Banchory Stags celebrated their 25th anniversary recently with a gala day of basketball followed by an evening celebration in the Stag Hotel.
Past players came from all over the UK to attend as well as some from further afield: Matt Morrison, Neil Dolton, Russell Tattersall and Brett Dods from Australia, Danny Rocca from Dubai and Sean Austin from Switzerland.
The format for the day was a round-robin tournament involving four teams selected by first-team coach Scott Williams.
Competition was exciting and friendly, with not too much concern about who won on the day.
The club has progressed from humble beginnings in 1993, with current club chairman Mike Reilly being persuaded by Bod McLean and Colin Nicoll to form and coach a team that would enter Grampian Division 3.
This he did and Mike found an able ally in Colin Pavey – and remarkably the fast- improving Stags won the league after a nail-biting play-off, the winning points being scored by Bod McLean.
Throughout the following years the club expanded with new players coming from all over Deeside, many inspired by Aboyne coach Dave Rendall. This success required two further teams, with the Stags playing in Division 1, the Bucks in Division 2 and the Bulls in Division 3.
All three teams enjoyed success in the Grampian competitions, winning all the available trophies at one time or another.
Girls too got the basketball bug and their team, the Ravens, have also enjoyed success at school and Grampian level.
Many of the players began playing at Banchory Academy but they very often leave the area after school, and some have been rewarded for their basketball skills at university and beyond – Marc Gill and Chris Hill both gained scholarships in the USA.
The Stags soon entered national competitions and after winning the Mitie Cup in Edinburgh at Meadowbank Stadium they progressed to the Scottish Cup quarter- final in 2007 and the Chairman’s Cup semi-final on four occasions, winning the nat-ional title in 2008 when they beat Highland Bears in the final, which has been the greatest achievement in the club’s history so far.
Many of these moments were captured in chairman Mike Reilly’s presentation speech at the reunion and this was followed by an outstanding video presentation assembled by Matt Halliwell, who as well as being an excellent and long-time Stags player, is a major inspiration for the club.
Matt works for the National Basketball Association in London and the presentation included video messages of encouragement from many of the NBA’s top stars.
The message from most was… Go Stags!