In the pub this weekend (What a good start, I hear you cry!) we got talking about the FA cup in football, and how it's so much better than the league because it pits lower-level opposition against top-flight teams - and somethimes, the big guns get turned over. And it struck us as funny how in almost every sport there's usually a league competition and a cup competition, yet in banding, there is only league/ladder style competition. So how about a brass band competition in an FA cup stylee? There's precious few giantkilling opportunities with the current set test piece or own choice contest format - but march and hymn tune contests throw up all kinds of results, and they're at the very grass roots of banding. The idea we came up with was to have 32 bands drawn randomly from all sections - divided into two divisions of 16 - playing head to head. Two play off at any one time on an own-choice march and hymn tune. Both would be formed up and ready in the same room, flip of a coin decides who plays the march first, then the hymn tunes are played in the same order. The winner is through to the next round, the loser goes home. (Or more likely to the pub!) Then that afternoon the eight winners of each division play off head to head against each other - though they can't play the same march and hymn tune they did in the last round. Same format, 8 bands through, 8 bands go out. Then at a separate occasion, you'd have the quater finals, semi finals and the final in one afternoon - same format but this time with set marches and hymn tunes. You'd need two adjudicators - one for each group of 16 to start with and then working as a panel of two for the remaining decision. The idea being to give an absolutely level playing field for bands of all levels and backgrounds. That Cleckheaton Crotchet Crunchers could draw Black Dyke in the first round (if they entered, that is!) just like a non-league team drawing man united in the FA cup. And a top band only needs one duff performance to go out, and a lower level band only needs one blinder to go through. Plus if top bands did enter and wound up standing on stage next to a youth band or similar, it would - win or lose - be a great experience for the lower level band who can go home and say they've played against B&R etc, (Might even beat them if they have a ropey performance!) and a good way for the big boys to put something back in at grass roots level, just by turning up and playing. And with no promotion or relegation to worry about, it can be do or die stuff all the way! Opinions welcome - fire away.