Leopards celebrate surprise promotion

PUBLISHED: 14:35 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 26 July 2018

The latest news from the local basketball scene (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA)

The latest news from the local basketball scene (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Big Cats back in NBL Division One following Team Northumbria’s withdrawal

Essex Leopards have received the surprise news that they are back in the National Basketball League Division One following one of the latest promotions in British basketball history.

The Big Cats applied for the vacant place in the top flight following the withdrawal of Team Northumbria, and were told the good news on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s a bit surreal, really,” admitted general manager Dave Ryan.

“We normally celebrate winning things by jumping around on the court and spraying champagne, but I had a glass of blackcurrant juice in my kitchen instead!

“It’s fantastic news for the club and now we’re back where we believe we belong, we’re determined to make the most of the chance.

“There’s a lot of work to done over the next few weeks as we’ve got to work around Team Northumbria’s fixture list, but it’s a nice problem to have!

“With fantastic venues at the University of Essex and the Brentwood Centre, together with the support of both the university and BLT, we think we’re in a great position to take advantage of the decision and move the club on to a new level.

“We’d like to thank Basketball England for giving us the chance to prove we belong in Division One.”

Leopards’ head coach Thomas Baker was delighted with the news his side were back in the top flight.

“It is a great feeling to be back in Division One, it was always the aim,” said Baker.

“To be back playing in such a competitive league with great coaches and teams, it’s going to be an exciting season.

“I am confident we can be competitive and demonstrate why we deserve to be there.

“This is just the beginning for the club and it is great to be playing at this level again, looking forward to getting the floor with the guys and starting the season strong.”

The original Leopards closed in the summer of 2003 following nine years in the British Basketball League,

The current club was founded the following year as fans of the Big Cats bought Ware Rebels, who were also on the verge of closure, and created Essex & Herts Leopards.

Their first 13 years were spent in Division One, winning the league title and National Cup twice each as well as picking up both the play-off and National Trophy silverware, before a disastrous injury crisis in the closing stages of the 2016/17 season saw them relegated on a buzzer-beating shot at Lancashire Spinners.

The link-up with University of Essex will see the Big Cats play the majority of their games at the new £12million facility in Colchester, as well as retaining a presence at the Brentwood Centre, including a two-day Essex Classic tournament which sees two teams from USA along with London Lions competing alongside Leopards.

Latest Romford Sports News

Yesterday, 22:15

Raiders skated to victory over their Peterborough rivals in National League Division Two on Saturday.

Hornchurch picked up only a second point in six Bostik Premier outings with a hard fought draw against high-flying Worthing.

Everyone Active Raiders came back from two goals down in the final period before snatching a thrilling overtime win over National League leaders Bracknell at Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre.

Yesterday, 18:06

Stopper became a father for second time just hours before winning man of the match award in win over Fylde

Yesterday, 17:01

Vanarama National League: Dagenham & Redbridge 2 (Wilkinson 28, Munns 64) Fylde 1 (Bond 1)

Fri, 14:00

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane says his side are not a million miles away from breaking their bad run of form in recent weeks.

Fri, 12:00

Boro were without a competitive game last Saturday, instead taking on landlords East Thurrock United in a friendly

Fri, 11:00

East Women’s One South: Upminster 7 Chelmsford seconds 0


From November, The Mercury in Romford begins to celebrate Christmas. The mall has plenty of gift ideas, fun events and activities for everyone

Vauxhall has completed its sport utility vehicle range with the third, and largest, Grandland X. We put the SUV, now available at Tony LeVoi in Romford, to the test.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” so the saying goes. So if some warm weather is making your conservatory uninhabitable, think about replacing its roof with a flat one and adding a roof lantern instead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Romford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read sport

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

News from your area


A Romford photographer impressed the judges of a national creative photography competition with a picture of a stunning sunset.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now