DCUK Championships 2010 Report 

Courtesy of Drum Corps World

Successful Championship for DCUK; tie-breaker awards Kidsgrove title

by Ben Kennedy, Drum Corps World staff

September 18, 2010 -- Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, U.K. . . The 31st British Drum Corps Championship was held at Mansfield Football Club. Weather was overcast all day and threatened the event with a downpour, but we got away with light showers. This was the second year I have attended the championships, after going especially to watch Dagenham Crusaders Alumni in ’09. 

Like last year, I attended with a good friend, William Rane from Revolution, and also my granddad, Selwyn Bottomley, and my dad, Paul Kennedy, both ex-Anchormen. This year promised to be a very special and entertaining championship, with the Dagenham Crusaders competing and also the Kidsgrove Scouts fresh from America after competing at the DCA Championship.

DCUK has seen massive changes in the last three years, going from a handful of corps in 2007 to 18 registered corps in 2010. The current board, headed by Alan Thompson, seems to be doing a great job turning DCUK fortunes around. The organization is making the right choices, keeping up with DCI.

The championship saw a spine-tingling tie. This was the second one in DCUK’s 31-year history. Some people reading this may remember the 1986 finals that saw the Dagenham Crusaders from Dagenham, Essex, and Conquest Alliance from Brighouse, Yorkshire, tie with a score of 82.4. The Kidsgrove Scouts and The Company Performance Ensemble both got a score of 81.85. Kidsgrove was given the title after taking the General Musical Effect caption score. 

In A class, Cheshire Cadets from Warrington took the crown. In junior class, Kidsgrove Scouts Juniors carried on the winning theme for the organization. 

The day began at 10:45 AM with Liberty Drum Corps from Northampton, leading off with their show titled “One Way or Another.” They were one of the smaller corps with a young average age, but performed One Way or Another, Dreaming and Atomic very well. They had a great fan base in the stands with lots of cheering. This was the corps’ first-ever DCUK Finals experience as they were only formed in 2008. Dale Willis is doing a great job with the corps. We may see big things from this outfit in the next few years. 

The 37th Kingswood Scouts played their show based around a theme of “The Race to the Finish.” They seemed a lot smaller than last year with a total of around 30, but this didn’t affect their quality. They have a strong horn line and drum line, and the overall performance was very good. They had a nice mix of slow and fast tempos. 

The Pacemakers from St. Mary Cray in Kent played their show called “Take That.” It is their second year back in DCUK after a 20-year break. They were the only corps competing that is still affiliated with the Boys Brigade and they were a founding member of DCUK. They have taken a step up from last year, choosing to go the open-age route.

The show was strong and they managed to hold their score at finals, just being pipped by 37th Kingswood. They have grown and the new Dynasty percussion looked and sounded great. The new guard is young, but will shine in a few years. The show was entertaining and there were some great solos, in particular the baritone and euphonium duet. 

Next up was Spirit of Coventry. This was their first competitive season in DCUK after an exhibition at last year’s finals. Formed in 2007, the corps had a great membership. Their show, titled “Imagine,” started strong, especially in the opener, John Lennon’s Imagine All the People. Maybe this was because they were one of only a handful of corps still playing G bugles. Drill was good and they had a very strong sound. 

Cheshire Cadets from Warrington came up next. They played Swan Lake, Beetlejuice, A New Day, Wizard Wheezes/Skat Skit and Cry Me A River.

Again playing in G, they had a very strong horn line. Individual playing levels were very high and this combined to produce a very good performance. Numbers were a little bit lower than previous years; this may have reflected their decision to go open-age, but it was a superb performance. They went on to become 2010 A Class champion.

Poynton Commodores played their show titled “Communication” and the corps always puts out a fantastic production. This year was no different. It was high-tempo, high-energy, but fun. The concept was sometimes hard to get. However, overall the field dressings helped me understand. I saw Poynton at Stoke and they seemed low on numbers. I was shocked when they marched on as they seemed a lot bigger. 

Trinity School Showband from Nottingham called their show “All or Nothing.” They are one of the biggest corps marching in DCUK with well over 80. They are the only group in the circuit to use woodwind instruments after the rules changed in 2008 to allow show bands to enter. They played Hey, Big Spender, That’s Life and Sing, Sing, Sing, covering the field very well and their use of props was fantastic. 

