THE HORNETS

In the 1950's Redford Basketball Club flourished. Their recruiting campaigns at the SCPR's "Festivals of Sport" held in Edinburgh at the Waverley Market were extremely successful. With a glut of young players they were challenging the all powerful Pleasance Club. In the summer of 1954 Redford Club members Tucker Johnston, Ernie Glass and Jim Anderson decided the time was right to break away from Redford to form a club which was to establish a new order in Scottish Basketball. The Hornets were born.

Hitherto clubs had appeared on court in a motley assembly of uniforms. These were usually athletic vests of approximately the same colour and should have carried a number on the front and back. The numbers were required to identify the points scored and number of fouls commited by each player. Scorers recording the statistics used a variety of symbols to identify players if statutory numbers were missing.

The Hornets had something better in mind. The summer was spent raising funds to purchase uniforms which were made to measure for each player. Green was chosen as no other team in the Lothians sported that colour. Regulation size numbers were displayed on front and back of uniforms along with the new club name. The Hornets debut in the autumn of 1954 caused a mild sensation in the Scottish basketball world. In addition the prime movers of the new club were on a recruiting drive looking for the vital "Big Man" to support the talented players in the squad. The search proved successful when 6ft 6in cycling addict Jimmy Deans was persuaded to join the Hornets.

All summer the players met to practise and prepare for the new season. With information filtering through from materiel garnered from coaching books and literature sourced from libraries and the United States the Hornets would not only look different, they would employ strategies which were previously unknown in Scottish basketball circles. Man to man defence and pressure defences were new tactics which emphasised the importance of the role of the Team Coach. Having recognised his playing limitations, Ernie Glass agreed to take on the coaching mantle and his research and enthusism would prove to be vital as the Hornets quickly established themselves as a major power in Scottish basketball.

This early success resulted in many local young players being attracted to the club. Notable among them were Ken Johnston, recently demobilised from National Service, George Turnbull, David Turner John Spence and Ian Gordon. Major factors in the progress of the team were the leadership of Coach Ernie Glass and the strength of Jimmy Deans in the centre of attack and defence. The Hornets would soon become the leading club in the East of Scotland and go on to win several Scottish Cup Medals.

THE PIONEERS

Who knows where the interest came from but there can be no doubt about the commitment of the early basketball enthusiasts. Faced with seemingly impossible hurdles they flourished. Facilities were almost non-existant, equipment was hard to find and there were no stand-alone basketball clubs.

In Glasgow, Frank Agnew started the Outram Press Basketball Club comprising staff members of the Glasgow Herald and Evening Times. An American business man, Bill Bird, was involved with the Kings Park basketball club, an offshoot of the athletic club. John Muirhead was the catalist who formed a basketball section at the flourishing Maryhill Boys Club.

In the Edinburgh area Pleasance Boys Club reigned supreme. John Fisher, Alex Kirk and Alex Leslie continued a programme initiated before the second World War by American students at Edinburgh University. Polish ex-servicemen who had played basketball in their native country prior to World War 2, had stayed in Scotland after the cease fire and most had decided to stay in the Edinburgh area. They formed Polonia Basketball Club. The leading lights were Borys Szifris and Kajick Herman. On the west side of the City, David Reid, Tucker Johnston and Jim Connor formed a basketball section of Redford Athletic Club. Mike Troup and Jim Young established the Cherokee Basketball Club. Frank McLeod and Walter Smail brought to-gether members of the Post Office Staff to form PO Nomads, so named because they had no home court. In Craigmillar a young solicitor, David Young, was the driving force behind the Craigmillar Boys Club Team. In addition there were two Former Pupils clubs at George Heriot's and the Royal High School born of the enthusiasm of PT teachers at the schools.

Meanwhile the missionary work undertaken by Jock Kerr Hunter and the SCPR Team in the years 1947 to 1951 had established basketball footholds in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee. Equipment purchased through grants from the Scottish Education Department was distributed throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.

