Pair of British kickers brings soccer talent from across the pond
As children, 10 kilometers was all that separated Phil Bannister and Eddie Dines. They attended different schools for most of their lives, but at the age of 16, each made the move to Monkseaton High School, a secondary school near Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, known for its academics and soccer.
Little did they know at the time, the move to Monkseaton would foster a close friendship that would travel more than 3,500 miles to Baltimore and Loyola University Maryland.
England’s passion for soccer—football in the U.K. and the rest of the world—runs deeper than in the United States, but opportunities to play at the collegiate level do not exist. After completing their studies, players either turn professional or compete for university teams formed for little more than social gathering.
Monkseaton, however, has developed connections to American colleges and universities, sending student-athletes to several NCAA Division I schools. Loyola was the fortunate recipient of Dines and Bannister, a duo which—with other European players—has mixed with a core of players from the U.S. to form a top-level men’s soccer team.
Since Bannister, Dines, and fellow England-native Charlie Hutton stepped onto campus in the fall of 2008, the Greyhounds team has won 48 games and advanced to a school Division I record—three-straight NCAA College Cups. This fall, the three players will serve as team co-captains when Loyola opens its season on Sept. 1 against Campbell University. Among their teammates are five additional players from European countries—England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Success on the field has always appealed to Bannister and Dines, but it was the allure of a college education that attracted them to Loyola.
“We have a lot of friends who have been on professional teams in England, but they don’t have a degree to fall back on,” Dines said. Both Dines and Bannister have been Dean’s List students at Loyola and are on track to graduate in December. Both have professional soccer aspirations, but each wanted to earn a degree first.