Belfast Telegraph

The full Monty... Tenth world title takes Field Marshal Montgomery to the very pinnacle of piping

By Amanda Ferguson

It is arguably the most successful pipe band of all time - and it comes not from Scotland, but Lisburn.

The guys and gals of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band have won an incredible tenth title at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland, defending the band's position as top division winner for the fourth year in a row and equalling the record for the most number of world titles.

Band leader Earl Glasgow told the Belfast Telegraph last night how everyone was thrilled with another amazingly successful championships.

"I think everyone is over the moon as it has been 30 years since a pipe band has won four world titles in a row," he said. "A band did it in the '50s, a band did it in the '60s, and another band did it in the '80s.

"Field Marshal Montgomery are now the fourth band to win four titles in a row.

"Only one other Pipe Major has taken a band to 10 world championship titles, so the next focus is to try and beat that record."

While the Field Marshal Montgomery musicians celebrated their unbeaten run of success, they weren't the only Northern Ireland band being toasted at the Glasgow competition.

There was success also for Bleary and District Pipe Band from Co Down who came runners-up in the grade two championships. Northern Ireland's Drum Majors also dominated the world stage, claiming 15 of a possible 18 prizes available on Saturday.

Among them was Zoe McDowell, who won the junior world championship title, and Lauren Abraham, who won the juvenile world championship.

In total 10 Northern Ireland pipe bands came away from the World Championships with silverware, having competed against 188 pipe bands.

Ten facts about the band that beats all

1. The band was founded in 1945 by a group of farmers' sons in the townland of Drumalig, on the outskirts of Belfast. They named it in honour of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, one of the heroes of the Second World War, who gave his blessing when the musicians asked for permission to use his name.

2. In the near 70 years since, the band has lifted an unsurpassed 10 world titles. The latest win was the band's 60th major championship. In the last four years it has won 17 out of the 20 major championships.

3. Of the 2014 team, the youngest member is 17 while the oldest is 54.

4. While based in Lisburn, players in the current band come from all over the world. As well as Northern Ireland, members hail from Australia, Canada, the Republic and Scotland.

5. Despite being multiple world champs, they all study or work for a living. Band leader Earl Glasgow says: "Believe it or not, this is supposed to be a hobby, even though it consumes their lives." Musicians' occupations include plumbers, dental nurses, bank staff, technology developers, school teachers, senior managers, company directors, plus bagpipe makers and teachers.

6. The band receives some sponsorship to cover the cost of their uniforms (from RG Hardie) and drums from Premier. Everything else is self- funded by the members, including the cost of travelling to championships five times a year.

7. Two of the band's pipers are currently dating two of the tenor drummers.

8. Bombardier Aerospace project manager Richard Parkes, from Comber, has been Pipe Major for 34 seasons, one of the longest-serving at the elite grade one level. He was awarded the MBE in 2004 for services to piping in Northern Ireland. At that stage he had achieved three world titles. Since then he has won seven more world titles.

9. Since 1990, when the band first entered the elite top six in the world, it has competed in 122 major championships. It has been placed in the top six 100% of the time since then.

10. Saturday's world title is remarkable because it is not only a record-equalling 10th win but also their fourth consecutive title. And if the band's brilliance was in any doubt, consider the fact that it has now won three 'grand slams' of piping – holding the British, Scottish, European, Cowal and World titles at the same time.

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