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History Recap

1979

Illawarra Hawks are one of 10 founding teams in newly formed National Basketball League.

Playing out of the Snakepit at Beaton Park, they finish eighth with five wins from 18 games.

1980

The Adrian Hurley-coached Hawks go 13-9 and finish sixth in 12-team league. Miss semi-finals by one win. Hawks forward Jim Slacke leads league in free throw percentage (87.2). St Kilda beat West Adelaide in grand final.

1981

Hawks boast two of league’s most exciting imports in Mike Jones and Bennie Lewis.

Jones captures NBL MVP honours, but Hawks finish eighth with 9-13 record.

1982

An 11-15 record leaves the Hawks in ninth spot out of 14 teams. Gordie McLeod finishes second in assists with 4.5 per game behind Geelong’s Cal Bruton. Tom Pottenger had his only season as coach after serving under Joe Farrugia as an assistant the previous season. West Adelaide win title.

1983

NBL broken into Eastern and Western Divisions and Illawarra finish second-last in Eastern with just four wins from 22 games. Import Mike Jones wraps up memorable three-year stint with the club, averaging a league-best 32.7 points per game. Canberra claim title.

1984

Snakepit is extended from two to four courts and Hawks move ‘‘next door’’ to new home.

Under coach Charlie Ammit and playmaking genius Gordie McLeod, Hawks finish fourth (13-11) and reach play-offs for first time with ex-NBA forward Marlon Redmond as their import. Lost in first round to Newcastle. Gordie led league in assists (8.5).

 1985

Ted Weston takes coaching reins from Charlie Ammit and Hawks miss playoffs with 10 wins from 26 games. Gordie tops in assists again with 10.2 per night and third in steals (2.8). No more East and West divisions and Brisbane win championship.

1986-1987

Two pivotal years as Hawks make semi-finals in both seasons.

In ‘86 David Lindstrom takes charge as coach in a tenure which lasts seven seasons.

McLeod’s miraculous buzzer-beater against Brisbane in game two of ‘87 semi-finals goes down in Hawks folklore.

1988

Hawks narrowly miss playoffs with 11-13 record. Third year of Lindstrom era. Gordie’s last year with club. Cannons beat North Melbourne in grand final series.

1989

Hawks endure a tough season, finished third-last with 7-17 record. Hawks forward Justin Withers wins NBL Rookie of Year award. Gaze leads league in points (34.6) and assists (7.6). Giants avenge previous year’s GF loss to Canberra.

1990

Hawks win pre-season K-Mart Classic and go on to win 13 of 26 regular season games, narrowly missing top six.

Stormin’ Norman Taylor sets club record with 54 points, breaking his own record of 49 from previous year – Record still stands today.

1991

Barely avoid wooden spoon with 6-20 record. Norm Taylor’s final year of three seasons. Import Lewis Jackson DUI charge and flees country.

1992

Future NBA guard Doug Overton and forward Melvin Thomas form arguably club’s greatest all-time import combination in ‘92. Hawks make the playoffs after finishing in fifth spot with 13-11 record. Lose in first round of finals to Giants. Overton named to all-NBL team.

Lindstrom era ends after ‘92 season.

1993-94

Alan Black’s first two years, going 15-11 in ‘93 and 13-13 in ‘94. Qualify for post-season both times and beaten first round again.

1995

After guiding Hawks into post-season for three consecutive years, Alan Black quits as coach to join Sydney Kings, taking Thomas with him.

Continued sell-out crowds prompt Hawks management to investigate prospects of moving to bigger stadium.

1996

Black’s departure signals beginning of Brendan Joyce era. With imports Marcus Timmons and Andre LaFleur, Hawks compile 9-17 record and finish ninth.

1997

Hawks bottom out with league-worst seven wins from 30 games and Joyce barely hangs on to job.

As Hawks struggle to compete with bigger name franchises, Illawarra businessman John Carson, a longtime Hawks supporter, purchases the club.

1998-1999

After 21 seasons the Illawarra Hawks move out of Snakepit to new home at the WIN Entertainment Centre and undergo a minor name change to become the Wollongong Hawks, as NBL shifts from winter to summer season.

With Carson’s backing, Hawks become team to be reckoned with again, finishing third with 16 wins.

2000/2001

After missing play-offs in 2000, Joyce’s team wins the championship, beating the Crocodiles in the deciding game three in Townsville.

Victory comes same season Wollongong Wolves win National Soccer League, as Wollongong become nation’s Title-Town for 2001.

2001/02

Scrape into the playoffs with 16-14 record and lose in first round. Saville finishes second in league in blocks (1.8).

2003/03

Finish fourth with 18-12 record and sweep Crocs 2-0 in first round. Lose to Perth in semis. Saville fifth in league in rebounds (9.7).

2004

Hawks finish second with franchise-best 25-8 record, a foot injury to big American centre John Mueller ruins Wollongong’s chances as Hawks collapse to a 2-0 semi-final sweep at hands of West Sydney Razorbacks – coached by Gordie McLeod.

Hawks guard Darnell Mee leads NBL in steals (2.1 per game).

2005

Hawks are second to Sydney again with 20 wins and sweep Townsville in semi-finals to earn grand final showdown with arch rivals Sydney.

Kings steamroll Wollongong 3-0 to claim their third straight title.

2006

Wollongong are third on ladder before being upset at home by Perth in the first round one-game elimination playoff game.

American Cortez Groves leads league in scoring (24.1 points) and named on All-NBL First Team.

