Forestville Stadium – The Old Tin Shed ’50 Years of Wonderful Memories’

Forestville Stadium

NOTE : This article is about Men’s basketball, I leave it to someone else more qualified than myself to cover the Women’s side. Most of this BLOG is written from memory and regrettably my knowledge and memories of Women’s basketball is very limited.

The Old Tin Shed

It’s difficult to believe that thousands of young South Australian’s had a love affair with an old tin shed, but from 1953 onwards that’s exactly what occurred.

For those that remember, walking into Forestville Stadium was just a pleasurable experience, filled always with a touch of anticipation and excitement, with Mrs Brand, Mrs Shipway or later Mrs Cosgrove waiting in the ticket box to collect your money. No sneaking in there, Keith Miller had the security set up to deter any would be wannabe sneaks. Some claim that they would sneak past by crawling on their hands and knees, but I have not been able to have that verified.

For those that were able to play there regularly, it was generally the highlight of their week, your home away from home and you couldn’t wait to get there, whether you walked, rode your bike or were lucky enough to get a ride in a car.

Forestville was to many “ the home of basketball “ certainly in South Australia if not Australia, although our Victorian Colleagues who played at Albert Park might disagree. Albert Park was the Forestville for Melbournians although with 9 courts it was much larger (probably should be the subject of another separate article).

So, it is really interesting to hear the recent announcement that Wayville is to undergo a massive redevelopment and be expanded to 7 Courts. personally I think that South Australia should have gone in this direction many years ago.

Forestville Stadium was at the intersection of the Goodwood Train station and Glenelg Tram, adjacent to the Tram overpass. It was tucked away in the backstreets and was difficult to find if you didn’t know exactly where it was. There were two access points through the overpass. One which could fit a very small car through (Mini Minor), just ask Arthur Newly or Phil Yuill and the second a walkway with the Trams thundering overhead just  inches above. 

Now the big deal was, who could stand there under the bridge  and stay as the Tram went over your head, just 12 inches above, that was a true badge of honour. I never quite managed it and chickened out the  couple of times that I tried it.

But Forestville still holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of Baby Boomers for whom it was their second home, in some cases their favourite home. Both great friendships and fierce rivalries were fostered there.


South Australia has been at the forefront of the development of Basketball in Australia from the outset. In fact the first recorded game of Basketball in Australia, was played in Adelaide on Tuesday 23 February 1897 at the opening of the OBI ( Our Boys Institute ), which was owned by the YMCA. As you would all realise, Basketball was invented by Dr James Naismith at the Springfield YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891.

The OBI was located in Wakefield St, close to Frome Street and is still there today although it has become a Boutique Hotel. It was after WW2 the home for basketball in Adelaide and then developed a fierce rivalry with Forestville, with most of the leading teams eventually moving across by 1960.

As the YMCA had already spread worldwide with operations set up in most countries, Basketball also spread very quickly around the Globe being played in all of the existing YMCA’s. 

In 1936 the first South Australia Metropolitan Basketball Association was founded, with all games being played at the Duncan Buildings in Franklin St.

WW2 saw the US Forces also help spread the game Internationally, especially in Europe and the Pacific.

Forestville was the very first purpose built Basketball Stadium in Australia and opened in 1953 with one court and that was a Bitumen Court. This was no big deal, as our predecessors were far more easy going and accepting than the current generations. Let’s not forget that most of the population at that time had lived through two World wars and the Depression. After all the first games in the Olympics were in 1936 in Berlin and were played outside on Clay tennis courts which is hard to imagine by today’s standards.

Interestingly Dr James Naismith was in attendance in Berlin and threw the ball up at the first game of the Tournament, between France and Estonia , just 45 years after he first invented the game.

For Forestville Stadium, land was supplied by Unley Council on a long term Lease Agreement, but the construction costs were entirely covered by the Basketball Association and it’s members – “Financial assistance from other sources was not offered, nor was it sought“.

Work on the stadium commenced in March 1953 and the first matches were played on Thursday June 25, which is remarkably quick.

As already said, it was a one court facility, but also had dressing rooms, conveniences, and Hot and Cold showers. Wow, most of the local suburban football ovals could not boast such lavish facilities.

The Australian Championships commenced in 1946 in Sydney, but were played for the 2nd  time in Adelaide in September 1953  in this newly opened basketball wonderland, where  SA won the Championship for the very first time defeating Victoria 58 – 52.

The South Australian team were –

  • 3  – J Gooch
  • 4 – O Resnais ( captain )
  • 5 – A Ignatavicius
  • 6 – G Pearce
  • 7 – L Bain
  • 8  – P Sutton
  • 9 – A Luters
  • 10 – G Dancis
  • 12 –  T Tiliks
  • 14 – C Burdett
  • 15 – J Ozolins
  • 18 – A Hare

Their were 7 players in that Grand Final game that went on to represent Australia in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games – Ignatavicius, Sutton, Dancis & Burdett from SA and – Bumbers, Heskett and Demotropolous from  Victoria, plus the Coach Ken Watson who played for the Victorians.

