THE road to the North East becomes memory lane for one Cheshire player this weekend as the squad heads up to play Newcastle Eagles tomorrow before entertaining Durham Wildcats at the Northgate Arena on Sunday in the BBL Championship (5.30pm)
Most of those memories belong to Chris Pearce, as the Cheshire man spent time with both the Eagles and the Wildcats before his basketball journey brought the Barrow boy to Chester.
“It’s funny because last week we played Manchester Giants,” he said. “Cheshire v Giants was the first BBL game I ever watched, at the launch of the Hoops Basketball Centre in Barrow in 1998.
“This weekend we play two of my former teams from the North East, it’s going full circle!”
Pearce, who showed his defensive prowess against the Giants last Sunday, is in no doubt about the size of the challenge facing his current side on the road.
He said: “The Eagles have been so successful throughout the years thanks to their ability to retain a strong core of the most talented players in the league. With Charles Smith, Darius Defoe and Fab Flournoy considered non-imports, they consistently build strong seven-man rotations every year, and this year is no different.”
The Eagles took last weekend off and could be vulnerable to a shock with Cheshire on a high after their last-gasp victory over the Giants.
While Wildcats’ coach Dave Elderkin admits having little knowledge about Cheshire ahead of their trip to the Northgate on Sunday, one player familiar in these parts is Keith Page, who has signed for the Durham side after breaking into the BBL last season in Chester.
“I'm really looking forward to coming back,” he said. “It'll be nice to see some of the familiar faces.
“I know the die-hard fans have been helping out during the club’s problems and Phil Brandeth is still there. He was my closest friend on the team. I played against Chris Pearce when he was with Durham and they picked up two wins against us, but the tables have turned a bit now with Wildcats having improved and I hope it'll be a good game.”