Life Member Profile – Robert Symons

Bob Symons, together with Peter Simper, were the promotors and founding members of the Perth Men’s Basketball Club. Bob became the Club’s first President at the inaugural General Meeting of the Club held on the grassy mound at the front door of the new Perry Lakes Basketball Stadium on 28 January 1964. Bob continued as President in 1965. He was also the first A Grade coach in 1964 and then in 1965.

Bob was recruited from the Highgate Club by Peter to play with the University of WA team having played together in a number of WA State teams and having developed a strong friendship. Although a graduate of the University of Western Australia, Bob and most other current UWA players, at the time, became ineligible to play for the University club due to a ruling in 1963 by the UWA Sports Council to ban players who were not University undergraduates.

Bob and Peter Simper set about to find an alternative solution and together they persuaded a number of the former University players, including Richard Longley, Frank Preston and Kevin Collins to join them in the development of a new club. They then set about inviting notable players from other clubs, including Len Vlahov from SLOGA and “Pixie” Smith from St. John’s to also join them as foundation members.

The choice of name for the new Club became a month-long discussion between Bob and Peter and by Christmas 1963 they had settled on having a club with the State capital city name, Perth, in it. The underlying reason for the name was to have a club located in a recognisable city in the event that development of the club could be extended to competing or touring overseas which was motivated by the refusal of the clubs in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales to allow an application from the new Perth club to compete in either of the prevailing conference competitions at the time: the South Eastern Conference and the Oceania Conference. These were later superseded by the National Club Championships and then the National Basketball League.

The solution became the Perth Men’s Basketball Club which in the beginning did not include women’s membership. But it did provide an opportunity to develop and promote junior basketball which was not an option open to the UWA team.

Bob’s goal as A Grade coach was to break the domination of the successful YMCA-Perth team which had won most of the past nine winter competition premierships, UWA being the only club to upset this run in 1963. Perth repeated this achievement in the 1965 Men’s A Grade Grand Final.

Bob represented WA for several years between 1957 and 1966 in National Championships and at the age of 36 was player-coach of the 1965 WA State team.

It wasn’t until 1975, as a mandatory WABF requirement of becoming a District Club, amalgamation with the women’s Magpies club saw the Perth Men’s Basketball Club became the Perth Basketball Association.

The Club commenced competing in the 1964 WABA season with an immediate ranking to enter in the A Grade competition. Because of the strong recruitment of membership, by Bob and Peter, Perth started with three senior men’s teams playing at the new Perry Lakes Basketball Stadium which opened in 1962 as the boxing stadium for the Perth Commonwealth Games.

Bob Symons was awarded life membership of the Perth Basketball Association in 1978.

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