2007

Hawks fail to make play-offs and Joyce’s reign comes to dramatic end when he is sacked days after Christmas following an on-going dispute with the then Hawks CEO Paul Young. Less than three months later, Young also receives marching orders. Eric Cooks takes over as caretaker coach.

Hawks Olympian Glen Saville leaves the club for arch-rivals Sydney Kings (before returning 12-months later)

2007-2008

On December 14, 2007, Hawks admit they face a financial crisis and could be extinct by season’s end. Within days it is confirmed club faces a $1 million shortfall, with a campaign launched led by the Illawarra Mercury and an administrative body known as Friends of the Hawks more than $400,000 is pledged by Hawks fans and sponsors for the club to be able to continue into 2008-09 season.

2008-2009

With Kings, Brisbane and Singapore out of NBL after going broke and then Sydney Spirit and Cairns fall into the hands of administrators during the 08/09 season, the NBL announces in November that the league will be revamped for 2009-10 season.

Basketball Australia sets out a criteria for admission into NewNBL, which includes a $1 million bank guarantee.

All existing clubs and interested parties are asked to submit a bid to join new league by February 27, 2009.

February 3, 2009
Hawks ownership group confirms it will not be able to join new league on financial grounds. A sad day for Hawks fans across the region, with no other owners in sight.

Team plays in what everyone thought would be the final home game of the Hawks in front of sell-out crowd of almost 5,800 against the Adelaide 36ers Friday 13, 2009.

February 20
Long-standing Wollongong captain Mat Campbell launches Save the Hawks campaign, pleading with community to pledge money and support to rescue club from extinction.

February 27
Campbell submits Expression of Interest to NBL to be included in new national competition. Despite Hawks’ submission not meeting NBL criteria, Campbell remains optimistic and continues calls for a white knight to save the club.

March 27
Foundation membership pledges raise almost $450,000 of a $500,000 target figure, but club still appears doomed without $1 million bank guarantee.

Repeated calls for a guarantor fall on deaf ears.

March 30
NewNBL sets 3pm deadline for Hawks to find a guarantor. Campbell makes frantic morning phone calls and secures 2pm meeting with Indian businessman Arun Jagatramka.

As seconds wind down, Jagatramka gives answer all Hawks were sweating on.

Hawks get their bank guarantee and Campbell supremely confident club will be part of NewNBL.

June
A not for profit community based company formed as Wollongong Hawks Basketball Limited to operate the Hawks into the future.

2009-10

With the Hawks now part of an eight team National Basketball League competition, Hawks sign Illawarra legend Gordie McLeod as head coach and publicly announce they will be competing with only 75% use of the salary cap.

Critics and basketball commentators write off the Hawks as finals contenders and many predict the Hawks to finish with the wooden spoon.

Hawks win the Pre-season Top End Challenge and maintain their position in the top four all season. After losing star import Tywain McKee with a back injury midway through the season, Hawks bring in veteran point guard Luke Martin to help fill the void. Hawks finish off the season with a 7-4 record without their star import and finish in second place behind the Perth Wildcats after 28 games.

Hawks secure home court advantage for the semi-finals series and defeat the Townsville Crocodiles 2-1. Hawks face Perth Wildcats in NBL: Grand Finals. Both teams split game one and two at home and the deciding game three is taken back to Perth. With all the odds against them the Hawks muster up a 17 point lead in the second quarter, but fail to capitalise. Perth win game three at home and are crowned the 2010 NBL Champions.

Head Coach Gordie McLeod is named NBL Coach of the Year.

Injured import Tywain McKee is named in all-NBL first team even with only playing 17 games in the season. Tywain leaves to the United States with his reputation tarnished after club learns about a string of driving offences.

Cameron Tragardh leaves the Hawks after three seasons to take up an offer with the Melbourne Tigers.

Hawks re-sign eight of the ten players from the 2009/10 season.

2010-11

Hawks miss the playoffs, but fans witness an exciting season featuring the club’s second MVP Gary Ervin

2011-12

2012-13

Hawks legend Glen Saville season and career ended with a serious knee injury, just weeks after the Hawks starting backcourt of Rhys Martin and import Lance Hurdle suffered season ending knee injuries in the same game.

Hawks fight past the injuries and secure a Semi Final appearance, before bowing out against the Perth Wildcats.

2013-14

Hawks make the playoffs for the 2nd straight season only to be knocked out in the Semi Final by the Perth Wildcats… again.

Rotnei Clarke becomes the Hawks 3rd NBL MVP, fellow import Kevin Tiggs named NBL 6th Man of the Year and McLeod, NBL Coach of the Year.

2014-15

On July 14, 2014 a new era was ushered in by the Wollongong Hawks after Telecommunications entrepreneur James Spenceley was successful in his bid to become the Club’s new owner.

Hawks claim the wooden spoon as things just didn’t click on the court. In early March, just days after the season the club’s future was uncertain after being placed in voluntary administration.

Long standing coach Gordie McLeod announced he wouldn’t return for 2015/16.

2015-16

The club is re-named back to Illawarra Hawks. Rob Beveridge announced as new coach, with Matt Flinn and Eric Cooks returning as Assistants.

Captain Oscar Forman along with Rhys Martin, Tim Coenraad, Larry Davidson and Tyson Demos re-sign.

Hawks sign two former league MVP’s (just the second time a team has done that in NBL history), Kevin Lisch & Kirk Penney, along with All NBL First Team player AJ Ogilvy and former Sydney Kings guard Kevin White.