SA then went on to win numerous more titles ( 13 ) and became a dominant state in Australian Basketball up to and including 1964 and the Tokyo Olympics.

My Memories

Hard to believe, but I first went there in 1959 and first played there in 1962, when it was still relatively new.

The main court was converted to timber not long after it opened and then a second court was added in 1956 and a third court in 1958, both these two courts were initially concrete, but were also converted to timber in the mid sixties.

There were a dedicated group of enthusiastic volunteers who energetically and enthusiastically worked to ensure that their basketball Dream became a reality.

Ted Hunt, Reg Bock, Tom Ryan, Jack Thompson, Bob Foster, Merv Harris, Frank Angove, Fred Specht, Dixon Bruning, Ray Spencer, Eric Smart, Claude Sandercock, Jack Thomas, Bill Coulter, Brian Saunders, Tom Sharkey, Max Aufderheid, W Touhey, Dennis Touhey, Max Cotter, Harold Gilbert, John Gooch, Barry Specht, Frank Boucher, Bill Stevens and Don Emmitt.

My understanding is that Dixon Bruning had a lot to do with the planning of the Building and that Ted Hunt came up with the idea of selling debentures to help finance it. Both have largely not received the credit they deserve for their contribution.  

Frank Angove who contributed so much to SA Basketball, both as a player and then an Administrator, eventually was appointed as the Association full time Secretary, after very many years doing the job voluntarily. His extraordinary vision proved extremely successful for many, many years and laid the foundation, which others could then build upon later.

Frank was also a very accomplished tennis player, loved a social drink and had an abundance of mates, especially at the South Adelaide Football Club where he would visit regularly.

Frank was a very friendly and engaging person, who would star up a conversation with anyone, even young fellas like myself. His enormous enthusiasm was self evident.

I have very fond memories of time spent chatting with Frank. 

His partner in crime was Keith Miller. who was appointed as the Association Treasurer. Keith’s contribution was enormous as a player State and National Coach and then Treasurer.

Keith like Frank was a man dedicated to the sport, who would often come out of his office to check on youngsters shooting around on Court one and offer advice on their shooting and ball handling techniques. Advice that any aspiring young player would have been very wise indeed to accept.

His efforts were instrumental in the development of many young players, who went on the become stalwarts of the game, Werner Linde is probably the best example.

He had an aura about him and could hold your attention, instill discipline and obedience purely by his look with out ever saying a word, he was however in reality actually a very gentle soul.

I remember vividly attending one state junior try out which Keith also attended despite not actually being the coach. Myself like all of the other young players present were quite petrified by his presence, never have I been so well  behaved and attentive – Thanks keith for helping me make the team.

A lifelong Bachelor, Keith loved a punt and would regularly be seen at the Trots at Wayville or the Races at Victoria Park, with the rolled up form guide, shoved into his back pocket. 

First Experiences

I first walked into Forestville Stadium in 1959 with my older brother Randy, to watch a District Basketball Match, Sturt v Norwood from memory, but not the same Clubs as today. One big surprise was to see Margarey Medallist John Halbert playing for Sturt. Now I bet that you didn’t know that. Apart from playing State Football, John also played Sheffield Shield Cricket, pretty decent effort that.

What an experience and what a thrill, the first time I had seen basketball, it was to become a defining moment in my life. It led to me starting to play three years later as a 13-year-old.

Forestville Stadium

I was recruited during a PE lesson at Unley High School playing a Basketball practice match. I had never played before, but must have done something right as two classmates asked me to come out and play U16’s for Rosefield Methodist in the United Church Association. Well once I told them that my 15 year old brother was 6’2” and also wanted to play, they made sure that we came out. As it turned out I was still U14, but that was the start of a long and happy involvement with the game.

The United Church Association was huge in Adelaide and was the starting point in basketball for so many players, some of whom went onto very successful careers including Olympic selection, such as Malcolm & John Heard.

As part of their youth fellowship program, most churches had tennis teams and their own bitumen tennis courts. These courts then doubled as basketball courts in the winter months.

One of the attractions that these two sports offered was that they did not require many players, so most churches were able to field teams.

Some of the Church Ministers stipulated that you had to attend their Church at least 3 times before each season before they would sign your registration form.

So there we were, several of us all dressed up with jacket & tie sitting in Rosefield Methodist Church on a Sunday night singing Rock of Ages and then getting a lecture from the Minister before he signed the form. It may have been painful, but it was worth it. 

