By Michael Kachitsa
Manchester Thunder are an English netball team based in Manchester. Their senior team plays in the Netball Superleague. In 2005–06, Thunder were founder members of the league. They were Superleague champions in 2012, 2014 and 2019. Between 2001 and 2012 they played as Northern Thunder and were originally based in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Between 2001 and 2005 Northern Thunder, together with five other franchises – Northern Flames, London Tornadoes, London Hurricanes, University of Birmingham Blaze and Team Bath Force – competed in the Super Cup. Northern Thunder won the 2002 Super Cup. Northern Thunder players from the Super Cup era included Amanda Newton, Tracey Neville, Jade Clarke and Sara Bayman.
In 2005 Northern Thunder were named as the North West England franchise in the new Netball Superleague. Together with Brunel Hurricanes, Celtic Dragons, Leeds Carnegie, Galleria Mavericks, Team Bath, Loughborough Lightning and Team Northumbria, Northern Thunder were founder members of the league. In 2012, Thunder won their first Superleague title. Janelle Lawson scored 33 goals as they defeated Surrey Storm 57–55 in the grand final.
In 2012 Thunder relocated from Bury, Greater Manchester to Gorton. They subsequently changed their name from Northern Thunder to Manchester Thunder ahead of the 2013 season. In 2014 Thunder won their second Superleague title after defeating Surrey Storm 49–48 in the grand final. In 2019 Thunder won their third Superleague title.
Manchester Thunder has trained and played their home games at several venues and locations throughout Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire. Between 2008–09 and 2011, Northern Thunder played their home Superleague games at Castle Leisure Centre in Bury, Greater Manchester. In 2012 Manchester Thunder began playing their home Superleague games at Wright Robinson College in Gorton. When Manchester Thunder played home games there, the arena was referred to as the Manchester Thunderdome. They have also played home Netball Superleague matches at Manchester Arena. In 2020 Manchester Thunder switched playing their home Superleague games to the National Basketball Performance Centre in the Belle Vue Sports Village.
The team boosts to have an alley of talent one of them, Malawi Queens international netball player, Joyce Mvula who was signed in 2016. Joyce is in her 5th consecutive season with the team and was instrumental in their 2019 lifting of the cup, Vitality Superleague Championship.