TAPES-UP: A chip off the old block
5:30am Monday 9th June 2014 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, email@example.com, @AndyWarren_
ROSSITER is a name which is already enshrined in the history of Swindon Robins, but those who arrived at Blunsdon around 45 minutes before the start of the Robins’ clash with Leicester on Thursday may just have witnessed the start of a journey which could eventually see the famous name line up at the tapes once again.
Of course it’s far too early to seriously suggest six-year-old Ben is going to go on and emulate his father Alun’s achievements on a bike but, when your dad has progressed from being the Robins’ mascot aged four to rider, team manager, title winner and now GB boss, the comparisons are always going to be made.
Alun’s riding career was over well before Ben was born but all four Rossiter children are Blunsdon regulars and, with current Robins rider Nick Morris now living at the family home, they all see the life of a speedway rider close hand.
Riding a bike is not something Rosco has pushed on his children and until a month ago, Ben, Alun and wife Julie’s only son, had not been bitten by the racing bug. But that’s all changed over the last few weeks. The youngster has been badgering his dad about getting on the bike and, after a brief go last week, he had his first real blast around the infield track at the Abbey Stadium on Thursday night.
Rossiter senior was pleasantly surprised about how well his son took to the machine, although he did at one stage crash into a deflated air fence on the infield, and Ben clearly enjoyed his time in the middle as he was disappointed to not be allowed back onto the small track after the match.
If you ask the Robins team boss whether he thinks Ben could one day launch a speedway career of his own, he’ll tell you it’s far too early to be suggesting anything like that, but speaking to the boy himself in the Blunsdon pits it was easy to see the enthusiasm and fearlessness which comes with youth already had him excitedly thinking of taking things further.
“It was fun and I enjoyed myself,” Ben said.
“When I got to the corner I stopped so I didn’t crash and I know dad was shouting at me a lot, but I don’t know what about.
“There was someone else riding at the same time as me and it looked like we were going to crash, which scared me a little. I did crash once into the mud and it hurt my belly, but I enjoyed it.”
When asked whether he would like to follow in the footsteps of his dad one day, Ben simply replied “yes.”
For half an hour, while his riders were changing and warming their bikes up, Robins team boss Rossiter was able to briefly relinquish his duties of preparing his team for the clash with the Lions and simply be a dad at a venue which has given him so much stress, heartache, joy and pride over the years.
He must have felt almost all of those emotions while watching Ben get to grips with his new hobby, with some hairy moments matched by a natural talent which surprised Rosco a little.
“I thought he did really well to be honest and I was very proud of him,” he said.
“The bike he was on is basically my little fun bike, which I bought off Troy (Batchelor), and I use it to go out with Nick and the Kurtz boys (Todd and Brady) and people like that. We have another one which my sister’s kids use, and used to be Ashley Holloway’s, and he had a go on that last week but the track was soaking wet.
“It was much better for him this time although he did fall off a couple of times, but he picked himself up and got back on again which was the pleasing thing because a lot of little boys would have sat there and waited for their dad to come and pick you up.
“He’s never been on a bike so he doesn’t really have a clue about how they work and things like that but he just got on it and just rode. That was really pleasing.
“I’ve not pushed it on him at all but it’s always been there, and I said to him it was there for him when he wanted to have a go. He’s not really said anything about it before but in the last month he’s started asking to have a go. Now he’s really keen and he was disappointed he couldn’t go out after the meeting as well.”
For all his experience now, Rosco also had a first outing on a bike back when he was only four years old and, while admitting Ben is perhaps starting a little late compared to other sons of former riders, the Robins boss is proud of how he and Julie have handled things.
“Maybe he is a bit late starting, but because I did it I was never going to force it on him at all and it had to be his choice.
“I think I started when I was four so he’s a little behind me, but I remember how much I loved it when I first started.
“I was the mascot from four years of age at Swindon and I can remember doing that and it really excited me, but from there I did motocross then grasstrack and then into speedway.
“Ben’s really keen and it’s up to him now. He has some good protective equipment which is important and it’s his choice now.
“It’s way too early to be talking about racing but he has to have the will and the want to do it. It’s no good me pushing him and making him do it, he has to want to do it.
“That’s probably why he’s a bit late starting because other riders’ kids maybe get pushed into it early, but we let him make his own mind up.
“I think the fact Nick goes out on his bikes and goes over to the field and things has pushed him a little. Ben’s watched Nick quite closely and they’re really quite close when they’re at home, they wrestle and things like that just like big brother, little brother.”
“He’s quite into his computers and playing games and things like that but this is good because I’d like him to get out and maybe do some more outside things, which would be good.”
It would be quite something to watch another Rossiter grace the Abbey Stadium. Watch this space.