Gradually the SCPR staff withdrew from their hands-on involvement in specific sports. In 1955 Jock Kerr-Hunter stepped down from the post of ABAS Secretary. Jack Millar was elected to the post at the ensuing AGM. Tom Hermiston, a PE Teacher at Morgan Academy, was appointed Treasurer of the ABAS but in these early days the committee became jack-of-all-trades tackling whatever tasks needed to be undertaken. A prime example of this early multi-tasking excercise was the organisation of a Scotland V England International at Falkirk Ice Rink in 1951. The Chairman would be responsible for drumming up sponsorship., the Secretary for arranging the venue, and committee members dealing with promotion & advertising, and the Treasurer looking after the gate receipts and paying the bills.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

It is hardly surprising that the first official International match played by Scotland was against England. It was played in Glasgow 0n the 20 May 1947 . England were represented by a team drawn from players resident in the South of England and won by 42 points to 14. This South of England Team went on to represent Great Britain in the 1948 Olympic Tournament held at Harringay Arena in London. England returned to Glasgow in June 1949 and an improving Scottish team reduced the deficit to four points losing 28 - 32. The 1951 International was played at Falkirk Ice Rink and once again England were victorious by 41 points to 30.

The ambitious four year old Scottish Association entered a team in the 1951 European Championships which were held in Paris, France in May of that year. The Scottish team finished fourteenth of the sixteen teams who entered. The experience was to prove invaluable. The Pleasance Basketball Club supplied five members of the team and there were representatives of other Edinburgh Clubs, PO Nomads and Royal High School FP. Glasgow clubs contributed players from Maryhill, Kings Park & Outram Press.

The 1952 International moved to London, Scotland showed better form but still went down 32 to 29. England swept the early series of matches returning to Glasgow in 1954 where they beat Scotland by 59 points to 50 at The Kelvin Hall.

In the next International Scotland recorded its first victory over the "Auld Enemy" winning by a single point 37 to 36. The match was played in November 1955 at the USAF base at South Ruislip in London and was televised by the BBC. The 1956 match was played in December at Kirkcaldy Ice Rink. Scotland won for a second time --- by 48 to 46.

Flushed with success the ABAS decided to enter the European Championships which were to be held in Sofia, Bulgaria. A team was selected and players went about raising the necessary funds for the journey. Travelling by train & boat the return fare amounted to the princely sum of twenty-seven pounds per person. Disaster struck when the manager absconded with the team savings just a few weeks before the scheduled departure. Players and officials somehow managed to scrape together the wherewithall necessary and set off on the journey which took two full days to complete. The tournament was played on a parquet wooden floor laid over the turf of the national football stadium. Scotland finished fifteenth in the sixteen team competition.

Following discussions with the EBBA and the Basketball Association of Wales, Scotland offered to host a tournament with a view to selecting a Great Britain Team to participate in the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be held in Bologna, Italy in August 1960. The Irish Basketball Association, which was an all Ireland organisation, was invited to make up a four country tournament. The offer was accepted and the ABAS made arrangements for the event to be played in March 1960 at the recently completed facility at the USAF base at RAF Kirknewton, Midlothian.

Scotland won all three matches in the round robin format, beating England in the decisive final game by 57 points to 47. The Great Britain team was duly selected, Scotland furnishing five players, England five and Wales two.

The success of the Kirknewton Tournament led to the formation of a Four Countries Committee charged with the responsibility of encouraging and promoting competition between the four home nations. This committee was the forerunner of the British and Irish Basketball Federation (BIBF). The Four Countries Committee held biannual meetings, initially in Manchester YMCA and from 1978 at the headquarters of the English Basketball Association (EBBA) which had recently moved to Leeds. This proved to be a reasonably central location for travel by representatives of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

The second FCIT was held at the shiny new sports centre at Crystal Palace in London.


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO WELCOME PAGE MENU

SPONSORSHIP


T
he ABAS secured the first ever sponsorship deal for Scottish basketball in 1970 when the Scottish Milk Marketing Board supported a Junior Inter-Regional Tournament with the princely sum of £100. The money was used to hire facilities help with refereeing expenses and subsidised team travel costs

There was a major breakthrough in 1973 when Clarks Mens Shoes agreed to support the organisation of the Men's National League. The sum of £2,500 was agreed and this was used to pay for various inovations. A part-time administrator was appointed, responsible for arranging referees and paying their travelling expenses and fees. Commisioners were appointed to all games to ensure the smooth operation of matches and to report on the general conduct of games. Newspapers, however were reluctant to refer to the Clarks Mens Shoes National League on the grounds that it was free advertising.
















meeting of all National League Clubs was held in the Dunblane Hydro Hotel at which they agreed to the objective of promoting the company through a well organised sports competition. Clubs agreed to provide results to the league administrator who would deliver the league tables and statistics to the media in regular press releases. As sports sponsorship became more prevalent, the media began to include sponsors names in these articles refering to the events.

