Last Sunday at Ardrossan, five bands in G4 MSR and two in G3; this Saturday at Lochore three in G4A, four in G3, four in G2, two in G1; Aberdeen on June 19 a bit better: seven in 4B, three in 4A, five in G3, six in G2, three in G1…….
Looking at Markinch summaries and once again I find myself bemoaning the lack of bands in attendance. It has now become normal for most of these non-major contests to be attended by only half a dozen bands – something that needs addressing urgently.
By lain McAlister
Elsewhere on Piping Press we read about innovative and modern thinking regarding medley structure and judging by the likes of Robert Mathieson, but this will not solve the problem of non-attendance at minors – a trend first started by Shotts and Dykehead when P/M Mathieson was their leader, all be it for perceived legitimate reasons.
We must now be near the point where promoters/games committees must be thinking ‘why put up a prize pot for six bands scattered across four grades for them to come along and grab their share regardless of their performance?’
Often there are only two bands in a grade with four prizes available. Play up a grade and you are guaranteed two pay cheques!. Something needs done drastically; so what’s the answer?
You could limit the minor contests to only one per weekend. This would of course deprive some games of bands, but these events could engage bands to play small sets of tunes throughout the day and pay them a fee.
You could compel bands to support all, or a certain number, of branch contests. But in a way that is why we have the branch championships and branch Champion of Champions awards and that system of encouragement isn’t working particularly well!
Perhaps one option would be a ‘Scottish League’ where we use points from the majors and five designated Scottish league events (minors) with prizes for those who come top the league.
How would it work? Take the current five majors and use the Champions of Champions table. Filter out non-Scottish bands for Scottish League purposes.
If Grade 1 had two non-Scottish bands in the top six and two Scottish bands in 7th and 8th, the bands in these places get 2 and 1 point respectively.
You hold five Scottish confined competitions which, with the majors, makes 10 contests in total for the Scottish League. You would of course have to ensure good prize money and a final pot for the champion at the end of the year.
A variation could be holding half the grades at one minor and half at the next, say Juv, 4b, 3b and 2 one week and Novice, 4a 3a and 1 the next.
This could be spread over 10 minor contests, providing support for them outwith the majors.
Ultimately something requires to be done urgently – malaise is not an option!