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THE PLAYER LOWDOWN: Banner talks Rovers, Sporting shoots of promise + being the family man

This feature sees us catch up with former Bromsgrove Rovers and Sporting midfielder Kevin Banner. He talked about his days with both clubs and, in particular, how he saw the early promise in Sporting, plus the end of his playing days and his role as a family man.

When listing Bromsgrove footballing legends, the reliable Kevin Banner would always rank highly. 59 goals in an incredible 366 games for Rovers and 6 goals in 23 for Sporting would tell anybody that.

“I’ve had the honour of representing both Bromsgrove Rovers and Sporting, but obviously my footballing career was largely with Rovers; I had some brilliant times over my 10 years, made some amazing memories and met some great people.

“My dad took me to watch them when I was a kid –  I was even a mascot and said then it would be a dream to play for them. Unfortunately it didn’t end well and when the club folded, I had a brief spell at Stourport Swifts but decided that it was time to retire, as it just wasn’t Bromsgrove.”

However, his retirement was short-lived, after talking with the then Sporting manager, who just so happened to be another Rovers hero.

“I decided to come out of retirement after a conversation with Stewart Brighton, who asked me to play for Sporting. For me, it was a no brainer – I jumped at the chance.

“What I liked was the ambition from everyone involved to get Bromsgrove back playing at a level where they deserved to be, and doing that using local players. Stu (Brighton) was obviously a Rovers legend and the chance to play for him and be back at the Victoria Ground as well was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“I was impressed with the young, local talent Sporting were bringing through; the likes of Dan Wilkes, Ryan Molesworth and Chris Bright. Stu wanted me to add a bit of experience to a young side.

“There was buzz around the club again – one that had sadly disappeared during the latter days of Rovers. The supporters were really getting behind the club and, as in my Rovers days, I always had a good relationship with the fans.”

A change in management at Sporting did nothing to dampen Kevin’s impression of Sporting, as he explained.

“Stu was replaced by Keith Draper, who I already knew from the Rovers days, so I was confident he could move the club on even further. He brought in some new faces and added a bit of extra quality, with players like Chrisi Conway.

“We finished 3rd that season and made it through to a cup final, sadly losing on penalties to Littleton.”

“Unfortunately, as Sporting were taking off, my playing days were coming to an end. Due to some personal issues, as well as tearing cartilage in both knees, I decided to take a break from football and, ultimately, retire again.

“Although my time at Sporting was shorter than I would’ve liked, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and I thank everyone at the club.”

Kevin, who has worked as an NDT inspector for Mettis Aerospace for 18 years, has focused firmly on family since retiring.

“I’m very much the family man now. I got married and I’m dad to three amazing boys; Ollie 10, Noah 3 and Jude 8 months.

“Recently, going from two kids to three means we had to move from man marking to zonal! But they keep me on my toes and all my time now goes into being a husband and dad.

“I do still come down and watch Sporting when I can, but I find it difficult being in the stands and not on the pitch. My eldest is football mad and I’m hoping he can he one day follow in my footsteps and play for Bromsgrove; he’s currently playing for Meadow Park U10s and banging the goals in, so fingers crossed that continues.”

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