SWINDON Robins lost 53-40 at Coventry last night, but the televised meeting was overshadowed by the performance of referee Dave Robinson, whose bizarre decisions ruined the visitors’ hopes of claiming any points and left Swindon boss Alun Rossiter livid.
In what was a horrific advert for a sport badly in need of good publicity, referee Robinson harshly excluded three riders for missing the two minutes, with Steve Worrall and Simon Gustafsson thrown out while millimetres from the tapes, creating a hugely disjointed meeting which was at times painful to watch.
That, coupled with an exclusion for Nick Morris for a first corner incident with Jason Garrity, which also saw Worrall excluded given he was not under power at the time of the stoppage, resulted in two 5-0s for the home side which effectively ended the visitors hopes of winning.
Robinson’s actions left the Robins riders close to walking out of the Elite League meeting, which was sadly shown live on Sky Sports, and also angered the satellite broadcasters, whose TV contract props up the sport, as they are likely to incur extra costs for the meeting running over.
Given all that went against them it is perhaps admirable the Robins kept the home side’s winning margin to only 13 points, with Dakota North the pick of the scorers as he managed 11+1 on a difficult track which also threw in added complications.
However, 12+1 from Chris Harris and 12 from Garrity meant the Bees were always in control, despite Troy Batchelor’s tactical win at one point bringing the visitors back to within six.
With the pair having had a number of run-ins in the past, Rossiter believes Robinson’s actions were entirely personal on a night where he was left embarrassed for his entire sport in front of the watching television audience.
“I’m embarrassed, for the sport, everything,” he said.
“The man is a complete joke, he has serious issues with me and tonight there was no excuse for what he did, it was embarrassing especially as it was on TV.
“It’s personal and he’s unprofessional, he has serious issues with me and we’ve had words before. I don’t have a problem with stuff like that, I’ve had words with loads of referees and we always shake hands afterwards and get on with it. With him it’s personal.
“I will be writing a report to the BSPA tomorrow and it will say I will not be involved in any meeting where he’s in charge. I had to stop the riders from pulling out, they were close to it and refusing to ride.
“I agreed with them but then I got my head back and got my thoughts back and thought about us being on TV and for the supporters.
“Our sport was on national TV and to have an imbecile like him behaving like that is just wrong.
“Because of him we lost our chance of even getting a point.
“Simon and Steve were at the tapes, waiting, but he said the clock had gone off. They weren’t delaying and they weren’t digging but he’s done that.
“I’m livid, not since 2007 have I felt like this. I started to lose it which wasn’t good on my behalf but I was furious.”
With Peter Kildemand again missing due to concussion, Morris took the first of the rider replacement outings in the opener, but his eagerness got the better of him as he ploughed through the tapes forcing Rossiter to send out Worrall rather than putting Morris of 15 metres. Hans Andersen also missed the re-run, exceeding the two minutes, with his replacement Garrity leading Kyle Howarth home for a maximum.
Garrity repeated the trick in heat two despite his partner James Sarjeant falling in turn one, with Nathan Greaves having to remount after falling in the final corner to coast over the line for a point.
Referee Robinson began to steal the show as he excluded Sustafsson for missing the two minutes, while the Swede was at the tapes, before Worrall suffered the same fate despite already being at the starting gate. When the race was eventually run Batchelor tried too hard and hit the deck, meaning he was excluded, forcing the Bees pair of Michael Jepsen Jensen and Harris to trundle round unchallenged for a 5-0.
Greaves slid off again while third in heat four, narrowly missing Kenneth Hansen who received treatment after having to lay the bike down into the fence, before Hansen picked himself up to win the re-run.
Gustafsson looked as if he was going to provide the first heat winner of the night for the Robins, but drifted wide in the final corner of lap three and was passed by Andersen, before skipper Batchelor emerged wearing the black and white helmet.
Despite all their earlier problems, the skipper pulled Swindon back into the contest as he passed Gustafsson on the line as they shared an 8-1, before heat seven was quickly stopped after Worrall and then Garrity took tumbles in separate turn one incidents. Morris was excluded for taking out Garrity, with Worrall also kicked out for not being under power at the time of the stoppage, leaving the Bees another 5-0 after an aborted attempt due to a Sky Sports advert break before the re-run.
Gustafsson and North secured a maximum which somehow kept the Robins in it, before Greaves was excluded for missing the two minutes in heat nine after his bike packed up on the way to the line. Worrall could only split the home duo when the race was run, before Andersen and Howarth gave the Bees a 13 point advantage with another maximum.
That left Morris in black and white, with Batchelor out as rider replacement, with the duo briefly holding an important 8-1 before Harris rolled back the years to pass both riders to significantly limit the damage.
Worrall took Greaves’ fourth ride, and finished third behind Howarth and North in a 3-3, before heat 13 was also shared behind Harris.
It was the same story in the penultimate race of a painful evening, with Sarjeant the surprise winner ahead of Worrall and Morris, before Harris produced another superb pass on North to end the night on a high.