Riders through the Decades

Leicester Riders, Britain’s oldest professional basketball club, was founded in 1967. Our rich history spans five arenas, 19 pieces of silverware and three name changes.

As founding members of the National Basketball League in 1972 and the British Basketball League in 1987, we have forever been staples of the sport in the UK.

Take a look back in time at the club through the decades.

1960sLoughborough All-Stars

The club, originally known as the Loughborough All-Stars, was founded by students and lecturers at Loughborough University on 26 April 1967.

Vaughan Thomas, a Wales and GB international, created a team that included the best players the East Midlands had to offer.

Pictured is the squad from the 1968/69 season, following a win against the Edinburgh Hornets.

Peter Shaw (#6), was a founding member who played seven seasons with the team.

Shaw became the club’s coach in 1974, and was a fixture of the sidelines for much of the next 15 years.

1970s- National Basketball League founded

1972 marked the founding of the National League, of which the All-Stars were among six competing teams.

Pictured is the Loughborough squad from the 1972/72 season, the first year of the NBL.

The All-Stars finished with a 5-5 record that season, led by Riders legend Carl Olsson’s (#13) 19 points per game.

After a half-decade of the National League, the All-Stars departed in 1979 to become a non-league club.

1980s- Riders are born

Between 1979 and 1981 the club won the Founders Cup (the top honour for a non-league side) during both their seasons out of the top flight.

1981 marked the year that the club moved from Loughborough to its current home, Leicester, as they reentered the National League in Division Two.

The move was backed by Leicester City Council and Leicester City Bus, hence the change in name to “Riders”.

Coached by Shaw, the Riders played their games at the newly refurbished Granby Halls, until its closure in 2000.

The side made light work of Division Two, winning the league undefeated and collecting the National Trophy.

They also tasted their first major final in the mid-80s, but fell to the dominant Solent Stars.

1990s- National Cup Final

Image credit: Mansoor Ahmed

Near the start of the 90s, the Riders made the second National Cup Final of their then 24-year history.

The competition has run since 1936, and this iteration saw the Riders take on the Sunderland Saints at the London Arena.

The Riders lost 88-81, led by Gene Waldron’s 26-point effort, but returned a decade later to win the Cup against the Greater London Leopards in an 84-82 thriller.  

They would have to wait a decade to return to the big stage.

2000s- Riders’ first BBL silverware

The Riders kicked off the 2000s with a bang.

They celebrated their move back to Loughborough, this time to the Sir David Wallace Centre, by filling the trophy cabinet immediately.

With their 2001 NTL Cup and BBL Playoff win, they took home their first pieces of British Basketball League silverware, led by legendary Head Coach Billy Mims.

It all started in the Cup Final, where the Riders broke their 30-year duck in major competitions. Their 84-82 win against London was led by MVP Ralph Blalock, who scored 26 in the game.

To end the famous 2000/01 season, the Riders came through to win the BBL Playoffs as the 8-seed, beating the Sheffield Sharks at Wembley Arena (pictured).

Blalock, again, led all scorers with 25, capping off a Cinderella story.

“The Riders were written off as no-hopers at the start of the season, but under the stewardship of former London Leopards head coach Billy Mims, the unfashionable Midlands outfit became a revelation.”

Daniel Routledge

2010s- Dynastic decade

It was over a decade-long wait for the Riders to lift their next trophy, but good things come in threes!

Led by Head Coach Rob Paternostro, now the most decorated coach in BBL history, the Riders were crowned treble winners, winning the 2013 BBL Cup, BBL Championship and BBL Playoffs (pictured).

The Playoff Final was a 68-57 win against the Newcastle Eagles, led by Drew Sullivan’s 24-point dominant display.

The historic season kicked off a dominant Riders run, where they won 10 competitions in six years!

In 2016, they moved into their current home, the Morningside Arena, allowing the Riders to bring British basketball dominance into their own arena.

2020s- Completing a trio of trebles

Having followed up their 2013 treble with another in 2017, the Riders made it three in ten years in 2022.

After winning the league a year prior, the Riders returned with a bang to take home the BBL Cup, BBL Championship (pictured), and BBL Playoffs.

With a 25-2 record, they dominated the league, before beating the London Lions in the Playoff final 78-75, led by back-to-back BBL MVP Geno Crandall’s 23 points, to cap off another historic year.

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