Cowal Gathering and the Need to Recognise Our Champion of Champions Winners

A few weeks ago we asked the question ‘Do we need to rethink the Champion of Champions Awards’? It was borne of a notion that these awards, when announced at the Worlds, get lost amid all the other excitement and celebration, writes the Editor.

Our view is that the Champion of Champions titles should not be sniffed at. As we pointed out, to come top of the league says a lot about a band’s consistency and ability to sustain a high level of performance throughout a long three-month period, mid-May to mid-August.

cowal-logoMy other concern was that we were losing the historic attachment to Cowal Games, built up over 100+ years; all those magnificent trophies deemed meaningless overnight for one thing. Could not something be done to restore the prestige of the once great gathering? (Sixty -nine performances there this year, four more than last, so the bands are still giving the old place a good degree of support.)

Today we publish our poll results and they make interesting reading:


In summary, a significant 80% of those who took part felt that something needs to be done to re-kindle interest in both the CofC and Cowal, with only 20% thinking things were fine as they are.

I don’t know if anything will come of this but perhaps the powers in control down Dunoon way should set the wheels in motion. Mind you, they will have to have re-thought their off-hand attitude to the pipe band contests so prevalent in the last years of the Cowal Championship if they are to woo the authorities to their side.

But nothing is forever in the piping and pipe band worlds. (No one ever thought Cowal would lose its championship status, did they?) So I think that with a little burying of claymores and a mature re-appraisal of the situation both Cowal and the Champion of Champions awards could be put on a healthier footing. A West of Scotland Championship at Cowal with the Champions of Champions awards announced thereafter? Why not? Bands that didn’t want to play could send a rep  to collect the trophy – though if they were top of their grade I think most would want to make the journey down the Clyde to enjoy the moment.

Another bonus would be that our too short pipe band season would have a two-week extension – something I think everyone wants. With due respect to the Rothesays, Innerleithens and Pitlochrys, the importance of the pipe band season should not cease at Glasgow Green at the height of summer. It is now almost a month shorter than it used to be. Some will remember that for years the Europeans were held at Shotts on the first Saturday in September. It could be a gey dreich place right enough and I wouldn’t want to advocate a return to the bleak, high Lanarkshire moorland.

But a finish at Cowal with all its tradition and history would be a fine way to draw things to a conclusion with a flourish and an opportunity to recognise and applaud the Champion of Champions bands of the year.

Finally, let us hear it for those deserving bands who came top of their grade during 2016:

PSNI and P/M Cupples have had a marvellous season.....
Grade 2 where PSNI and P/M Cupples had a marvellous season…..

Grade 1: Inveraray & District (P/M S Liddell) –
Drumming: Inveraray
Grade 2: Police Service of Northern Ireland (P/M R Cupples)
Drumming: Glasgow Skye
Grade 3A: Aughintober (P/M G Watterson)
Drumming: Aughintober
Grade 3B: Prestonpans RBL (P/M R Tait)
Drumming: Bothwell Castle
Juvenile: George Watson’s College (P/M I Simpson)
Drumming: George Watson’s College
Grade 4A: Ullapool & Dist. (P/M G Nimmo)
Drumming: Ullapool & Dist.
Grade 4B: Johnstone (P/M K Bowes)
Drumming: Johnstone
Novice A: Dollar Academy (P/M C Beaumont)
Drumming: Dollar Academy
Novice B: Lochgelly High School (P/M K Robertson)
Drumming: Preston Lodge High School

The picture up top is of Inveraray & District playing at the Scottish Championships at Dumbarton.

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