EX-SAINT Nicky Banger is a man fighting on two fronts.

Not only is he is working tirelessly on behalf of charitable organisation The Knights Foundation, but he is also using his contacts book to bring club legends back to St Mary’s.

Last Friday, Banger hosted a sold-out event at the stadium to not only raise awareness of his new Teddy Bear Appeal but to give the 500 Saints fans in attendance the chance to meet the icons.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Banger said: “This was something that I planned over a year ago and it was something I wanted to give back to the fans.

“The reason why it also happened was because it was for the community. I didn’t want to do it as a corporate event. I wanted it priced so everybody could come.

Daily Echo:

George Lawrence, Matt Le Tissier, Kevin Keegan, Lawrie McMenemy, Danny Wallace, Peter Shilton and Rickie Lambert. Photo: Jamie Mogridge-Percy/three7evens photography

“It wasn’t just about raising money for charity, it was about starting to build the bridges between fans and players again.”

A key theme of the evening was to educate those in attendance about the challenges facing families who have disabled children.

Banger’s daughter, Sophia, lives with cerebral palsy, so the former Saint knows just how crucial an opportunity for respite can be.

Former Saints pair Rickie Lambert and Matt Le Tissier have already signed up to donate every month to the Teddy Bear Appeal.

And Banger is encouraging others to follow suit.

He added: “We never want to compromise accessibility with luxury. It should be a given that you have both.

“If one individual signed up to pay £10-a-month ongoing, that would put a family of six in the lodge, for free, for one day.

“It’s a memory maker. If five people sign up, then a whole family can go for five days.

“How often in life can we spend £10-a-month ongoing and create memories for a family that desperately needs it?

Daily Echo:

McMenemy and Shilton on stage. Photo: Jamie Mogridge-Percy/three7evens photography

“Disability is not discriminate between wealth and the geography of where you live because it can affect anybody.

“We are sponsored by Paris Smith [LLP] and the work Peter Taylor and Helen Freeston have done from there has been fantastic.

“They want to support families working on trusts, so disabled children don’t get taken advantage of if there is a bereavement in the family.”

Banger used his contacts book to bring former players such as George Lawrence, Danny Wallace, Lambert, Peter Shilton and Kevin Keegan back to the club for the evening.

The 48-year-old local lad has taken a new role at St Mary’s where he gives fans the opportunity to meet their heroes on a matchday.

With other clubs parading their former stars around as often as they could, Saints had to play catch up in that department.

Despite starting from scratch, Banger has made it his responsibility to make lifelong memories for supporters.

Daily Echo:

Lambert poses with supporters. Photo: Jamie Mogridge-Percy/three7evens photography

“I’ve sort of gone about this on my own. I actually felt there was a need, and a want, to do this,” explained Banger.

“There was a disconnect between the club and fans.

“My hero aged 11 was Kevin Keegan. I remember meeting him as a child and the power of that inspired me to be a footballer.

“My main aim is to bring the fans’ heroes back to St Mary’s, but I don’t just want it to be for those who can afford it in the corporate lounges.

“I wanted it to be about the man in the street, to give them an opportunity to relive their nostalgic memories.”

Banger was also keen to point out that a former Saints chairman was doing everything he can to get the former players back to St Mary's for the evening.

“One person I’d like to pay tribute to is Leon Crouch. He was keen, along with other sponsors, to get as many ex-Saints at the event as possible and sponsored Lawrence and Wallace to ensure they were there. He did this without wanting anything in return.”

To find out more information about The Knights Foundation's Teddy Bear Appeal, visit www.theknightsfoundation.org/teddybearappeal/. Alternatively, visit www.facebook.com/theknightsfoundation/.