After a short interval, Staffordshire Knights played next. The show, “What You Hear is What You See,” was comprised of classical symphonys from composers such as Antonin Dvorak and Gustav Mahler. This corps has taken a huge leap the last two years. They are competing in the Drum Corps Europe Finals on September 25. This is a huge experience for a corps. They have been doing really well this year and are strong, with talented musicians. 

6th Hove Scouts played their show that they called “Angels vs. Demons.” It was very strong, musically and visually. The new guard worked well and performed some good flag work. They have grown since last year and fielded a stronger and bigger corps. 

Next up was the eagerly-anticipated Dagenham Crusaders. The stadium began to fill up as the corps from Essex entered the field. They had a huge fan base in the stands and there was plenty of cheering. They were possibly the biggest corps out today, fielding well over 90 members. 

It was their first finals in competition since 1988 when they came second to Southern Knights. Their show, “Somewhere in Time,” was very strong musically. The drill covered the field, but lacked the pace and cleanliness of some of the top three. Still, it was a fantastic performance and it got the crowd fired up. They finished finals in fourth position, not bad for 22 years out.

Black Knights played their show filled with classical, Latin, jazz and rock tunes. They have been doing brilliantly this season and have pushed the top two consistently. The show was very fast and exciting. The audience reaction was fantastic and they played music we all recognized. The use of chairs worked well. The standard of musicianship was high and the show was wonderful. With a higher membership next year, they have the potential to win finals. 

The second-to-last corps was the Kidsgrove Scouts. It was the corps’ 100-year centenary and to mark this achievement they made the trip to compete at the DCA Championships in America where they came sixth. They were also marching well over 90. The show, titled “Heist of the Century,” was absolutely fantastic. The horn line was powerful and the use of props added visually. 

In their finals performance, they really pulled out the stops and produced one of the best shows DCUK has seen in a decade. They gained a standing ovation from the crowd and won prelims. In finals they scored 81.25 which saw them tie with The Company Performance Ensemble. Kidsgrove won overall as they took the General Musical Effect Caption (the pre-determined DCUK score tie-breaker). 

The final corps in Open Class was The Company Performance Ensemble. It was their first year in DCUK competition as they formed out of the Northern Star. They were smaller than Kidsgrove, only marching around 50, but the standard was just as high and they were just as good. The horn line was very powerful. 

Their uniform was very catching on the eye. I enjoyed this show and it was very well-performed. At times it looked like they could win, but they just didn’t have the numbers. They gave a very good fight, however, and gained a strong score in prelims and the 81.25 in finals meant a tie which was broken, giving Kidsgrove the 2010 title. Both corps gave a very good performance and standards were very high, but on the day, Kidsgrove had the size.

Junior Class competition began at 15.30 PM as Concord All-Stars from Sheffield opened up with the show called “Another World Cruise.” The Sheffield corps has seen a huge rebuilding plan over the last few years and is putting out a much younger corps. This seems to be working, however, as they had over 30 young children out on the field, more than double the 2009 contingent. 

They played very well and sounded good. Hopefully with age they will begin to get stronger and we will see some progression in the next few years. 

37th Kingwood Cadets came next. Feeder corps to 37th Kingwood Scouts, they had a strong sound. The children seemed a little older than Concord, that was reflected in the higher score. A good drum line and horn line should help replenish the senior corps in the future. 

Black Knights Cadets were up next. They, too, had a younger age of children and also had fewer members than the others in their class. They made strong shapes and I enjoyed the show. 

Kidsgrove Juniors played last. They had a lot to live up to after the senior corps played, but they performed well. They had a high average age and they were a good size. I enjoyed the show. They won their class, taking another win back to Kidsgrove.

The Olympic retreat commenced at 21:00 PM. All corps marched on and it was great to see the field filled. The National Anthem sounded terrific and showcased what we can produce if only we work together rather than against each other. 

DCUK is defiantly on the up again. We had three corps with membership over 90 and other corps with strong membership over 40. The standards were also high and many corps showed great promise for the next few years. 

Well done to Kidsgrove Scouts and Cheshire Cadets, and good luck to all corps competing at DCE. I enjoyed the championships very much and look forward to returning next year.

This report appeared in the November 2010 edition of Drum Corps World

4th November 2010



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