So every Saturday afternoon, we would venture all over Adelaide to play on an outside Church court somewhere or other – Burnside Christian, Gartrell Methodist, Broadview Methodist, Clarence Park Methodist, Knightsbridge Baptist to name just a few.

If you have not played on an outside court in winter then you have missed a very challenging experience. Firstly you had to allow for the wind when shooting from the outside, not easy and often the rings did not have a net.

I played a game one rainy wintry Saturday at the Knightsbridge Baptist Court at Tusmore Park. Apart from having to dodge the puddles when dribbling up court, at one stage the ball went out of court and rolled down into the creek and was last seen floating rapidly downstream.

The junior grades however were given the huge honour of playing their finals matches indoors at Bowden stadium, what luxury, it even had a canteen.

Later when playing A Grade in the Senior Competition, we also played indoors at Bowden stadium and would then rush back to Unley Oval to catch the last half of the Sturt footy match – such wonderful memories and wonderful days.

I was fortunate enough to have been a part of the first United Church Clubs U16 junior team that played in the District Association in late 1962 on a Friday night. That Club later went on to become Sturt.

From that group,  8 went on the become State Junior players, one an all Australian Junior, one a senior State player, 3 became future Club Presidents of Sturt, 3 became coaches at District level and one President of the Adelaide 36ers, not bad for a group of 15 year olds. Three also became Life Members of Basketball SA.

Forestville was the first purpose-built Basketball Stadium in Australia, built mainly by volunteers who would also join in a series of working bees to install seats etc. It opened in 1953 with 1 court, the other 2 courts were built a little later.

Courts 2 & 3 initially had concrete floors, becoming Timber several years later. Those concrete floors were terribly hard on your legs, no dunking on them, not that anyone could dunk then anyway.

The Stadium was also not airconditioned, what was in those days, so it was terribly hot in summer and extremely cold in Winter, but we didn’t care.

After our Friday night game on a hot summer night, we would all rush next door to the Unley Swimming Pool to cool off, absolute bliss. Life couldn’t get any better!

At one stage, my United Church District team ( The God Squad ), trained at 6.00am on  Saturday mornings and in the middle of winter it was an absolute Ice Box, bitterly cold.

I suspect it was a ploy by Coach Rex Holmes to get some of the teams party boys, Phil Bauer, Col Dabinett , Bob Russell and Noel Curtis to get home earlier. I suspect however, that they often went straight to training from their night out, which helped the younger guys like myself look very energetic, enthusiastic and perhaps better than what we really were.  

The stadium was managed by the convivial Frank Angove as Secretary and the dour Keith Miller as Treasurer. with Mrs Brand assisting Frank and also selling the Tickets at the door.

Frank had previously worked with the afternoon paper the News and he used his media contacts to get excellent coverage and promotion for the sport.

Apart from great Newspaper coverage, District games were also covered live on Radio with host Fred Heaton , who would commence each broadcast with – “and away goes the fastest game in the world“. In addition Frank arranged for games to also be covered by live on  Channel 9 with host Ian Day  – “and the ball goes twice around the gasometer“.

Ian, who was a member of the South Adelaide 1964 premiership team, had a son Tim, who played State Junior Basketball.

Ian was also to later join the Board of the Adelaide 36ers as Vice President.

Both Frank and Keith had a long and most influential impact on Basketball in SA. Frank had played for SA and was a very competent tennis player and together with Keith  had a huge impact on the sport. Keith was also a State player and won the Woollacott Medal in 1947, the first year that it was awarded.

Together they went on to develop a number of other stadiums such as Bowden. Marion, Hillcrest and Col Light Gardens culminating in the Apollo Stadium at Richmond a 2800 seat venue without peer in Australia. A former West Adelaide player Graham Farquhar, had a building company and built all of those later venues at a very favourable price. 

Keith Miller was an excellent Coach, developing a number of fine young players including Werner Linde whilst coaching West Adelaide. After winning the 1964 Australian Championship in Adelaide, beating Victoria, he then went on to coach Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, following having also coached the team at the unofficial 1962 World Championships in Manila.

Frank Angove went on to be the Team Manager at both those events, what a couple of outstanding guys and what a great reward for them both. 

One very strong memory of Forestville that I hold is on a Saturday morning in late November 1963, when Don Shipway walked up to me and said – ‘hey Mal, John Kennedy has just been assassinated “. Like everyone else I was stunned. I was 14 years old at the time and have been fascinated by the events of that day ever since. 

I have been fortunate enough to have visited Dallas twice and all of the associated JFK sites including the 6th floor of the Book depository and the Grassy Knoll.

Another strong memory  playing in about my 3rd or 4th District game, I was 16 years old and making a rather elegant fast break, if I say so myself and then whilst making the lay up being pummelled from behind and crashing to the floor. As I looked up at the figure standing over me, he bent down and said – “welcome to District basketball sonny“.

