Back in the Day: Damn the Taswegians and Save the Franklin!

Back in the Day: Damn the Taswegians and Save the Franklin!

This week, the BA time machine touches down in April of 1982 and, what? Easter break and the NBL had the week off... no games? Okay then, we’ll take a short hop to April of 1983 then...

- The battle to prevent the building of a dam on Tasmania’s Franklin River reaches its endgame with the newly-elected Hawke government filing a writ in the High Court seeking a permanent injunction on further construction. Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen joins his Tasmanian colleague Robin Gray in blasting the Government’s action, with Sir Joh loudly predicting “the end of federalism.” The High Court’s decision is not expected until June at the earliest.

- As preparations ramp up for the National Economic Summit the new Prime Minister spreads his mantra of “Reconciliation, Recovery and Reconstruction” across the seas. He sends Foreign Minister Bill Hayden to Jakarta to confirm plans for a Prime Ministerial visit to Indonesia in June with the suppurating sore of East Timor nowhere near the top of the agenda. Hawke also announces that Australia will launch an initiative to settle the disputes between China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

- Newspapers, magazines and high society are all aflutter as the Prince and Princess of Wales continue their tour of Australia. This week there were stops in Adelaide and Perth, where the Prince presents cricket legend Rod Marsh with his OBE for services to the game.

- The U.S. space program reaches a major milestone with the launching into the heavens of its second space shuttle, Challenger. The five-day mission includes the first American spacewalk since the days of the Spacelab program in 1974. Despite some issues with the communications satellite that was the major payload for the mission, the four man crew returns safely home to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

- U.S. Interior Secretary James Watt brings public ridicule upon himself by banning The Beach Boys from Independence Day celebrations in Washington D.C. for not being wholesome enough.  After two days of chortling and head-scratching by the Washington press corps, President Ronald Reagan calls Watt into the Oval Office and graciously orders him to rescind the ban.

- In the world of business, the big tale is the continuing conflict over control of the venerable Grace Bros chain. Some of Australia’s leading companies such as Myer, Bond Corporation, Adelaide Steamship, FAI Insurances, Woolworths and Westfield Group sit vulture-like above the carcass.

- The attention of the world of track and field is centred on Rotterdam in Holland for the long-awaited clash between the world’s two best male marathoners: American Alberto Salazar and Australia’s Robert de Castella. Most observers believe that the world record could be broken, but this does not turn out to be the case. With 12km to go, de Castella breaks Salazar and then stages a thrilling finish with Portugal’s Carlos Lopes. In the end, de Castella wins in a time of 2.08.37, the fourth-fastest time in history.

- Jenny Pitman becomes the first woman to train the winner of the English Grand National Steeplechase as her horse Corbiere salutes by ¾ of a length from Greasepaint. Only 10 of the 43 starters complete the race, opening again the issue of whether the race should be banned on the grounds of animal cruelty.

- Notable deaths during the week included U.S. Congressman Phillip Burton (at the age of 56), Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio (at the age of 77) and leading moderate within the PLO Dr. Issam Sartawi (murdered at an international socialist conference in Portugal at the age of 47).
-‘Billie Jean”, “Let’s Dance” and “Up Where We Belong” sit atop the music charts.

In the world of basketball:

*The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ted Stepien, announces that he has reached an agreement to sell the team to the Gund brothers for US$20 million. This news is greeted with delight by both the NBA family and the few remaining Cavaliers fans not driven away by Stepien’s incompetence. The “Stepien Rule”, where NBA teams are prohibited from trading first-round draft picks in consecutive years, is named in his dishonour.

*Larry Brown leaves his post as coach of the New Jersey Nets to take up the position of head coach at the University of Kansas. In a tearful press conference, Brown cites the influence of his mentor Dean Smith as a major reason for the move. Smith himself learnt his trade at the feet of legendary Kansas coach Forrest ‘Phog’ Allen. At the time the Nets are in third place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 47-29.

