Brixton Topcats 107, Plymouth 71
I’ve been away from basketball for far too long. Following the demise of the London Towers from a national BBL team to become a pub outfit, my attention switched to the more local level of the Brixton Topcats. Sunday night tip offs at the Rec became part of the routine, soon to be replaced by work commitments filling up the Sunday schedule.
Time to change that. For a blog that started off as a hat tip to South London sport (yep, it really did,) I’m well aware that watching cricket is probably the only return you’ll get from typing ‘sport‘ into the search box – and even then, it’s more like a beer festival tarted up with cricket as the sideshow.
And so early Sunday evening and the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger and I were Brixton Rec bound. Blimey. The old building has lost none of its character. This was once my South London spiritual home. Ten years of playing football, korfball and circuit training took place each week at the Rec.
A £2m refurbishment (yeah, right) and the soul was all but sucked out of this once proud community facility. My Rec days were done with. But I’ll make an exception to return to watch the Topcats.
Brixton’s basketball team has undertaken something of a transformation itself during our sabbatical. A link up with the nearby South Bank University at The Elephant has seen the coming together of the two clubs.
The students of SE1 get expert ball coaching from the legendary Jimmy Rogers, and in return, the Topcats get a steady feeder system of new players. It’s this commitment to developing local sporting talent that makes Brixton basketball all the more appealing, compared with the hoop egos clashing on and off the court, at the British Basketball League.
Three pounds on the door, a personal friendly greeting from Jimmy Rogers and a choice of courtside seats were ours for the taking. The crowd was made up mainly of family and friends, giving a partisan feel to the occasion.
Plymouth were the visitors for this EBL Division 2 tip off. They’re probably called Plymouth Patriots, or some other Americanised name. I’m not sure, and so I’ll simply stick with Plymouth.
The Topcats looked a mean outfit straight from the tip off. The combination of students and experience worked well as a team. The home point guard was controlling play, and Topcats stretched away with a 20 point lead after the first two quarters.
A rousing team talk from the Plymouth coach at the break (“I can’t f***ing swear because there’s f***ing kids around, but you lot were f***ing s***e,’) seemed to do the job. The visitors even edged ahead by a single point, only to collapse in the fourth quarter, with Topcats taking the game 107 – 71.
And so basketball is thriving down in Brixton. The club has a development scheme in operation, a dedicated coach and a healthy local fan base. All that is missing is a website. Information and fixtures are notoriously difficult to come across. pawprint75 is probably your best bet.