Ray Girvan – Nomads and Me

by | Mar 18, 2019

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. I served as player, Coach and Committee member in that time before a job transfer took me to Adelaide. I was an avid record keeper and during my time I kept a handwritten account of each of the games I was involved in and many of the events of the time, which much of the following is based on. That and my memory of course.
As I approach almost 50 years in the game of basketball, I thought (following a discussion with Trevor Castle), I would reflect on that first 10 years in the game, during which Whyalla Basketball had what I now consider the “watershed moment” (certainly for many), when it transformed from a way of keeping fit for other more important sports, to a first choice for many including yours truly. What was it that captured me, why did it take over from all the other sports I (and most other kids at the time) played?

I’m not sure I can answer those questions, but I am more heavily involved in the game now than I have ever been and love every minute of it, if you are reading this I assume you love it to.

I apologise for the length of the final product here, but once I started typing I found it difficult to stop. It is a comprehensive history of my involvement in Nomads’ first 10 years, mainly of their senior Men’s team, but with lots of other stuff as well. I hope you enjoy it.

It all started in 1971 when a few friends who were electricians at BHP decided to start a basketball team. I wasn’t involved in the initial conversation, but given Darryl (Rats) Raneberg had played the game before, I can only assume he was the driving force. My personal involvement wasn’t until the decision had been made to play and came about for two reasons. I was an electrical apprentice, who, fresh out of the training shop was sent to the rolling mill, where Darryl and Lawrie Townsend (another founding member) worked, but more importantly I was going out with Philomena Kelly whose brother Paul (also an electrician), was part of the initial group. He mentioned me as a replacement for someone who dropped out at the very last minute and to this day I am thankful for his recommendation.

My background was soccer, which I had been playing for years and at the time was playing A grade for Wanderers on a Sunday and junior football for Weeroona Bay on a Saturday. Like many others at the time, when asked if I would like to play basketball, my initial reaction was no as it was always seen as a bit of a “soft” game, but on reflection I thought it would help keep me fit for my preferred sports. And so the adventure began.

The team was nominated in B grade for the Winter season of 1971 and given my late involvement I couldn’t play in the first game, but was a spectator. The team consisted of Darryl (Rats) Raneberg, Laurie Townsend, Russell Westbrook (a plumber and good friend of the others), Mick Bowes (another plumber), Bill Greenwood (carpenter), Paul Kelly (electrician), John Crawford (electrician) and of course me, Ray Girvin. We were a little different from many teams of the time, instead of the traditional plain coloured playing singlet, ours was green with black numbers, a white band and Nomads emblazoned across the chest. A few of the “established” teams looked on a little suspiciously I am sure. Our shorts were, typical of the time, standard black footy shorts. Oh and by the way, I still have that singlet in my cupboard!!

In those days, Winter was the “short” season with 11 games being the average, (May through to July), whereas Summer (which went from late September all the way through to March) saw 20-22 games plus finals. This was obviously to reduce the clash with the more mainstream sports of football and soccer when many of the better known sportsmen dropped out to concentrate on their first love. To be honest this suited me, given my involvement with soccer and footy, but within a year or two basketball became number one for me and I enjoyed the Winter season in a different way with the more dedicated basketball players involved.

The learning curve was very, very steep, with only “Rats” knowing anything about the game, but it grabbed all of us and we enjoyed every minute, training regularly and given the starting point, improving quickly. Having said that we lost the first three games, won the next three and then lost the last five to finish with 3 wins and 8 losses. Also of interest given today’s indoor stadiums, we played outdoors despite the weather on the bitumen courts at McBryde Terrace, where many a player came a cropper and lost copious amounts of skin on a fall. We even had one encounter abandoned mid-game because of rain, but more on that later.

