Has the World Pipe Band Championship Grade 1 title ever been won with brothers playing in the same band? Yes; 1969 Muirhead & Sons and, surely uniquely, there were three of them in this band, namely Tommy, Jimmy and Peter Anderson all from Falkirk.
We would be interested to hear of other championship bands with siblings in the ranks but for now let’s rewind a couple of days to Celtic Connections and the handover of the historic picture as shown above. In the centre is Pipe Major Ian Duncan of Vale of Atholl/ Atholl Highlanders fame.
On his right is the aforementioned Tommy Anderson and on his left brother Peter. Both were playing that day in Perth when Muirheads won their five-in-a-row Worlds. As our previous story related the picture was taken on the South Inch, Perth, just after massed bands and the prizes.
The photograph held pride of place in a Perth pub for many years and when the place changed hands all the old framed pictures were thrown out. P/M Duncan got to hear of this and rescued the one above from a skip.At the end of Saturday’s successful concert by Johnstone Pipe Band he handed it over to Tommy and Peter who, Ian said, should be the ‘rightful owners’. Peter was able to put names to the triumphant faces. They are, l – r standing: John Finlay, Jock Waddell, Jimmy Anderson, P/M Bob Hardie, Jim Dow, Douglas Elmslie, Davy Hutton, Eric Shields, Tommy Anderson, Jim Elmslie, Davy Bruce, P/Sgt. Andrew Dowie, Jim Crawford. Kneeling l – r: Jim Williamson, Ian McSkimming, L/D Robert Turner, Band Secretary Lawrence Jenkins, Robert Richardson, Peter Anderson.
Said Tommy: ‘It was a momentous day for the Anderson family. Three brothers playing and winning the World Pipe Band Championship. I don’t think that has ever been done before. I was under a lot of pressure there because that was my first Worlds with the band. I had only joined that year.
‘My mother and father were there and it was a very proud moment for them to see their three sons winning the trophy. And I would like to thank Ian for saving the picture from the scrap heap. It means a great deal to us.
‘The tunes we played that day were Jeannie Carruthers, Blair Drummond and Pretty Marion. When we came off we felt we had played well. I can remember standing there playing; everything was so tight. We all had to play with Bob and we practised until it was like one piper, all following him. We would practice round the circle and if you had a bad night at one practice you didn’t have a bad night at the next one. He just looked at you – it had to be sorted or you were out. He was a master at getting a band to play well together. All the taorluaths, grips, birls had to be executed precisely and the D throws had to be proper throws, not the grip to C version.’
Peter added: ‘What I do remember that day was that I think it was the first time Jim Williamson was on the bass drum. He moved from the sides to play bass. Obviously Rab [Turner] thought we were going to get something better that day. In these days an RSPBA starter from the National Council gave the ‘By the right! Quick march’ commands to the bands, not the Pipe Major.
‘So we were at the flags and the starter shouted ‘Get ready!’ but Jim, just a small man, was struggling to get the bass drum on its hook. Being a laid back guy he shouted out to the starter ‘Hey, hold on a minute!’ So he did and we were all smiling. It took the edge off everything and a few second later we were ready to go. ‘Okay; on you go,’ said Jim to the starter.
‘It seemed to be a really popular win because when we walked off playing the Kilworth Hills the bands opened up to let us through and all our immediate competitors were all clapping as we passed them. A great time was had by all after that and back at the hotel the manager filled that lovely cup with champagne. I took a drink and thought it was cider. I was only 19 and had never tasted champagne before.
‘As far as the drumming went we were there or thereabouts in the list but we never won a major drumming prize. Rab sacrificed his chances for the band. Bob Hardie was happy with it and that was good enough for us.’
• Listen to the Muirheads band under P/M Hardie here.