Rovers physio set to retirePhysiotherapist Phil Kite is hoping that his final game with Rovers will be at Wembley, though he realises that Forest Green Rovers stand in the way of him doing that.
Phil, who began his playing career with Rovers, has announced that he will be retiring from the game at the end of the season, having been the club's physiotherapist since our move back to Bristol in 1996.
In recognition of his service, as a player and physio, the Board of Directors have granted Phil a testimonial match.
"I'm extremely grateful to the club for granting me a testimonial game," said Phil, "and I have to admit it's going to be a wrench leaving the club I have supported since I was a boy.
"I have been very fortunate to have played for Rovers and to have enjoyed a long career, both as a player and a physiotherapist, but after so many years in the game I'm going to take things a little bit easier and enjoy more time with my family. However I intend to return to the Memorial Stadium, on a regular basis, as a supporter."
His testimonial match, against West Bromwich Albion, will take place on Friday 31st July (kick off 7.30pm).
"It's becoming more and more difficult to persuade any of the Premiership sides to play pre-season friendly matches or testimonial games, as many of them undertake pre-season tours which take them abroad, and very few will agree to send their first team squad out for games such as this.
"However, when I contacted West Brom manager Tony Pulis, a good friend and former Rovers player of course, he immediately agreed to bring a full strength side down for my testimonial match.
"I think it's a superb gesture by him and by West Brom and it will be good to see Rovers host a Premiership side in the build up to the new season. There are many connections between Rovers and the Baggies of course, as former Rovers strikers Jason Roberts and Nathan Ellington played for both clubs.
"They are just two of a number of former Rovers players I am planning to invite to the game, among them many I've played with, and treated, during my career! A full list of guests will be announced in due course."
Having joined Rovers as a youngster, goalkeeper Phil went on to appear in 118 games, in all competitions, for the club and enjoyed a long playing career with a number of clubs before returning as our physiotherapist when we moved back to Bristol.
He spent time on loan at Spurs before embarking on a somewhat nomadic playing career when he signed for Southampton, where he was understudy to former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, in August 1984.
He later played for Middlesbrough, Gillingham, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Mansfield Town, Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United, Crewe Alexandra, Stockport County, Cardiff City and Bristol City.
The record books show that he appeared in 299 first class games, in all competitions, in a playing career that spanned 16 seasons.
It's strange to think that he has now been a physiotherapist for more years than he spent as a player and the Bristol Rovers dressing room will seem strange without his presence but we all wish him well for the future.