WAYNE Ricarte, Gary Jackson, Jeff McKerrow, Mick Hickey, Peter Dempsey.
These are just some of the names that represented the Albury-Wodonga Bandits the last time the Border club hosted a game at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre, a 122-80 thrashing at the hands of Manly on August 25, 1985.
It’s been almost 27 years since but tomorrow, all that will change when the Bandits take a step back in time to play host to the Canberra Gunners.
The Wodonga stadium was the original home court in 1984 for the Bandits’ debut season — playing as the Wodonga Border Bulldogs — in the old South Eastern Basketball League and the venue then split games with the newly constructed Albury Sports Stadium the following year.
The Lady Bandits were due to host the Hobart Lady Chargers in Wodonga last year but the match was cancelled when the Tasmanian club’s flight to the mainland suffered lengthy delays.
But before tomorrow afternoon’s Wodonga game, the Border club travels to Frankston for a crunch match-up with the always gritty Frankston Blues, who, like the Bandits, are fighting hard to stay in play-off contention.
Bandits captain Nick Payne said the match would be unique.
“It’s an interesting weekend, we’ve got a tough road trip to Frankston and then head back home and front up for a game on Sunday,” Payne said.
“It should be an enjoyable weekend, we’re confident we can get a sweep, we’ve got every reason to win two games if we want to cement a spot in the finals.
“And this weekend is crucial for that, I think we owe Frankston one from earlier in the year and we didn’t play particularly well in that game.
“I think we’re a more talented team than they are and hopefully we can put it all together and get one back on them.”
Having never played a SEABL game in Wodonga, Payne admitted the unfamiliar surroundings could be tricky for both teams, but he still expected to beat the cellar-dwelling Gunners, who have had a miserable 1-19 season thus far.
“It’ll be new territory for me but we’ve got a full crew of guys who play with the Wodonga Wolves in the off-season who are very familiar with the court,” Payne said.
“It’s a home game and it will have a different feel to it but we’re just going to have to put all that aside and just go out there and approach it as if it’s another game on another court.
“It’s the pointy end of the season for us, we want to play finals and it doesn’t matter if it’s the bottom team or the top team, we have to come out and play our game and get a result in our favour.”