I’m not sure why we grew to love the game so quickly but we did!! We enjoyed every minute and practised regularly, often meeting at the McBryde Terrace courts for an impromptu training session, learning the intricacies of the correct footwork for a layup, how to pass properly, the art of shooting and importantly the language which to us was completely confusing. Words like travel, three seconds, keyway, jump ball, jump shot, bounce pass, baseline etc. may as well have been from a foreign land. Remember this is a long time before the Internet, there was no basketball on TV and being Whyalla there were no instruction books or even any basketball magazines available so everything was word of mouth, watching other teams play, or demonstration by someone who (hopefully) knew what they were doing. This is obviously where “Rats” came in. As I said, he had played for a few years for other teams and was the font of all knowledge to us. He was our highest scorer every week and when we won it was generally because of him. But that changed slowly, as others improved and by the second season, (Summer season of 1971-72), when we played C Grade. We really were competitive and virtually everyone contributed.

We finished that (1971-72) season at the top of the table, defeating Church 1 in both the “top” semi (39-24) and the Grand Final (42 to 32), with Rats (18), Laurie (12 points) and I (12 points) as the top scorers. Rats also won the Association Medal with 28 votes, confirming his superior skills at the time, but myself (17 votes), Bill (9 votes), Laurie (4 votes) and John (4 votes) were catching up fast.

It is probably appropriate at this time to discuss the outdoor courts at McBryde Terrace. They were an improvement on the “Old Aerodrome” courts, (which I never saw), with three full sized courts and of course a nice sized Clubroom. The courts were as mentioned outdoors and participants “enjoyed” all of the elements. Wind, rain, heat, dust etc. all played their part at different times. Many the game I remember with a typical Whyalla wind blowing and any “outside” shooting was pointless. This experience certainly contributed to the game style of the time with mostly “fast break” basketball played or points were scored inside the keyway in what was at times a robust game to say the least.

Some of the better players of that era included athletes known in Whyalla for their prowess in other sports (but in particular football) and included John Lydeamore, Doug Matchett, Danny Chandler, Parker Dix and Graeme Stringer.

There are lots of stories I could tell about playing basketball outside, but here are a few amusing examples kids of today would find hard to believe.

At the end of the courts there was a cyclone fence about 6 foot tall, and immediately behind that was the Iron Knob railway, where on a regular basis long, long iron ore trains would rumble by. On the odd occasion, a long pass from the other end, if missed by the player is was intended for, would bounce high over the fence and end up on the other side of the railway line!! I still smile when I think about someone having to climb the fence to get the ball back so the game could continue.

The courts of course were “drive in” style, with cars parked around them inside the perimeter fencing. So you sat in your car to watch games and of course you could toot your horn if you saw some play you liked!!! The surrounds where the cars were parked were just dirt, so in summer it was dry and dusty and if someone had a bad game and drove off too fast in a bad mood, a cloud of dust covered the courts for a minute or two. Or, if it rained (which given it was Whyalla wasn’t a regular event), the water washed the dirt down onto the courts, making it impossible to play. Not sure how many of today’s players could say their game was called off due to rain washing dirt onto the court!!

The courts were of course bitumen and over time cracks formed and the occasional weed crept through. The Council would come out and re-bitumise the offending crack and things got back to normal. But the maintenance didn’t end there, I remember specifically spending a weekend painting the backboards, the supports and even the lines on the court with a small paintbrush, in time for next week’s games.

The attitude of the time was somewhat varied too. Many of the players experienced indoor basketball on trips to Adelaide (mainly Bowden, the old Forestville stadium, Hillcrest etc.) for carnivals and yearned for similar facilities in Whyalla but some of the old school still thought playing outdoors was better. I clearly remember a carnival in Whyalla on a very warm summers day when the Secretary of the association at the time said “why would you want to play indoors on a beautiful day like this?” No wonder the stadium was still years away!!!

Still we had some great times. I am not sure of the year but Nomads arranged a 24 hour game as a fund raiser for some cause and we played straight through the night. We had teams of 7 or 8 from memory and were supposed to swap regularly and grab some sleep in the Clubroom, but most just stayed awake and enjoyed the event. And would you believe despite the tiredness, the following day (I am thinking it would have been a Sunday), I remember driving to the courts in the evening, to have a few shots and almost every player was there doing the same!! Yes you are probably right, there wasn’t much to do in Whyalla in those days.

