LAMBLE SCHOOLS IT

He’s swapping the court for a classroom and a basketball for a syllabus, but not before one final run out this weekend.

After a long playing career, a decade of which was spent with the Leicester Riders, Barry Lamble officially retired from playing after the BBL Play-Off final.

Come September and while his former team-mates will be working hard to get ready for the new season, Lamble will be returning to school.

“I’m going to be a primary school teacher,” he explained.

“It’s a bit different and a new challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.

“I will be an unqualified teacher this year and they’re going to qualify me on the job which is quite a nice way of doing it.

“By the summer term next year I should be a qualified teacher and ready to go.”

Lamble’s ten years at the club have come during a massive period of change for the Leicester Riders, one which has seen a once struggling side turn themselves into one of the best teams in the British Basketball League, and yet Lamble almost didn’t get to be a part of it.

“I’d pretty much signed to go to Plymouth Raiders [in 2006],” he revealed, “but [then Riders coach] Karl Brown phoned about a couple of days before I signed and offered me a deal, and I took that one instead.

“The year before I’d been at Birmingham Bullets and I was friends with Adam Williams.

“Adam had spoken to Karl about me and the Riders got me to come up here.”

Looking back on the last decade, Lamble admits it’s sometimes hard to comprehend just how much the club has changed during that time.

“It’s been a strange ten years,” he said.

“For the first couple of years we didn’t know if the Riders would even continue so literally, going from the depths of folding to a team that is classed as one of the best in the country now and competing for silverware every year — it’s almost an unbelievable situation.

“I think Drake said it best; ‘we started from the bottom, now we’re here!’

“It’s been a great rise and I think the Riders have done it in the right way.”

Along with the hard work going on behind the scenes, Lamble cites head coach Rob Paternostro as a chief reason why the Riders are now one of the best.

“The thing Rob’s done best is that he’s got an eye for talent and with the foreign players he brings in, he knows exactly what he’s looking for,” said Lamble.

“If he doesn’t feel they will fit in on and off the court he won’t bring them in.”

He added, “Rob shouts during games but then he’s a passionate guy and I think if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be where we are.

“He has a great eye and mind for basketball, and having been a professional player himself for so many years, he knows how to look after us.”

As he looks back on his ten years at the club, Lamble says there are two which stand out as the most memorable.

“The treble-winning season is always going to be one that will stick in my mind as it’s the one where we finally turned things around and realised we were now a team to reckon with.”

“But for me, the biggest moment for me was my last home game at the arena as I finally saw how much I meant to the fans and to the club.

“It was an emotional time and it sounds odd to say leaving the club was my favourite moment but I’d put in so many hours over the years and the fans have always been great, but I didn’t realise how much I meant to them until that game.”

Lamble added, “Going into that game I didn’t want any commotion as we were playing a Play-Off semi-final and if we’d focused on my retirement instead of concentrating on that game then I would have blamed myself if we’d lost.

“Obviously once we’d finished the game it was a different story as we won and then Rob said some nice words on the mic.

“It’s difficult for me hearing people saying nice words about me and then making a speech myself was almost impossible to do.”

Having been Lamble’s team-mate back in that first season, things will have gone full circle this weekend as Paternostro is just one of many familiar faces who have agreed to play in a special testimonial at the LCS Arena on Saturday evening (6pm).

Lamble and former team-mate Anthony Rowe are heading up a couple of teams that include BBL players past and present, and with Rowe having also announced his retirement from playing, Lamble is relishing one last battle with his close friend.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun and I’m looking forward to it,” said Lamble.

“We’re going to try and sort some way of getting Anthony [Rowe] ejected from the game and I’m working on making that happen!

“We’ll be on different teams so it will be a good way to finish our careers and have a friendly little rivalry against each other.”

Tickets for Barry Lamble’s testimonial, which takes place this Saturday (9th July) at 6pm, can be bought via the Leicester Riders’ office or on the night at the LCS Arena. Price £10 adults, £5 children.

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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