Saddleworth Memories

Over the 15 years there’s been lots of incidents that stay in the memory. Too many to record them all but here’s a few for your interest.

One year, not being aware of the usual lengthy queues that are always associated with Delph, we showed up really late in the evening and only just squeezed onto the booking in list before it closed for the night. The result was that way after midnight we were the the last band to play and that band always has the honour of playing the National Anthem to end the proceedings. Of course we didn’t have the music with us – hence a panic dash down to the Delph band club to borrow theirs. The score was slightly different to what we usually played but we managed it and got a great reception from the crowd.

Again at Delph some years later, unbeknown to us the rules had been changed and youth bands could only play if they signed in before 9 o’clock. We turned up much later and permission to play was refused despite our agreement that we would not be assessed and given a score. A heated stand off ensued. Tried to register as a non section adult band but this was refused as well. Determined to have our day in the sun we decided that if we were not allowed to play we would still march down to the contest arena without playing. Hence when the time came at which we should be playing we left all the instruments on the road and marched down the hill in silence. Incredulity on the faces of the large crowd lining the street, consternation on the part of the officials. A major enquiry ensued. The outcome? Banned from further entry to the Delph contests; happily subsequently rescinded a few years later. The incident produced lots of comment and discussion in the banding press, both for and against what we’d done. All friends again now.

Uppermill produced two memorable incidents, one of which saw a pint of beer being poured over one of our players as we made our way back to the coach after playing. The culprit made off but our ‘own in house’ travelling security went after him and restrained him till the police arrived and took him away for a night in the cells.

The second incident nearly caused a riot. The coaches park on the nearby car park in order and then move off to follow their band down the street ready to pick them up at the end. As you can imagine this car park gets pretty full and the coaches were nose to tail with limited manoeuvrability till the one in front moves. Whilst still somewhere in the middle our driver announced that his driving hours were up and he couldn’t move again till he’d had his mandatory break – not even a few yards to get off the car park and out of the way. Deadlock all round, tempers fraying…. let’s just leave it there. Suffice to say he was ‘persuaded’ to move. He’d never done the Saddleworth run before. Probably never done it again. We certainly haven’t used him.

On a lighter note, but still on the subject of buses, we had an almost brand new bus one year but it broke down at Lydgate. Other drivers turned up to offer advice but no joy. We went off to do the contest and came back just in time to see the driver giving the engine a series of hearty thumps with a hammer. That did the trick and off we went. Sadly after the evening’s last contest the problem returned. Same remedy applied but no success. So what do you do at that time of night with a band and instruments with all the other possible replacement coaches for miles around all ferrying their bands back home? Fortunately someone remembered seeing our good friends from Water Band out and about earlier in the evening and we eventually tracked them down before they had started back for home. Somewhat bizarrely for quite a small band they had a doubledecker coach as well. You just couldn’t make it up could you. They did a bit of a detour and picked us up. Home by midnight. Which is more than can be said for our poor coach driver.

And what about that incident at Greenfield when we started playing before the judge indicated that he was ready? At all the venues the judge is secreted away so as not to be able to see which band is playing to avoid any unconscious prejudice in the marking. They indicate when they’re ready for the incoming band to play by blowing a whistle or some other sign. Well, for some reason we started playing before the sign. Several bars into the piece and out comes an agitated red faced judge shouting, ‘ You’ve not been given permission to start’. The band, concentrating on the music, don’t hear him and carry on playing. The audience highly amused. The judge not so. He retreats to his caravan. By now of course he knew which band we were. General consensus was that we’d blown it – probably wouldn’t even be given a score. The outcome? We won first prize at Greenfield.

Finally one that everyone remembers and lives forever in the band’s folklore. The late Brian Chestney and his bag of chips. Brian was one of our more senior members and played bass. He played for the march to the arena but not for the contest piece itself as there are strict age rules re who can and cannot play in the youth section. So whilst the band was doing the contest piece Brian and his wife Doreen joined the queue at the Delph chippy round the corner. Very partial to a bag of chips was Brian. Trouble was, it was a very long queue and Brian was still waiting his turn when the band had played, packed up and were on the bus ready for off. Back went the message, ‘10 more minutes Brian and then we’re off’. 10 minutes later – no Brian or Doreen. So off to the next venue we went. Will we see them again tonight? How will they get home? Shall we go back for them? All solved after we returned to the coach after playing. There sat Brian and Doreen in stony silence munching their way through two large bags of chips. He’d used his wide knowledge of other bands and players to negotiate a lift on another coach and followed us. Nothing was ever said. No-one asked for a chip. None were offered. Never happened again.


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