One last thing I will say about the McBryde Terrace Courts, is that on entrance you had to pay a fee to play or spectate (20 cents I would imagine). Mr. Lydeamore (John’s dad), ran that gate for most of my memory there and was perfect for the role. No one got past without paying the appropriate fee. Mrs. Lydeamore worked behind the scenes, from memory she was the registrar, making sure everyone was eligible and completed lots of the necessary administration tasks. She was always a pleasure to deal with. Other names that come to mind when I think of the administration side are Alan Castle, Keith (Gibby) Lenon, Val Robson, Elaine Dunn, Bruce Dunn, Bruce Chatfield and Dianne Chatfield, all working hard to provide the opportunity to play.

With the Premiership in C Grade won, it was back to B Grade and fortunately another great season. Our enthusiasm never waned and again we continued to improve, managing a 1 point win (51-50 with a free throw from yours truly deciding it) on the big night against a team and Club that were for the next few years at least, a traditional rival – YMCA. The score sheet told a story in the evolvement of Nomads, as it had several times that season, with Rats not being the main scorer. That honour fell to me with 23 points. Our reliance on a single individual was waning as others continued to improve.

The 1972-73 summer season again saw us in B grade and this time, despite getting to the Grand Final again, we couldn’t win it, going down to Saints 37-48. Things were changing though as Rats’ influence became less and several players came and went. Many of the core remained (Raneberg, Townsend, Greenwood, Bowes, Westbrook and of course Girvin), but new players got involved including Graham Creber, Ross Edwards, Paul Shirley and Tom Treziack. In another sign that others were starting to get better at the game I won the Association MVP for B grade with 37 votes, Rats had 9 votes, whilst Lawrie and Bill both 8. By this time Nomads also had a Women’s team and they won the Women’s D Grade Championship! We were becoming a Club.

But we were at a crossroads. Are we still playing for fun and fitness or are we looking to be competitive at the next level and if so, would we need to bolster the ranks? By this time I had definately crossed the line. Basketball was number 1 and I devoted much of my spare time researching the game and practising my skills. I even started umpiring (initially because each team had to provide an umpire each week), which I grew to love with help from people like Bruce Dunn and Bruce Chatfield. I even attended an umpire’s weekend camp at Mylor in the Adelaide Hills and qualified as a B Grade SABOA referee (South Australian Basketball Officials Association), getting to meet prominent referees of the time including Greg Love and Mal Hemmerling (later of Grand Prix fame).

As mentioned it was difficult to find much information on the game, but my still girlfriend (and now wife) Phil, worked in a bookshop and she managed to order a book or two for me. One I still have is the Sports Illustrated guide to Basketball which contained some information on UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) and I cherished it. I also managed to find a way to order the Sports Illustrated monthly magazine from the local newsagent and despite being delivered months after they came out in the US I enthusiastically read all the basketball articles and soaked up the content even though it was mostly about the NBA and College.

The 1973 Winter season saw us nominate for A grade to test our progress with the big boys!! Again personnel changes occurred as we looked to compete and we nominated a second team for those either not capable or not interested in the higher level. Paul Travers, Peter Heward and Graham Sims joined Greenwood, Townsend, Westbrook, Raneburg (who played just 3 games before retiring) and Girvin in our quest. We started well enough winning the first two games before going down to YMCA by a point. We ended up winning 8, losing 5 and finishing 3rd before bowing out in the first semi-final to Church. But we had tested the water and realised that we needed more depth and potentially better players if we wanted to win. We also for the first time came across a team called Brorowa which consisted of teachers from Whyalla High school (their name is made up of the first couple of letters of each street surrounding the school), who beat us easily and there was something about them. They played the game differently, with control, composure and planning it seemed? They even shot the ball from the “outside” which fascinated me. Unbeknown to me at the time, they had players who had played at a much higher level in Adelaide and in the near future one of their players would change not just my understanding of the game, but how it was played in the entire Whyalla competition. But more on that later.

