Martin Smith: Sheffield must club together to get Hatters back where they belong in 2021

It will be like Wimbledon without the Williams sisters, football without United and Wednesday.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:38 pm
Sheffield Hatters celebrate winning the WBBL Cup last year.

Unthinkable.

But in a couple of weeks the Women’s British Basketball League will start without 23-time league champions Sheffield Hatters.

They were forced out of the league after they failed to raise the £60k needed to take part in the 2020/21 season.

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The Hatters were the UK’s first and most successful women’s basketball club, they have dominated their game since the 1990s.

The club is a national sporting institution known around the world and built in the image of founder Betty Cadona in 1961, then run from 2009 by her daughter Vanessa Ellis and now Garnet and Tyler Gayle.

It is the first time in the history of the WBBL – of which Sheffield Hatters is a founding member – that they will not be competing.

This month, The Star launched its ‘Save the Hatters’ campaign, to highlight the plight of the club and help raise money to secure their WBBL place for 2021/22.

Of course there are many sporting causes worth helping, but the Hatters are special.

From its foundation the club has encouraged Sheffield girls and young women into sport and made them better people for it.

Youngsters who might not otherwise have been involved in sport have gained in fitness, health and confidence - and many have become household names in basketball circles.

Not to mention the medals they have won.

The shock of their not competing this year has to be replaced by a determination to see them back in business for the 2021/22 season -Hatters 60th year.

Sheffield City Council and local businesses could do more to help, even in these unusual and uncertain days.

Dig deep if you can people, this is a club and a Sheffield cause worth fighting for.

*It doesn’t do to dwell on these things but the football tables are hard to look at just now.

Wednesday are up against a 12-point deduction but there are signs that manager Garry Monk is building a team that can shake off the deficit and climb up the division– despite Sunday’s defeat at top-of-the-table Bristol City.

Chris Wilder is scratching his head and wondering how United can win a game. Chances missed are costing them but, as against Leeds on Sunday, they are playing with all the discipline and flair of last season but minus the goals.

They will come.