In 1976 the ABAS agreed to host a Pre-Olympic Tournament for European teams to Qualify for the games to be played later that year in Montreal. It was a major undertaking for a small country with potential benefits in terms of television coverage and related publicity. Volunteers from all parts of the country were recruited for the event which was held at Meadowbank Sports Centre. It was a great success and a memorable final was played between the eventual qualifiers Yugoslavia and Italy. The tournament was supported by the Scottish Sports Council with a special grant of £4,285 and in addition the ABAS attracted sponsorships to the value of £4,500.

Negotiations with the Bank of Scotland resulted in a support for the Junior National League and Cups.


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO WELCOME PAGE MENU

THE SCOTTISH UNIVERSITIES


I
n 1947 there were only five Universities in Scotland. These were located in the four cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh & Glasgow. The fifth was, of course, St Andrews which was the first University in Scotland founded in the year 1413. University sport was basically rugby in winter, cricket and athletics in summer. Recreation departments also encouraged the traditional activities of rowing, fencing and tennis. Regular participation for the University Team in these activities would merit the individual award of a colour. The Scotsman reported on 9 November 1949 that St Andrews University had awarded "half blues" to students J Crieghton and R Olsen. In those "Amateur" days the Captain of each sport wielded enormous influence. He would recruit players, organise training and arrange fixtures with other Universities. Recreation departments acted as facilitators responding to interest within the student population.

Indoor facilities were extremely limited. None of the five Universities could boast a hall capable of housing a full sized basketball court. Edinburgh University had a gymnasium with pillars at intervals down the centre of the court to support the ceiling. The University used the Pleasance Trust Gymnasium for participation in the East of Scotland League.

In the aftermath of the Second World War foreign students were a rare breed. However the occasional American student would register and help to stimulate a basketball programme. In addition to entering a team in a local league some arranged to play against the other Scottish Universities.

The growth in student populations and an increase in interest in Sport & Recreation prompted Universities to appoint more Physical Education staff and develop indoor facilities. Glasgow University was first to build a Sports Hall with a full size basketball court. It incorporated a small gallery which could accommodate about 50 spectators. This probably amused the American students, more used to a College Sports facility designed to accommodate several hundred spectators. St Andrews University was next to build a Sports Complex. Once again a full size court was incorporated but this time with limited spectator facilities.

Three new Scottish Universities were formed in the 1960's. Strathclyde (formerly The Royal College of Science and Technology), Heriot Watt and Stirling, the latter on a new campus on the Airthrie Estate to the North of town. All three built significant Sports Halls. Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities followed the pattern and built new sports facilities incorporating a basketball court. An annual Scottish Universities Tournament was established and Universities took turns hosting the event.

As the number of Universities in Great Britain expanded it triggered the establishment in 1972 of the Scottish Universities Sports Federation (SUSF) and the British Universities Sports Federation (BUSF). The SUSF was responsible for encouraging the development of Inter University activity in Scotland. The BUSF was responsible for England, Wales & Northern Ireland. Basketball was represented in both BUSF & SUSF organisations and Scotland entered the first BUSF Basketball Championships which were played at Birmingham University in 1973.


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO WELCOME PAGE MENU

WOMENS BASKETBALL


T
he first recorded world wide basketball game played by Women was in 1892. It involved the University of California and Miss Head's School. The sport spread like wildfire among American Colleges and by 1895 Inter-Collegiate games were being played. Protocol in those days demanded that women playing sports should wear outfits that were considered feminine. Long skirts and voluminous blouses were obligatory. This restricted the ability to run and pass or dribble the ball. Indeed decorum required many of these early games to be played behing closed doors and spectators were barred. Various versions of women's basketball rules with similarities to netball were in operation in the United States until quite recently.

Perhaps the biggest impact on women's basketball was the legislation introduced by US President Richard Nixon in 1972 when Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was passed into law. It required, amongst a host of other civil rights, that educational institutions would treat male & female sports programmes on an equal financial basis. High School and College basketball programmes for girls then began to flourish.

When FIBA was established in 1932 it assumed responsibility for men's and women's basketball throughout the world. It established a Commission charged with the responsibility of developing Women's Basketball. The first European Women's Championship was organised in 1938. The Italian Federation hosted the event which was played in Rome. Only five countries took part. It was 1950 before the next Championship took place, this time in Budapest, Hungary when twelve teams participated. FIBA Europe now organises European Cups and a bi-ennial European Championship for Women. On the world level FIBA organises the Olympic basketball tournament and the World Championships for Women on a four year cycle.