That figure was – guess who, yes of course it was Jeff Coulls, who had a very long career at District level, with his physical approach and somewhat unorthodox one handed set shot.

Jeff and I later became good friends when we were both involved with the 36ers.

The DMBA – District & Metropolitan Basketball Association in Adelaide at that time had teams such as –

  • VYTIS  –  Lithuanians 
  • ALS  –  Latvians
  • BUDAPEST  –  Hungarians
  • plus a team of American Mormons 

Although only a minor sport at the time, the influx of Europeans in the mid 1950’s had a profound influence on the sport both as players, coaches, administrators and very dedicated, loyal and loud supporters. The Stadium only held 1,200 or so fans at its best but the atmosphere was electric and the noise deafening. Those that played there, loved it.

We all know however that on some occasions, far more than 1200 were in attendance. The Grand Final of the 1964 Australian Championships is a great example, the place was jam packed. Fortunately, SA beat the Vics, by 2 points, because I am sure that if Victoria had managed to win, there would have been a riot.

Thursday Nights

Thursday night was the best night of the week, we all waited anxiously for it come around, it was the highlight. Thursday night was when Division One or District as it was called was played and all eight Clubs played there that night. So you could play your own game and then watch all other games and teams as well. Consequently, you developed great friendship with the players from the other clubs, as you got to see them when you were playing someone else.

Forestville Stadium Basketball
Forestville Stadium Basketball

Every club had their own special place to sit within Forestville. West Torrens were at the western end, West Adelaide were at the eastern end. South Adelaide were at the eastern end of the main stand near the canteen and United Church were also in the main stand, just to the left of the front door. You didn’t ever sit anywhere else, even walking past another clubs territory would incur a wrath of friendly abuse and heckling.

Some of the girls at South Adelaide, such as Helen Shipway and Bev Pietsch formed a cheer squad and became quite famous for their chants – “ Hey, Hey whad do ya say. let’s take the ball away “ and  “ 2, 4, 6, 8 – who do we appreciate – S – O – U – T – H – South “ 

As a result the Basketball community was very tight knit and the parties became legendary, particularly the Latvians and the Hungarians, if you can remember them, then you weren’t there.

Basketball became very much a family affair, where if one child played then all of the children in the family  played, meaning that many brother combinations were involved, some famous, some not so famous.

Les & John Hody, George & Maik Dancis, John & Mal Heard, Merv & Ross Harris, Noel, Phil & Rod Bauer, Dean & Brian Whitford, Neville & Barry Spry, Steve & David Sparrow, John & Hugo Shouten, the Baylis brothers, the Nagy brothers, the Newley brothers, the Zarin brothers, Gary, Ricky and Kym Peacock, Clive & Keith Perring, the Surfield brothers, the Need brothers, the Stirling brothers, Dixon & Bern Bruning and also myself and my brother Randy.

I have had some people mention the Smyth brothers, but they were involved at Apollo not Forestville.  

Forestville Stadium was instrumental in the development of many great players and future Hall of Famers. Apart from the brothers that played, other names such as  Peter Sutton, Colin Burdett , Inga Friedenfelds, Tom Tiliks ,Eddie Ceplitis,  Maris Lidums, John Kukurs, Algy Ignatavicius, Don Atkinson, John Gumbys,  Scott Davie, Don Shipway, Bob Hannam, Barry Wakefield, Joe Clarke, Michael Ahmatt,Wayne Crook,  Brian Dixon, Alan Dawe, Werner Linde, Doug Romain, Roger King, Glen Marsland, Tony Tindale, Russ Terret, Terry Aston, Bill Stuart, Basil Sellars,  Alan Hare, Dick Trott, John Horsell, Mike Megins, Jim Paul, David Cosh, Jeff Coulls, Jeff Willcox , Albert Leslie , Mark Lampshire, Peter Buss, Ken Scott, Eddie Murtagh, Andras Eiler, Tom Foote, Yenu Hoyck, Bryan Hennig, Alfie Switajewski, Gary Coombes, Mario Giglio, Jeff Brand, Col Dabinett, Lyn Parnell, Bob Russell, Ted Powell and Bruce Ninnis to name but a few, and all graced the boards at “The Home of Australian Basketball“.

Of course there were also a number of legendary Coaches – keith Miller, Alan Dawe, Doug Romain, Terry Aston, Ash Koch, Glen Barlow, Rex Holmes, Jeff Brand, Mal Heard, Erik Erkens, Merv & Ross Harris, Felix & Ilmars Blicavs . Again, sincere apologies to any that I have missed.

There were also some excellent referees around in those days –Lyall Clift, John Thewlis, David Moir, Greg Love, Len King, Mal Hemmerling, Fred Nussio, John Hague, Howard Nixon, Phil Yuill, Geoff Rowston, Geoff Yorath, John Watson, Jeff Norris and the man everybody loved to hate Reg Davey.

