Donald Paul Rossiter 1935-2016
A right sided forward, Don Rossiter was an Arsenal reserve team player for two periods in the 1950s. He later became a councillor for the Tories in the Medway area.
Born on 8 June 1935 in Strood, Kent he was spotted by Arsenal and was signed on as a schoolboy in 1950. Arsenal loaned him out to Walthamstow Avenue and while at this non-league team played in England Youth international trials in January 1952 and also in the FA Amateur Cup final in April 1952 at the age of 16. Winning the FA Amateur cup medal by beating Leyton 2-1 at Wembley, he played alongside England Cricketer Trevor Bailey. After his spell at Walthamstow he turned professional in summer 1952 but did not manage a first-team appearance for the Gunners.
Don played in 33 games for the reserves, scoring 5 goals, and made 42 appearances in the A team scoring 13 goals.
For his National Service Rossiter was in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) based at the army base in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Tom Whittaker arranged for him to move to Hartlepool on 4 March 1954 and he went straight into their reserve team. But he could not break into the ‘Pools first team and returned back south to Highbury for the start of the 1955-56 season.
In March 1956 Rossiter moved onto Leyton Orient and while there played in one first team game. Shortly afterwards he transferred to Southern League team Dartford on 26 October 1956 and remained there for the rest of the season.
Rossiter then joined Gillingham from Dartford prior to the start of the 1957-1958 season, and made his debut in the opening league game, a 1-0 defeat at home to Brighton & Hove Albion. It was his sole appearance for the club as he signed for non-league Dover a few weeks later. After Dover he went to a number of Kentish non-league teams, including a spell as player-manager for Chatham Town before retiring from the game in the 1960s.
He went into business and also had a career in the Conservative party as a councillor, becoming the Mayor of Rochester in 1985-86 and attempted to become a Member of Parliament. He was also Chairman of the planning committee of Rochester-Upon-Medway City Council in the late 1980s. In October 1987 this role came under the watchful eye of investigative journalist Paul Foot in the Daily Mirror owing to the number of his families’ planning applications which were all passed on his watch in the borough.
Don Rossiter died in Somerset on 18 February 2016 aged 80.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog (top right).