Exclusive: Big time basketball set to return to Doncaster as Danum Eagles consider BBL application

Bob Martin, head coach of Danum Eagles.
Bob Martin, head coach of Danum Eagles.

Big time basketball could be about to return to Doncaster.

Doncaster Danum Eagles have revealed ambitious plans to apply for a British Basketball League (BBL) franchise.

The club plan to join the men’s National League for the first time next year - ending a period of almost two decades since the town last hosted elite level senior basketball.

Eagles, who are currently based at Danum School, have already held talks with Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust about playing out of the Dome.

And club officials met again this week to discuss the next step in bringing top level basketball back to the town.

Eagles head coach Bob Martin told the Free Press that plans are afoot to apply for a BBL franchise.

But which division the new men’s team end up in is dependent on funding.

“We’ll definitely be in the National League next year,” said American-born Martin.

“But Doncaster has the potential, and the players, to apply for a BBL franchise.

“We’ve got the player base. There’s guys playing all over country for different teams that would come back here to play.

“But we need a financial base.

“We need to find a sponsor who is willing to back us.

“Birmingham have done it. Their council really got behind them and they’re back in the BBL,” he added.

“And I firmly believe they’re not as good as us in terms of the players that we could call upon.”

Doncaster can lay claim to a rich basketballing heritage.

Formed in 1954, Doncaster Panthers won the National Basketball League and Cup, and represented England in European competition, in the late seventies.

They played in the BBL between 1993 and 1996 before withdrawing due to financial difficulties.

Martin, who represented Doncaster as a player for one season and then returned to the town to coach, is convinced a new men’s team would prove to be successful.

“It could really take off,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people who go to watch Sheffield Sharks that live in Doncaster who would get behind us.

“It’d be great to get the crowds back at the Dome. And it could easily be done.

“There’s a serious appetite for basketball in Doncaster.

“This club’s got to a point where we’ll stagnate if we don’t go to the Dome and get a men’s team,” added Martin.

“There was an attempt to bring the Panthers back before but it wasn’t organised properly. We want to make sure we’ve got the right people in place. There’s no doubt we’d have a very powerful squad.”

Danum Eagles were formed in 2000 by Danum School’s chair of governors Eleanor Hammill. The club operates junior boys teams at under 18, under 15 and under 13 level, while top Italian coach Andrea Carosi was recently hired to coach the new women’s team.

Among the club’s graduates is Robert Marsden, who was leading scorer for Manchester Giants in his recent BBL baptism.

Several ex-Eagles also currently turn out for Sheffield Sabres, Leeds Carnegie and Team Northumbria in the National League, with others playing college basketball in America.

Eagles are prepared to enter the National League next year at Division Four level but could yet go in at a much higher level, pending on the strength of their application.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Danum Eagles, or supporting them in their quest to bring big time basketball back to Doncaster, can contact Bob Martin on 07939 980913.