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Basketball Club History

Basketball Club History

 

Collegians Basketball Club was formed by members of the Athletic Club in 1952 originally to provide a winter training facility. The founding members included some well known names such as Jim McGrath, Ronnie Ellis, Cecil Carson, George Ferrett, Tom Jordan and Joe Kingsmore along with Harry Fitzimmons, and two members from B R A former pupils, Basil Yelland and Alan Nesbitt. In 1953 they were accepted into the 2nd division of the Ulster basketball league immediately coming first and winning it again in 1955. This gained the team admission to the 1st division.

1956,1957,and1958 were spent coming to terms with playing against much stronger opposition and consolidating their position in the league, and it was during these years that Brian McMahon, Colin Stanfield, Fred Parkes, George Clarke and Eddie Mulholland joined the club while one of the outside members, Basil Yelland left and was replaced by Merdie Shields. These six players along with Joe Kingsmore and Alan Nesbitt became the nucleus of the team.

In 1959 Collegians won their first trophy against the teams playing in Ulster basketball’s 1st division, an all day blitz held in Stranmillas Training College (see photo below), and this heralded the start of many successful years.

 

 1959

 Joe Kingsmore     Eddie Mulholland     Colin Stanfield     Fred Parkes     Alan Nesbitt

Merdie Shields    Brian McMahon     George Clarke

 In 1960 it became an option to play Basketball at Methody but it obviously suffered as there was no history of the sport at the school, no P E teacher with real knowledge of the sport and most of all great pressure for any player who was big and mobile enough to become involved in Rugby during a time when the school was dominating the school’s cup competition, however two players did leave Methody to become regular first team players, Jim Murphy and Brian Watson while Fred Parkes retired. Another non collegian joined the team, Niall Haslett, following completion of his training at Stranmillas Training College and these three along with the remaining seven from the original squad formed the basis of the team for many years to come.

 

picture b 

  Merdie Shields   Jim Murphy   Niall Haslett   Brian McMahon   Colin Stanfield   Alan Nesbitt

Eddie Mulholland   Brian Watson   Norman Grimshaw   George Clarke   Joe Kingsmore

 

During these years the club won many trophies and on two occasions represented Ulster Basketball in the European Cup playing in Iceland and France and about this time there were slight changes in the squad with Bob Abbott, an R A F physical education instructor based at Aldergrove, and Ernie Priest a Canadian teacher replacing Niall Haslett who went to work abroad and Colin Stanfield who suffered a family bereavement.

 picture c

  George Clarke Brian McMahon Jim Murphy Merdie Shiels Brian Watson Bob Abbott

Eddie Mulholland Joe Kingsmore Ernie Priest Alan Nesbitt

 

About this time the team began to undergo major changes with the retirement of Brian McMahon, Alan Nesbitt and Merdie Shiels and Bob Abbott and Ernie Priest leaving the province, however Niall Haslett and Colin Stanfield returned and with the addition of Ken McGaw and, continuing our long association with Stranmillas Training College, Ian Davidson and Walter Bleakley the team continued to compete successfully at a high level.

A number of school leavers also began to come through, Barney Ball, Garth Earls, Tom Harpur, Neville Redman, Jamie Jamison, J Norris, Ian Johnstone, Stephen Smiley, Douglas Squires, Jim Eckman, Keith Boyd, Ian Bamford and Tom Dalrymple while Jim Murphy’s younger brother Paul also joined the club along with Bill Nesbitt, a member of the Methody P E department, and things looked quite healthy for the club when the following photograph was taken in 1971.

picture d 

 Joe Kingsmore                       Paul Murphy                       Colin Stanfield                       Tom Dalrymple

Ian Davidson                     George Ferrett                       George Clarke

Walter Bleakley         Eddie Mulholland         Brian Watson         Calum Kennedy         Jamie Jamison

 

The flare up of the troubles in 1969 had a very significant effect on the club as added to the problem of the lack of talent coming from the school normally now each year more and more school leavers were going to the mainland to study or work and although Collegians Club had allowed the Basketball section to recruit a reasonable number of outside members to offset this problem there were only a limited number of areas from where this would have been possible.

1978 therefore became important for two reasons. Firstly because the club ran a very successful tournament to celebrate 25 years in existence (the photograph below showing the team which played in the tournament) but secondly at a meeting held some time later and attended by all members it was decided to disband.

During the Basketball Section’s existence many of the club’s rugby players joined and played as a second team. These included Ronnie Gilliland, Victor McQuoid, Denis Martin, Ken Graham, Peter Jones, George Musgrave, Wilson Hanna

picture e 

 Eddie Mulholland (coach)   Barney Ball   Ken McGaw   Ian Davidson   Garth Earls   Tom Harpur   Brian Watson

Nevill Redman   Walter Bleakley   George Clarke   Billy McKee

Links

IRFU www.irishrugby.ie
Ulster Branch www.ulsterrugby.com
Methodist College Belfast www.methody.org
Harlequins RFC www.belfastharlequinsrfc.com

Collegians Club
Formerly - Deramore Park,
Belfast,
County Antrim, Northern Ireland

E: philipjordan@meridiansystems.co.uk

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