Sponsoring an NRL club is a commitment like no other, but Ben Small went the extra mile – quite literally – by attending every single Sydney Roosters match throughout the 2022 season.
A passionate Roosters supporter since the days of Brad Fittler and Luke Ricketson in the 1990s, Ben decided to come on board as a player partner in 2018 through his Central Coast-based business Clearwater Plumbing.
But he decided to take that commitment to the next level in 2022 by attending every single NRL match from the pre-season trials all the way through to the finals in a monumental effort not many have replicated.
Not only did Ben tick off the bucket list, but he used the opportunity and travel to spend valuable time with his children across Australia on ventures to the Gold Coast, Mackay, Brisbane and Melbourne.
“It’s something that I always wanted to do,” Ben explained.
“I started it in 2021 but obviously the competition got relocated to Queensland. I thought at the same time it would be good to give my kids a little bit of an experience too.
I know the Roosters are building towards something special as well and I suppose you feel like you’re a part of it at every single game. To me it’s so much more than a football club, it’s a tight-knit family.Ben Small Proud Sydney Roosters Partner
“I took my son to the sponsor’s trip up in Townsville, I’ve taken my other son to the game in Brisbane when we took on the Broncos and last year I took my daughter on the Gold Coast as well.
“All the players like Brad Fittler and Anthony Minichiello used to have their individual sponsors, and I always thought how cool it would be to that one day, to have your name up there with these players at the Club.
“I thought I’d inquire about it and met with the sponsorship team and after they went through with me about what was involved including the pricing, and I didn’t even hesitate. I pretty much decided right then and there that I’d sign up.
“The most rewarding thing is having that Roosters emblem on our shirts and jumpers, and I’m so proud to see the Clearwater emblem pop up at home games whenever one of our players scores a try.
“I know the Roosters are building towards something special as well and I suppose you feel like you’re a part of it at every single game. To me it’s so much more than a football club, it’s a tight-knit family.”
With nearly eight months’ worth to schedule – not to mention travel – while simultaneously running his own business, Ben had a monumental task ahead of him.
And while homesickness unsurprisingly kicked in towards the back end after multiple flights to Queensland and Melbourne as well as road trips to Canberra and Newcastle, he says that he already has one eye on doing it all again in 2023.
“During the year I absolutely loved it,” he said.
“There were no problems with that whatsoever. I pretty much booked my flights and accommodation in advance, so I wasn’t running around looking for tickets or anything like that.
“By the end of the season I was probably getting a bit homesick in a way, looking forward to staying at home but I definitely wouldn’t take anything back.
“My wife the other night asked me what my plans were and I sheepishly said I wasn’t sure, but she knew that I wanted to do it all over again next year. I’m seriously considering it.
“I did see that our very first trial is in Geelong so I wouldn’t mind getting to that one. We’re also playing at The Gabba and I’ve never been there, so that would be a good experience.
“Magic Round is a given, I’ll definitely go. Even going to Melbourne in Round 6 just to see Brandon (Smith) take on his old team will be pretty cool I reckon.
“Put it this way, I’ll be trying very very hard to get to every single game again.”
Out of the 15 venues attended throughout the 2022 season, there was one clear stand-out for Ben – Allianz Stadium.
“That ground deadest, not to say this because I’m a Roosters fan, but it’s the best ground I’ve ever been to,” he beamed.
“There’s not a bad seat in the house, the atmosphere is absolutely electric and not to mention we played our arch-rivals which added to it, but just to get a win over Souths in the opening was absolutely fantastic.
“I got to watch the game from the Captain’s Club with my family and it was hands down one of the best games I’ve been to.
“I’m really looking forward to the full season next year and seeing Clearwater shown at Allianz Stadium.”