For many long-time Hawks supporters, Gordie McLeod will always be the face of the club.
McLeod was the starting point guard on the inaugural 1979 team, playing nine seasons and becoming the club’s first Olympian (1980).
He fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he was appointed coach of Wollongong in 2009 and is rated by many of his peers as the best in the business.
But unless the Hawks experience a significant upturn in ticket sales over the final four home games of the 2013-14 season, McLeod could soon be a coach without a team.
The constant cloud of uncertainty hanging over the club’s future concerns McLeod, yet he is also a realist who sees things in black and white.
‘‘Our club has had its challenges to stay in the league, and we’re still in that same situation,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a number of people who’ve worked extremely hard and we’re going to have to continue to work extremely hard.
‘‘What we need as a club is for the community to be behind us. If it’s going to come a time where they don’t want it to be there, then that’ll be the death knell of our club, unless we can find multi-national businesses that can help out.’’
The Hawks were threatened in 2006 and again in 2009 before surviving at the last minute.
The club became a non-profit organisation five years ago and seemed to stabilise with the backing of mining company NRE Gujarat.
But there are no guarantees that financial support will continue beyond this season.
‘‘The last five years that I’ve been back, I know the people involved are very passionate about trying to make the team sustainable,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘It’s not about making money. It’s about being sustainable and having a team in the competition.’’
The Hawks are hoping for a big turnout to tonight’s crucial home game against New Zealand.
Ticket prices have been reduced to $10 for children, $15 for adults and $40 for families.
To mark the NBL’s heritage round, the Hawks will wear specially made blue and gold retro jerseys from the club’s first season.
‘‘We have a goal to beat every team at least once, and we get that opportunity on Friday,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘We played them very tough the last time and we should take some confidence out of that.’’