Let battle to avoid the drop commence!

6 Aug 2011

Without doubt, the Grand Shield is one of the most difficult contests to win and perhaps also the least-favourite of all contests for the top bands.  Two of the last four winners of the Shield - Leyland and Tredegar - know from painful experience just how difficult it is to clamber back into the elite of the British Open field once they have fallen through the relegation trap door.  It was the 5th attempt to win the Shield for both Leyland and Tredegar after their relegations in 2003 and 2005 respectively.  Tredegar's patient wait was well worthwhile as they last year became the first band in history to add the Open trophy to a Shield win in the same year.

Kirkintilloch wasted no time sampling the delights of Blackpool as they bounced straight back from relegation last year to secure at least another two cracks at the Open title.

If, as expected, two bands are relegated from this year's line-up then there are a few 'big name' bands that will be on tenderhooks right up until Martin Mortimer and his team have completed their number-crunching and identified the two bands that will be booking their hotels and rehearsal venues in Blackpool in the Spring.

In pole position is Hepworth, narrowly avoiding relegation last year and almost certainly needing a top-10 Open finish to avoid the drop.  Tongwynlais will hope to extend their run of Open appearances to more than two but they too will likely need a top-10 finish.

This year's placing will be added to last year's and the two bands with the highest aggregates will receive a Grand Shield entry form in the post in due course.  Here is the bottom end of the table, showing placings from last year, to which this year's placing will be added:

 8  Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
 9  Grimethorpe Colliery
10  Brighouse & Rastrick
11  Co-operative Funeralcare
12  Leyland
13  Virtuosi (GUS)
14  Tongwynlais Temperance
15  Hepworth (Cookson Homes)

Recent history suggests that no more than about 25 or 26 points will be needed to survive but it's not an exact science (as shown below - relegated bands in red).  Kirkintilloch proved last year that even a solid 9th place finish one year can lead to a relegation the next.  Nearly half the field this year are, in theory at least, in danger of falling through the trap door and they will all be looking for a decent draw, followed by a good performance, and a favourable response from the adjudicators.

23  Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
25  Hepworth (Cookson Homes)
26  Virtuosi (GUS)
26  Kirkintilloch
32  Whitburn

26  Fairey
26  Whitburn
28  Hammonds Saltaire
30  BTM

22  Fairey
23  Kirkintilloch
25  Scottish Co-op
26  YBS
26  Rothwell Temperance
29  Flowers
plus Sellers International (defunct)

23  Brighouse & Rastrick
23  Rothwell Temperance
25  Kirkintilloch
30  Reg Vardy
31  Aveley & Newham

26  Reg Vardy
29  Sellers International
35  Ashton-under-Lyne
36  Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel

21  Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal)
22  Desford Colliery
23  Whitburn
35  Tredegar

26  Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel
27  Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal)
27  Tredegar
31  Cwmaman Institute
34  Carlton Main Frickley Colliery

21  Cwmaman Institute
23  Kirkintilloch
23  Ever Ready
25  Besses o' th' Barn
25  Leyland
32  Travelsphere Holidays

27  Travelsphere Holidays
27  Ever Ready
28  Kirkintilloch
31  CWS (Glasgow)
36  Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
38  Glossop Old
plus Todmorden Old (defunct)