*Mark Dalton becomes the third member of his family to represent Australia when he is selected in a 12-man squad for the Junior Men World Championships to be held in Spain in August. The other members of the team were Tim Morrissey, Brett Flanigan, Michael Johnson, Sandy Caldwell, Andrew Gaze, Peter Wain, Simon Cottrell, Ned Coton, Eric Watterson, Karl Luke and Mark Sinderberry.

Friday 8 April, 1983

WNBL Game One: A.I.S @St. Kilda Pumas
Final score: Pumas 64 - A.I.S 52

WNBL Game Two: Sutherland Sharks @North Adelaide Rockets
Final score: Rockets 73-Sharks 67

NBL Game One: Nunawading Spectres @Adelaide 36ers
Final score: 36ers 95-Spectres 93

The 36ers were given next to no chance of winning this contest, having been thrashed by a margin of 43 points in their previous meeting with the Spectres three weeks earlier. In what turned out to be a thriller, Malcolm Penno hit a three metre jump shot with 35 seconds left to give Adelaide the lead, then drew a crucial offensive foul off Ron Lemons with 11 seconds to go that sealed the game for the home side. Dean Winslow led all scorers with 34 points for the 36ers while Dean Uthoff was the best for the Spectres with 25 points and 17 rebounds.

Saturday 9 April, 1983

WNBL Game Three: A.I.S @Coburg Cougars
Final score: Cougars 51-A.I.S 50

WNBL Game Four: Noarlunga Tigers vs North Adelaide Rockets
Final score: Tigers 71-Rockets 70

WNBL Game Five: Sutherland Sharks @West Adelaide Bearcats
Final score: Bearcats 69-Sharks 65

NBL Game Two: Hobart Tassie Devils @Canberra Cannons
Final score: Cannons 97-Devils 71

This match went exactly as predicted with the Cannons easing away from their opponents after an even first ten minutes. “There was no stopping” Canberra centre Wade Kirchmeyer who finished the game with 32 points including 21 in the first half. It was “a night of atonement” for the Cannons and their fans having been blasted out of the National Indoor Arena by the Supersonics in their previous home game. Their next home game would be a more difficult task - Geelong.

Milestone Alert: Les Hurst plays his 100th NBL game. In response, a local camera retailer gives away 100 prints of the Canberra team photograph.

NBL Game Three:
Devonport Warriors @Illawarra Hawks
Final score: Hawks 102-Warriors 100

It was a wonderful weekend for the Illawarra region as both the Steelers and the Hawks won their first games of the season in their respective competitions. It was hard going at Beaton Park: the Hawks almost let a 15 point lead slip away. Mark Leader’s missed shot with one second to play was the only thing that saved Illawarra from what would have been an embarrassing defeat. Former league MVP Michael Jones continued to mine his rich vein of form, finishing with a game-high 33 points.

NBL Game Four:
Nunawading Spectres @Geelong Cats
Final score: Cats 84-Spectres 68

Having had their application for the sale of 1000 extra seats denied by Victorian health and safety officials, over 2000 fanatics packed the Corio Sports Centre to see their Cats comfortably account for the Spectres who had now lost three games in a row. James Crawford led the way for the hosts with 23 points in a game which finished in some acrimony:

Nunawading’s Damien Keogh and Peter Stacker became involved in a scuffle with some fans who got a little too close to the action while Dean Uthoff and the Cats’ Craig Herbert also exchanged compliments on the natural beauty of their mothers.

NBL Game Five:
Perth Wildcats @Coburg Giants
Final score: Giants 115-Wildcats 98

A “near-capacity home crowd” turned up to see the Giants solidify their position in the Eastern Division with a comfortable victory over the lowly Wildcats. After a slow start, Coburg soon got into gear and “left the Wildcats defence in tatters.” Bennie Lewis scored 20 in the first half on his way to a game-high 31 and was ably supported by Matt Waldron who poured in 26.  

