Suns History – Pre NBL
State Basketball League
1986 Townsville Suns def. Ipswich Eagles to become the State League Champions!
First EVER Townsville Suns Roster:
Mark Bragg – Captain Coach
Tim O’Melia – Assistant Coach
Kevin Sugars – Manager
Phil ‘The Cat’ Nolan’
Geordie ‘240’ Clemens
Barry ‘The Wall’ Horner
Mascot: Sunny The Clown – Sean O’Neill
Phil Nolan had his number #12 jersey retired by Townsville Basketball to be never worn again. The framed jersey is still hanging on the wall at Townsville Basketball. It has once been stolen and thankfully recovered.
Geordie Clemens was nicknamed ‘240’ as that was his weight at the time; 240 pounds. Geordie was a phenominal freethrow shooter; in that first season he missed just one freethrow all season, which happened to be in the final.
The Final against the Ipswich Eagles had the Pimlico Brass Band in attendance to entertain the packed crowd.
‘Sunny The Clown’ handed out streamers and toilet paper to the crowd before the game started… after the Suns scored their first point of the game, the fans were so excited they threw them on the floor, holding up the game for 15 minutes.
There are a few people still working with the Crocs now that were involved in that game… Kevin Sugars, Percy Anderson, Mark McGregor, to name just a few.
Basketball was so new to Courtside Announcer, Mark McGregor, that after one game was even at full time, he thanked the crowd for turning up to witness the tied game and wished them a safe journey home. Mark had grown up watching VFL and was not aware of overtime.
1987 Gold Coast Cougars def. Townsville
1988 Gold Coast Cougars def. Townsville Suns
|The Townsville Suns in 1988. In the photograph on the right is Mark Bragg.|
1989 Townsville Suns def. Toowoomba
1989 Championship Roster:
Coach: Mark Bragg
Assistants: Tim O’Melia & Bob Walkley
Manager: Kevin Sugars
4 Peter Pollock
5 Peter Hering
6 Scott Sugars
7 Scott Croll
8 Barry Horner
9 Steven Boyd
10 Graham Kubank
11 Mark Cumberbatch
13 Paul Zadow
14 Adam Simmons
15 Tony Wilson
55 Kerry Conn
1990 Toowoomba Mountaineers def. Townsville Suns
1992 Southern Districts def. Townsville Heat
Former Brisbane Bullets guard Mark Bragg, a Townsville resident, began campaigning to bring an NBL franchise to Townsville in the late 1980s. The franchise adopted the name of Townsville’s State League team, becoming the Townsville Suns. The NBL was ready to admit the Suns, along with fellow Queenslanders the Gold Coast Cougars, in 1990, but financial backing for the Suns’ venue fell through.
Local government then got behind Bragg’s bid, and the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre was completed in time for the Suns’ debut in February 1993.
Townsville broke the mould in 1993, becoming the first Australian team to hire an ‘import’ player from a country other than the United States of America; Lithuanian player Rimas Kurtinaitis was a crucial part of the team during their debut season.
From the outset, Townsville fans stuck by the team, ensuring the club set an Australian record for attendances; the Suns sold out their first 69 games at the “Furnace” (capacity 4,141), a streak that was only broken after the venue was expanded for the 1998 season (new capacity of 5,257).