Tonight was the turn of Clogher Protestant Boys parade and how quickly is this yearís band season moving on, this weekend is usually a big weekend in the band calendar, Friday Mourne Young Defenders and Saturday Clogher, a huge draw in the so called band scene.
I think Iím correct in saying that Clogher got 58 bands this year and thatís a big turnout, but to be honest I was expecting around 70 as the host band are a much travelled band and I am quite sure that many bands after the 12th are feeling the pinch with a lot of bandsmen on holidays etc.
Believe it or no we were early in attending the parade by our own standards we decided to go early and for once watch a bit of the parade and see how bands are getting on this year, and thatís what exactly what we done!
The waiting time to get parading was not too bad and I managed to see Cormeen, Ballynahinch Protestant Boys in their new uniform, Pride of Ballinran looking sharp and the Drum Major looks the part in full bearskin.
Also seen the South Belfast Young Conquers, Gertrude Star, Donaghadee Fusiliers, Lambeg Orange and Blue and South Down Defenders from Newry, plenty of smaller bands out tonight but unfortunately the rain threatened to spoil the night.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland where out in force, say what you want I agree with the crackdown of the drink and drunks, tonight I thought the Blue Bag Brigade (BBB) was well under control, the bands now all need to take notice about bringing visitors full of drunk on their travelling buses/cars/vans, people getting off buses drunk or with carryout are in my eyes the next phase in the drinking problem generally associated with our parades.
Drunken bandsmen must also be a thing of the past like it or not its true and bands should be upholding respect for their own bands name and tradition. The East Belfast Protestant Boys would not allow it and if so we would certainly put members back into their place.
Good turnout of spectators watching the parade and why not? Some of Ulsterís best bands on show and the bigger the crowds watching the better the atmosphere for the bands to put on a better show.
The parade as usual made its way from the hill start to the garage part of the parade and I am glad to report that the blow out part of the parade tonight seemed to be taken well by most bands.
I was also able to see the Ulster Grenadiers from Carrickfergus new white uniform, they look the part and the dry cleaners in Carrick must love the band for this!
At the blow out section tonight we met the Pride of the Hill from Rathfriland, coming at us with all guns blazing! What a blow out, both bands going for glory and I can honestly report the both bands could go together all night and not one sign of trouble or waffling towards any members, a great blow out by 2 of the best Blood & Thunder bands on parade, well done to PotH and ourselves for a great show of discipline.
Without sounding big headed I have to mention my own bands performance over the full weekend, both nights entirely different parades and at both parades we played to our strengths bass and side drummers were on fire under the steady eye of our lead tip Andy, he certainly makes our drummers tick but I have to also self praise our flute section, blowing very well on both nights, Friday was good but tonight the flutes where the best for all of this year!
We where awarded a number of prizes tonight as well for the best band overall and I thought that we where well worth those accolades.
There is something about Cloghers parade over the years that lift bands and tonight was the same, so well done to Clogher but also to all the bans that turn out every week to support parades and never get a mention!
Well done the Pilgrims on a great weekend for the band and also to Clogher for a good night out.
East Belfast Protestant Boys Flute Band Chairman
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