Back in the Day: July 1987

Back in the Day: July 1987

This week, the BA time machine has been dragged back to July 1987...

Winter Season Week 18: Disunity is Death

-In the aftermath of his historic third election victory, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces a wide-ranging re-organisation of the Federal Government and a corresponding redesign of the Federal Cabinet. Fifteen ‘super-ministries’ were created, each served by a senior and junior minister. The division of electoral spoils by faction begins almost immediately.

-The Federal Opposition begins to pick up the pieces following its defeat. Opposition Leader John Howard retains his position following a challenge by former leader Andrew Peacock. The National Party, however, is still dealing with the ripples of the disastrous ‘Joh for Canberra’ campaign. Their leadership team is also expected to change.

-UK Attorney-General Sir Patrick Mayhew moves to prevent the Sunday Times newspaper from publishing extracts from Spycatcher, the memoirs of former MI5 officer Peter Wright. The book had been banned on its original publication in England; attempts to ban its publication in Australia had failed miserably, due mainly to the efforts of well-known lawyer and future political figure Malcolm Turnbull.

-‘Ollie for President’ billboards spring up across the United States as the Congressional hearings into the Iran-Contra scandal approach their conclusion. ‘Ollie’ is Lt.-Col. Oliver North, a former Marine who had been tasked with the assignment of using the proceeds of arms sales to Iran in order to support the Contras in Nicaragua, contravening numerous laws passed by Congress. Senator George Mitchell (D.-Maine) speaks for many when he says ‘We must never allow the end to justify the means where the law is concerned, no matter how noble...the motives.’ To quote a former Senator, the question now is ‘What did the President know and when did he know it?’

-Queensland regains supremacy in rugby league’s State of Origin series, defeating New South Wales 10-8 in the third and deciding match of the series at Brisbane’s Lang Park. There is further positive news for rugby league in Queensland: the consortium behind the new Brisbane team for the NSWRL premiership announces the team’s name (Broncos) and their colours (maroon, yellow and white).

-The most notable death of the week was that of Australian composer Jack O’Hagan. O’Hagan, responsible for such iconic tunes as ‘On the Road to Gundagai’ and ‘Our Don Bradman’ dies at home in Melbourne at the age of 88.

-‘Alone’, ‘It’s a Sin’ and ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’ were at the top of the charts.

Anticipation was building for the ‘Superchallenge’ series between the Boomers and the Soviet Union, to be held in August. The series would comprise six ‘Tests’, to be held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney (Perth was a late addition to the series). Boomers coach Dr. Adrian Hurley and his fellow selectors named a squad of 16 players; they were:

Phil Smyth (c), Ray Borner, Cal Bruton, Wayne Carroll, Simon Cottrell, Brad Dalton, John Dorge, Andrew Gaze, David Graham, Damian Keogh, Paul Kuiper, Darryl Pearce, Larry Sengstock, Robert Sibley, John Stelzer and Andrew Vlahov.

For North Melbourne’s David Graham, this series would be his debut in Australia’s colours; he was ‘wrapped...I’m stoked, to tell you the truth.’  BA President Dick Butler was excited about the series, saying that ‘There is now a demand that Australians everywhere get a chance to see our team at home against the best.’

Before all of that excitement, however, there was another round to complete...

Friday 17th July 1987: Four NBL Games, 2 WNBL Games

WNBL Game One: Hobart Island Staters @Bulleen Melbourne Boomers

Final score: Boomers 60-Staters 45

WNBL Game Two: Canberra Capitals @West Adelaide Bearcats

Final score: Capitals 60-Bearcats 57

Canberra wins its first game in seven weeks as West Adelaide blow a nine-point halftime lead. The Capitals defence holds the Bearcats to only three points in the first thirteen minutes of the second half.

NBL Game One: West Sydney Westars @Adelaide 36ers

Final score: 36ers 147-Westars 99

The 36ers make their intention of winning back-to-back NBL titles clear with a massacre of the struggling Westars. They shoot 59% from the field, including 65% from three-point range. Al Green scored 30 points for Adelaide, while Mike McKay sent a message to the Boomers selectors with 26 points, including 17 in the 4th quarter. 36ers coach Gary Fox said ‘We played with verve and intensity and a lot of joy.’

Milestone Alert: The 48 point winning margin is the equal fourth greatest in 36ers history.

NBL Game Two: Westside Melbourne Saints @Canberra Cannons

Final score: Cannons 118-Saints 101

The Cannons hold down top spot with ‘A less than inspiring performance’ against the lowly Saints. An 11-point spurt by Canberra’s Tad Dufelmeier (he would score 28 for the game) gave the home side more than enough breathing space. Perhaps the Cannons had been tired out after attending the launch of ‘The General’, a biography of Phil Smyth written by Canberra Times journalist Gary Scholes, which had been held the previous day.

Milestone Alert: Canberra’s Simon Cottrell grabs his 1000th NBL rebound.

Canberra’s Phil Smyth dishes off his 700th NBL assist.

NBL Game Three: Newcastle Falcons @Sydney Supersonics

Final score: Falcons 140-Supersonics 137

This traditional grudge match was spiced up by the return of former Supersonics coach Owen Wells with Newcastle; Wells had been sacked by Sydney earlier in the season. Falcons star Jerry Everett went off in the second half, scoring 25 of his 29 points. In a game where defence was not a priority, Newcastle squeaked home following a couple of 50/50 calls that went their way. Following the game, harsh words were spoken in the tunnel and someone punched a hole in the wall of the Supersonics’ dressing room at ‘The Thunderdome’.