Our Club continued to improve its position in the association and success came, as we won the Women’s C Grade Championship in 1973 and more and more players looked to Nomads as a place to play. Initially it was friends and family but that was changing.

The 1973-74 Summer season was a big one with massive changes for Nomads. We were expanding, with more teams (including several Women’s teams and a Junior Boys team) and the need for a Committee became obvious. Now this is often a time when Clubs like Nomads disappear, work needs to be done organising things and no one wants to do it, but that was not the case, we went from strength to strength, with a young Committee eager to push the boundaries. Laurie Townsend was President, Russell Westbrook Secretary, Shirley Balnaves Registrar, Wendy McKeough Treasurer and Ray Girvin & Dave Nolan as general Committee members.

I also think this was around this time we “took over” the Postal Women’s team(s). Postal had been around for a few years and represented the Postal Institute, which I think was part of the PMG? They had a men’s team and at least one women’s team at different stages, but the Whyalla Basketball Association decided that for the game to progress Clubs had to have a minimum of 3 teams. Several of the Postal Women came across to Nomads and helped improve our Women’s group, Philomena Kelly and Sharon McKay being a couple that made the change forming the nucleus of our Women’s A Grade team a year or two later. Also a star of the future Jill Balnaves who played in our Women’s D Grade team, won her first MVP.

The senior Men’s team went back to B grade in an effort to build on what we had experienced the year before and again get ourselves prepared for an assault on the A Grade competition. We needed some height and some size and recruited a kid called Ken McKenzie, a ruckman from Roopeena (who I was playing football for at the time) as well as Leo Casey (a super quick guard), Gary Brook, Peter Bennet and John Power (another Roopeena footballer). To no avail however as we lost the elimination semi to Saints 20-24.

Despite that result, back to A Grade we went for the 1974 Winter season, with a couple of what we thought were strategic recruits to help the cause. Roger Sando (a local service station owner), was recommended to us, given he had played District juniors for West Adelaide for all his formative years and (I think) represented the State at under age level. I remember visiting him several times at his garage, trying to convince him to come out and play for us. He was a very good player and Parker Dix, a stalwart of Whyalla basketball, who (from memory) had retired several years before but relished the idea of helping a bunch of largely inexperienced kids have a crack at A grade. In a short 8 game season, we won 3 and lost 5 and didn’t play finals, finishing 7th. But the intent was clear, we were building towards a more consistent and competitive team. We did have some success as a Club though with one of our Women’s teams winning the E Grade competition and on an individual note, I was runner-up in the Men’s A Grade MVP.

As the Club itself continued to expand, with Men’s, Women’s and Junior teams, we needed to find ways to recognise our successes. One thing we did that was very successful was have some serious presentation evenings at different venues (certainly the Gowrie and the Worker’s Club spring to mind) with Fairest & Best trophies for every team as well as other awards. I remember we would get people like Keith (Gibby) Lenon (Association communications officer at the time) and Mrs Dulcie Chesson (Club Patron) to present trophies and it was a BIG night for everyone.

We were quickly becoming one of the dominant Clubs in Whyalla basketball and certainly one of the more “professional” as time went by, with things like uniforms, all green singlets and matching shorts ordered through “International Sportswear”, Nomads “letterman” style jackets and even tracksuits, donated by Keith Wilson Chrysler.

We also started putting out a “Nomads News” (remember again this is way before mobile phones, Facebook or the Internet were even a thought) as a way of keeping in touch with members!! This required quite a bit of work using old fashioned methods compared to today. I have included a copy of an early edition for your reading pleasure.

We even used to have games against the Cowell Basketball Association (not sure how that came about) where for a few years we would have a reciprocal visit each season and play a game. We also believe it or not, made an instructional video. Mick Bowes had a connection somewhere and arranged for a video camera (a big and expensive piece of equipment in those days) and we made an video on how to play the game for our Juniors to watch. I remember showing it to them at an arranged “pie night” or the like!! We were progressive for sure.

