Originally featured on The Mancunion
There’s more to sport in Manchester than City and United: with this week’s spotlight on the Manchester Giants Basketball Club
Well… what is it?
After over a decade outside competing in the professional basketball circuit, allowing other teams such as Manchester Magic the opportunity to represent the city in the sport, Manchester Giants Basketball Club returned for the 2012/13 season, and in doing so, helped to resurrect one of the sleeping giants in British Basketball. Playing their home games at what is now the Manchester Arena, attracting crowds of up to 15,000 each game, Manchester Giants was the biggest club in UK basketball in the late 1990s. Alas, financial difficulties sounded the final call for the club 14 years ago, but thanks to the continued popularity of the sport within Manchester, with an abundance of enthusiastic fans and players calling for the Giants’ return throughout the city, Manchester Giants have jumped through several hoops, and have a point to prove this 2015/16 season.
How do I get there?
If I had been writing this article 12 years ago, you would have been directed to what was then the Manchester Evening News Arena in the heart of the city. And had I been writing this article two years ago, you would be en route to Wright Robinson’s Sport College on the outskirts of the city. However, as I am bringing you Manchester Giants in their current campaign, the Giants play all of their home matches at Trafford Powerleague Arena, situated just off the M60. Hosting up to 1100 fans at full capacity, the arena is a throwback to the team’s days at the Manchester Arena, offering a well-appointed, high-quality playing area for the team and spectators alike. But still, how do you get there? Well, thankfully, the Trafford Powerleague Arena is situated adjacent to the Trafford Centre, so if in doubt, I would aim and follow directions to the famous shopping centre. From Manchester Piccadilly, if you are unfamiliar with the bus station, it is based next to Primark, tucked away behind Piccadilly Gardens, and from there you will need to catch either the X50 or 250 bus, both of which are operated by Stagecoach, meaning you can use your UniRider if you own one! Alternatively, from Manchester Victoria Train Station, the 100 or 110 bus can be caught from the station entrance. Also, since it’s an international break in the domestic football season this weekend, not only do you have no excuse not to go, but you also don’t need to allow for any extra time on your travels, because both Manchester City and the nearby Manchester United are not back in action until next week. Slam dunk!
But how much does it cost to get in?
Tickets can be purchased online via the official Manchester Giants website http://manchestergiants.com/ under the Fixtures and Tickets section to the site. Although general adult admission is £12 if purchased in advance, a concession ticket shouldn’t make too much of a dent in your pocket with entry costing only £9.
What are the facilities like?
Trafford Powerleague Arena offers a multi-purpose playing surface and can accommodate a total of 1100 spectators. The venue itself on a wider scale has undergone a significant amount of redevelopment and, following financial investment, the centre boasts a fully refurbished bar and eating area inside the venue, as well as playing host to an abundance of state-of-the-art facilities, which make the centre one of the largest and most prestigious 5-a-side football centres in the world. Manchester Giants Basketball Club use the multi-sports playing surface inside the venue, and away from the action on the court, fans can also purchase both refreshments and official club merchandise.
Tell me something I didn’t already know
Well, Manchester Giants were the first northern team to challenge the southern dominance of the early National League years, becoming league runners up in 1976-7 and were formed initially during the mid-1970s. Early competition included a team planned by Manchester United as The Red Devils. They dipped their toes into the basketball scene in the mid-80s, buying out the Warrington Vikings team. During the mid-80s Manchester Giants lived on, albeit under the guise of Stockport Giants, and it wasn’t until the early 90s that a sub-franchise Manchester Eagles and Stockport Giants combined to restore Manchester Giants before they were bought by the American medical devices company ‘Cook Group Inc’, which saw the club go from strength to strength. In terms of club legends, you simply can’t ignore a man who goes by the name of Jeff Jones; player and coach of the club in their first incarnation in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and he even returned after their rebirth before the 2012-13 campaign. He has now, however, gone on to work with Manchester’s National Basketball Centre, which opens later this year. The Giants are managed by Yorick Williams.
Finally, when can I see this in action?
Manchester Giants face Newcastle Eagles in their fourth home league game of the season at 6PM on Sunday 15th November. After a poor start to the season, an 82-90 away victory over the London Lions could be the turn in form they have desperately craved, so please head to Trafford and show your support for the city’s sole representatives in the British Basketball League. For further information on anything to do with Manchester Giants, head to: http://www.manchestergiants.com/
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