Guildford Heat Franchise History
The Guildford Heat officially became a British Basketball League in 2005. The team was never considered one of the more elite teams in the BBL, but did have a good year in 2007 where they made it to the Eurocup Basketball, better known as the ULEB. The team was owned by Alison Reeve and sold in 2012.
The team was rebranded from the Guildford Heat to the Surry Heat after the sale but that name was short lived. In 2013 the team name was changed once again to Surrey United.
Guildford is no stranger to great basketball teams. Over the years it has been home to several teams starting with the Guildford Pirates from 1975 to 1982. After a ten year break the Guildford Kings arrived in 1992. Unfortunately they didn’t last long, nor did the next team the Guildford Pumas. The Pumas lasted from 1994 to 1999 when they moved to Sutton. Everything came full circle when the Pirates returned to become the Heat.
Where had they been? Well in 1982 the Pirates relocated to Bracknell. There they changed their name to The Bracknell Pirates before becoming the Thames Valley Tigers. Everyone should be familiar with that name because the Tigers were legendary in British basketball in the late 80s early 90s and finally won the championship in 1994. The glory days couldn’t last forever and eventually the success was harder to find so in 2005 the owner John Nike said he could no longer fund the team.
Where most teams would have just rolled over and died, the Tiger fans were determined to keep the basketball team together. A man named Mike Davies spearheaded the assembly of a group to lead the administration of the team. This was a first for Davies but he was a local businessman and had the funds, connections, and most importantly, the fanbase to make it happen. However they failed to reach an agreement for the rights to the franchise in time. Determined to move forward like any successful business person, Davies got permission from the British Basketball League to enter a new team in its place. Needing a city and a home court to play in, a deal was quickly reached with the Spectrum in Guildford and the Guildford Heat was born.
Guildford played their first game on October 1st 2005 vs the Newcastle Eagles. The game was played at the Metro Radio Arena and it went into overtime where the Heat lost 89-88. It didn’t take long for them to get a win, however, as the very next night they got their first victory at the expense of the Leicester Riders 69-65. Overall their first season netted wins over the London Towers, Plymouth Raiders, Brighton Bears, and the defending Champions, the Chester Jets. This made for a successful first season as they made the playoffs in their first year as a team. The Heat easily won it’s first ever playoff game vs the London Towers, but lost to a more talented Newcastle Eagles team and eventual 2nd place Leicester Raiders.