LONG-SUFFERING Swindon Robins fans have praised manager Alun Rossiter for steering the team to their first Elite League title victory for 45 years – and are calling for an open-top bus tour of the town to celebrate the success.
The Robbins’ 95-89 victory at the home of rivals Poole on Monday night was the first taste of success during the lifetime of many supporters, with a few older fans remembering the last triumph at King’s Lynn in 1967.
John Cook, 40, of Wanborough, who has been attending races since he was about eight and celebrated the win at The Baker’s Arm pub, in Badbury, said: “It was a good job, it was A1 to be honest. About time too.
“Hopefully the club will be doing something to celebrate it. What they should do is take them around on an open-top bus around the town. They did for the football club when they went to the premier league so they might do it for the speedway.”
Bob Garrett, 61, who knew Robins rider Bob Kilby when he was a youngster and used to help him with his bike, said he was delighted to see them win the league for a second time.
“It’s fantastic,” said Bob, of Highworth, who now takes his grandchildren to watch races. “I had tears in my eyes. I think it was all around good team management there with Rossiter, who has made a wonderful choice of riders.
“It would be fitting to have an open-top bus parade. You haven’t got the support for speedway like football but I would be up for it, of course I would, just to recognise their achievement.”
Dave Eaton, 68, a longtime Robbins fan, of Shrivenham, who was the Adver’s full-time speedway reporter from 1986 to 2007, said he knew personally most of the 1967 team and it meant everything to him that Swindon had finally won again.
“I didn’t think they were ever going to get that monkey off their back,” he said. “Because I’m one of the rare breed. I actually was a fan in 1967 so I watched them win the league in 1967.
“They’ve got a very good in-strength, in-depth side and the team was built with several riders with question marks alongside them with tremendous potential and basically they’ve all turned out good, particular Peter Kilderman and Jason Doyle, which manager Alun Rossiter was very keen to sign.”
Supporter Bob Radford, 65, of West Swindon, who won the league himself as manager of Reading Racers in 1973, said: “I saw my first meeting in 1962 when I was a schoolboy and I was at Kings Lynn when they last won the league trophy.”
Colin Edenborough, 53, who watched the race in 1967 aged eight, said: “They have been so close so often recently, haven’t they, so it was good to just get over the finishing line this time. I think it’s down to the choice of team. And the team spirit seems a bit better.”
PROUD SWINDONIAN WOULD SAVOUR PARADE
An open-top bus ride through town to mark his team’s historic victory would top it all off for Alun Rossiter.
The proud Swindonian, who tasted speedway success with Coventry in 2010, said he had been inundated with calls, texts and other messages of support and feels the support is there for a parade.
He said: “I don’t see why not really because it’s a big, massive achievement.
“We have had national TV coverage for well over a month and a big response from the people in the town. I just realised what it means to the people of Swindon.
“I think it would be fantastic for the boys, absolutely wonderful.
“A lot of people don’t still go to races but there’s a lot of closet speedway fans out there. I’m just overwhelmed and quite taken aback.
“I’ve had emails, calls, texts, social media, through Facebook. I even went to fill up my car this morning and the lady straight away said ‘Congratulations, I watched it on TV last night.’”
Bon Byford, 77, who managed the Robins from 1987 to 1992, said: “I think it’s great for Swindon, great for Swindon speedway and I think, not taking anything away from the riders, but I think Rosco has done a wonderful job.”
Swindon Council is considering options of how to mark the victory.