My sincere apologies to any brothers or others that I have missed. As there are no files available, this has all been written from memory, so please don’t be offended, just make contact and I can amend the BLOG accordingly.

District Basketball transferred to Apollo Stadium in 1969 although Forestville continued on for many years and was the home base of Forestville Eagles during their time in the NBL in 1980/1.

A Grand Old Lady

“The Grand Old Lady“ hosted some very memorable games over the years, Australian Championships at all age levels, South East Conference Games in the 60’s and numerous Grand Finals.

It also hosted many visiting International teams, American Colleges such as San Jose State, University of the Pacific, Venture for Victory and Oregon State that featured some future NBA players, Vic Bartolome ( the first 7 footer that I had ever seen ), Vince Fritz and Gary Freeman. Ironically Gary Arbelbide who later Player / Coached West Torrens to the 1974 Winter Premiership, was injured and Red Shirted that year, so did not make the trip.

They also had 5’8” Billy Nickelberry who could dunk with a ball in each hand.  True, I still can’t believe it.

Probably the most memorable game played there was the Grand Final of the Men’s Australian Championship in 1964, when before a crowd of at least 2,500 which was probably double what it was licensed for, with people literally hanging from the rafters, South Australia beat Victoria by 2 points, on the last shot of the game by John Heard, a two hander between the legs flop shot from the edge of the keyway which swished the net and the reaction nearly demolished the “Old Tin Shed“.

That same game saw a young 18 year old rookie called Werner Linde explode onto the National Scene with a 20 point second half all bombed from “downtown“. If they had had a 3-point line, he would have had 30 points. The 1964 Tokyo Olympic team was named straight after that game and Werner’s heroics in that game saw him get selected  for his first of 2 Olympic’s.

1964 Olympics

As mentioned earlier, the 1964 Olympic team was named immediately after that match and included from South Australia –  John Heard, Maik Dancis, Michael Ahmatt, Scott Davie, Werner Linde with Dean Whitford named as a reserve.Victoria  – Lindsay Gaze, Bill Wyatt, Les Hody and Brendan Hackwell, with Barry Barnes as a reserve. Les Hody was really a South Aussie, so with Keith Miller the Coach and Frank Angove the Team Manager, South Australia really dominated that team. 

Not bad as there were 9 Olympians in that Championship Final game as well as 2 reserves.

So South Australia really established themselves as a powerhouse of Australian Basketball, following the opening of Forestville Stadium –  with SA players dominating National selections for the next 10 years – 1956 Melbourne – 5 players, 1960 Rome – 6, 1962 Manila –  5, 1964 Tokyo – 5. 

Following South Australia’s first national Championship in 1953, SA went on over the following 30 years to win the title another 13 times and finished runner up 13 times, a remarkable effort for a smaller state, so well done to all those involved in the Administration led admirable by Frank Angove and Keith Miller, for their brilliant vision in the building of Australia’s first purpose built basketball stadium. Victoria, was next to follow suit, on the back of the funding to aid construction for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games. 

There is no doubt that the establishment of Forestville stadium led to a sudden and dramatic improvement in the standard of South Australian Basketball, so thanks to “The Old Tin Shed“, you certainly left a legacy. 

No 1 Court at Forestville was just great to play on, excellent floor, great soft rings, great spring in the floor and the crowd on the edge of the Court.

When The Powerhouse was being built and they held a “turning dirt“ ceremony in 1990, Andrew Kay from Channel 10 put together a series of interviews from the former greats.

One of the questions was :  “ What is your greatest memory of Forestville “. Scott Davie replied  – “ The Smell “.

Up until then, I hadn’t thought about it, but he was absolutely right.

It had this not unpleasant “rubbery smell“, the result of thousands of basketballs being bounced millions of times over nearly 40 years plus all of those rubber shoes and so it was great to realise that I was responsible for just a very little part of that smell. Does that comment bring back memories for you ?

What was also interesting, was that usually if one child from a family played then all of the other children did as well, so there were some great family involvements.

The most notable was probably the NAGY family where 5 sons and one daughter all played District and Huba won the Woollacott Medal and Maggie won the Halls Medal, they both went on to play for Australia as well.

The Newley’s had 3 brothers that played District as did the Peacocks and there were many families where 2 brothers played including my own with older brother Randy.

In fact both Randy and I were fortunate enough to both play both years in the U18 state team.

There may well have been other brothers that achieved that same feat, but I am not aware of any. Please let me know if you think that I am wrong.

Please feel free to contribute to this Blog, with your information and memories. Your contribution would be most welcome.

So Forestville Stadium, so many great players, great matches and great memories over so many years especially “ the smell “.

Let’s also not forget the very many relationships and marriages were formed in that place, now that is a long list.

