MAGPIES- basketball Club was formed in the mid 1960s, based largely around the North Whyalla footballers and their wives / girlfriends etc. (Like Demons was formed largely around footballers form South Whyalla). Back then few people had basketball as their “main” sport. Like most small towns the best footballers in town were also the best crickets and the best basketballers – they were the biggest or best co-ordinated or competitive blokes in the town.
The most decorated player to play for Magpies was Michael Ahmatt ( from NT) who came to Whyalla and played for Magpies in the early 1970’s prior to representing Australia at the Tokyo and Mexico Olympics.
The regular local stars in A grade Men for Magpies through to the early 70s were names like Graham Stringer, Danny Chandler, Gunter Scheide and Allan Wanganeen. Other big names to have played for Magpies in the early days include football legend Barry Robran and his brother Rodney Robran, both of whom went on to become SANFL stars for North Adelaide.
In the mid 70’s a school teacher named Mike Osborne arrived in Whyalla and began playing for Brorowa but coaching an under 16 boys team for Magpies. Within 2 years this team was winning A grade premierships.
In summer season 1976 / 77 Mike Osborne coached this young Magpies team to their first premiership while himself playing for Brorowa and he finished runner up to young Magpies star Chris Cowan in the MVP.
Mike went on to coach a number of State teams, was assistant coach on junior National teams and then coached the Adelaide 36ers and West Sydney WestStars in the early days of the NBL.
This Magpies team had a number of its players selected to play in Junior National Championships at under 16’s then under 18’s level for SA country – Chris Cowan, Anthony Flanegan and Peter Rumball.
Later Kym Borrett also switched from Demons to join this young team. (Kym later went on to represent Australia in under 20 Men’s competition and was a member of the 36ers teams for their first 3 years before injuries form a motorbike accident cut short his career.) Another young player from this group, Trevor Castle was selected as Assistant Coach and then Coach of SA Country Under 16 and under 18 boys at National Championships from 1978 to 1983.
In men’s A grade magpies won 8 premierships, with 6 of these coming from 1976 – 1980 thanks to this core of players and a few others strong players , such as John Westphalen, who came into town an replaced some of the younger guys who moved away.