Club director of the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders since the mid 1980’s, Kevin Routledge has witnessed some great Riders teams pass through the halls of the John Sandford Sports Centre. But speaking to Mr Routledge with tears in his eyes following the clubs 97-72 second leg semi-final playoff win over the Glasgow Rocks, it was evident how much this team in particular means to the city of Leicester and to him personally.
“It is tremendous,” said Mr Routledge. “To be fair, all of us, when we saw Cameron and Ayron here early on, thought ‘Hey we might be able to do something’. Then when you sign Sullivan, suddenly the expectation level of everybody goes up because we know he’s a quality player. But you don’t get given anything, you have to work at it. And this team has worked at it.
“Rob Paternostro has done a fantastic job as he always does. He knows how to get youth players, he knows how to communicate with them and he’s got the best out of them. Nobody gives you anything. You have to work for it. This team has been prepared to work and that’s fantastic.”
‘Rob Paternostro has done a fantastic job as he always does.’
Mr Routledge was beaming as he spoke, at first, about the hard work involved in reaching a Play-off final and then about the pride he feels in the support the fans provide:
“The fans have stepped up big time (and) there is a real buzz in the city. I know a lot of people who wanted to be here at this game, that are going to be at the final next week.
“It is a moving occasion: The fans who came out to support the Riders, the way the team has played and actually, the way the organisation has really stepped up and put on a great show here in Loughborough.
“Leicester, as a city, has a lot of success – Tigers, you get used to winning so they set a high standard and only by trying to get to that standard can you get some profile. The fans have stepped up big time, as an organisation Russell (Levenston) and his team have stepped up big time. I’m very, very proud of this moment and can’t wait until next Saturday.”
Next Saturday will be the first final the Leicester Riders have reached since 2005/6 when they reached the BBL Trophy Final and finished runners-up.