Regrettably, there were also some relationships broken up, as a result of other secretive liasions – I know nothing. 

There were also some notable “misunderstandings“. I can remember an exhibition match played prior to a visiting International Team, where John Gumby’s has a “ misunderstanding “ with Czaba Nagy, Gumby’s was last seen being escorted off to hospital with blood streaming down his head. What were you thinking John Gumbys ?

 Czaba was a tough son of a gun and to young guys like me “damn scary“.

Who could forget the night that “all hell broke loose“ in the game between Norwood and West Adelaide, the biggest melee in the History of SA Basketball, with every player involved.

Mass suspensions were handed out to players on both teams. I am reliably informed that it had been simmering for some time, in the weeks before.

Czaba decided to settle some old scores and sought out referee Reg Davey and had him in a headlock for some considerable time, before others managed to pry him loose.

I think that there were some other players that were not involved, that were secretly delighted by Czaba’s actions, no names, no pack drill.

Interestingly, despite Czaba’s on court persona , I have been assured by many that know him well, that off court he is a very gentle and thoroughly likeable guy.  

That “Old Tin Shed“ had a huge impact on so many lives and played a vitally important part in the positive development of so many Boys and Girls. 

If you too have memories of Forestville Stadium then please send them to:, and we will publish what we can.


My sincere thanks to Arthur Newley, John Wright and Bryan Hennig, for the information that they were able to provide to me in the writing of this BLOG. Arthur was able to let me have access to quite a deal of information, which he has collected, including the original Council Lease for the land.

Arthur also has quite a range of memorabilia and material from the “ The Old Tin Shed “ including, pieces of the terrazzo entrance, timber from the centre circle and even one of the backboards. No doubt these articles will eventually end up in a special museum, perhaps at the newly announced HQ for basketball at the expansion of Wayville.

He also has a lot of memorabilia from Apollo, including pieces of the floor and the wrought iron gates from the front door.

Arthur or “Lurch“ as he is fondly known was a state junior and senior player, won the U21 Milestone Medal twice and was runner up in the Woollacott.

John is doing a wonderful job for Basketball History, collecting valuable information and photos for the website and facebook pages, information that will become more valuable and important in the years ahead.

He was also a state junior player and following a leg injury, turned his hand to coaching and was the Assistant Coach under Ken Cole for West Adelaide winning several Championships including local premierships and an NBL title.

Forestville Stadium – The Old Tin Shed ’50 Years of Wonderful Memories’

17 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great article. A couple of other brothers were the Hare brothers – Alan played on the 1960 Olympic team and the Whitford brothers. Adding to the Nagy family contributions was also the oldest brother Arkos who umpired at District level.
    I was part of the crowd at the 1964 Australian championships that SA stole from the Vics. 30seconds to go after Werner Linde’s 19 point second half SA are two points down and Geza Nagy playing his first finals is fouled while shooting. Time out called and suddenly umpire Reg Davey’s whistle goes missing lots of chaos until Gentleman John Heard “finds” the whistle and marches to the penalty stripe, of course the Vics protest but Reg Davey then insists that he is right and John sinks the two to make scores level. The next two plays consist of the Vics passing the ball the length of the court to Barry Barnes who drops both passes out of court giving SA possession and the John Heard shot. Brings back great memories. went to every game with my schoolmate Jim and sat at centre court with the late Barry Wakefield and his partner – needless to say not much homeworkk or study done that week.

  2. Many thanks Greg for your nice comment , much appreciated .
    I played for United Church ( now Sturt ) and played against all of the people that you mentioned including Barry Wakefield , his tussles with Maik Dancis were legendary .
    Dean Whitford was a great player and was a reserve for the ’64 Tokyo games , his South Adelaide team mates Scott Davie & Michael Ah matt were in that team .
    I was also at that game in 1964 when John Heard made that final basket ( standing room only ) , I can remember it vividly . Actually my first game for United Church as a 16 year old was John’s last before he moved to Canberra with IBM .
    Everyones recollection of that game was that Werner came on and hit everything he put up , whereas when I saw a replay of the game a few years later , he actually missed several shots before he started to hit and get on that incredible roll .
    The atmosphere at that game is still probably the most electric of any game that I have seen
    There are many other stories on my website which if you have not already seem them , then I am sure that you would enjoy .
    I believe that Reg Davey may have passed away very recently aged 90 .
    They were great days , I reflect on them quite often .
    I would love to get your feedback on some of the other stories .
    best wishes and regards

