Preview of Tomorrow’s Grade 2 European Pipe Band Championships

With the Highland town of Forres girding its loins to welcome, for the last time, the RSPBA European Championship, the melting tar or the roads north will be well beaten by the end of the weekend. For Southern France read Northern Scotland – don’t forget hats and sun protection, writes MacStig.

Our Grade 2 contest has a very different complexion from just two weeks ago in Belfast where the Mac Cals took the top spot, ahead of Closkelt. The Dundonians of the Mac Cal band will be there to try to make it two  Majors in a row. They will be on at 15.15h, and a short while later Closkelt will close the grade’s March, Strathspey and Reel contest at 15.51h – all over by 4pm! Why? There are 10 bands in the contest and you might think this is the shortest list in a very long time for a Major Championship.

Grade 2 adjudicators for the day? We should fear for their hydration levels and sunburn given the ‘scorchio’ forecast. Barry Donaldson and Gordon Lawrie BEM take the piping duties, with Gregory Dinsdale on Drumming and Tony Sloane, Ensemble.  They may be delighted with a 10 band contest in blazing sun.

Grade 2
1 14:30 Royal Burgh of Stirling
2 14:39 Kilchoman Distillery Isle of Islay
3 14:48 Bucksburn and District
4 14:57 Balagan – Denmark
5 15:06 Grampian Police Scotland
6 15:15 Mackenzie Caledonian
7 15:24 Scottish Fire and Rescue Services Pipe Band
8 15:33 City of Discovery
9 15:42 Wallacestone and District
10 15:51 Closkelt 

First off, the Royal Burgh of Stirling, with a zippy drum corps which shone in Paisley (also MSR) but which was a bit off the pace in Belfast. They are followed by Kilchoman Isle of Islay, and I forecast their shiniest of shiny drums will be blinding as the sun gleams from the very interesting surface colour. I predict Islay to be knocking on the door or just inside the prize list threshold.

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Bucksburn up next and promising their fans a glimpse of silverware too perhaps. The Balagan band appears at its third Major and will have happy memories on Forres last year. In a geographical pub quiz way, they will be almost closer to Copenhagen (as the crow flies) than bands travelling from the emerald isle are to Forres.
Almost a home gig from Grampian Police Scotland, this well-drilled band will arrive and turn in a solid straight through performance. Silverware? Probably. Then the likely contenders of Mackenzie Caledonian a band destined for the list and really just a matter of which position.
Our admiration for Scottish Fire & Rescue grows, and they are improving in tone and technique. Similarly City of Discovery which must be eying the list surely?
Wallacestone & District will be on second from last and will need to get their collective season going here. Last up, and real contenders with one of the sweetest sounds you’ll hear, Closkelt. No Ravara, Manorcunningham, City of London, and a few others too, so the prize list will see some new names. That’s the lot for Forres.
Be careful on those roads; watch the average speed cameras. One helpful suggestion – if heading to Aviemore for a ‘fish tea’ on the way back, call ahead and order, otherwise you will end up in a line behind the massed bands of George Watson’s, Dollar and the Boggies – hundreds of them. Take care out there. Over and out.

Check here for results from Forres from 6pm tomorrow or follow the RSPBA’s superb Twitter feed for the winners as they are announced.

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