Nostalgia: Mark Woods relives how Rocks rolled at Meadowbank

Edinburgh Rocks player Sean Bell, scores against the Birmingham Bullets at Meadowbank in 1999
Edinburgh Rocks player Sean Bell, scores against the Birmingham Bullets at Meadowbank in 1999
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The echoes of ball rebounding from hardwood reverberated for one last time at Meadowbank last weekend, one last basketball match organised before the final buzzer sounded on the sport’s ancestral home in Scotland.

Ten of us, including some who had made their reputations there, gathered to share recollections and relive glory days long past, the thick layer of dust coating the backboards a reminder that the grand old venue will soon be rubble.

Nineteen years ago, Hall 1 was The Quarry, the initial home of Edinburgh Rocks with the sound echoing in waves from the freshly-installed seats as the Capital welcomed its own professional team.

“I remember the crowd generally,” recounts James Steel, who played for the team in its inaugural campaign in the British Basketball League. “The atmosphere was always phenomenal. But my best memory was probably in our second season when John McCord broke up the far end and went for a dunk. The ring snapped off. He ended up going over to stand up in the crowd.”

The Meadowbank staff emerged with tools and tape but to no avail. “They couldn’t get the ring repaired,” Steel adds. “We had about three minutes left of the game. So we ended up going into Hall 2 to beat them with fans standing all around the edge of the court.

“I think we had to wait for the badminton to finish up before we got in. But it was probably my favourite memory of my time with the club.”

The arena staged so many important contests during its near half-century: European club games, many a Great Britain international and countless Scottish Cup finals. “There was one, I think in 2003, where we were playing Falkirk Fury,” recalls former Edinburgh Kings and Scotland guard Laurie Costello.

“For the first three quarters, we just managed to stay in it. Then Dan Wardrope, who was an Aussie who joined us, started shooting and shooting from further out. It was one of those moments where the team were screaming ‘don’t shoot’ but then going ‘Dan, good shot!’ It was a great game.”

The last shots have now been taken. The nets cut down for souvenirs and the lights switched off for good. “It’s sad to see Meadowbank go,” grins Costello. “But like my skills and fitness, it’s not done well with age.”