Mike Osborne’s Whyalla Experience

by | Apr 9, 2014

I arrived in Whyalla in January 1972, newly married and school teacher at Whyalla High School.

I had played some District basketball with Glenelg and had taken up coaching early in my career and loved it.

When I arrived in Whyalla I played with Brorowa at the McBryde Terrace courts. We did well but the team was reluctant to practice so I looked elsewhere after a while. I played for Magpies and Nomads, with Ray Girvan, over the next few years. Ray’s Nomads were in love with the sport and loved the challenge of improving their skills to a much higher level.

I was asked to coach the town team in my first year and gave it a go. During the first game at half time a few of the players lit up and pulled the top off a can and I knew my tenure was not for long !!

I then looked to get a group of younger players to work with and stumbled on a small group of players (Playing for Magpies Under 16s) really keen to learn as their appetite had been whetted by John Rumball ( a really good coach and was great with the kids). Both of us made skill development a priority and set up regular practice sessions.

The group included Chris Cowan, Peter Rumball, Anthony Flanegan and Trevor Castle. With the addition of Whyalla Combined team representatives the group later included Gary and Ricky Chesson, Kym Borrett, and Greg Balnaves . Apologies for not including others as time has dimmed my memory.

People who were instrumental at the time were Allan Castle, Val Robson, Elaine and Bruce Dunn, Barry Waddingham, John Kirby, Kym Marsden, Graeme and Barb Stringer, Gunther Scheide , the Matchett family and John Spooner. (among others)

I know Wayne Chivell ( later the State Coroner ) did get involved in getting the new stadium built.

John Spooner and I then set about giving this group playing experience outside of Whyalla so travelled often to Adelaide and other country centres to get as much playing experience indoors as possible.

By the time this group were around 16 years old they were able to play senior basketball and once we moved indoors their development accelerated to the point that Whyalla had as many players in State country teams as Mt Gambier with their years of those playing conditions.

The group did cause some consternation in Whyalla as some were gifted footballers and chose to play basketball instead as they could go to National championships as a representative of the State.

Trevor Castle went on to be a very good coach in Whyalla, coaching SA Country teams in National Championships, Kym Borrett represented Australia and played in the early years of the National Basketball League with the City of Adelaide Eagles and then the Adelaide 36ers, Peter Rumball also played State Under 20s with WA and the others (Chris Cowan, Ricky Chesson, Anthony Flanegan) played State basketball as well.

My reason to move on from Whyalla was to further my coaching career and this was difficult as our family thoroughly enjoyed the life in Whyalla.


Ray Girvan – Nomads and Me

My name is Ray Girvin.

I was a founding member of Nomads Basketball Club, in Whyalla in 1971 where I ended up playing more than 250 games over a 10 years period with them.

Spencer Hotel Super Challenge – 1986

November 1986 when a touch of NBL came to Whyalla.

By 1986 the National Basketball League was becoming established in Australia.

Alan Castle – Life Member Testimonial, 1995

Details of Alan Castle Former President and Life Member of the WBA.

Background and playing career.

Barry Wadingham – Life Member Testimonial, 1995

Dear Publicity Officer,

I hope what I have sent is of some use to your committee. I have written those names I can remember on the back of the photos, the actual dates I am unsure about.

Parker Dix – Life Member Testimonial, 1995

Dear Publicity Officer,

Darren, sorry I’ve taken so long to write but I’ve been a bit slack in trying to put things into words.

Roy Lydeamore – Life Member Testimonial,1995

With reference to your request for information concerning my involvement in Basketball in Whyalla over the years I wish to advise that I worked as gatekeeper for 30 years, firstly at the McBride Terrace courts, the rec centre and at Jubilee Park.

Hall of fame for NT’s ‘Magic Johnson’, 2012

IT has been confirmed that Darwin and Australian basketball great Michael AhMat will be inducted into Basketball Australia’s Hall Of Fame later this month.


John Spooner

Our latest 3 part Video instalment is with ex WBA President John Spooner.

It was filmed last year but has taken interviewer Trevor Castle some time to edit due to the amount of content John provided.

Tia Bails, 2019

From Steelers to Rockets.

This Months video interview instalemnet by Trevor Castle features another one of Whyalla’s young female high flyers.

Ray Girvan, 2019

Ray Girvin is a true basketball tragic.

He fell in love with the game when he played his first game for a team called Nomads back in 1971.

U16 Nationals – Jorja Eldridge Interview, 2017

Get to know one of Whyalla’s young stars!

In January Jorja played in the Under 16 Girls Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup in Albury then chosen in the ACJBC (Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup) team.

Keith Lenon – Past President Interview, 2017

Keith Lenon was a basketball pioneer in Whyalla.

When basketball began in Whyalla it was at the old Aerodrome (just behind where the wetlands are now) in 1955 and there were just 5 teams.

Allan Castle – Past President Interview, 2017

WBA Life Member Allan Castle moved from Pt. Augusta to Whyalla in 1969 and immediately became involved in the management committee of the Whyalla Basketball Association.

Army Challenge Video, 2016

Highlight footage taken by the Army at the first of our Army Vs Civilian Challenges during their July 2106 Exercise Hamel operations.

It was Grand final type atmosphere but better due to the amazing response from the local community to this charity event.

President Jeff Spry, 2016

Jeff Spry was elected to the position of WBA President at the AGM last year.

I caught up with Jeff in the middle of this term to get to know him a little and to talk about what he sees as the biggest challenges facing Whyalla Basketball at the moment.

Darren Quinn, 2015

Following his recent retirement from playing basketball at the end of Sumer Season 2014/2015, Darren Quinn, Whyalla’s most decorated player, agreed to sit down and tell his story.

Grant Application – Larry Bird in Whyalla, 2015

The WBA are currently in the process of applying for some grant money to start a lighting upgrade.

We applied to Holden for a grant via their Home ground advantage support scheme.


1955 – GIANTS

GIANTS– Starting in 1955 making them won of the founding clubs of International rules Basketball in Whyalla.

1955 – JAFFA’S

JAFFAS – Starting in 1955 Jaffas were won of the founding clubs of International rules Basketball in Whyalla.


LATTER DAY SAINTS (L.D.S)–In 1955 the Mormons basketball club became one of the WBA’s founding clubs.

1955 – POSTALS

POSTALS – Are one of the founding clubs of the WBA. They started as a group of workers from the South Australian Postal Institute.

1955 – TIGERS

TIGERS–In 1955 the Tigers beat the 30 -9 in the 1st season of International rules Basketball ever Played in Whyalla.

1957 – KNIGHTS

PAST CLUBSThe Knights Basketball Club came into being at the start of the 1957/8 season with the formation of an U16 boys team to enter the new competition created by the association. The team was made up by a number of school friends and who played colts football for...

1957 – TANGO

TANGO – Were part of the first season pf Women’s basketball in Whyalla.


TARANTULAS – Started in 1957 in the Inaugural season of Women’s International rules Basketball in Whyalla.

1960 – Y M C A

YMCA– Formed in the early 60’s the YMCA consisted of a number of men’s and boys teams.

1960 – DRAGONS

DRAGONS – Formed in the early 60’s by a group of Westy footballers the dragons and competed into the late 60’s.