READ your article (My Shout: On court in the middle of winter, MRT May 8) on men's basketball in Taree in the 1970s with interest. I am inclined to think those must have been the good times.
I was 15 when I started playing in the adult competition 1956-1957 and was still in third year (year nine) at Taree High School.
Having had two PE periods of instruction at school I was the most experienced player in our team... the rest of the 13 man team were five or more years older than me and were all electricians, except for one dairy farmer.
Taree High PE teacher Les Lawrie used the girl's netball hoops in Taree Park to teach us students the basics and St Marks church hall in Chatham to give our team one afternoon instruction.
The team started playing in either the second or third season (winter and summer comps) and started out as "St Marks" but eventually became the "Saints".
The rapid development of the game mainly due to the excellent venue of the army barracks in Muldoon Street had resulted in two grades and we commenced in B-grade losing every match our first season. The second season we won some and lost some.
The third season we won B-grade and were promoted to A-grade, where we won and lost for a couple of seasons before winning A-grade consistently up until November 1963, when I was transferred out west. A women's comp had also commenced and saw the barracks being used three nights a week.
It wasn't too bad but absolutely hopeless in the wet as wherever a pool of water lay the ball would stop deadBruce Barlin
At one stage we were kicked out of the barracks and the game went into decline. We played a few games on Peters Creameries tennis court then we were able to secure a little used tennis court between High St and Little Wynter St which the Basketball association tarred the surface, erected toilets, showers and a small grandstand.
Our electricians fixed the lights.
It wasn't too bad but absolutely hopeless in the wet as wherever a pool of water lay the ball would stop dead. By this time there was only sufficient teams for one grade with Saints having an A and B teams. Saints "A" lost a grand final to Saints "B" because of a wet night.
They simply could not bounce the ball and were unable to catch the "B" team, whom had a handicap of 50 points start.
Eventually the army allowed us back into the barracks (they needed the money to stage the "Laying Up of the Colours" in St Johns Church).
From when I was 17 until 22 I was in Taree's representative team which initially consisted mostly of the top A-grade team (Airforce) plus my cousin Fred Monck and myself, who were invited to play with them in a round robin at Maclean and later mainly "Saints" players with a few additions.
We played numerous teams from Newcastle and Maitland to Queensland border.
We only lost one game, a home game and was against a touring professional American team who slaughtered us. I don't remember the fulltime score but at half time I had four points out of our total of five points and they were 105.