Newcastle Eagles are targeting trophies, says Charles Smith

Newcastle United FC's board members could perhaps learn something from their basketball counterparts

Newcastle Eagles
Newcastle Eagles

Newcastle United FC’s board members could perhaps learn something from their basketball counterparts.

The newly named Esh Group Eagles Newcastle are putting silverware at the top of their priorities, according to Charles Smith.

The forward, who joined the Eagles over a decade ago in 2000, has reiterated owner Paul Blake’s demands set in 2004.

The managing director insisted the Eagles win an average of two trophies a season over the ensuing decade.

And that standard will only be met if the Sport Central outfit secure two cups in this their 10th year.

“Our main goal for this year is to bring silverware back to Newcastle,” said Philadelphia-born, Smith.

“That’s why we all play the sport and we expect a lot of ourselves, especially with the history of this club.

“With the new players coming in, our guys all want to win more than ever and it’s important we all help each other out.

“That’s what we’re working towards and what this season is all about.”

The Eagles won their opening game 85-78 against local rivals Durham Wildcats in a testing tie at Sport Central before hitting the road to hammer Cheshire Phoenix 106-65.

Smith and his team-mates will travel more than 400 miles tomorrow to face Plymouth Raiders in a bid to make it three wins from three.

And the 37-year-old is adamant that they are determined to repay the fans for their patience last year.

“Our supporters are the best in the league in my opinion,” said Smith.

“They travel with us all over the country whether we’re up or down, or winning or losing, and we always want to win for them especially.

“That’s how we need to repay them after last season.”

The Eagles, who are the most successful side in British Basketball League history, failed to win a trophy last season and lost to Leicester Riders in both the table and the Play-Off Final at Wembley Arena.

Twelve months earlier Fab Flournoy’s side completed a clean sweep of BBL titles.

The sudden shortfall forced the Eagles player-coach of 12 years to bring in a batch of new players.

Scott Martin, Stuart Thomson, Malik Cooke and former player Paul Gause were signed over the summer, as well as veteran pair Darius Defoe and Smith being welcomed back on to court.

Smith said: “This year we need to get even better and to do that we need to work harder.

“Everyone on this team, whether a new or an old player, has their particular skills and we just need to work out what people can and can’t do.

“That’s going to give us an idea of where to go.” The name change, which was announced a week before the Durham win, was a decision that risked leaving loyal followers unhappy.

“I don’t think Newcastle is going anywhere,” said Smith.

“Esh Group gets a new team to sponsor and we get them in return.

“They’re important because you can go and talk to them whenever you want or need anything, and it’s great to have that support behind you.

“It helps push us.”

The Eagles’ game against the Raiders tomorrow tips off at 4pm at Plymouth Pavilions.

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Graeme Whitfield
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Mark Douglas
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Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer