Leeds Force head coach Matt Newby has paid tribute to the fledgling club’s loyal fanbase for sticking with them during their first season among the basketball elite.
The Force report an increase of around 25 per cent in attendances during their first BBL campaign ahead of their penultimate home fixture of the season against high-flying Worcester Wolves tonight.
In real terms, that is an extra 100 people on a previous average of about 350, which may be modest numbers given the crowds other sports clubs in the city can command, but when you take into consideration the competition and standing of the sport of basketball, then any upward trend is encouraging.
And while welcoming those new fans with open arms, Newby – who has led the Leeds basketball programme since its inception in 2006 – has reserved special praise for those who have followed the club since their days in the national league pyramid.
“We’ve got a loyal fanbase still out there that we have to pay tribute to,” said Newby.
“We’ve seen each week the regular core in the crowd and we’d like to thank them.
“They come from all over the city and from wider areas as well, like Bradford, York and Huddersfield.
“For them to keep coming back to watch us says we are doing something right.
“And credit to the fans, they seem to have enjoyed backing the underdog.
“In recent weeks we’ve noticed that the attendances have really pepped up, particularly for the Newcastle Eagles game.
“We’re up around 25 per cent on last year, which is solid.
“We can always strive for more and that’s what we have been doing, and will continue to do so.”
And giving those loyal fans one last win to cheer is the target tonight against Worcester, (7.30pm at Leeds Beckett) and on Friday, April 17, when they conclude their inaugural home programme against Glasgow.
“Worcester might be second in the standings but their form has been sporadic,” said Newby, whose own second-bottom side have four away games still to play before the end of the season.
“They were beaten by 30 points up in Glasgow recently, who we gave a good run for their money last Sunday in what was another one of those games where we were left rueing the mistakes in the final minutes.
“But Worcester will come at us all guns blazing. They have players of real pedigree who could be playing at a higher level but we have upset teams before.”