It was one year ago today that Melbourne Tigers fans were confronted with the confirmation that their beloved team was renamed Melbourne United.
News of the renaming was leaked the previous day but Tigers fans were hoping that their team owners were not serious about this decision that would unravel 30 years of NBL history in an instant.
Unfortunately for Tigers fans, their worst fears were realized and the Tigers were gone and replaced by a team whose logo looked somewhat similar to A League club Melbourne Heart before it’s renaming to Melbourne City, A jersey that nobody can decide if it’s Blue or Black and a team song that seems to fit New York or anywhere in the USA than Melbourne.
As the days went on, it became clear with research that this action was planned by the owners and top staff for some time and the once strong Tigers community was ripped apart as fans were faced with the choice of staying with United or fight for the Tigers.
Fans were puzzled how sections of Tigers history including the four NBL titles were happily kept by United while the five retired numbers of the Tigers were suddenly open for the taking, fans also were unhappy that the team was claiming to represent all past Melbourne NBL teams but none of their titles or honours hang from the rafters but instead logos are shown on a pre-game video.
United had a rough opening to their NBL existence, they lost their first match of the season and then lost Chris Anstey in a split that was said to be nice but hardly believed by basketball fans, Melbourne legend D-Mac stepped in and for awhile it looked like he would take United to playoffs just like Anstey done with the Tigers months earlier.
United imploded as players bagged each other in the press and D-Mac also took to the media to express his displeasure with the squad, an almost sure thing finals appearance turned into a mission to salvage pride against the Sydney Kings which they did to a crowd over 10,000 which was trumpeted but without finals the buzz was slight and once again basketball news is down to a trickle from the press.
Melbourne United are currently in chaos as the 2014/15 team has been gutted and a new coach has taken the reins, co-owner Larry Kestelman is aiming to take over the NBL and that has fans really nervous for if he gutted the Tigers then he could certainly rip the guts out of the other NBL teams too.
Melbourne Tigers fans who walked away from United jumped aboard the Tigers BigV teams and have been supporting the team at their home games at MSAC and around Melbourne no doubt giving the players of the legendary club a boost as the team now has more people becoming members and seeing more attendees to their games, while being in the BigV may seem as a step down it is in reality a tactical turn around as the Tigers aim to make the jump to SEABL which is seen as serious if not superior competition for the NBL.
Tigers fans are also helping the team out by posting game information, pictures and game results on social media allowing fans to be in the know better than ever before and in some cases fans are more informed than when the Tigers were in the NBL.
2015 has been a struggle for the Tigers teams but the BigV teams play with the same dedication and spirit of the teams that entertained the WNBL and NBL over the last thirty years and WANMU hopes that the team does make it to SEABL and continue to make it’s way to the highest of basketball competition in Australia.
It’s been a hard year for fans, it was hard watching the NBL without the Tigers but fans are glad the BigV season is in full swing and the Tigers are once again the Kings and Queens of Melbourne which has been the case since 1931 and will continue to be that way for a very long time.
Always remember ‘We are not Melbourne United, We are the Melbourne Tigers’.