Welcome to southdragons.com, formerly the official website of the South Dragons and now home of the Awaken the Dragons campaign.
The campaign aims to galvanise support for the return of the 2008/09 champions to the National Basketball League. The NBL has signalled its intent to include a second Melbourne team in its expansion, however there is a concern that this team will be an entirely new brand.
We are here to show that the second Melbourne team must be the South Dragons.
The Dragons breathed fire into a Victorian basketball community that was fast becoming disillusioned with the NBL after previous franchises based in the state had fallen by the wayside.
Rather than expecting this community to adopt yet another new franchise, it is time to continue the momentum the Dragons had created.
It is time to reignite the fire.
It is time to Awaken the Dragons.
"There's a real appetite for a team in Melbourne." – Fraser Neill, Adelaide Advertiser, 13 November 2013.
That quote from National Basketball League chief executive Fraser Neill confirms the NBL’s interest in establishing a new Melbourne team for season 2014/15, along with a presence in Brisbane. Neill's comments are certainly welcome, for the Melbourne Tigers are incapable of representing the entire Victorian basketball community due to the intense passion of previous cross-town derbies. This town flourishes when there are two strong sides, with crowds in excess of 9000 people packing into Hisense Arena to see the South Dragons host the Tigers. However, despite the positive vibes from NBL HQ, there remains great uncertainty over the identity of the proposed club, which many simply refers to as a “second Melbourne team.” We often hear this term.
By referring to supporters of the Giants, Magic, Titans and Dragons as the one identity, there’s an assumption that we are always going to accept whatever brand the NBL throws at us. We must no longer be taken for granted. Our passions are not transient. We are Dragons. For the Dragons were our panacea following many years of pain, in which we bought season memberships, experienced the highs and lows of sport and remained loyal to the league when others deserted it, only to have our teams ripped from our hearts.
We could have bought into the Tigers’ monopoly between 2004 and 2006, which saw the league’s profile sink into an abyss and newspapers relegate their basketball coverage to the page adjacent to the obituaries. We could have turned our backs on the NBL forever, choosing to spend our summers soaking up the sunrays at the beach, joining in a Mexican wave at the ‘G or chanting “Ole Ole” at the soccer.
But when two businessmen named Mark Cowan and Raphael Geminder came along and launched a new club on December 15 2005, how could we resist? We, the basketball junkie, had been invited to a family reunion. A reunion which was going to offer more than a fleeting relationship.
Good things come to those who wait, and suddenly we had a product to be proud of, as we would walk up Swan Street on a balmy summer’s evening, glance at the Nylex Clock and ascend the steps of Hisense Arena to embark on a night’s entertainment incomparable to anything else in the sporting landscape. The results didn’t always go our way – the wooden-spoon season of 2007/08 tested our patience – but the welcoming arms of the South Dragons Basketball Club were impossible to escape. This was an inclusive environment, in which the players were accessible, the staff were amiable and the supporters were finally united. We didn’t necessarily know each other’s name, nor did we necessarily speak to one another. But there was always time for a smile and a nod, for our journey was too common to be ignored.
It become an exhilarating journey, too, with the recruitment of Brian Goorjian and star players such as Mark Worthington and Adam Gibson delivering results which seemed unimaginable just twelve months earlier. These were times to savour, as we’d congregate in the members’ function room and be greeted by the familiar phrase of, “How about those Dragons?!” Those Dragons would soon be champions, and our rocky journey had reached its summit.
Or so we thought.
Now we found ourselves without a team once more, and the generic phrase “second Melbourne team” has returned to the NBL lexicon. There’s every chance the team will be a completely new brand, and, considering our loyal history, there’s ever chance we will be in the stands together showing our support. However, we would be doing so with a heavy heart, as we all know that nothing can replicate the days of the Dragons.
It is for this reason that we ask you to join us in saving our Dragons. This is a team which now has history and an existing supporter base. Only egoistic games of one-upmanship could motivate a prospective owner to overlook the Dragons’ legacy and design their own brand, and this is not the time for self-interest. Our sport has enough rivals without shooting itself in the foot. So let’s put any differences aside, work in harmony and, with a bit of luck, we will meet underneath our championship banner next season and have the Black Army roaring like never before.
Now that is a reunion to look forward to.