Finals, Brentwood, 1st April 2006
The time had come for one of the most exciting climaxes to a winterguard season for many a year! In the run up to the Finals event, it was almost impossible to predict the final outcome in the Open Class Competition, with 4 of the UK's top guards all starting to hit form at the same time, Northern Academy sat firmly in that group.
The Junior Class Competition was thought to be all but decided, with the Pride of Bristol's Wizard of Oz show so far in front of the others that it would take a huge effort to topple them from top spot, and with our own Juniors well over 8 points behind, the task ahead looked very difficult indeed.
First up were the Preliminary performances from the Open Class, and Northern Academy produced one of the most emotional and thought provoking performances seen this year. The new ending, coupled with the complexity of the equipment work and the sheer performance levels that the members gave produced an excellent start to the Finals campaign. Narrowly missing out on 3rd spot to the Guardsmen by 3 tenths of a point, and due to a large overturn in the Ensemble caption by some 13 points which confused everyone given that they had secured top spot in GE 1, beating all guards, Northern Academy had set their stall out in readiness for the Finals event during the evening. Was it going to be another day where the Judges were split we all wondered.
The Juniors took the field, and with the pressure slightly lifted from them, they set out to perform their Finals program to an extremely appreciative audience. When these Juniors receive the feedback that they so richly deserve, they can do nothing else but to lift their performance levels and give the audience and judges what they are looking for. With the added twist of confetti during the hit flag sequences, and the massively charming and emotional ending, lead by Lily, it was a performance that even the staff were surprised at. Yet again, Northern Academy Juniors had proven that they can deliver the goods on the big night, and boy did they do just that!
Not only had they completely closed the gap on fellow rivals Pride of Bristol, and the Guardsmen Cadets, but they had moved within 6 tenths of a point to actually taking the title! An amazing 2nd place for this talent filled group of youngsters was a befitting end to a hard seasons work, and a massive reward for doing what they do best. Entertaining the audience! Congratulations to the Pride of Bristol for an outstanding victory, and to all the other guards in the class for an outstanding competition this season.
Nicola Garlick, Guard Director comments "we are so pleased for the kids, they have worked very hard over the past few weeks, and there have been tears and laughter all the way. They have deserved this recognition, and performed their little socks off tonight! I am proud of each and every one of them".
The Open Class Finals event was primed with excitement. The guard had spent some time away from the venue to gather their thoughts and to prepare themselves for their finals performance. The last time that this group of people would be together, as is the case in pretty much all guards up and down the country, there are always new faces for the next season, and so the shape of the guard for each Finals becomes that much more unique.
Drawing on the emotional side of the program that depicted the death of one of the most celebrated presidents in United States History, it was important to focus everyone in the right way. What took place away from the stadium will remain one of the most powerful and emotional journeys that some of our brave staff took it upon themselves to embark on. The contents of that day will remain private to all those that were there, but the thoughts and feelings shared will be remembered by all those present forever.
The performance by the guard was every much as emotional as it was in the hall at the school where we prepared! Every single member gave the program 120% and although there were one or two technical issues along the way, they had succeeded in every aspect in their delivery. Their expressions of joy, or confusion, of sorrow were felt by every member of the audience, and the emotional ending left everyone speechless for almost 20 seconds before the applause started to ring out. The cheers continued way past the exit of the guard, and this was testament to the delivery of yet another original program by Northern Academy that everyone will be talking about for years to come.
The Judging panel was again split, with 1sts, 3rds, 4ths and 5th spots in all captions being awarded on the night to Northern Academy, the final ranking saw them take 4th spot overall.
The final placings didn't matter in the end, as the way in which the members brought the program to life was astonishing. To take on a project of this significance and to do it so much justice was a credit to all the staff that were involved in putting it all together. Nobody can take away Northern Academy's Moment in Time, and commenting for one last time on the program Jason Wallace states "this is by far the most challenging project that we have undertaken, and I am extremely pleased and proud of each and every member for the way they have handled the whole season. The work rate has been excellent, the friendships developed have been strong, and the finals delivery was magnificent! We couldn't have asked for a better bunch to work with this season".
Congratulations must go to Mayflower on their superb victory, and also to the Southern Knights, and to the Guardsmen for their 2nd and 3rd spots respectively, and to all guards for making the season so exciting.