock fancied

However, with the announcement of the much fancied Haydock winning the ‘Best Percussion’ prize it did come as something of a surprise that Tyldesley was announced as 2015 champion, as their performance off the number 12 draw repelled rivals.

That though won’t have worried Tyldesley supporters who ended 55 years of waiting for their first taste of Area success.

4 Bars Rest

16. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)

A long pause opening note makes an impact though intonation is apparent. Warm sounds to Var 1. that is taken briskly. Odd crackles are heard in solo lines but there is a confidence in style. Var 2. wobbles a little but MD searches for chorale expression but intontation at start of phrases detracts a little. Nice build to appacionata brings rewards musically. Var 3. waltz pushes along with movement and shape. Good presto. Var 4. bright and alert playing secures a lot of excitement. Great presto that draws the piece to a good really convincing close.


A piece that grew in stature as it progressed through its playing. Very solid ensemble.

4 Bars Rest Live Comments

Eccles Band are our last band today.

Nice opening, moves along with slight blemishes. Variation 1 Lively but generally tidy playing.

Variation 2, nice controlled sorrow, very accurate. Excellent soloists, and great cornet cadenza. Closes very well too.

Variation 3, very nice waltz, much faster than marked though, good presto to finish.

Variation 4, quite a tempo, neat and tidy. You can’t hear everything when everyone’s in though. Great sounds but more majesty lost in lively tempos. DD wow, going at a speed, cracking bit of playing

Ending is big and well done. A good band but a lot of Liberty with the tempos.

All 4 Brass Live Commentary

North West Regional Championships 2015 Gallery

(Many thanks to John Stirzaker for the usage of these photographs)