Me And My Club: Chad Ridley
One of our long-standing sporting partners comes from a sport that isn’t regarded as mainstream in the UK, but which is benefitting from an ever-increasing following as fans look to embrace the fast-paced action on the court.
In our latest ‘Me and My Club feature, Chad Ridley - General Manager at Newcastle and Morpeth Honda – discusses his love for the Newcastle Eagles...
How long have you supported Newcastle Eagles?
I first started going occasionally as a teenager in 1998, when we played games at the old Telewest Arena in Newcastle.
Why do you support Newcastle Eagles?
Always liked basketball, but once my oldest son Myles started taking a keen interest in both watching and playing the support, we started to go more often and now rarely miss a home game.
When was your first game?
A good few years ago to be fair, but I can remember our school used to be able to get discounted tickets.
What is your most memorable moment?
Without a doubt when we won the BBL Trophy on March 15th 2020. Obviously, it was the start of the COVID pandemic and Myles and I had travelled up to Glasgow for the final.
The game went into overtime with the Eagles winning despite only six players getting game time, as some of the overseas players had decided to return home before flights were grounded etc. It was a tense day as the game very nearly got called off, but Myles and I celebrated with a McDonalds before the long drive home back to Newcastle.
A few days later, the country was put into lockdown so that was sort of our last day of freedom for many weeks.
What was your worst moment?
Losing in the playoff finals at the O2 in London 2017. We got beaten by a very good Leicester team, and we were never in the game.
Who is your favourite player to have pulled on the shirt?
Ramon Fletcher would be the best player, but my favourite would be Fabulous Flourney (Fab) for the 18+ years he served the club. He always had time for all the fans and is an absolute gentleman, was a great player and a coach, and we wouldn’t have won all the trophies we won without his passion and dedication.
It’s great to see him doing so well now in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76’s.
Who is the player, or which is the match, you wish you’d been able to see in person?
The playoff final in 2021 against the London Lions. Due to the pandemic, there were no spectators allowed at the game, so we had to watch it on TV. We were getting beaten by twelve after the first quarter, but we had the most unbelievable last quarter to somehow win by two points.
It would have been a great game to watch in person as we would have experienced every emotion under the sun.
What is the best thing about supporting Newcastle Eagles?
The friendly family environment. Game nights are packed with families enjoying a night out together, and the fast-paced game means children tend to enjoy it more as it’s action packed.
Also, the Eagles Foundation do so much for the local community. Hundreds of local children play the game every week at the Vertu arena, and it’s a sport that’s really growing in the Northeast.
Which rivalry do you enjoy the most?
Leicester Riders as our Ops Director is a massive fan, and we regularly meet up at games with our families.
If you could only ever win one more competition, what would it be and why?
I think now the Eagles are playing in Europe, in years to come it would be amazing to win a European competition. However, our league is so competitive now that just to win one trophy in a season is a huge accomplishment.
How proud do you feel to have professional links to the team via your role with Vertu Motors?
It’s huge for us to be honest. Our sponsorship of the Eagles started in 2014 when we first supplied them with cars. We are now into our ninth year and te partnership has grown into Vertu Motors now sponsoring the purpose-built arena that is only a quarter of a mile from our dealership.
We have built a great understanding with the club, and relationships have developed with their employees, players and more importantly fans, who have bought cars from us and trust us to look after their motoring needs.