  3. Terrific recap Malcolm that brings back so many great memories of Forestville Stadium and my introduction to Basketball.
    My dates are approximate of course but my first introduction was around 1954 watching a game at the OBI in town when a Goodwood Primary Schoolmates older brother I think took us both there.
    I recall after that going to Forestville Stadium when the same mate tried to get me interested in the sport.As I played every other sport for the School I didnt get too involved then.
    Werner Linde was a year behind me at Goodwood and was a friend of my future brother inlaw Wayne Tedmanson and Mario Giglio.Knowing these guys was eventually why I joined West Adelaide and was in a star studded U/18 team coached by Keith Miller.
    I had come from a very low grade Social Team to a star studded Junior group so it’s fair to say I was out of my class then.
    Going to Forestville Stadium was The Highlight of the week for all of us in those days.
    Being part of the Sports progression and growth was the major factor in my life in every aspect.
    Your account Mal is an excellent summary of that early period

    I attended Unley High School from 1956 and remember meeting Tony Tindale who was a year or so older than me who was into basketball.We later were team mates at West Adelaide.
    I became hooked on the Sport in 58/59 when my Uncles factory put a team into one of the many Socal Comps at Forestville.
    In those days unlike now if you showed any ability it was possible without having a Junior career you could progress to District which I did with Des Milne.
    It was such an exciting time in Basketball with Forestville progressing to 3 courts then having timber floors finally on all of them.
    Sauna conditions on Sunday nights when the West Adelaide District Men and Womens Teams practiced remains a vivid memory.
    The whole Basketball at District competition level was like a tight knit family.
    I eventually coachd the West Adelaide Women then became the junior coordinator watching our junior girls grow from 3 teams to so many.
    During the Sports growth in this period you knew most on a first name basis and many now are legends.
    Frank Angove,Keith Miller,Merv Harris in particular are 3 of many who the Sport are forever indebted to.
    So many highlights in our Memory Banks that you could easily fill a book with.
    Your recall of that Australian Championship is one of the All Time Greats.
    Having been part of the growth of our Sport and especially from the very early days mentioned I am proud to be part of Basketballs Family.
    Watching the Mens and Womens National League on TV which in the past was only a pipe dream should fill all of those who were involved from the past with a degree of pride.

  4. Mal, you’ve forgotten the Smyth brothers. Phil and David, but you’re forgiven. Really enjoyed the read.

  5. Mal, you are forgive for not naming Dick & Bern Bruning and cousins Brian and Barry Specht and Fred Specht Barry dad.
    Fred and Dick started West Adelaide and it was Fred mates Teddy Hunt and Frank Angove who started District.
    It was Teddy Hunt who found the area and came up with the debentures idea to fund the build it was Dick who as an engineer it was said built it.
    If it was not for Dick and Fred there would never had been a West team or a District stadium.
    Somewhat before your time!

  6. G’day Malcolm.
    Great article. As juniors, Forestville was our second home.
    We made many friends from opposition sides who were just as obsessed about the game as us. We were also lucky to see some of the finest basketballers of that era every Thursday night.
    They really were the “good ole days”.
    Just one correction : it was Fred Heaton, not Hinton.

  7. A very good history Mal i could give you the reason for the fight between West and Norward. The girls story would be just as colorful! Before your time on the door was Harry Driscoll [?] and Mrs Coburn the mother of the best girl player Bronte at that time.

  8. Great article Mal. I have lots of good Forestville memories having played there from 1960 to 1967. I started there as a 10 year old playing for C Y. Kevin Lynch went around the local Catholic primary schools recruiting players. My school, St Anthony’s, Edwardstown supplied quite a few. More memorable names are Laurie Harcus, the Clarke’s etc. I played in the first year of Biddy Ball (u12s). Then all through juniors to u18s.
    Best memory at Forestville # 1 court was winning the u16 Aus championships in 1965? Team was coached by M Harris. We beat Victoria in the final. They were coached by L Gaze.
    Another standout was being on the bench in 1966? when C Y beat Norwood in a playoff to qualify for District competition (Thurs nights). C Y names I remember from those games Anstey, Schouten & Sparrow. We had to change the club name & chose Centrals which later became Glenelg.
    C Y had a long running “thing” with West Adelaide all through my time in juniors at Forestville so my memories of Keith Miller & his West Adelaide teams are not as complimentary as described in your article. Having said that hardest player to guard in my short Forestville District experience was Werner Linde & best team played against in my opinion was South Adelaide.