At the formation of the ABAS in 1947 a Women's Committee had been established. The committee was responsible for the promotion and encouragement of basketball for ladies. It operated as an autonomous group, electing its own Secretary and Chairman. Wives & girl friends of the Polonia Mens Club started a ladies section and arranged "friendly" matches with several local men's teams. A Scottish Women's Cup was presented by Maryhill Club President James Muirhead in 1948. The leading clubs in those early days were King's Park and Maryhill in the West of Scotland and Polonia, Latter Day Saints and Shooting Stars in the East. Members of the Polonia Club frustrated by a lack of competition broke away to establish a new club which they named Auld Reekie. Competing with a formidable netball structure in the West of Scotland, women's basketball declined in that part of the country.

Auld Reekie became the dominant club in those early years, winning the Scottish Women's Cup seven years in a row from 1950. Younger members of Auld Reekie, following the pattern established by their mentors, resolved to form a new club. The All Blacks were born. Meanwhile established men's clubs formed Women's sections as Boroughmuir, Dalkeith and Paisley entered a highly competitive environment. The Women's National League was started in 196?.

In 1956 the Scottish Women's Team had entered the European Championships which were held in Prague. It was a huge challenge requiring the team members to raise all the funds for the cost of travel and equipment. Sixteen countries entered and although the Scots finished last they had encouraging results against Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO WELCOME PAGE MENU

THE AMERICAN INFLUENCE


I
n the mid 1950's a small United States Air Force Unit took occupation of the RAF station at Kirknewton, Midlothian, some five miles West of the Edinburgh City boundary. Lacking a proper basketball court they converted a hangar to a gymnasium and started playing matches with teams from other US Military bases in the UK and Europe. The team was christened the Kirknewton Comets and Edinburgh enthusiasts found ways of travelling to the remote location to watch matches with visiting teams. These matches were of a much higher standard than local Scottish teams could achieve, but the cold hangar, even with the use of huge hot air blowers, was impractical. The Comets eventually were persuaded to play home games at the Pleasance Gymnasium. These games became very popular with the local basketball community. Sitting on benches behind the baskets and around the court sidelines in addition to hanging from the wallbars, more than 200 spectators would squeeze into the hall.

A second string Kirknewton team named the Knights, entered the East of Scotland League and played their home games at Redford Barracks. This arrangement continued until a new facility was opened at Kirknewton in 1959. It was the first full sized basketball court in Scotland . With provision for about 400 spectators on tiered "Bleacher" seating, it was a revelation. It featured a sprung wood floor, transparent backboards, a high ceiling and excellent lighting. As such it was the perfect venue for the inaugural four country tournament organised to select a Great Britain team in 1960.

The small number of USAF personnel at Kirknewton meant there were hardly enough players to support an intra-mural league. Heriot's F.P. and the fledgling Boroughmuir Basketball Club were invited to join the league and play games on a weekly basis. The Boroughmuir Boys, mostly still at school, had to cycle out to Kirknewton for each game. The more mature Heriot's team would squeeze in to a couple of cars. Sadly from an East of Scotland point of view the USAF closed down their Kirknewton operation in the late 60's.

The United States Navy had recently opened the controversial Nuclear Submarine Base at the Holy Loch and established an on-shore base for maintenance staff. Naturally a gymnasium with full size basketball court would feature in the recreational facilities. Enthusiastic officers on the base encouraged local clubs to travel to Dunoon for games with the US Navy Team. A similar situation developed when the USAF opened a small communications unit at RAF Edzell in the county of Angus. Once again a full size basketball court with provision for spectators had been built and local clubs were invited to play against the base team. Following discussions between the ABAS and the authorities at Dunoon and Edzell it was agreed to establish the Scot/Am League with Boroughmuir FP, Pierce Institute (Glasgow) and St Michael's FP (Dundee) basketball clubs joining the two US military bases.

By the time the US Navy closed the base at Holy Loch and the USAF vacated Edzell the Scottish National League was a thriving entity. Paisley basketball club started a new trend - inviting the first American player to come to Scotland and bolster their team. Chuck Chambliss made an immediate impression and Paisley went on to participate in the Scottish Cup Final. Murray Metals followed suit and brought in Kurt McKeown. Soon other Scottish clubs copied their lead with Boroughmuir, Falkirk and Perth recruiting American players.

The International Federation, concerned about the growing number of American players being signed up by the leading European clubs, introduced a regulation limiting to two, the number of foreign players allowed in a team. The ABAS adopted this policy. Murray International (MIM) signed Americans Lewis Young and Charlie Williamson while Falkirk recruited the charismatic Bobby Kinser later to be joined by Terry Manghum. A rivalry was born.


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO WELCOME PAGE MENU