Team Solripe reunited after 30 years

The reunion proved to be a great success
The reunion proved to be a great success

It was a local phenomenon that arrived as quickly as it left and, following that lead, the reunion that brought Team Solripe together was just as hurriedly put together.

Just as the team that went out as the best basketball team in Scotland after wresting the mantle from the dominant Murray International Metals side, the re-union 30 years later, just fell into place - and a was a roaring success.

Solripe legends Jim Morrison, Kevin Cadle, Juan Halcomb and central showman Bobby Kinzer were all in the town last week meeting up with former team-mates and fans, looking back on the glory days that started some modest basketball careers, world record-breaking coaching pursuits as well as two very successful TV personalities - all while a basketball phenomenon developed in Falkirk

The reunion was the brainchild of former Falkirk Herald sports editor Paul New who learned Bobby Kinzer would be in Scotland for one night only this summer and used Facebook to hastily arrange the evening.

“We never thought this would happen, and it just fell into place,” New told The Falkirk Herald.

“It just shows the power of Facebook when used the right way . Some people couldn’t make it but they got back in touch after 25-30 since playing together.”

It brought a chance for New, and Solripe marketing man turned football agent Raymond Sparkes, to show the good old days with videos and photos form Coasters Arena.

“Raymond has the first season pictures,” New explained. “I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t all those games but then we realised it’s because we kept getting beaten by Murray International Metals (MIM), but the stuff I’ve got is from the first Scottish Cup win in the second season and when we won the play-off final. It was a real shock and was the first defeat for Murray in seven seasons. It was remarkable that within a season we became the number one team in Scotland.”

That was in no small part down to the unique team spirit - rekindled in Behind The Wall last week - play from Bobby Kinzer and expert coaching from Kevin Cadle, now a Sky Sports presenter.

He arrived at Coasters Arena in 1983 from Penn State, and progressed to become the most celebrated basketball coach in British history.

And it all started in Falkirk.

“I like to go back to the ’80s and look down memory lane at Sky. It prepared and propelled me to where I am today,” he told The Falkirk Herald.

“It definitely played a huge part in the start of my career over in the UK. Bobby Kinzer remains my best friend and it was great hearing that it was an important time in the lives of others too.

“For me that was a part of my coaching progression and that’s what it was all about, not just winning games but was learning life lessons.

“Winning the first trophy was something no one thought could be done.

“Winning the final game was special too - it was time for that group to break up and go their separate ways, They were the special days for me.”

Kinzer and Cadle didn’t have time to return to their old stomping ground on Grangemouth Road - though the coach had been back before.

“It was raining on the Friday morning and we weren’t walking around in the rain.

“I’ve had my visit back to Coasters and it was a massive disapointment considering what it used to be like so I told Bobby it probably best for him to keep the last memories he had. “

Back then it had enough appeal to draw crowds of more than 3500 because, according to New, it had “the wow factor”.

“You walked in and there was all the neon lights, dry ice and stuff. I’d never seen anything like that in my life before and that’s what captivated the Falkirk public. They did an amazing marketing job to fill that old ice rink to the rafters every Sunday and have the crowd in a frenzy. ”

The craze caught on and Paul now runs his own basketball club in Morpeth with four teams, but the star of the show was always Kinzer.

“He had a Usain Bolt charisma around him - a real showman,” added New. “People were drawn to him.”

They revisited the glory days before he became the subject of a Fruit Pastilles TV advert on Thursday night and had a ball re-living the old memories.

Cadle told The Falkirk Herald: “You never know how the interest goes, Solripe was the beginning, middle and end.

“That group got out as the best team in the country and that’s something me and the guys will always have with us. The guys ran the life out of us but it worked, and it won us games and trophies.