Celebrating half a century of Nottingham Basketball

Jets 50

Former and current members of the Jets Basketball Club will be joined by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, Catharine Arnold to celebrate 50 years since the club started.

The club was founded in 1968 and is the oldest junior basketball club still in existence in the city and county.

The club started when Fred Wingfield (1929 – 2012) took his son on a trip to see the legendary Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s. When he returned to Nottingham he set up a team of his own, so his son and his friends could play. At first the kids played in the street and didn’t even have a hoop, but the club has since grown massively, began to welcome girls, has had hundreds of members and also won some championships.

The current coach, American Jimmy ‘Jumpshot’ Smith, joined when his club Leicester Riders moved him into the Meadows at the end of 1976. Jimmy soon met Fred and became a coach. Three years later Fred asked Jimmy to take over as head coach of the Jets Club.

Over the years it has been known by different names, such as Meadow Jets, but they have always been based in the city at various venues in the Meadows and Wilford. For most of the past 20 years the club has been based at Portland Centre in the Meadows, only a few streets away from where it all started, at 226 Bathley Street.

Now former players and coaches are being urged to come and join the celebration at the Portland Centre on Friday 18 May from 6-8pm. Activities like matches and shooting competitions will be held. The current coach and team hope to see anyone who was ever involved or would like to be involved there.

Jimmy ‘Jumpshot’ Smith said: “The ethos of the club has always been about providing somewhere for young people to play basketball and the club mainly exists for young people who enjoy learning and playing the game.

“There have been so many players, coaches, volunteers and parents who throughout the years have supported the teams and I would like to thank them all and encourage them to come along to the event on Friday.”

Cllr Catharine Arnold, The Sheriff of Nottingham, said: “I’m proud to attend the 50 year anniversary of the Jets and show my support for such a great team. They have done so much for young people in Nottingham and the game of basketball in the city and they are a great asset to Nottingham’s sporting history.”

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