This feature sees us catch up with former Bromsgrove Sporting full back and winger Dan Ludlow. He talked about the highs and lows of his time at Sporting, his thrilling football challenges post-Bromsgrove and an exciting new job within the sport.
In just over two years down at the Victoria Ground, Dan played 42 times for Sporting, scoring nine goals. Brought to the club by Adrian Mander, he reflected lovingly on his memories with the Rouslers.
“I loved my time at the club and it is a huge honour to be part of the history of what I think will be a Football League club of the future.
“The team Aid (Mander) assembled, with the likes of Jake Bedford, Mark Bellingham, Will Tibbetts, Billy Russell and Craig Jones was really the start of what we’re seeing now.
“Finishing 2nd in the league twice in a row was tough on the lads, as we all knew we’d probably under achieved with the players we had.
“We enjoyed some great cup runs though, with a personal highlight for me was scoring two in the Smedley Crooke Final and lifting the trophy with Jonah (Craig Jones).
“When Aid left, Smudge (Paul Smith) came in from Studley and it was clear to see the club was going to be taken to the next level. The likes of Sam Wills and Reece Hewitt improved our squad immediately and, at times, we were unplayable.
“During the season, I found myself playing out of position more often than not, so subsequently wasn’t enjoying it as much. At the same time, my first child, son Jenson, was born; he had some breathing difficulties and spent his first five days in an incubator. I had to concentrate on my family, so I decided to leave Sporting.”
Although this was a difficult time for Dan and his family, his departure from Bromsgrove didn’t mean he was withdrawing from football altogether; shortly after, he received a call from former Sporting boss Keith Draper.
“He told me about the task at Studley. It was to be an uphill battle and one that that looked likely to end in relegation, with the club being seven points adrift of 19th place.
“I agreed to the challenge and never looked back. When I went in, Keith made me club captain straight away and we got a 2-1 win on the first day. Keith’s man management skills are second to none! He got me playing some of my best football and created a tight group in the changing room.
“Keith overhauled the squad over the next few months and we ended up avoiding relegation with 3 games to go. Receiving players player of the year was the icing on the cake for me in what was a rewarding but tough season.”
Despite starting the next season with a bang, being top of the league at Christmas and in all their cup competitions, Studley ended up falling away in the 2nd half of the season, enduring some injuries to key players.
However, the Bees did bag the Birmingham FA Midweek Floodlit Cup in 2017, as season in which Dan had his second child, daughter Mia.
Towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign, Keith left the club and Dan admitted it just wasn’t the same.
“I made the decision to see the season out with Studley and move on to a club closer to home for the next season. I had a very busy summer with a job change, getting married and a few trips abroad.
“During pre-season, I had a conversation with Paul Oakes and decided to make the switch over to Fairfield Villa; a great little club with top drawer people involved.
“I couldn’t really say no with the likes of Dan Wilkes, James McKeon, Connor Collins and Scott Smith playing down there. We had a great time but never hit the heights we probably should have that season, just making the top six and getting beat comprehensively in a final.
“The week before that I received 12 stitches in my face after going for a header whilst an opposition player went for an overhead kick.
“At the start of the 19/20 season, all our players were getting picked off by rival sides. We were left with the bare bones and the management team and club ended up going their separate ways.
The top job at Fairfield was filled by a familiar face in Keith Draper, who made Dan a player coach.
“The squad that’s been assembled since is a title contender and it was getting better and better each week. We reached a final and a semi final that will never be played, with as we all know the COVID-19 virus putting a stop to our football seasons.
“With this extended break, we have been plotting a title challenge and doing our best to keep the squad we have assembled, as well as making some improvements.”
Dan’s latest footballing venture is an extremely exciting one, as he explained.
“Over the last few weeks I’ve been offered a fantastic opportunity that has come out the blue. I have been give the chance to become part of the Kidderminster Harriers management team, as 1st Team Sport and Condition Coach. I will be starting with the club on 1st July, for pre-season.