Happy New Year and all the best for 2024 to the piping community all over the World! Today we look back to photos from the World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green in August 2013.  It was the first time the Worlds was held over two days, and there is a report from Chris MacKenzie after the photos below detailing all the action in the Grade 1 final.

•Photos: JohnSlavin@designfolk.com/Bagpipe.news

The Two Day Trial at the World Pipe Band Championships

by Chris MacKenzie • Piping Today #66 • October 2013

The new two day format for the World Pipe Band Championships began on Saturday, August 17. All 24 Grade 1 bands competed in the usual two heats. The top six bands from each heat went through to the final. This levelled the playing field, as each band had to perform twice to win, and there were no passes through to the final.

The following day, Sunday, August 18, saw SFU, FMM, Shotts, Inveraray, ScottishPower, Culleybackey, Manawatu Scottish, Canterbury Caledonia, Dowco Triumph Street, Boghall and Bathgate, The Greater Glasgow Police and SLOT all compete for the biggest prize in the pipe band world.

Regular attendees at the Worlds know to pack clothing for all weathers. This year every item from waterproofs to sunscreen was called for. Lack of sunscreen caught many out as, despite the occasional torrential downpour and battleship grey skies, many went home with faces as red as the Glasgow Police’s Royal Stewart kilts. With every chance that conditions in the ring would not be the same as those for tuning, bands were going to have to have a rock solid sound and unflappable players to carry the day.

As always, the MSR competition was first and Canada’s Simon Fraser University got the event underway with The Balmoral Highlanders, a tune which was the march of the day with Field Marshall Montgomery and Manawatu also playing it. SFU set the tone for the competition with a very strong performance which set the bar at a substantial height for those that followed. Without exception, the bands following SFU rose to that challenge and gave good accounts of themselves. Highlights included: Stuart Liddell leading his Inveraray and District band through a typically sprightly Bob of Fettercairn and MacAllister’s Dirk; ScottishPower leading with the Conundrum; a lovely Mrs Macpherson of Inveran from St Laurence O’Toole (on Pipe Major Terry Tully’s last year as PM) and absolutely delightful performances from FM and Boghall and Bathgate. All showed that faint heart would not take the day; to be in the mix, boldness and bravery were required. Special mention goes to Pipe Major Ryan Canning and Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia. They had no sooner started when they were hit with the worst downpour of the day yet no one flinched for the entire duration of the set despite rain that was so heavy it felt almost like hailstones. If The Worlds was decided by the volume of the cheer at the end of a performance Shotts would have walked it.  As we now know, the judges made it FMM, Boghall, ScottishPower, SFU, SLOT and Inveraray for the top six.

The order of play for the medley was the same as for the MSR so SFU again got the dreaded first spot. But Terry Lee and the band are not ones to shirk a challenge and they rose to this one with a cracking performance that even a heavy downpour halfway through didn’t spoil. Inveraray were next up and from the classy Helen Black of Inveran introduction to the pedal-to-the-metal spirit of Dunrovin Farm, theirs was a class performance with one of the best pipe sounds of the day with all the panache and flair associated with Pipe Major Stuart Liddell. Immediately following Inveraray were the reigning champions Field Marshal Montgomery and theirs was a typical FM performance — rock-steady sound, impressive technique and good tune selection including a delightful Sine Bhan at the break and a full-on PM George Allan to finish. Pipe Major Richard Parkes and the FM team don’t give many points away and the judges’ sheets would have been pretty bare after the band’s medley performance. SLOT strolled into the circle with their take on The Garb of Old Gaul and followed it with a solid selection that just wasn’t as melodic as past SLOT medleys.  Canterbury Caledonia and Shotts both had good steady performances that were very enjoyable to listen to. Boghall and Bathgate gave it everything they had and perhaps a bit more with their Campbell’s Tartan Army set and were a delight to listen to from start to finish with Seonaidh’s Tune a particular treat. This was a set that was definitely in the mix. Two strong performances followed from Cullybackey and Manawatu before it was the turn of the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland band, under Pipe Major Duncan Nicolson. The Polis turned in the medley of the day which was cleverly crafted and well constructed. It was delightful from the start of Oran Na Fiaclan, to the finish with a rousing Alick C MacGregor and played throughout with style. This was the crowd’s favourite medley of the day and had a very loud response when it finished.

ScottishPower followed and Pipe Major Chris Armstrong’s band produced a very strong performance to put them in with a shout. Dowco Triumph Street closed out the competition with a very enjoyable performance. 

Enjoyable is the word to describe the medley competition with every performance a delight. Medleys were full of melody, there was technical proficiency in abundance although always carefully crafted into the set, and the tone throughout was astounding. Given the weather on the day, that is testimony to the skills of the pipe majors and bands in creating such a high quality for the competition.  In the end victory went to Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band followed by Boghall and Bathgate, ScottishPower, SFU, SLOT and Inveraray and District.

The history books will show this as FM’s third Worlds in a row and their fourth major championship of the season (they also won their fifth major at Cowal) and it will look like a stroll on The Green for Pipe Major Richard Parkes. It was anything but, as those bands striving to get that coveted top spot gave a very good account of themselves.  It does appear the stronger the challenge gets the stronger FM gets. What odds four in a row?