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We at DudleyBBC are very proud of our recent promotion as in only two years we have managed to develop a strong side at National level with genuine hopes to move into 1st Division next season thanks to arrival of former English basketball stars such as Clive Allen, Toni Simms and Mike Landell.
From being a West Mids Premier team that was about to fold in April 1999 we have come a long way in a short while and now we can go even further after our reasonably successful first season in the National League where we finished 5th of 12 in the regular season and only lost in the semi final of the play-0ffs to the league winners Bristol Bombers. Indeed finishing ahead of many teams that had been in the league a lot longer than us and surprising many of the league sceptics into the bargain. As league official Alan Hodgkinson said to the team manager at the June Conference ''YOU did what you said you were going to do.'' Yes, we did and the whole of the club can feel proud of itself.
With the restructuring of the National League we find that the Bears will this season compete in DIV II North along with our near neighbours, rivals and League DIV III runners up, Worcester Wolves whose
home court will be the furthest south we will have to travel. Into that division though, we will be joining strong teasm fromt eh bottom half of last seasons First division together with some heavy looking new teams including Sheffield, Manchester, Teeside and Hanley.
The Club too has undergone change with the decision being made to use the West Mids Premier division side as the junior development team bringing on promising youngsters such as Mike Grogan, Dean Garry, Dave Gaynor, Mike Murphy and Tom Henlan to name but a few. With them will be some of the senior players unavailable for National League duty for one reason or another and it is hoped the team will give a good account of itself.
The first team this season will be coached by Alan Hunt which will free head coahc Robin Hall to concentrate on the development of the youngsters and have more time to assist with the promotion and marketing of the club. The big news for the club is that former England international and Birmingham Bullets forward Clive Allen will be bringing his experience and 6ft 8in stature in to play for the Bears in Div II North this season. Clive, a Dudley lad born, bred and still living in the borough will also be co-ordinating the youth coaching programme along with some of the other seniour players within the club.
Another newcomers former Birmingham Bullets guard/forward Toni Simms and Carl White, a shooting forward with National League experience from his days with Kingston and by the time we are into the first few months of the programme there may be others to add to the list. One thing that we are looking at is bringing over an American power forward and to that end we have enlisted the help of former WEST BROM KESTRELS STAR íV MARK CUBIT, now head of P.E. at Mercersburg Academy, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.. There will be more news on that score as the season unfolds.
With the help of Jonathan Fox, and Brian Platts from Leasowes, and Ben Crook from Dudley Borough Sports Development Office we have been able to secure a second night for training and development and throughout the season Friday evenings will be the academy training night here at our home court at Leasowes, when youngsters from the age of ten upwards are welcome to come along to see if they can develop the basketball bug under the expert coaching of Robin, Clive and some of the other senior players. The main club training night is now TUESDAYS from 8pm-10pm with both courts being used. One for the senior side and the other for the West Mids team and all players are expected to turn up in time for a prompt start.
This season we have changed our first team colours to RED thanks to the support we have received from NIKE and the second team will play in the Teal strip. We have developed some merchandise with the club logo which we hope will be sold and seen worn around the Borough to help promote the club and raise much needed finance for although we have a number of sponsors to whom we are eternally gratefull we are still in need of a main sponsor to help develop the dream of national league basketball in Dudley and to get us to the dizzy heights of competing with our Birmingham neighbours. Our grateful appreciation for their continuing support goes to Dave Poole and Johnny Nye from Nike, Royston Hooper from Simon Emmott, Tony Elmes from Butchers Printed Products, Cory Gardiner from Lakeside Transport, Nat Batt from the Maharajah Restaurant, Derek Pointon;Dave willetts of Hawthorn Joinery LTD., and to Jamie Mercer of GolunskiíŽs Leather Goods whose cheque is always the first to arrive.