2022 marks the 75th anniversary of basketballscotland. Yet, the sport of basketball has ties to Scotland that extend back to the origins of the game. In 1891, Dr James Naismith created the game of basketball. His father, John Naismith, was the last in a long line of Scots in the family.
It was 1947 when basketball graced the homeland of the Naismith family. That was the year the Amateur Basketball Association of Scotland (ABAS) (now known as basketballscotland) was founded.
According to Pleasance Basketball Club (https://www.pleasancebasketball.co.uk/club-history), discussions to start a governing body actually began on 1st November 1946. A meeting was held at the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR), and integral to this group, was Jock Kerr Hunter, a Development Officer for the CCPR. Despite numerous obstacles, limited resources and threadbare finances, Jock persisted. Jock found solutions. Jock recruited helpers. And, on 17th January 1947, Jock oversaw the first meeting of the ABAS. With great determination and creativity Jock and the ABAS secured funding from the Scottish Education Department to purchase several basketball nets and distribute them across Scotland.
Domestic competition immediately began. Local leagues took off in the main areas of population and the first annual East v West match was established. The Men’s Scottish Cup was inaugurated in 1947 with the Women’s Scottish Cup reportedly following suit the next year.
Princes Street Gardens often played host to an East of Scotland summer league. The success of this league prompted ABAS to organise the Scottish Cup Final at the Gardens, an event which saw Pleasance BC victorious over Aberdeen University to be crowned the first ever Men’s Scottish Cup Champions.
No time was wasted starting a rivalry with the Auld Enemy. Scotland men’s first official international game was against England, in Glasgow on May 20th, 1947. Although Scotland were on the wrong side of the 42-14 result, a fierce rivalry had begun.
Undeterred by the result of the match with England, ABAS, still in its infancy in 1951, decided to enter a national team into the European Championships in Paris, France. A 16th place finish does not tell the whole story, with the trip proving to be a valuable learning experience. The team featured players from Edinburgh clubs Pleasance BC, PO Nomads and Royal High School, alongside representation from clubs in the west of the country: Maryhill; King’s Park; and, Outram Press.
In November 1955 at the US Air Force base in South Ruislip, London, Scotland recorded their first win over England, 37-36. The game was televised on the BBC. The rematch happened in December 1956 at the Ice Rink in Kirkcaldy, Scotland won again, this time 48-46.
Such memorable results have littered the 75 years of basketballscotland. Victories over England are always special. However there have also been epic Cup Finals, league battles and memorable matches in European competitions. But results don’t even paint half the picture. The history of basketball in Scotland is rich and we look forward to sharing a number of amazing stories, about amazing people, amazing clubs and amazing experiences to bring our 75 year history to light.
Evidence of the fantastic people involved is highlighted in this article with the incredible research from Pleasance Basketball Club, Ken Johnston and Ross Walker. Thank you for adding essential information and colour to this article.