Brisbane Bullets, Since 1979…
The Brisbane Bullets were founded in 1979 thanks to the ‘have a go’ spirit of two men – Bob Young and Fred Van Dongen.
Fred represented Brisbane at the NBL’s foundation meeting in an empty airline hangar at Sydney airport and had this to say about their thinking at the time.
“Queensland had always been ignored by the power states. We were considered the poor relations. We feared if we didn’t go in it from the start, we wouldn’t get another chance. So we went for it.” – Fred Van Dongen
From that meeting the Bullets became one of ten foundation teams, joining two clubs each from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide as well as the Canberra Cannons, Newcastle Falcons and Illawarra Hawks to form the National Basketball League.
The first game was Saturday 24 February, 1979. A couple of hundred people gathered at Auchenflower Stadium for the birth of a new addition to the Queensland sporting landscape. The spirit of Brisbane was alive and well in the red & white uniforms of the Bullets, which reflected the city’s colours and floral emblem, the Poinsettia. Bob Young was the coach and Bruce Fitzgerald, the captain.
The Bullets winning tradition would begin from that very first game, with a 77-70 victory over eventual grand final participants the Canberra Cannons.
The ‘have a go’ spirit of 1979 has echoed throughout every Brisbane stadium since, with home crowds chanting the club’s war cry “Let’s go Bullets, Let’s go!” to rally the team on the court.
Bullets point guard, Cal Bruton, led the inaugural league in scoring with 597 points at 33.2 points per game. Other future Bullets legends also had success in year one, with Larry Sengstock winning the title and Grand Final MVP for the St Kilda Saints, coached by Brian Kerle.
It was the first of 30 consecutive NBL seasons for the club, from 1979 to 2008. Our first championship was won in 1985, proudly giving the city of Brisbane its first National League title in any sport. Two more titles were won in 1987 and 2007, and the team has posted an all time winning record of 483-385, winning 66% of their games at home, and making it to the postseason finals twenty-one times. The club also holds the NBL record winning streak of 21 games in a row, set during the 2006-07 season.
“Not many people realise that the Bullets were the first team to bring a national competition trophy to Brisbane in the professional era.” – Brian Kerle
In 1982 our club colours changed to include blue and gold, which mirrored the change of Brisbane’s official colour scheme when the city hosted the XII Commonwealth Games.
From 2016 onwards, our club colour scheme will incorporate maroon to replace the original red, along with the traditional gold, blue and white. Maroon signifies our roots as Queensland’s first NBL team and is instantly recognised by all Australians as being Brisbane bred.
162 Bullets Strong
Before the start of the 2016/17 season, a total of 162 players have played for the club in an official NBL fixture. Three of those Bullets have been immortalised with the clubs’ greatest honour of having their jersey number permanently retired.
#30 Leroy Loggins, set the club records for total points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals over a legendary 513 game career, with twelve seasons as team captain. ‘Leaping Leroy’ is a member of the NBL Hall of Fame and the league’s pre-season trophy is named after him.
#22 Ron Radliff is remembered as a prolific three point shooter over 188 games and is the only person to be a part of all three Bullets NBL Championships; two as a player and one as an assistant coach in 2007. ‘The Rat’ is top six all time in points, field goals, three point field goals, three point percentage, assists and steals.
#7 Larry Sengstock captained the club to two championships in 1985 and 1987, and a run of four consecutive Grand Final appearances from 1984-1987. He is top 10 all time in Bullets’ points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and free throws compiled over a 208 game career. Larry is a member of the NBL Hall of Fame and the league’s Grand Final MVP Medal is named in his honour.
Core Values – Respect, Inspire, Family
The Brisbane Bullets aim to always respect our proud past whilst inspiring and nurturing future generations as part of a family friendly club culture.
Our #BulletsFamily hashtag is used on social media to link fans, partners and players of all ages working together toward the common goal of enjoying the game of basketball and strengthening our shared communities.