REVVED-UP Rob Cross won a small fortune but ditched plans to buy a Bentley and went for a JCB DIGGER instead.The Hastings battler landed a fairytale William Hill World Championship just 18 months into his professional career in early 2018.
However on the eve of aiming to regain his World Matchplay crown, Voltage admits he didn’t splash the cash on four-wheeled glitz, he bought something for digging a ditch!The former electrician, nicknamed Voltage, said: “My mates thought I was mad, it was like I’d won the Lottery getting 400 grand at the Ally Pally after beating Phil Taylor.
“I was in a whirlwind for a month, like an out of body experience, seriously it was very weird”.
“My mates thought I had seriously lost the plot when I said I was buying a JCB.“To be honest, that’s just the way I am. I’m not a flashy bloke, I don’t wear jewellery or even an expensive watch. It’s not my thing.“All I had in my mind is that I wanted to invest in a new house and knew I’d need a new digger so I bought one.“The maddest thing of all now is that I’ve got the house and so much work is being done. My first instinct is to do it all myself like I would have in the past.“Now I haven’t even got time to do the wiring so I’ve had to get an electrician in to do my own job. How crazy is that?“
“But I’m really bad to work for because I check and double-check all the work done. If I don’t like it the poor guy has to start all over again. I’m a perfectionist and I expect everything done to my standard.” Cross, 29, was invited to JCB HQ in Uttoxeter at the end of last year after they found out his love for their diggers.
Voltage was undoubtedly blown away by the outstanding story of the family-run JCB company which was founded by Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE in 1945 in a garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Now they employ 15,000 with a turnover of £4.1billion, making around 100,000 machines every year. The company makes their own engines – and they have just powered the JCB Fastrac tractor to a Guinness World Record as the world’s fastest tractor reaching 135mph!
JCB is a family business and the son of the founder Lord Bamford been at the helm as Chairman since 1975 and celebrates its 75th anniversary on October 23rd, 2020. Cross added: “I love to see British succeed. I’m very patriotic and this is a great British firm which has been built from nothing by one family to a major global company, supplying machinery all over the world.
“What a great story that is. The plant in Uttoxeter is so impressive. The likes of The Queen, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Nancy Reagan have all visited”.
The tour was conducted by a brilliant guy Les Humphries who had been with the company for 51 years! “Their media man Nigel Chell, another great character has been there for over 20 years. That shows how much they all love the firm and care for it. Some families have got four generations who have worked there.
“I was like a kid in a candy shop at JCB. What an amazing company and to see all the history of a family firm was fantastic. But I could have bought at least three diggers”!
“It seems a bit iconic considering how close to Stoke this place is, and that’s the home of darts legends like Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.”
“The most amazing thing is that Eric Bristow’s son worked for JCB recently and so did Ray Reardon’s boy. I couldn’t believe that.“I suppose this is the perfect place for me. Even while playing I get myself into some right holes which I need to dig myself out of.“I beat Daryl Gurney in the World Matchplay semi-final 17-15 after being 15-9 down. I said that night I needed a digger to get myself out of trouble. I’ve always been like that. I did that a few times in my run to the World Championship in 2018.”
Cross has certainly buried any chat of his being a one-hit major wonder, adding the World Matchplay and European Championship titles in 2019 and reaching the Premier League and UK Open finals – taking his prize money to a shade under £1million in two years.
“I’ve done alright, I’ve proved myself this year I think a bit more. But there’s more work to do, I want to be World No.1″
“…… always set fresh targets.“I still believe I’m very inexperienced at the top level. My best is definitely yet to come. I certainly want to add more World Championships, many more. “I look at Lewis Hamilton winning six Formula One titles, that’s seriously impressive to be at the very top for so long in any sport. I don’t think anyone appreciated with Phil Taylor did in darts to win 16 Championships.
“….. I love my country, I love seeing my country doing well. I was buzzing to see us win the cricket World Cup, Ben Stokes was just unbelievable”.
“I must admit those sort of performances really get me fired up. I’m straight back on the practice board wanting to achieve more.” “That’s what makes me tick really. The motivation for me comes in all different ways. That’s why I know I can go on to achieve so much. I’ve done a great deal in a very short space of time. Now I can focus on a big future.“There’s a lot to win. And a lot more diggers to buy!”
A previous version of this article appeared in OCHE magazine.
Picture by Taylor Lanning