Solent Stars - Memories

by Mark Hannen

Until he moved on to work for Newcastle United football club, Mark Hannen was for 17 years the competitions secretary of the National Basketball League. He willingly responded to an invitation to comment on his thoughts about Solent Stars.

Mark writes:

My introduction to the Stars was almost an instant one, for when Ijoined the English Basketball Association back in December 1983 I was thrust into assisting in the organisation of the National Cup Final at the Royal Albert Hall (sponsored by Asda). It was an eye opening start for me and even though the game itself was rather one sided, the Stars living up to their name by sweeping Leicester to one side, it was a super occasion in a terrific venue. The game was played on a specially fitted carpet court - the only problem being having to drag it out of the hall afterwards - it weighed a ton!

I remember also Solent being one of the very first teams to play a match on the new EBBA wooden floor, in a televised Cup encounter at Warrington. My memory leads me to think they lost that game to a Colin Irish inspired home team and John Johnson was particularly upset at the defeat. That could have been the game when Irish scored under the hoop but had stepped off the court to do so, a move missed by referee Colin Gerrard but captured by the Channel 4 cameras.

Solent were of course one of the leading lights at that time, but things were sadly to change, and when the financial position worsened, the Stars had to swallow their pride and compete in the Southern League, which at that time was effectively Division Four in the National Competitions structure. But all credit to them and in particular the back room team who stayed behind the team - especially people like Jim Rumsey (Mr. Solent).

Quite how many different ownership names the Stars re-appeared as during those years of struggling I couldn't say, I think it depended on the year, e.g. Solent Stars 1988, but the bottom line was that it was imperative that the club survived.

In the early 1990s teams would come and go with an alarming regularity but it was all credit to Solent that they survived and wanted to carry on if nothing else for the loyal band of supporters who regularly cheered on their heroes at Eastleigh Leisure Centre. They rose again, and successive promotions took them back to the top of the National League pyramid. Where will they be in five years time, who knows? Indeed where will basketball be in five years time!

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