SWINDON Council is planning a celebration to mark the Swindon Robins’ historic speedway victory on Monday – but an open-top bus tour has been effectively ruled out as too expensive and impractical.
The Robins’ 95-89 Elite League title 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.
Team manager Alun Rossiter said in Wednesday’s Adver that an open bus parade through the Swindon streets would be nice, but council leader Rod Bluh said this was very unlikely as it would cost about £50,000 – mostly in policing costs.
And he said it would be difficult to arrange at short notice before the team go home, some to as far as Australia, Denmark and Poland, after the end-of-season dinner and dance at the De Vere Village Swindon Hotel, at Shaw, tomorrow.
Instead, Coun Bluh said the two leading proposals were to either have a reception for the team at the Civic Office, in Euclid Street, or, more likely, some kind of event for fans at Wharf Green, in the town centre, possibly involving the Big Screen.
Coun Bluh said: “The idea of an open top bus tour isn’t a goer. The last time we looked at this it was going to cost about £50,000 because of all the policing.
“So I suggested doing something in the civic offices and on the steps and somebody suggested Wharf Green which seems a good idea because we can use the Big Screen.
“I think it is always good to recognise achievement and in particular when it’s local achievement. We’re going through the same thing with Jahmene Douglas [from the X Factor TV programme]. It’s always good to celebrate Swindon and Swindon success.
“We get criticised for a lot of other things and it’s important we get the plaudits when we can. And I think it’s important to celebrate success, it raises aspirations in people.”
Mayor Mick Bray asked the council’s political groups, plus senior officers, for their ideas for a celebration. Plans were still being discussed as the Adver went to press yesterday.
The Labour group leader, Coun Jim Grant, said: “The Swindon Robins winning the Elite League is a fantastic achievement and should be celebrated as such.
“Just by the fact that Swindon hasn’t won the national league since 1967 shows how tough it is and after coming close to winning several times, Swindon should really celebrate this achievement.”
He added he wanted the fans to have a chance to mark the win, saying: “I wouldn’t favour the council just hosting a civic reception because I’d like to see celebrations that bring all speedway fans together in the town to celebrate this great achievement. I know there are practicality issues but there is a lot of people in the town who are Swindon Robins fans and they should have the opportunity to celebrate their team’s victory.”
Alun Rossiter said: “It would be nice o be recognised by the town because I do believe we’ve given the town something to be proud of.”