NBL Game Four: Brisbane Bullets @North Melbourne Giants

Final score: Giants 109-Bullets 108

The game of the round saw North Melbourne keep their hopes of a play-off place alive with a gripping win over the struggling Bullets. After being down by as many as 20, Brisbane stormed back in the second half and took a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Scott Fisher hit the game-winning shot with 29 seconds remaining to play. Bullets coach Brian Kerle was philosophical after the game ‘We just didn’t relax, we were too tense.’ Kerle now requested time off from the Boomers program to work with his team.

Saturday 18th July 1987: Four NBL Games, Three WNBL Games

WNBL Game Three: A.I.S Pumas @Bankstown Bruins

Final score: Bruins 70-Pumas 63

WNBL Game Four: Canberra Capitals @North Adelaide Rockets

Final score: Rockets 72-Capitals 51

A 24-0 start by North Adelaide in the first ten minutes destroyed the game as a contest. Vicki Daldy, Pat Mickan and Marina Moffa were stars for the Rockets.

WNBL Game Five: Hobart Island Staters @Nunawading Spectres

Final score: Spectres 72-Island Staters 42

The lowly Island Staters were completely outclassed by a Spectres team that was on the way to compiling an 18-2 regular season record. Robyn Maher stood out for the Spectres, with the Hobart coach describing her as ‘a basketball machine.’

NBL Game Five: West Sydney Westars @Perth Wildcats

Final score: Wildcats 118-Westars 109

After their hiding at the hands of Adelaide, West Sydney showed great fighting spirit to push the Wildcats to the limit on their home floor. Westars centre Ollie Johnston produced a mighty performance (35 points and 12 rebounds) but his fifth and final foul early in the last quarter gave Perth the breathing space they needed. James Crawford led all scorers with 36 for the Wildcats.

NBL Game Six: Westside Melbourne Saints @Illawarra Hawks

Final score: Hawks 118-Saints 98

A 34-21 second quarter by the Hawks set the platform for a win that maintained their campaign for a top-three position and a home final. Don Bickett scored 21 points and 12 rebounds in a fine performance by the entire Illawarra team. The Saints had been weakened by the loss of Dean Templeton, who was serving a seven-week suspension following a nasty brawl in a game against Hobart.

NBL Game Seven: Brisbane Bullets @Geelong Supercats

Final score: Supercats 101-Bullets 91

Greg Giddings carved the Bullets into bite-sized pieces in the fourth quarter; 14 of his 31 points were brought up via repeated drives through the lane. Leroy Loggins played a lone hand for Brisbane with 40 points. The Bullets, who had played in the last three grand finals, had not only lost their sixth straight game on the road but tumbled from third to sixth on the NBL ladder.

NBL Game Eight: Hobart Tassie Devils @Eastside Melbourne Spectres

Final score: Devils 90-Spectres 87

Dave Adkins’ side produced one of the mightiest comebacks of the season: down by 15 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter (and suffering a 10-2 foul count against them), Hobart climbed up off the canvas to take a lead at three-quarter time which they would not lose. The Devils import duo of Paul Stanley (34 points) and Steve Carfino (23 points) weaved their magic and left the Spectres in a spin.

Sunday 19th July 1987: 1 NBL Game, Three WNBL Games

WNBL Game Six: Hobart Island Staters @Coburg Cougars

Final score: Cougars 70-Staters 53

A bizarre fact: Hobart finished this game with only four players on the floor. Alice Davis, Kathy Taylor, Andree Marquis (later Greenwood), Zorica Mijovic and Cherie Miller were all awarded five fouls.

WNBL Game Seven: A.I.S. @Brisbane Bullets

Final score: Bullets 68-Pumas 67

WNBL Game Eight: Canberra Capitals @Noarlunga Tigers

Final score: Tigers 83-Capitals 60

A woeful start again condemns the Capitals to defeat: Noarlunga score 18 points and concede only three in the opening ten minutes. The Tigers’ 1-2 combination of Julie Nykiel (24 points) and Donna Brown (23 points) tear Canberra’s hopes to shreds.

NBL Game Nine: Hobart Tassie Devils @Melbourne Tigers

Final score: Devils 110-Tigers 83

This game was decided before a sneaker had even squeaked: Andrew Gaze (in the middle of a season where he would average 44.1 points per game, still an NBL record) withdrew from the game suffering from a virus. The Tigers didn’t have a prayer: Paul Stanley racked up 42 points for the Devils and they waltzed to their eleventh victory for the season, a club record. No wonder Hobart president Wayne Monaghan was campaigning for a new stadium to replace the 1800 seat facility at Kingborough.

NBL Ladder

Top Six:                                              Bottom Eight:

Canberra       12 and 2                           North Melbourne                9 and 6

Adelaide        10 and 3                           Eastside Melbourne              8 and 8

Illawarra        10 and 4                           Geelong                            8 and 8

Perth            9 and 4                           West Sydney                       6 and 12

Hobart         11 and 5                           Sydney                              5 and 11

Brisbane        11 and 6                         Westside Melbourne              3 and 12

                                                         Newcastle                           3 and 14

                                                         Melbourne                           2 and 12

There was no WNBL ladder available as we went to press.

Next week in ‘Back in the Day’: an untouchable reaches the highest office, a voice for justice is silenced and Lightning and Flames create a volatile mixture.

That’s next week in ‘Back in The Day’.

Coming soon: two super-sized Olympic editions!

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.’