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Crystal Palace was a basketball team competing in the National Basketball League (NBL) and then the British Basketball League (BBL), until they merged with the London Towers in 1998. They played in the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and were the most successful team in Britain throughout the seventies and early eighties.[1]



In 1966 the Old Suttonians basketball club was founded by several ex pupils of Sutton Grammar School including David Last and Terry Doherty who both performed the role of director of the club in future years.[2] In 1972 the club entered the new National League as Sutton basketball club and finished third of six teams. the following season they relocated to Crystal Palace and became the Sutton & Crystal Palace club. Success arrived quickly with a league and cup double the very next season.

In 1975 the club dropped the Sutton prefix and gained sponsorship from Cinzano which helped propel them into being the best club in Britain. The team would go on to complete three consecutive doubles of National League and National Cup.[3] The team became regarded as the pioneers of UK basketball and their early players included Jim Guymon, Martin Hall, Mark Saiers, Pete Jeremich and Paul Philp. An incredible treble ensued in the 79-80 season and other players to represent the club included players such as Dan Lloyd, Bob Roma, Paul Stimpson, Mick Bett and Alton Byrd, the latter considered the man who revolutionised basketball in Britain.[4] Further success followed and it was not until the advent of Channel 4 TV coverage and big spending football club takeovers that Palace lost their mantle as top club.
In September 1986 Crystal Palace and Brunel Uxbridge & Camden Ducks joined forces with fixtures being split between the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and Brunel University.[5] Immediate glory returned to the club when after finishing fourth in the league they went on to win the 1987 play Off's but after just one season the club ran into financial difficulty and were forced to sell many players and change their name back to just Crystal Palace.[6]
Players from the highly successful junior programme led by Roy Packham and Mark Dunning made up the team along with a number of talented juniors from Kevin Hibb's Kingston Junior programme. Graham Hill, Derek Johnson, Brian Moore, Roger Hosannah, Derek Lewis, Paul Smith, Michael Hosannah and Adrian Cummings were notable juniors that made the transition to the senior team which was led by Daryl Reshaw and Shaughan Ryan.

Following the completion of the 1988 season the club dropped out of the Carlsberg League into the National League before failing to compete for the first time in the 1990/91 season. A return to action came the following season when Crystal Palace lined up in the third division of the revamped Carlsberg League finishing runners up to another former basketball giant the Solent Stars.
The returning Tim Lewis led the home grown talent along with Junior Peters Clinton ford, Brian Moore, Tunde Orelaja, Roger Lloyd and Adrian Jones. This team gain promotion two years running.

The 1993–1994 season saw Budweiser sponsor tier 1 of the league which as a consequence meant the National League was restructured moving Palace into division one where they finished Runner-up to Coventry Crusaders. The following season Alton Byrd returned to the club as player/general manager kick starting a successful season as they won Division One.[7] The league win was repeated the following year because Palace had remained in the National League after their application to join the Budweiser League (tier 1) was rejected.
The team continued the development of British talent. Richard Scantlebury, Neill Rickets, Andy Powlesland, Graham Hill, Adrian Cummings, Ade Orelaja and Time Lewis all becoming permanent fixtures in the team.

In 1996 a return to the top tier in for the first time since 1988 ensued. Transition back to the BBL was difficult, other talented British players such as, Barry Gooch, Jason Crump, Clive Lindo, Jimmy Markham joined the club along with Junior Williams and Wayne Henry. A lack of sponsorship and the retirement of Alton Byrd had a major impact on the club. The Club tried to hang on to its ethos of growing local talent, Graham Hill a former junior and senior player was given the coaches job but after two mediocre seasons and despite the best efforts of club stalwarts Roy Packham and Terry Doherty the club merged with London Towers and the name Crystal Palace (the most successful UK basketball club in history at the time) ceased to exist.

Season-by-season recordsEdit

Season Div. Pos Pld. W L Pts. Play-offs Trophy Cup
Sutton & Crystal Palace
1973–1974 NBL Winners 14 13 1 26 N/A N/A Winners
1974–1975 NBL Runner-up 18 16 2 34 N/A N/A Runner-up
Crystal Palace
1975–1976 NBL Winners 18 17 1 35 N/A N/A Winners
1976–1977 NBL Winners 18 18 0 36 N/A N/A Winners
1977–1978 NBL Winners 18 18 0 36 N/A N/A Winners
1978–1979 NBL Runner-up 20 16 4 32 Winners N/A Runner-up
1979–1980 NBL Winners 20 18 0 36 Winners N/A Winners
1980–1981 NBL Runner-up 18 16 2 36 Runner-up N/A Winners
1981–1982 NBL Winners 22 20 2 40 Winners N/A Quarter-finals
1982–1983 NBL Winners 24 21 3 42 Runner-up N/A Semi-finals
1983–1984 NBL Runner-up 36 25 11 50 Semi-finals N/A Semi-finals
1984–1985 Carlsberg League 1 10th place 26 10 16 20 DNQ N/A Quarter-finals
1985–1986 Carlsberg League 1 5th place 28 17 11 33 Third Place N/A First round
Brunel & Crystal Palace London
1986–1987 Carlsberg League 1 4th place 24 17 7 35 Winners N/A Quarter-finals
Crystal Palace
1987–1988 Carlsberg League 1 15th place 28 2 26 4 DNQ Group stage Second round
1988–1989 Carlsberg League 1 11th place 20 2 18 4 DNQ Group stage Quarter-finals
1989–1990 National League 1 3rd place Third place N/A Second round
1991–1992 National League 3 2nd place 22 18 4 36
1992–1993 National League 2 3rd place 22 16 6 32
1993–1994 National League 1 Runner-up 18 12 6 24
1994–1995 National League 1 Winners 22 21 1 42
1995–1996 National League 1 Winners 22 22 0 44
1996–1997 Budweiser League 12th place 36 5 31 10
1997–1998 Budweiser League 11th place 36 8 28 16

Notable former playersEdit


  1. ^ Matthews & Morrison, Peter & Ian (1987). The Guinness Encyclopaedia of Sports Records & Results. Guinness Superlatives Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-492-5.
  2. ^ "Nicholas Harling. "Good win in new home." Times [London, England] 7 Oct. 1986: 46". The Times Digital Archive.
  3. ^ "Men's Senior League Winners". Basketball England.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Where are they now?".
  5. ^ ""Clubs join forces." Times [London, England] 4 Sept. 1986". The Times Digital Archive.
  6. ^ &source=gale&prodId=TTDA&userGroupName=oxfshlib&tabID=T003&docPage=article&searchType=BasicSearchForm&docId=IF500497770&type=multipage&contentSet=LTO&version=1.0 "Julian Desborough. "Players sold as Palace battle for survival." Times [London, England] 9 Sept. 1987" Check |url= value (help). The Times Digital Archive.
  7. ^ ""Byrd moves to Palace." Times [London, England] 11 Aug. 1994". The Times Digital Archive.

See alsoEdit