This feature sees us catch up with former Sporting striker Chrisi Conway. He talked about his great memories with Sporting, plus his nursing work at a very challenging time and a potential football star for the future…
Before the days of Jason Cowley, Richard Gregory and Mikey Taylor, the free-scoring poster boy of Sporting was, undoubtedly, Chrisi Conway. With 69 goals in 95 games, he sits third in the club’s all time highest scorer charts, but spent a relative eternity at the top of the tree, before eventually being usurped by Messrs Cowley and Gregory.
“I had seven years with the club all together and I enjoyed it from day one, when Keith Draper signed me. That first day was special. I scored a hat trick on my debut, with one goal a 12 yard back heel,” Chrisi said.
“Then, after resigning following a spell at Evesham United, I scored another hat trick in my first game back in pre-season.
“These were special because I had family there watching, who had never seen me play before.”
Throughout his time at Sporting, Chrisi played under a range of managers, including the aforementioned Keith Draper.
“I remember Keith made me feel like I would score every game because of his great man management and I felt invincible under him when I walked out onto the pitch.
“I scored a couple of 30 yarders against Lye Town and Shirley Town, and some last minute winners, which were always nice, but a fond memory was being called up the the County side on the back of the form of my first season with the club.
“Under Adrian Mander, I enjoyed the drop back into midfield and felt more responsibility in that team, which I thrived upon and didn’t really get a chance to do under other managers.
“I played under Paul Smith too and enjoyed scoring during our 2014/15 FA Vase run. They were big games and I was playing well and enjoying my football.”
With his 69 goals came a whole host of wonderful memories, as the popular frontman explained.
“Probably my most enjoyable goal was scoring in the FA Cup, which was on TV, against Coleshill Town, against a quality keeper in Chris Jay.
“Obviously collecting silverware with the club was a special moment, especially scoring in the semi final against Coventry Copsewood, to help get us to the final at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium, which we went on to win in 2015.
“To have the club echo that win in the new clubhouse in a mural, featuring me holding the cup, was very special and made me love the club so much more because of that.
“I always remember the Shed End acting like a Kop and sucking the ball into the net. I loved those second half goals in front of the packed shed.
“My fondest memories will always involve the fans though – the love I always received was unbelievable and especially in the hard times like an injury.”
Despite these amazing times with the Rouslers, it was a case of all good things having to come to an end.
“Obviously I’m saddened at how my Sporting career ended through a serious knee injury in training, which nobody saw, and almost felt like I just dropped off the grid, but I still was there behind the scenes, training and being there for the lads.
“It was great to be part of such a great team in the unbeaten season, including being one game from Wembley, and just seeing those lads in training like Cowls (Cowley), Pykett, Basher (Meakin-Richards), Azza (Roberts), Tugga (Hewitt) and Bunny (Bunn).
“It was great being on the pitch with those lads really – it was a privilege and playing with such talented and cracking lads pushed me and made me enjoy my football too.
“I think I was hard to manage at times looking back, but I always played in attacking teams that pressed high, which is why I felt I had to work hard.”
More recently, Chrisi has been plying his trade at other Worcestershire outfits.
“I came back from injury by coaching at Pershore Town and returned to play for Stourport Swifts, allowing me to safely return from my rehabilitation, 18 months after my injury, and I was very pleased to score some goals against Loughborough University and Bewdley Town, and help push the team onto promotion places this season.
“I was grateful for this opportunity by their gaffer Quentin (Townsend) and will learn a lot from the experience.”
Since leaving Sporting, Chrisi went back to university and gained another degree; it is safe to say that his main focus at the moment lies with his day job.
“I’m now an Emergency District Nurse, working 72 hour weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic with people who have tested positive, people that have come home from hospital and, of course, preventing poorly people from going into hospital. It’s a cracking job and one I love.”
Chrisi, who is now signed on at Malvern Town, is a proud father to two children and is certainly looking forward to the future.
“Who knows what the future holds for me in football? I’m fit, so maybe some more years enjoying my football at a decent level
“My boy, Leonardo, is so talented and only 4 years old. My main hope is to put him into an academy and see him get a good education in football.”
It is easy to see just how much the Rouslers legend loves the club, even dedicating his final line to his adoration for Sporting.
“If people knew how I felt about Sporting, they wouldn’t believe me. But their belief is not needed.”