Solent Stars - Paul Philp - An Appreciation

In the summer of 1992, the Solent Stars club organised a series of testimonial events for Paul Philp to mark his twelve seasons with the club. Dinners were held at the Southampton Guildhall and the Lyndhurst Park Hotel (where England cricket captain Graham Gooch was the main speaker) and basketball game was played against the National League Champions for the season - Kingston. The following information is taken from the Testimonial Programme printed for the occasion.

Caribbean Origins

In the twenty years of the 1950s and 1960s many settlers into Britain arrived from the New Commonwealth Countries, the majority being black workers attracted by the then expanding job opportunities. London Transport even operated a recruitment scheme in the West Indies to encourage immigration.
The majority who responded to this and similar schemes gravitated towards London and the Midlands.

Such was the background into which was born one Paul Philp on 23rd December 1952 in Montpelier, St James, Jamaica. He was the tenth child of Sidney Philp, who had qualified as a Chartered Accountant in England but who had returned to practise in Jamaica, while his wife Eva supplemented the family income as a seamstress.

Some of the Philp family first came to England in May 1961, when Paul was eight and a half, to set up a new home in Kilburn.


Paul joined Bronsbury Junior School, Willesden Lane, enjoying immediate success in a whole range of sports, eventually representing his school in Athletics, Boxing, Cricket and Football. He became the under ten Champion at Boxing, and later in his final year as a junior was the School Captain in Football and Cricket.

From those days Paul fondly recalls his school chum Stephen, who was the school goalkeeper and wicket-keeper. For he it was who had to try and outlast Paul's demands to parry his shots for goal or field his bowling at the stumps. Such commitment to practice paid off when Paul was called first as a triallist at Football and then was actually selected for the Willesden Schools at Cricket.

When Paul was due to transfer to Secondary School in 1964 his family left Kilburn, moving to Brixton, so he joined Tulse Hill School with its complement of 2000 boys aged twelve to eighteen.

A school of such numbers provided many sporting opportunities at all age levels, but with increased competition for places. So it was no mean achievement for Paul to be made a House Captain, and School Captain at Cricket, Rugby and Basketball. He also competed in Athletics, specialising as a javelin and Discus Thrower. It was at the latter that he enjoyed most success, twice being selected for the All England Schools Championships, gaining 5th place, and as County Champion. Paul cannot recall ever being beaten in London.

He was playing less Football at this stage having replaced it with Rugby usually as a Forward, or at No. 8.

Paul's consistent all-round and natural ability as a ball player is further illustrated by the high degree of success he enjoyed with his cricket. As he progressed through Tulse Hill he developed as a left-hand bowler and left-hand batsman into a complete all-rounder to earn the nickname of "Young Gary" (Sobers). He represented London Schools with whom he gained London Colours as their Vice-Captain and Captain on two occasions.

His performances with the bat attracted the School 's Selectors attention, so that he was invited to join a Select XI on Tour to East Africa in the Summer of 1969.

Two of his team mates in that schoolboy side have continued in a cricketing career, namely Graham Gooch and John Embury, both being full international Test players and Captains of the England XI.

On return from that Tour Paul was approached with a view to joining Warwickshire County Cricket Club, but his family had reservations about one so young leaving home or making a career as a sportsman.

However, this loss to Cricket was Basketball 's gain.

Paul's Introduction to Basketball

There had been a friend of the family when in Kilburn - or more accurately a friend of Paul's sister - Winsome - with whom Paul renewed his acquaintance on joining Tulse Hill.

He was three of four years Paul's senior and was already playing in the basketball team, and he it was who invited Paul to join him in the Gym for some extra practice. To such an invitation to a new game and to the opportunity of more sport, of course Paul required no second asking! He was there!

His Development

Within a year Paul rose quickly through the ranks and was selected from the School side to play for England at Under 14. He was the only boy then selected from Tulse Hill and the only black representative, a record of
which Paul is justly proud. Not many of his black contemporaries made a breakthrough in the late Sixties, nor indeed had many professionals in the adult world.

Many black sportsmen have related how there was a distinct lack of interest shown in their achievements by parents and family. However, in Paul's case he at least had the support of his elder sister Pat, who accompanied him to as many school and other matches as possible, though not to Germany where he toured with the Schools' National side being noted as "a budding promising forward".

