I was delighted when I heard that the Everton Tigers would be joining the BBL. They had recruited a couple of my favourite players, namely Chris Haslam and Calvin Davis.
When, a few weeks into the season, the news broke that they had signed Richard Midgley, I was over the moon.
I can remember seeing ‘the Midge’ as a youngster playing in the junior leagues and being unstoppable, a true scoring machine. Last summer I had the pleasure of seeing him play for Chris Finch and the Great Britain Senior Men’s team.
Imagine my joy when the phone rang and it was the Everton Tigers asking me if I could do some of their games as their regular commentator was not available. I had a great time at the Green Bank Academy.
Some people thought that the Tigers had under achieved, well I beg to differ. This was a brand new team playing at the top of British Basketball, and to make the Play-Offs was a sensational achievement.
As soon as the season ended it was announced that Head Coach Henry Mooney was to be replaced by Great Britain Assist Coach Tony Garbelotto. Henry was to be moved into a Head of Basketball Development role within the organisation.
A few weeks later I got an e-mail from Everton stats diva ‘Donna’ telling me about a surprise party to honour Henry Mooney and asking me if I would come along and if I would bring my camera.
It was yes to both.
So it is that some weeks later I am on the road to Liverpool to pay tribute to a great basketball personality.
Henry Mooney had been playing and coaching Baskeball in the Liverpool area since the late 1960s and he had now taken his team the Toxteth Tigers to the very top of the game. On arrival at the venue I marvelled at the fantastic surroundings of Liverpool’s Contemporary Urban Centre.
As guests began to arrive I had a sense that this was going to be a very special night.
We had been asked to arrive before 8:00pm so we could all be inside the venue when Henry arrived with no idea as to what he was walking into.
So we all gathered round the entrance and welcomed him into his surprise party. As the saying goes, the great and the good were there to pay tribute to a great guy.
From the basketball fraternity there were faces old and new including Tigers’ player David Aliu, former BBL player Leo Rogers, plus his father Jimmy Rogers who had played with Henry in that Liverpool team back in the distant past.
A representative of Liverpool City Council was on hand to thank him from the stage for all that he had done for the sport of Basketball and for the youth in the Toxteth area. In addition to these people were members of Henry’s family and some of his closest friends from across the North West.
There was great entertainment on the stage including Liverpool’s answer to the Jackson 5, the Temptations and the Supremes. There was an awesome Caribbean buffet and to put it mildly, a great time was had by all.
Henry was called on to make a speech from the stage and he had a few people in tears. Then one by one a few of his friends went up on stage to offer their congratulations. One of the hi-lights was the presentation of a signed Everton Football shirt to the man of the moment.
Also in the crowd were a couple of very old friends of mine, two legendary Liverpool DJ’s Les Spaine and James Klass. It really was great to see them after many many years.
This really was one of those nights that will live long in the memory.
Henry Mooney will never be far from British Basketball and the word is that he will be acting as Assistant Coach to Tony Garbelotto when the new BBL season starts in September.
I know that he is already looking forward to it.
21 07 08
THE UNOFFICIAL PHOTO ALBUM
ALL PHOTOS BY MIKE SHAFT
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