What was the idea behind starting the Buccs? Who were the People responsible for starting the club?
In the 1980’s, the State Basketball League (SBL) was just a group of teams competing in Perth. In an effort to expand the league, Basketball Western Australia (BWA) President, Bob Williams, began approaching various business people in the country areas of Western Australia to gauge their interest in a statewide Basketball competition. Among the businessmen Williams approached were Brian Middleton and Graham Greenaway, residents of Geraldton. It was suggested by a friend that Middleton and Greenaway contact Kevin Jones, who at the time was Administrator of the local basketball association; Geraldton Amateur Basketball Association (GABA). All of these individuals were excited about the possibility of starting a professional basketball team in Geraldton.
Once they decided to pursue the idea of having an SBL team in Geraldton, Kevin took on the project himself, determined to make it a reality. Kevin had the two men he needed for support: Brian Middleton and Graham Greenaway. These men and their wives provided funding for the license to be a part of the SBL and became the team’s private owners. They served as the licensees until the GABA eventually bought the rights to the team. During this time, a local competition had been put into the newspaper for a name for the new SBL team. After some deliberation, management decided on the Batavia Coast Buccaneers as the first name of the team.
Williams got his wish; the SBL would expand to a statewide competition. Albany became the first team to join the SBL, followed by Geraldton, Bunbury and then Kalgoorlie and Mandurah.
Who was the first coach? First import players?
After establishing that there would be an SBL team in Geraldton, the next step in the process of starting a team was to recruit a coach and some players. The initial coaching staff included Head Coach, Tom McLain, a former player for the Perth Wildcats, and his two assistants, Kevin Jones and Jim O’Dea. Jim’s wife, Pam, became the first statistician for the team. Kevin and Tom then recruited Americans Dan Hunt and Brian Funingsland to be the first import players for the Buccs. Recruitment also brought in Ray Chamberlain, a player from Perth. The rest of the team was made up of local residents of Geraldton.
When was the club’s first year in SBL competition?
With the names mentioned above, the Buccs entered into their first year of SBL competition in 1989. That year brought lots of excitement to the Geraldton community. The team competed in the current “Tip Top Stadium,” but without the main grandstand. A group of dedicated and faithful people stacked up wooden pallets on top of each other for seating for the games. This makeshift Grandstand grew week by week until it was replaced by the current Grandstand. It was in 1989, in this first year of competition in the SBL, that the Batavia Coast Buccaneers finished as minor Premiers and were runner up to the Redbacks in the Grand Final.
How did the community first respond to the team?
Although it would have been an easy and exciting team to follow the first year, the community support for the Buccs was outstanding. Packing the Stadium on game nights was the norm. Fans lined up outside the stadium from 5 pm onward for an 8 PM game start. The community loved to watch its team play. It’s been said that in the 1989 season, in the game against the Wanneroo Wolves, the Stadium was so packed that people were literally “hanging from the rafters”.
The club couldn’t have survived over these last 21 years without its faithful supporters and people who worked behind the scenes to make the Buccs what they have been. It would be proper at this point, to recognize Bernard Brown, a life member of the club, who made much possible with his work behind the scenes. Phil Clayton, who at the time was the sports editor of the Geraldton Guardian, also deserves recognition for his dedication to giving the Buccs a very fair coverage in the newspaper.
Has the club been successful?
In the 21 year history of the club, the Buccs have only been left out of the finals (top 8 team playoff) once; in 1998. The Buccs have made it to several grand finals and won the premiership in 2000 under Coach Kevin Jones.