  9. As with many others, I started playing basketball on Saturday afternoons in United Church basketball (Glengowrie Methodist). Steve Braithwaite (Plympton High), West player, coach and referee, encouraged me to begin refereeing at Forestville on Friday nights when I was 15. My first game was J Grade (rough men!) on cement court 2 with Fred Nussio. But Friday night was mainly U16 and U18 (the first or second best competition in Australia v Melbourne). I refereed my first District Game (with Reg Davey!!) when I was 17 and it was exciting that both teams had Olympians in them. ASK (Latvians) had Maik Dancis and Budapest (Hungarians) had Les Hody, who had played Olympic basketball for Hungary before defecting to Australia and playing Olympic basketball for us.
    Thinking about Forestville (and the smell!) brings to mind some of the happiest years of my life. Players and referees got on well in those days. I used to go to Forestville in the day during school holidays by tram from Glenelg. My brother Neil played for United Church and played one District game! There was more than one occasion when we went through the tramline underpass and sprinted to catch the last tram to Glenelg after it went over the loop. But, of course, after I started work at 17, Thursday night was the highlight of the week.
    I will recall two strange events.
    One Thursday night Eddie Ceplitis of ASK was trapped with the ball on the baseline behind the backboard. Without hesitation, he shot the ball into the air, over the backboard and through the net for two points. I have never seen that done again.
    During one school holidays, I was at the stadium and Keith Miller had to replace one of the lights above Court 1. Keith climbed an extension(!!) ladder to unscrew the light at least 40 feet above the floor. He called out, ‘Guy, I want you to catch this (large) bulb’ and then let it go. I actually caught it in two hands without breaking it.
    Of course, I watched (and sometimes) refereed many of the players mentioned, including you, Mal. I moved with work to Sydney in 1972 but my days at Forestville from 1964 to 1972 remain etched in my memory forever. Thank you for these reminiscences.

  10. Thanks Guy , I remember both you and your brother very well , they were great days indeed .
    Hope that life is treating you well and that you are still involved in BBall .
    Best wishes , hope that we catch up at some time

  11. What a fascinating story. I live in Forestville NSW!! However I am always ‘alert’ to what is ‘happening’ in SA – South Australia not South Africa – as I have a grandchild living there. It is a while since I visited.
    Just been reading about The Currency Creek Arboretum near Mclaren Vale and the remarkable Eucalypts (908) all planted from seed.
    Go well S.A.

  12. many thanks Judith for your kind comments . I actually live at Hindmarsh island which is very close to Currency Creek . You might enjoy reading some of my other blogs on the website
    best regards
    Malcolm Simpson

  13. wonderful blog Malcolm, my father Russ Ritter and mother Betty Ritter both played there. We went there every Friday night and I grew up often asleep on those wooden seats/benches during the later 50s and 60s. Mum and Dad (he coached too) were great friends with many players and would have big parties on a Saturday night at their house in Glenelg North. Les Hody was always there and I was in Hungary recently when one of the restaurant owners told me that Laslo Les had passed away in May 2023. I last spoke to him a few years ago when mum and dad passed. I have a basketball that was presented to Dad by his old team The Saints at Mum and Dads 50th/60th wedding anniversary. Signed on the ball by Les Hody, John Riordan, Des McAnulty, George Bailey, Barb Messenger, Brian (Steak) Messenger, John Quinlan, Eric Wylie, Ron King, Tony Hildyard, Ron Millar, Bondie Eilee. I can still smell Forestville! What has happened to it?

  14. Great article! I left South Australia with my family in 1974 for New Zealand after playing for the Bearcats under 12 team. My most exhilarating memory was having my name read out for the state team in the changing rooms at Forestville; I ran out of that room as fast as I could, my heart almost bursting with glee.
    Sundays playing basketball – for as long as there was a run – has been a backbone throughout my life, whether street courts in LA,
    The Apollo Hall in Amsterdam (funny), concrete knee busters in Singapore or at immaculate Nike HQ in Portland – I was lucky enough to write Nike ads for many years – but it all started with the vibe, the spirit and the smell of that great old shed. The love of the game sent me to a career in sports that constantly references the transformative value of sport.
    I’m writing this looking at the South Australia 1973 team photo that sits proudly on my office desk. Pearce, Loutit, Barton, Blecklet, the Grafton twins, Gary Thompson, Wayne Kingsman, Lee.
    Hit me up if any of you read this.
    We’ve not crossed paths for decades but it’s still there. The feeling of those canvas All Stars on hitting Court One.
    Andy Fackrell.

  15. Amazing recap on this wonderful stadium , spent so much time there in my younger days just wondering around and playing in the creek when it was dry. Great memories
    Fantastic work

  16. Well done Mal, a terrific read and certainly brings back great memories of wonderful times at Forestville – including IIRC, being your team mate for a short time! I certainly remember that infamous night with Czaba and Reg Davey coming after a previous incident when Czaba punched a hole in the door to the referees room, then ripped it off its hinges and took it away to be repaired! My district career with United Church was relatively brief, but the friendships made back then across all the clubs, still endure to this day. Basketball at Forestville changed my life and I’m still benefiting from that change. It’s been great reconnecting with many of the names you mention at the Free Throw Foundation functions plus training and playing with some of those greats in the Masters (Seniors) competition: Bobby Hannam, Bryan Hennig, & Rod Bauer in particular.
    Thanks again, John “Borneo” Kirk

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