Back in the Day: May 1989

Back in the Day: May 1989

This week, the BA time machine sets down at the end of May 1989...

Winter Season Week Eleven: Daring to Win...

-There’s a grim mood in Canberra and the nation at large, with the release of National Accounts data showing that the economy is growing at a rate of 5.4%, almost 2% higher than the rate forecast in the Federal Budget. In response, the nation’s banks raise their mortgage rates to 17%. Fears of the overheating of the nation’s economy are now universal.

-The mood is extremely dark in China, as the student-led protests for greater democracy begin to falter. It is reported that the ‘hard-liners’ have taken control of key government posts and the Army has moved into position surrounding the protest’s focal point, Tiananmen Square in the centre of Beijing. The Goddess of Democracy stands over the square, for now.

-A crowd estimated at 15,000 marches through central London protesting the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. As copies are burned in public view, 70 are arrested and 12 police injured.

-The one bright moment takes place in Brussels, during a summit celebrating 40 years of NATO. U.S. President George H.W. Bush releases proposals that will see his nation’s armed presence in Europe substantially reduced. They are hailed as a major step in the road towards peace between the superpowers.

- In football the Taylor inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster hears evidence from David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge on that day.  Under cross-examination he publically apologises to Liverpool supporters for the errors that led to the deaths of 96 people.

-On the pitch, the final game of the English first division sees Arsenal travel to Anfield, needing to win by two goals to prevent Liverpool completing the League-Cup double. In injury time and a goal to the good, Arsenal breaks clear. In the words of the late Brian Moore ‘’s up for grabs now...Thomas!’ Michael Thomas becomes the hero of most of North London as Arsenal claim the First Division title for the first time since 1971.

-Memorial Day weekend sees Emerson Fittipaldi win the Indianapolis 500 after a classic duel with Al Unser Jr., Darrell Waltrip take out the World 600 for the fifth time and Michael Jordan drag the Chicago Bulls to a 2-1 series lead over the Detroit Pistons in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.

-The most notable death of the week was that of former Leeds United and England manager Don Revie. Revie dies in Edinburgh at the age of 61 from motor neurone disease.

-‘Forever Your Girl’, ‘Eternal Flame’ and ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ top the charts.

It was a big week with enough drama to keep a cardiologist’s child at a private school for a year.

So let’s get into it...

NBL Round Six

Friday 26th May 1989: Three NBL Games

NBL Game One: Newcastle Falcons @ Perth Wildcats

Final score: Wildcats 134-129

The Falcons got off to a roaring start, leading by 31-8 with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Perth slowly whittled the lead down and Mike Ellis hit a three-pointer on the buzzer to tie the score at 101 at three quarter time. A frantic last quarter saw five lead changes and the Wildcats eventually claimed their sixth straight win. James Crawford led the Wildcats with 35 points while Michael Johnson was red hot for Newcastle with 44 points including eight three-pointers.

NBL Game Two: North Melbourne Giants @ Illawarra Hawks

Final score: Hawks 124-Giants 123

This game produced one of the most dramatic finishes in NBL history. A frantic fourth quarter (the start of which had been delayed for half an hour when a tree brought down high-tension power lines in the area) saw the Hawks and Giants swap runs and leads. Illawarra with five seconds to go led 122-121. Following a time-out, Don Bickett’s inbound pass was stolen by Mark Leader. A quick pass to Wayne Carroll who hit the prayer and the Giants had won! Or had they? According to the official time-piece, there were still two seconds remaining. North coach Bruce Palmer had run onto the floor and was immediately whistled for a technical foul by Roger Sheils. Following a long period of discussion, the foul stood, Greg Hubbard hit the two free-throws, bedlam. Following the match, the Giants filed an official protest with the League, claiming that score bench errors had cost them the game. Illawarra filed a counter-protest, saying that Palmer had ‘used bad language and made abusive gestures’ at the scoring officials. The wash-up from this game brings back memories of a similar game in 1986, when Illawarra and West Sydney took part in the NBL’s only replayed game.

Milestone Alert: This win is David Lindstrom’s 50th as an NBL coach.

NBL Game Three: Sydney Kings @ Melbourne Tigers

Final score: Kings 128-Tigers 125 (OT)

In a game described as ‘essentially a poor game of basketball’, Kings forward Marc Ridlen banked in a jumper with one second remaining to send the teams to overtime locked at 118-118. Sydney’s backcourt of Steve Carfino and Damian Keogh controlled the overtime and the Kings captured their third straight win, a first for the club. There was controversy after the game, with Sydney asking why Melbourne forward Dave Simmons had not been punished for elbowing Sydney ‘Bruise Brother’ Mark Dalton in the head. As Dalton said afterwards ‘The Kings play tough defence but we don’t throw elbows.’

