This feature sees us catch up with former Sporting midfielder Sam Wills. He talked about his varying experiences with both Bromsgrove clubs, unforgettable FA Vase memories and wedding planning amidst the coronavirus crisis.
With 144 games for Sporting (6th in the all-time appearances list) Sam Wills is definitely something of a Sporting legend. However, his introduction to Bromsgrove football, at just 18 years old, was certainly far from positive.
“I had a stint with Bromsgrove Rovers, which was very brief. End of an era I guess. It was a struggling side, which was in very poor form from what they had been used to and the number of fans was low.”
It wasn’t a completely negative experience though, as he explained.
“Really, the only bright note of the spell was that I got a good move to Sutton Coldfield, off the back of a decent game against them.”
Time with Alvechurch followed, but Sam soon lost a bit of love for the game afterwards, until he moved to Earlswood Town, where he played under a former Rouslers manager.
“Smudge (Paul Smith) rang me and told me to get the enjoyment back and that’s exactly what happened. I scored 30-odd goals for him that year and got on with him really well. Which lead us to Bromsgrove!”
His beginnings with Sporting were completely different to the last time he was playing at the Victoria Ground.
“It had a complete different vibe about it this time around. It was a club looking to move up the leagues and everyone wanted to be a part of it. The fans where all behind it and that buzz just grew bigger and bigger throughout my time there.
“It started well for me, scoring two on debut against Stourport Swifts in the FA Vase and then again in the replay, which we won.
“Smudge got a great squad together at Sporting and the togetherness he built was something else. And I think that was the biggest factor.
“We were all close pals and having this success together, with all the fans behind us as well, was just class. We had a good side from the start, but it got better and better, with Jason Cowley being the final piece of the jigsaw to push us on.”
Sam played in many league and cup campaigns with the Rouslers; he holds the record for the most FA Vase appearances of any Sporting player (22) and it was this competition that definitely provided some standout moments for the midfielder.
“The FA Vase of 2016/17 brought by far the best memories, with the journey we went on and seeing the fans come in there thousands!
“Those games didn’t see much quality football played because of the size of the occasion, but it was about getting over the line.
“The semi-final loss (vs Cleethorpes Town) was heartbreaking; I think we were too up for it, if there can be such a thing. We were that pumped to get to Wembley, it was like it sapped the energy out of us.
“But we finally went on to win the league, which is what we wanted, so overall it was a great year. They were brilliant times, including the nights out and the end of season holidays with the lads – the social side was class as well.”
“I met some great people at Sporting amongst the fans and also became good pals with a lot of the lads, particularly with Aaron Roberts, Jack Wilson and Liam Spink, who I still keep in regular contact with now.”
Sam is currently plying his football at a lower level than when he was with Sporting, but he has still been having a taste of silverware.
“Since my Sporting days, I’ve been at Northfield Town, as it’s easier to fit in around work, which I was busy with when making the decision to leave Bromsgrove.
“But winning the league with Northfield, with some of my best pals since being kids, was also class and something I wanted to do.
“Recently, I’ve been busy with my mate’s wedding. which I was best man for – so stag dos and all that!
The current COVID-19 crisis has had a fair impact on his life, which he explained.
“I have been fortunate to still be at work in construction during this coronavirus pandemic, as parts of the industry have still been ongoing.
“However, I’ve not been so fortunate in wedding planning; I have Jack Wilson’s stag do in June, mine in July and my wedding in August in France! All looks to be in doubt at the minute, so it is looking like the pandemic could have ruined what was going to be a great year for me!
“But in the grand scheme of things, as long as my family and friends stay healthy, that’s all that really matters!”