The Ghost of Romford Dogs?: Meet the man who has dedicated three decades to Romford Greyhound Stadium
PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 August 2019
Since it first opened 90 years ago, Romford Greyhound Stadium has been home to all manner of colourful characters - both on the track and behind the scenes - arguably none more so than Bob Oliver.
Several staff at Romford Greyhound Stadium have celebrated a decade at the track in London Road, but for Bob it has been more than 30 years.
Bob is something of a legend among staff at the track and regular punters.
His role varies from day to day.
On a race day he drives the hare, which is the small orange item that the dogs follow during races, and on other days you can see Bob supporting Craig, the track manager, with all the general maintenance around the huge site.
On Mondays staff hold a big clear up operation to deal with the debris left behind by the hundreds of customers from the weekend, and then for the rest of the week Bob will pick up a whole host of other jobs including decorating.
And for Bob, the best thing about working at the stadium is that sense of community he gets from working with such a welcoming group of people.
He said: "It has to be the people who work here - we have all grown up together - Gill has also been here 30 years and John over 20 years.
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"I think seeing the customers having a good time and cheering is amazing - there's always an electric atmosphere.
"It is all about having a good time at the track."
And Bob has even been at the centre of a mystery or two during his time at the track.
Staff will remember a rumour that there was a ghost in the old tote building, every now and again things were being moved and the lights would flicker.
Some workers were so convinved they were being haunted that they were scared to go in there.
But others can remember the grin on Bob's face, and maybe, just maybe, it was him who was responsible for the mysterious goings on and the stadium ghost.
Stadium manager Karen McMillan told the Recorder: "Bob said last year that he was thinking of retiring - we all knew it would not last that long.
"He is like the fixtures and fittings at the stadium."