Most sportsmen acknowledge their debt to the encouragement of a tutor in their formative years and Paul is no exception. His, you will not be surprised to learn, was one of his teachers at Tulse Hill - Dennis Morgan. Dennis himself may not have appreciated the extent to which Paul respected him, not only as his mentor, but also regarded him as a father figure, for Paul's own father was still practising his accountancy back in Jamaica.

Dennis coached Paul in all his activities Athletics, Cricket and Rugby - but in Basketball Paul recalls the time Dennis returned from a Coaching Course and tossed the coaching manual to him saying "Here take this, because I can't teach you any more". So Paul studied the diagrams, strengthened his dribbling for instance and learned all he could to earn further praise from the teacher he admired.

Together they took Tulse Hill to become National Schools` Champions. In a two leg Final against Kings Norton School, Tulse Hill lost away in the first leg with a 14 point deficit. Paul well recalls the return at home played at Poplar Baths, when they retrieved this deficit to be 4 points up on aggregate. Then with only minutes to go, Paul was fouled out - and in his nail-biting frustration at being off the court he saw Kings Norton score to pull back 2 points. But Tulse Hill held on and in enormous relief and total happiness Paul collected the National Schools Shield carrying it home very proudly that night on the top of a double decker bus.

One who shared in the presentation at School next day was fellow team member Walter "Wally" Williams, who was to follow Paul into adult Basketball as a Team Manager.

On leaving school he secured employment with the Amateur Athletic Association in London as one of their Office juniors, with an with a string of unequalled and unparalleled sporting achievements from School, Paul's academic achievements had to take second place, with an opportunity to learn something of the printing trade.

It is sobering to reflect that even with a sports orientated employer like the three A's there was still some reluctance to release him for his matches, and only now with the passage of time will Paul smile as he admits to resorting to a variety of excuses to secure sufficient travelling time or match time.

Anxious to further his education Paul engaged on some '0' Level courses and requested a Day Release Course at Croydon Technical College, but again obstacles were put in his way.

So Paul moved to the International Federation of Photographic Industry, where he gained further experience in running a small printing department. This gave him the confidence to enter the London College of Printing for a three year ONC Course in Photolithographics, successfully completed in 1976.

Basketball Takes Over

'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - but our boy wasn't called Jack. On the contrary Paul was playing as often as he could manage it. For instance, at weekends he played Basketball for Sutton on Saturday mornings, then dashed over to play Rugby with Streatham and Croydon in the afternoon.

These were the early days of the first year of the English National Basketball League - Paul's early Registration Number was 60. The Selectors were quick to earmark Paul for the England Junior Men's Squad. He was at first overlooked by England as a Senior and was denied a trial, but then he had the honour to be selected for the Great Britain side for the Montreal Olympics of 1976.

He was one of only two players to play for the Great Britain side before playing for England, but was the first black Basketball player to be so selected, some three years before Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play for England.

Paul played firstly in Edinburgh and captained Great Britain, going on to play in the pre-Olympic Tournaments. To his enormous disappointment Great Britain failed to qualify and if that was not depressing enough, he returned after the necessary two months absence on duty to find he had been sacked. So much for representing one's country.

Career profile

Paul Philp International Basketball Player

Age and Weight - Paul now keeps these a secret!

Height 6' 1"

England Caps 35

Great Britain Caps 25

A mention in The Guiness Book of Records for the most NBL All-Time Appearances (1992)

NBL All-Time Points Scorers 7th player to score over 2,700 points

National Cup Final Appearances 12

National League Championship Medals 12

National League Appearances 385

League Record

Paul has played in the National Basketball League for the following Clubs: Sutton, Sutton and Crystal Palace, Cinzano (SCP), Milton Keynes, Kingston and Solent Stars

It was with Sutton that Paul enjoyed playing under "Wally" Williams as Team Manager, his former school friend from Tulse Hill.

Then to Cinzano came Tom Wisman as the first American Coach to come over and whom Paul still holds with the highest regard for the influence he had in furthering his Basketball career.

Paul always played in the First Division until the latter years with Solent to whom he has remained very loyal over twelve years.

Paul is already a holder of a Champions Medal from the First Division, seven times over. He gained a Second Division Medal when Solent started as a Club, and then a Fourth Division one when Solent were obliged to drop, but bounced back as Champions in that first year.

So when Solent captured the top place in the Third Division in the 1991/92 season Paul gained a rare full set of League Championship Medals.

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