December 31, 2016

15th annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours

2016 Pipe Band of the Year

Field Marshal Montgomery

Field Marshal Montgomery competing at the 2016 British Championships. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery were chosen by more than half of our panelists, regaining the award after a two-year run by Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia. Taking their eleventh World’s title, FMM was a convincing winner in 2016, staving off challenges at Glasgow Green by a top grade richer than ever in quality. The remarkable success of Pipe-Major Richard Parkes and Lead-Drummer Keith Orr keeps moving forward with no sign of ending. The year was all the more remarkable after the loss of several key players, only to be replaced by equally talented young members.

Panellists’ comments:

“Not a fancied horse this year for the worlds but they came out fighting and on the back of a superb concert took the title once again.”

“Despite the common belief that the gap is closing, FMM continue to stay in front and really need to have a less-than-brilliant day for the door to open to anyone else.”

“The eleventh World Championship for FMM can’t be overlooked. An incredible record of dominance over the past decade.”

“The greatest pipe band in history, bar none, and at the World’s FMM raised that bar even higher.”

Also nominated (alphabetical order):

  • City of Whitehorse – while the now-defunct band was not a major contest-winner, City of Whitehorse was in the news a lot in 2016, primarily for the suspensions of several of its members, including the pipe-major and leading-drummer.
  • Inveraray & District – the band gained many votes from our panel, but came up a bit short, just as it did at the World Championships where many thought it was Inveraray’s turn to cop the prize. But it was not quite to be this year. What was to be was the band’s first RSPBA Champion of Champions award in Grade 1 for overall success over the year.
  • Johnstone – the Grade 2 success story from Glasgow is now on to Grade 1 after winning grade at the World’s for the second year. Johnstone has the numbers and the leadership, it appears, to make a smooth transition to the premier grade – an often difficult leap for bands to make, or even survive.
  • Police Scotland Fife – while FMM’s win at the World’s was the story, so too was the fact that Fife Police cracked the top-six, an incredibly difficult thing to do these days. The band appears on the ascent, led by Pipe-Major Douglas Murray and Lead-Drummer Mick O’Neill – sections equally strong, opening up major possibilities going forward. The band will be even more closely watched in 2017.
  • Police Service Northern Ireland – except for a second at the World Championships, PSNI won every other major in Grade 2 in 2016, propelling the band to Grade 1, finally tracking the success of the band’s previous identity as the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Considering its four championships, the band, along with Johnstone, moves to the top grade with an excellent chance of being a major force for years at the top.
  • Spirit of Scotland – with the addition of Jim Kilpatrick and a large drum section, Spirit of Scotland regrouped seven years after its last contest appearance at the 2008 World’s. The band gained prizes at three major championships, and won the drumming at the UK in Belfast. SoS took eighth at the World’s in what was the last competition for the legendary Kilpatrick.
  • St. Laurence O’Toole – another fine year from SLOT, which finished third in the Champion of Champions table, and won the European Championship at Forres, Scotland, and gained the World Drumming title at the World’s. SLOT continues its return to the top, with expectations higher than ever for 2017.





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