By the time the 1974-75 Summer season started we had again maintained our core of players including Peter Heward, Leo Casey, Roger Sando and Graham Simms, but had added a few others B. Thomas, Peter Bowen, Dean Plane, Gary Barnard. Sadly Lawrie Townsend played his last senior game in A Grade in Round 1 leaving me as the sole survivor of that original team in the Senior Men. We won 10, lost 10 and drew 1 game, finishing 6th and again out of the finals, but the Club’s success continued with our Juniors winning their first of many Premierships in U10 A and B Grade Boys and Under 12 Boys. The future was looking good. And on that theme, from the Men’s perspective, a massive change was around the corner in the shape of the man who altered the course of not just Nomads, but Whyalla Basketball forever.

Mick Osborne was a teacher stationed at Whyalla High and had been playing for Brorowa, who were struggling for numbers. Given this difficulty, Mick ended up playing for Nomads for the 1975 Winter season. In Mick’s own words (on the WBA website), “Ray’s Nomads were in love with the sport and loved the challenge of improving their skills to a much higher level” so he came to us as playing Coach. Mick had excellent basketball fundamental skills but better than that he knew the game intimately and was a tactician and teacher of the highest order. He had played and Coached at Senior District levels in Adelaide and (I believe) even played and Coached an Australian University team. He went on to be the Adelaide City Eagles (later to become the 36er’s) inaugural Coach.

Mick became a close friend over the next few years and a “guru” to anyone who would listen to the ways of the game as he saw it. To many in the Whyalla basketball fraternity he was an unwelcome intrusion but to someone like me, who absorbed anything and everything about the game I had grown to love, it was a great experience. Mick talked a different language to established basketballers in Whyalla, with terms like man to man, zone presses, traps, half court offensive sets etc. etc. and thankfully took a liking to the way I played and enjoyed the game. He became not just Nomads Coach for the next few years, but also the Whyalla Men’s Combined Coach and changed everything about the way we played the game.

The Whyalla Combined teams often played round robin tournaments against Port Augusta and Port Pirie, but also ventured to places like Woomera (when the place was still occupied by lots of Americans) and of course made the annual pilgrimage to the Country Carnival, in those days held at Bowden and the old Forestville stadium under the railway tracks!! Mick started as another player in the representative team (as did I) along with people like Gunter Schiede, Graham Stringer, John Lydeamore, Doug Matchett and many of the established Whyalla players. But, he became Coach and turned our fortunes around to a degree with a more modern style of game suited to indoor courts. He (thankfully) took me under his wing and along with a very young bunch of kids (Chris Cowan, Ricky Chesson, Greg Balnaves, Kim Borrett, Trevor Castle, Anthony Flanegan), eventually produced a more than competitive group where on at least one occasion I remember played off in semi-finals of Men’s A Grade Country Carnivals against teams like Darwin. Mt Gambier, Port Augusta and Port Pirie who were consistent finalists. We played a very, very competitive style of basketball and caught many bigger, more experienced teams by surprise.

Anyhow, back to Nomads. The Winter of 1975 was an absolute dream. We recruited Kym Marston (an athletic big with district experience), Rod Hamilton and John Kirby all of whom gave us an influx of size and we were very competitive. We lost one game for season and won the Premiership, defeating Demons in a low scoring final 27-21. Nomads’ first Men’s A Grade success!!!!! Included in that history making team (as well as the above three recruits) were Mick, Peter Heward, Roger Sando, Graham Simms, and of course yours truly Ray Girvin.

Despite losing the first three games, we repeated the success in the Summer of 75-76 with much of the same team. Kym Marston had returned to Adelaide unfortunately, but Greg Flanegan replaced him adequately, and we added Gary Chesson. This time our Grand Final win was a little more comfortable 36-23 again over Demons. Back to back!! It was also great to see our Under 14 A Boys and Under 12 B Boys win Premierships again keeping the pipeline of future players going.