NBL Game Six:
St Kilda Pumas @Newcastle Falcons
Final score: Falcons 113-Pumas 95

The 1800 or so Falcons maniacs who packed Broadmeadow Stadium would have headed for home floating on air after their team delivered a crushing defeat to their long-time rivals. George Morrow was the stand-out for Newcastle, piling on 24 points and 23 rebounds, 16 of them in the first half alone. Ian Davies also produced a notable defensive effort, holding the dangerous Reg Biddings to only four points on 2/12 from the field.
Sunday 10 April, 1983.

WNBL Game Six:
A.I.S @Nunawading Spectres
Final score: Spectres 81-A.I.S 54

WNBL Game Seven: Sutherland Sharks @Noarlunga Tigers
Final score: Tigers 78-Sharks 60

NBL Game Seven: Hobart Tassie Devils @Bankstown Bruins
Final score: Bruins 86-Devils 73

With six minutes remaining an upset was in the works with Hobart slightly ahead. Bankstown import Cliff Martin then took charge of the contest. Within three minutes the Bruins were leading by eight points and easing up on their way to victory. Martin scored 25 points for the home team while Eric Bailey led all scorers with 28 points for the Devils.

NBL Game Eight:
Devonport Warriors @Brisbane Bullets
Final score: Bullets 104-Warriors 75

Despite 33 points from Mark Leader, Devonport are unable to crack it for their first win in the NBL. This was no real surprise as the team had been brought together in only 12 days following the financial collapse of former NBL champion Launceston Casino City.

NBL Game Nine:
Perth Wildcats @West Adelaide Bearcats
Final score: Bearcats 115-Wildcats 94

Al Green had a pretty decent week. Firstly, on Easter Monday he produced a time of 12.2 seconds off a seven metre handicap in a heat of the Stawell Gift (the second-fastest time of the day). Unfortunately Green competed in the same heat as the eventual winner Dallas O’Brien and did not progress.
He then ripped off 36 points while shooting 64 per cent from the field as the Bearcats romped away with the victory. His import partner Leroy Loggins (how’s that for an import tandem?) did just well scoring 34 points at a 68 per cent shooting clip while grabbing nine rebounds. West Adelaide shot 58 per cent as a team as Ken Cole’s ‘run, stun and have a lot of fun’ offense purred contentedly into second place in the Eastern Division

NBL Game Ten:
St Kilda Pumas @Sydney Supersonics
Final score: Supersonics 93-Pumas 82

This match ended in a sensational manner: with 40 seconds remaining Sydney captain-coach Owen Wells made a steal and set off down the floor. As he went for the basket, St Kilda guard Brendan Joyce grabbed Wells from behind and took him to the floor. A furious Wells then got up and threw the ball at Joyce’s head (it is unknown whether Wells’ aim was true). This act caused both benches to empty and a nasty brawl erupted with players taking out their frustrations on what had been an ill-tempered affair. It was unfortunate that this incident spoiled what was a great night for the Supersonics: their first-ever win over the Pumas in NBL play and their seventh win in a row. Steve Breheny had a particularly bad afternoon for St Kilda, shooting a woeful 3/17.

NBL Ladders
Eastern Division
Top Four:                                                                              Bottom Four:
Sydney                                    9 and 2                                 Brisbane                                  5 and 6
West Adelaide                       8 and 3                                 Frankston                               3 and 6
Coburg                                    7 and 2                                 Illawarra                                 1 and 8
Newcastle                              6 and 3                                 Devonport                              0 and 11
Western Division

Top Four:                                                                              Bottom Four:
Geelong                                  8 and 1                                 Adelaide                                 6 and 5
Canberra                                7 and 4                                  Bankstown                            5 and 4
Nunawading                          6 and 3                                  Perth                                      2 and 7
St Kilda                                  6 and 5                                  Hobart                                   1 and 10
Frankston had the bye.

Next week, Back in the Day has a special treat for our Adelaide and Wollongong readers. Do you remember where you were when Damon Lowery brought a new meaning to the term ‘shooter’s roll’? The 2001 NBL semi-finals, next week in Back in the Day.

This is another in a regular series of articles that will take note of the historic events of the modern era of Australian basketball (1979-today). If you have memories to share, or topics that should be discussed, send an email to and put in the subject line ‘Back in the Day.’