n case the title doesn’t give it way, this instalment is focussing on the one thing that unites every member of Concord from the original class of 84 right through to the current group… the many, many hours spent sat on a coach travelling to shows, or gigs.
The nature of drum corps and winterguard means that we have always travelled the length and breadth of the UK and beyond to meet and compete with other groups, I’m not sure anyone really enjoys it, some have really hated it, but it is a necessary evil and over the years many of us have tried our best to make the hours and hours, as much fun as we can.
As the nature and size of the organisation has changed we travel a lot less these days to shows and the number of competitions has vastly reduced. The last few years have seen the corps make around 4 journeys a season and the fact we no longer compete in the wnterguard circuit and haven’t ventured overseas in many years (this will be the subject of a future article) means there are much less hours sat on the bus.
For a comparison I have picked out a year from our past which demonstrates just how widely we used to venture for a 10 minute performance!
The year I have chosen is 1988, now this was a particularly unique year in that it was during the days of the British Drum Corps Federation (again more of this in the future) and as a leading figure we made sure we entered most of the shows that went on, plus in 1988 we were blessed by European tour by the Madison Scouts (who went on to be World Champions that year) and so a few extra shows were put on that year. As some of you love the facts ‘n figures here is a complete run down of our travels that year:
Dewsbury (1st 47.4) 56 miles
Vlaardingen, Netherlands (3rd 56.9) 700 miles ish
Coventry (2nd 68.5) 184 miles
Sheffield (3rd 71.9) 0 miles !
Birmingham (1st 76.6) 182 miles
Crawley (2nd 79.9) 420 miles
Warrington (1st 84.4) 116 miles
Finals Basildon (1st 90.0) 380 miles
Billericay (2nd 55.6) 372 miles
Dewsbury (2nd …) 56 miles
Coventry (1st 61.0) 184 miles
Eindhoven, Netherlands (3rd …) 800 miles
Luton (3rd …) 270 miles
Crawley (1st 70.5) 420 miles
Glasgow/Falkirk (1st 76.0) 520 miles
Warrington (1st 78.6) 116 miles
Sussex (2nd 79.5) 440 miles
Chesterfield (1st 81.1) 26 miles
Finals Oldham (1st 92.9) 74 miles
BMBC Wembley (5th …) 330 miles
Kendal Festival 228 miles
Scunthorpe Festival 92 miles
With my very rough estimates that makes a total of 5,273 miles across two seasons !!!
But despite these long hours sat in a cramped space they were probably some of the finest times we had as a group. It was a time when friendships were forged, new members were initiated into the family an we learned a lot about each other. As someone who spent a lot of time sat near the back I can recall so, so many stupid arguments about absolute trivia and laughed until my sides hurt so many times.
Concord has seen so many characters come and go over the years and I remember with fondness and a sly giggle at some of the people I recall making me laugh so much. To name everyone would take so much time and I would definitely miss someone out but my personal top 3 were Leigh Taylor and his outrageous stories told with such conviction that you really wanted to believe him, Steve Jordan’s driest of dry humour and Paul Beresford’s constant demands for “tabs oot” and the need for a blowout from the windows. I’m sure everyone who has ever sat on a bus with Concord will have their own memories of the ones who made s laugh.
As well as stories we also had the songs – some of them very rude, most of them hilarious and many of them passed down through the generations… we still hear a few bars of Chocolate to this day
Other phrases that take me back – Laughing Apples, The Whistling Cream Cracker Challenge and the endless games of Chase the Ace which often ended with “raps” to the loser – not good if you were a drummer on the way to a show !!
I think what did make a big difference in the 80’s and 90’s was that no-one had a phone with them, other than the odd Walkman (ask yer Dad kids) we had to talk to each other and at the risk of sounding like an old fart, is what made the memories.
As this is appearing in an online platform it would be great to hear other people’s memories of their times riding with Johnsons, Grant & McAllin and even the old ATC bus if you are that old !
Just an additional bit about 1988. It was an exceptional year, twice we appeared on the same field as the Madison Scouts, still a once in a generation experience, the show in Holland coincided with Football’s European Final, in the Netherlands and won by the Netherlands… we partied a lot that night ! In addition our trip to Scotland was as part of the National Garden Festival where we performed a few standstills along with many other corps in a massive, amusement park built specifically for the festival – huge audiences despite the rain (in Scotland? Who knew !). It was also the year we made contact with Chris Jacobson (deputy Director of Madison Scouts) who was to become our longstanding visual consultant… we will return to Scooter I another chapter. Finally 1988 was the year of the “Double Double”, as we were crowned winter and summer circuit Champions for the second year running.