By the 1976 Winter season, Mick’s passion for Coaching & development had seen him take on many of the kids mentioned previously (who ended up playing for Whyalla), in the form of Magpies Men’s A Grade side. Most of them were 15 or 16 by this stage and whilst not physically ready they certainly had the fundaments down pat and they proved to be worthy competitors. Whilst still Coaching and playing for us, Mick also coached Magpies and much to my dismay, when we played each other he stood down from Nomads (as he felt I could look after them) and he Coached the kids. Well we both got to the Grand Final (the first in the new Recreation Centre) with Nomads prevailing 21-12!! Three in a row and despite my concerns with Mick, I managed to win the Association’s MVP for the Men’s A Grade that year. Also great to see our Under 16 Boys and Women’s C Grade enjoyed Premiership success.

That Premiership winning era for the Men’s A Grade finished by the 1976-77 Summer season, with Mick moving to Magpies full time (and eventually transferring back to Adelaide), but as I said he remains a life-long friend who certainly showed me that basketball was more than running up and down the court at full pace.

So the 1976-77 Summer season was a bit of a let-down. Mick was gone as was Rod Hamilton and Peter Heward but a Whyalla basketball stalwart in Neil (Nipper) White was added (ex-Saints), as well as the return of outstanding junior Ricky Chesson who had spent the previous season in the Magpies team Mick was looking after and we remained more than competitive. We reached the Preliminary Final before losing to Demons. In some good news, our Under 10 Boys A won a Premiership.

The 1977 Winter season was a bit of a bust for the A Grade Men, winning just 4 games (out of 11) and finishing fourth. Most of the same names were involved, but with the addition of Greg Balnaves, one of that “young” group of Mick disciples coming through the ranks and a kid by the name of Richard Allison who was an outstanding Junior for us (and the youngest kid to play for Nomads in A Grade to that point). We lost to Hawks in the Second Semi-Final 43-45, but our Under 10 and 12 Boys won Premierships, so there was nothing wrong with our development program. On a very positive note Jill Balnaves won the Women’s A Grade MVP!!

In the 1977-78 Summer season, we started poorly, but strung a couple of winning sequences together to end up playing in the first semi-final which we lost (to Magpies, who were starting to show the benefits of Mick’s influence), before defeating Spartans in the Preliminary and then losing the Grand Final 31-32 to the all-conquering Magpies team. In some great news our Women’s A Grade (under the Coaching of Greg Balnaves) won their first Premiership with Jill Balnaves and Chris Elliott outstanding!! We also won the Under 14 A and B Grade Boys competitions.

The 1978 Winter season saw more new players introduced with Stan Bowler (tallest kid we had seen for some time), Lawrence McLean (great little guard) and John Alderdice (ex YMCA) all playing their part, but we didn’t make the finals even though we were always competitive. The Club did enjoy some success winning the Women’s E Grade Premiership and Ricky Chesson was runner-up for the Men’s A Grade MVP!!

In 1978-79 Summer season we saw the introduction of a young Frank Weigand, who like Richard Allison before him was an outstanding junior and he fitted comfortably into our team, but despite the new stadium, we were beaten in the Grand Final by a powerful Magpies team, who were themselves becoming something of a dynasty. Our Men’s C Grade and Women’s D Grade and Under 16 Boys did enjoy Premiership success.

Whyalla was going through a bit of a downturn (the Shipyard had closed) and the number of people transferred into the town was reducing each year, so the chances of getting a good basketballer amongst them was minimal. Having said that David Webber arrived in time for the 1979 season and he was a very good player. An ex Norwood District player and a solid forward capable of playing at both ends of the floor, he definitely made our team better. He was MVP runner up in his first season, (and winner in 1979-80) but despite that we lost again to Magpies in the Grand Final. David remains a friend to this day and I see him regularly in his role as Team Manager of the Norwood Men’s Premier League team. His two adult sons (Daniel and Andrew) are stars for the current Norwood team. Nomads did win the Under 18 Boys Premiership in 1979.