Saturday 27th May 1989: Four NBL Games, Three WNBL Games

NBL Game Four: Newcastle Falcons @ Adelaide 36ers

Final score: 36ers 148-Falcons 123

The 36ers lead from wire-to-wire and easily account for the Falcons. Former 36ers championship player Bill Jones returns as a player for Newcastle racks up 30 points and 16 rebounds and is given a standing ovation when he fouls out of the game.

NBL Game Five: North Melbourne Giants @ Canberra Cannons

Final score: Cannons 109-Giants 108

The hottest rivalry in the NBL produces another classic at the Palace. With five seconds to play Scott Fisher (playing with three broken ribs) hits the front end of a one-and-one to give North Melbourne the lead. He misses the second; Canberra’s Simon Cottrell rebounds and passes to Phil Smyth, who hands it off to Jamie Kennedy. Kennedy puts up a running jumper which does two laps of honour before falling in the basket. Having come into the weekend atop the NBL ladder, the Giants now lie in fifth.

Milestone Alert: It is Canberra’s 12th straight win at home; a new club record.

NBL Game Six: Hobart Tassie Devils @ Eastside Melbourne Spectres

Final score: Spectres 100-Devils 99

Recently acquired Spectres import Kent Lockhart hits two clutch three-pointers late in the game to deny Tom Maher his first win as a coach in the NBL.

NBL Game Seven: Sydney Kings @ Geelong Supercats

Final score: Kings 95-Supercats 90

Geelong head coach Barry Barnes rates Damian Keogh as ‘the form guard in the league’ following his starring role in the Kings’ five-point win. It was not an easy night for Sydney: they let a 16-point lead in the third quarter slide to a margin of one with seven minutes to play. The Kings were able to steady, take the win and move into the top three, a game behind the Cannons.

WNBL Game One: Brisbane Bullets @ Australian Institute of Sport

Final score: A.I.S. 63-Bullets 59

An upset at the Training Hall as the Students take their first win of the season against Brisbane and their coach Ric Lawyer.

WNBL Game Two: Bulleen Boomers @ Coburg Cougars

Final score: Boomers 83-Cougars 77

Debbie Slimmon explodes for 35 points as the Boomers take the victory, keeping themselves a game behind the undefeated North Adelaide in the race for the WNBL minor premiership

WNBL Game Three: Sydney Bruins @ Noarlunga Tigers

Final score: Bruins 67-Tigers 64

A Sandy Brondello three-pointer with less than a minute to play gives the Bruins a victory and almost certainly ends the Tigers’ chances of returning to the finals.

Sunday 28th May 1989: Two WNBL Games

WNBL Game Four: Brisbane Bullets @ Canberra Capitals

Final score: Capitals 81-Bullets 62

Jenny Cheesman scores 23 points for Canberra, but the real star for the Capitals is reckoned to be Linda Smith. Her brilliant defensive display sets the platform for Canberra’s win, sending the Bullets tumbling from second to fifth in two days (a similar scenario to the North Melbourne Giants).

WNBL Game Five: Sydney Bruins @ West Adelaide Bearcats

Final score: Bruins 56-Bearcats 53

Despite unleashing a 14-0 run to start the second half, West Adelaide was not able to keep up the momentum. Again it was Karen Dalton and Sandy Brondello who were the sparks behind the Bruins’ success, completing a clean-sweep of their Adelaide road-trip and placing themselves in sight of the top four.

In the NBL, Brisbane and Westside Melbourne had a bye while in the WNBL North Adelaide, Nunawading, Perth, Melbourne and the Tassie Islanders had the week off.

To the ladders:

NBL Ladder

Top Six:                                                       Bottom Seven:

Canberra              7 and 1                             Melbourne                           4 and 3

Perth                   6 and 1                              Eastside Melbourne              4 and 4

Sydney                6 and 2                              Geelong                              3 and 5

Adelaide              5 and 2                              Westside Melbourne             1 and 4

North Melbourne  4 and 2                              Illawarra                              1 and 5

Brisbane             4 and 3                              Newcastle                             1 and 7

                                                                   Hobart                                 0 and 7

WNBL Ladder

Top Four:                                                   Bottom Nine:

North Adelaide     6 and 0                            Brisbane                                 5 and 3

Bulleen                5 and 1                            Sydney                                  4 and 3

Tassie                  5 and 2                            Perth                                     4 and 4

Nunawading         4 and 2                            West Adelaide                        3 and 3

                                                                 Canberra                                3 and 4

                                                                  Noarlunga                              2 and 5

                                                                  Melbourne                             2 and 5

                                                                  Coburg                                  1 and 6

                                                                   AIS                                      1 and 7

In the next ‘Back in the Day’, we’ll see Cameroon prepare to spring a surprise, the Wildcats on the march and the effects of ‘the recession we had to have.’

This is another in a regular series of articles that will take note of the historic events of the modern era of Australian basketball (1979-today). If you have memories to share, or topics that should be discussed, send an email to and put in the subject line ‘Back in the Day’