All Stars return as legacy stays

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Team Bath Arena on Friday as past and present Team Bath Netball players donned the famous Blue & Gold once again to celebrate the club’s trailblazing Super League era.

A host of iconic players from the club’s two decades – including five members of the inaugural Super League title-winning squad in 2005-06 – took to the court alongside the 2024 Super League squad for a hugely-entertaining evening enjoyed by an 800-strong crowd and a watching audience on live stream.

The match was split into two parts – the first four quarters featuring a mix of players across two teams, Blue v Gold, and the next two quarters pitching the legends against the current squad, who won 17-16 thanks to a buzzer beater from Future Roses player Sophie Kelly.

Current Team Bath Netball Head Coach Asha Francis was among the returning members of the first Super League squad, along with Rachel Dunn, Clare Elsley, Jo Vann and title-winning captain Billy Pritchard. She played in the last two quarters having earlier been on the Blue coaching bench alongside another member of the 2005-06 squad, current England Head Coach Jess Thirlby.

Commonwealth gold-medallist Eboni Usoro-Brown, Summer Artman, Anya Le Monnier, Mia Ritchie, Amanda Varey and Chani Wopara also returned to the Team Bath Arena show court, while coaching the Gold team was Anna Stembridge, who then resumed her celebrated coaching partnership with Thirlby for the last two quarters.

Legendary shooter Dunn, who made more than 200 Super League appearances and won nearly 100 England caps during a storied career that began at Team Bath aged 18, said: “It was amazing to be back on court again, nearly 20 years on from our first Super League game here.

“I actually played my first game for Team Bath back in 2001, in the Super Cup years, so it was great to come back, play with so many historic players from the franchise and the current squad, and celebrate everything that is Team Bath.

“I was in the crowd for the last Super League home match against Strathclyde Sirens and the emotions were clearly still raw. Tonight has had a more celebratory feel. This club has created so many great players and coaches, and it will always have a legacy.”

Wales international Bethan Dyke, captain of the 2024 Super League squad, added: “It was such a fun experience but it got a bit competitive towards the end! It was so good to play alongside some of the legendary players that I looked up to, they’ve definitely still got it.

“It was an amazing occasion and the fans were incredible. Today shows that the Team Bath legacy will live on.”

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