I am not quite sure why but my hand written game by game records stopped in 1979-80. I did start a new job at AGC Finance (thanks to a referral from David Webber) and I am wondering if maybe that had something to do with it. The WBA records show we didn’t make the final.

I moved to Adelaide in January 1981 after 11 years at Nomads, which saw it go from a thought in someone’s head to a bustling Club with lots of teams, players, Premierships and medallists. I was surprised and humbled when they awarded me Life Membership before I left, the first of many for the Club until its demise some years later. I was very proud of my part in the Club’s and Whyalla’s growth in the game at a very important time in its history.

Basketball is a sport were life-long friendships are made and I still keep in touch with Mick Osborne, Chris Cowan, Ricky Chesson and Greg Balnaves to name a few and I saw and chatted to Bruce Dunn at most Sixers games over the last couple of years. And of course I try to head to the stadium when I go to Whyalla and on occasion tell my kids many stories of a time when basketball was played outdoors and they laugh at me. I do look back with wonder though and realise that despite not having the best facilities, or the best grounding, it was a fantastic time to experience basketball in a country town. Great fun and great people. Names (outside of Nomads) like Bruce Chatfield, Bruce Dunn, Gibby Lenon, Elaine Dunn, John Lydeamore, Rod Grimm, Graham Stringer, Gunter Schiede, Lorraine Schiede, Danny Chandler, Glen Summerton, Noel Bauer, Alan Wanganeen, Barry Waddingham, Rod Thompson, Parker Dix, Rod Warner and Jimmy Mills jump into my mind when I glance through my Whyalla International Rules Basketball Association Annual Magazine of 1971-72!

When I first got to Adelaide I played for a few teams. However in the mid-eighties I started the Ex-Whys (ex-Whyalla) basketball Club and we had many fantastic years. Before we all had kids we would tour the State (Whyalla, Port Pirie, Broken Hill, Tanunda to name a few) playing in tournaments and I must say won our fair share. Those teams included people like Chris, Ricky, Steve Discombe, Greg Balnaves, Greg Flanegan, Phil Edwards, John Balnaves, Brett Hogben, Peter Heward, Darren Flew to name some off the top of my head. The team kept going long enough for both of my kids to become part of it, wrapping up in the mid 2000’s. But that is for another day.

Now my time is spent with North Adelaide. I have been involved there since 1999 when my oldest son decided he wanted to play a little more seriously. I went from interested parent, to Team Manager to coach over a number of years and have Coached Boys District Div 1 at Under 12, Under 18 and Under 23 level, as well as Men’s Reserves many times. At the moment (for 5 years now) I have been an assistant Coach (to ex NBL player Nathan Hawkes) for the Premier League Men, a semi-professional league one level down from the NBL. We have two gun American imports, a current Boomer and a 36ers development player in our squad for 2019, so looking forward to a big year.

I am also North Adelaide’s historian (hence my interest in writing this) and their social media “manager”, handling Facebook, Teamapp, our webpage and a weekly newsletter. You might be wondering how I fit all this in, well I retired 4 years ago to do exactly this – spend my time in basketball!!

Also of interest after some 47 or so years at Hillcrest, North Adelaide is moving to the new facility “The Lights” at Lightsview later in 2019. If you get the chance to come down and have a look it will be a state of the art facility and well worth a visit. Hopefully for the next year at least I will be sitting on a Coaches bench somewhere.

I hope you have got some enjoyment out of this lengthy look back at my time in Whyalla basketball and maybe brings back a few memories. I got the chance to renew acquaintances at a recent funeral in Whyalla and it was great to catch up despite the circumstances.

I love this game, its history, its changes, its strategies and its changing of the guard so if you are ever in Adelaide please come and say hello and we can chat about the best game on the planet!!


Mike Osborne’s Whyalla Experience

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.

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.