Sometimes the timing of a blog can be all important. As I made my way home from last Friday’s wonderful night’s entertainment I had already formulated in this little brain of mine my feelings ready to outpour them for your consideration. I awoke on Saturday feeling pretty much the same and the, life too over and other priorities kicked in and somehow and someway I didn’t commit my words to the keyboard and subsequently the website. Probably in relief to many!
I came to work Monday with a clear plan in my head for my blog and committed, in my mind, to express my musings in full once I got home from the place that gets in the way of me having a life, and then I heard about Kevin Cadle and my whole thought process was scattered to the four winds and not just by Ophelia too!
The sheer enormity and devastation I felt when I heard about Coach Cadle’s death took me by surprise and shook me to the core. I didn’t know the man although I had met him on more than one occasion and in truth our lives did not intertwine though there’s no doubting we had many similar interests. No, I guess it was being a mere five years of age behind someone that I knew and in some respects had grown up alongside but so far apart, who seemed such a vibrant and important part of the basketball community was what did it and changed the opening to this blog.
It seemed to make my thoughts on Friday night totally irrelevant and almost churlish although, spoiler alert, I will still extend those feelings about Friday night later.
Coach Cadle’s record as a coach in Basketball and as superb presenter of American sports has been well documented across Social Media in the last couple of days. It is a body of work he and his family, to whom our thoughts and wishes go, should be and no doubt are rightly proud of. Like I said earlier I had the good fortune to meet Kevin on a few occasions, usually in London and usually at a basketball game and what struck me about him was there were no airs and graces. He had time for everyone. A word hear, a handshake there and a photograph granted.
He knew what he was talking about too and delivered it in a respectful but no-nonsense honest way and he would listen to your views too. It is a tragedy, sometimes a much over used word but not in this case, that he has been taken from us so young. He may have been American but his heart was in Britain and I for one think his passing leaves a hole in the heart of the basketball community. R.I.P. Coach and thanks for your input.
So, what about Friday night then? I’m sure someone somewhere will dissect the game and tell me it was far from a classic and there was much room for improvement on both sides. That may well be true but for me, that was the best game of BBL basketball I have commentated on.
Two sides that are heavyweights this season make no mistake about that slugging it out toe to toe in one of the noisiest and best Northumbria University Sport Central atmosphere’s I can ever recall. I told many afterwards that my throat was sore as I had to shout as I commentated so I could hear what I was saying. When Darius one-handed tomahawk dunked immediately following Zarko’s steal and two-handed swinging slam, I thought the roof was going to come off. It was a moment in time that will stay with me for a long time and watching him strut down the court afterwards was so good to see.
London were super for three quarters which means we must have been pretty good too. When Jay broke Brandon Peel’s ankles on a step-back triple I thought we’d nailed The Lions. We went in to the locker rooms six-up which was a heck of an effort as Dave and I thought London had been the better team. They certainly were in the third where Justin Robinson pretty much ran the game the way the visitor’s wanted despite Darius’s best efforts and with an eleven-point lead to take in to the final stanza not many would have put big money on an Eagles comeback?
What we saw should a side of this team/roster that we needed to know we had. Fab, Dave and Ian found a line-up that worked, the D was cranked up, Darius was unstoppable and the crowd simply blew us over the line. It was thrilling stuff and showed that this team might just have the heart, grit, determination and character to go with their undoubted talent. They dug deep, responded to the challenge and came through in a white-hot atmosphere that showed that The BBL is alive and well.
Sky Sports Pete Graves was there to witness it, I hope he took back to his bosses and Sky Sports HQ what a thrilling advert for sport and our sport it was. He certainly was enthused about it afterwards. Everywhere you looked faces looked thrilled and excited and it was spine-tingling to see. We, and I’m so lucky and privileged to be in the we, have an expression that goes along the lines of what happens/is said in the changing room stays in the changing room and ever so it will remain that way.
But, take it from me it was a pretty excited place and whilst one win does not a season make, it showed in the confines of our private sanctuary that Friday night felt like a big moment. So much talk too of the atmosphere and the fans too and the enjoyment of the W was there for all to see. Whether it means anything in the bigger picture as the season unfolds well not know till much, much later but it certainly made my after-match pint with Mr Black that much sweeter to the taste.
And now, I’m back to the drive home and a thought that washed over me. I took in the occasion on Friday, savoured the moment and enjoyed the win and as I did one man’s name popped in to my mind, Mr Paul Blake. Our esteemed Managing Director and his super supportive wife Sam have a vision for this Club and with the help of one or two others have committed to making that vision a reality. The going in recent months has been difficult, arduous and fraught.
I know at times they have questioned the situation and themselves and wondered whether it’s all worthwhile. All I can say is thank you to them for their vision and drive and I hope, like me, they enjoyed Friday night and realise that whatever the trials and tribulations, Newcastle Eagles is not just worth it, it’s priceless.