Crystal Palace (basketball)
Crystal Palace was a basketball team competing in the National Basketball League (NBL) and then the British Basketball League (BBL), until they merged with the London Towers in 1998. They played in the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and were the most successful team in Britain throughout the seventies and early eighties.
In 1966 the Old Suttonians basketball club was founded by several ex pupils of Sutton Grammar School including David Last and Terry Doherty who both performed the role of director of the club in future years. In 1972 the club entered the new National League as Sutton basketball club and finished third of six teams. the following season they relocated to Crystal Palace and became the Sutton & Crystal Palace club. Success arrived quickly with a league and cup double the very next season.
In 1975 the club dropped the Sutton prefix and gained sponsorship from Cinzano which helped propel them into being the best club in Britain. The team would go on to complete three consecutive doubles of National League and National Cup. The team became regarded as the pioneers of UK basketball and their early players included Jim Guymon, Martin Hall, Mark Saiers, Pete Jeremich and Paul Philp. An incredible treble ensued in the 79-80 season and other players to represent the club included players such as Dan Lloyd, Bob Roma, Paul Stimpson, Mick Bett and Alton Byrd, the latter considered the man who revolutionised basketball in Britain. Further success followed and it was not until the advent of Channel 4 TV coverage and big spending football club takeovers that Palace lost their mantle as top club.
In September 1986 Crystal Palace and Brunel Uxbridge & Camden Ducks joined forces with fixtures being split between the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and Brunel University. Immediate glory returned to the club when after finishing fourth in the league they went on to win the 1987 play Off's but after just one season the club ran into financial difficulty and were forced to sell many players and change their name back to just Crystal Palace.
Following the completion of the 1988 season the club dropped out of the Carlsberg League into the National League before failing to compete for the first time in the 1990/91 season. A return to action came the following season when Crystal Palace lined up in the third division of the revamped Carlsberg League finishing runners up to another former basketball giant the Solent Stars.
The 1993–1994 season saw Budweiser sponsor tier 1 of the league which as a consequence meant the National League was restructured moving Palace into division one where they finished Runner-up to Coventry Crusaders. The following season Alton Byrd returned to the club as player/general manager kick starting a successful season as they won Division One. The league win was repeated the following year because Palace had remained in the National League after their application to join the Budweiser League (tier 1) was rejected.
In 1996 a return to the top tier in for the first time since 1988 ensued. After two mediocre seasons the club merged with London Towers and the name Crystal Palace (the most successful UK basketball club in history at the time) ceased to exist.
|Sutton & Crystal Palace|
|1984–1985||Carlsberg League 1||10th place||26||10||16||20||DNQ||N/A||Quarter-finals|
|1985–1986||Carlsberg League 1||5th place||28||17||11||33||Third Place||N/A||First round|
|Brunel & Crystal Palace London|
|1986–1987||Carlsberg League 1||4th place||24||17||7||35||Winners||N/A||Quarter-finals|
|1987–1988||Carlsberg League 1||15th place||28||2||26||4||DNQ||Group stage||Second round|
|1988–1989||Carlsberg League 1||11th place||20||2||18||4||DNQ||Group stage||Quarter-finals|
|1989–1990||National League 1||3rd place||Third place||N/A||Second round|
|1991–1992||National League 3||2nd place||22||18||4||36|
|1992–1993||National League 2||3rd place||22||16||6||32|
|1993–1994||National League 1||Runner-up||18||12||6||24|
|1994–1995||National League 1||Winners||22||21||1||42|
|1995–1996||National League 1||Winners||22||22||0||44|
|1996–1997||Budweiser League||12th place||36||5||31||10|
|1997–1998||Budweiser League||11th place||36||8||28||16|
Notable former players
- Alton Byrd
- Mark Saiers
- Paul Stimpson
- Dan Lloyd
- Pete Jeremich
- Mick Bett
- Jim Guymon
- Bob Roma
- Paul Philp
- Richard Scantlebury
- Matthews & Morrison, Peter & Ian (1987). The Guinness Encyclopaedia of Sports Records & Results. Guinness Superlatives Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-492-5.
- "Nicholas Harling. "Good win in new home." Times [London, England] 7 Oct. 1986: 46". The Times Digital Archive.
- "Men's Senior League Winners". Basketball England.
- "Where are they now?". sfgate.com.
- ""Clubs join forces." Times [London, England] 4 Sept. 1986". The Times Digital Archive.
- "Julian Desborough. "Players sold as Palace battle for survival." Times [London, England] 9 Sept. 1987". The Times Digital Archive.
- ""Byrd moves to Palace." Times [London, England] 11 Aug. 1994". The Times Digital Archive.