Following a successful season, that crowned the Ladies as League Champions, saw them reach 2 Semi Finals and reach the 3rd round of the Women's FA Cup Final.
As the 2017/2018 is now complete, what’s your views of the season?
What a great enjoyable season it was. We had to do a lot of rebuilding at the start of the season due to the number of players we lost for one reason or another, we ended up bring in 12 news players during the season, 6 of those joined at the start of the season. We were fortunate that they joined us early so were involved in most of the pre-season work, 3 more then joined a month into the season. Even with so many changes we set ourselves some targets, as a team we wanted silverware, for me personally I also wanted a cup final. We achieved one by winning the league and came close to the other, unfortunately losing 2 semi-finals and have the possibility of the a third taken away from us due to lack of time available to play the games. I think due to the number of changes we have had, this makes it an even more impressive season. To play at the level we have on a regular basis and to compete and hold our own against teams of a higher level is credit to everyone involved. 2017/18 has been a very enjoyable season
Ups & Downs throughout the season, what’s been your highlights this year?
The “downs” is a hard one…. I would say losing so many players at the end of last season is one, as a team you want to build consistency and have continuity and to have to keep signing new players does not help you do that, but having said that the quality of player we have signed this season has to by an up, they have all added to the quality we already had and have made this team stronger, not just as a football team but also as a group of people. One game comes to mind that covers ups and downs, firstly the downs….to lose a County cup semi-final in the last minute to a team that are 2 division above us was hard to take but the up side of that was the team were superb, they competed with and at times out played the opposition and the support we had and the reaction to us scoring our goal will stay with me for a very long time. I have to mention one other up……and that is the support we get. We are so lucky that we have so many people that travel wherever the team go, without the supporters we have I think things could be very different. It certainly raises the team to know they have so many people that travel many miles to come and watch them.
Presentations complete, and players presented with their awards. How difficult was it to make a decision?
Having used 25 players this season, this has got to be the toughest season so far to choose the awards, the fact that 2 of the awards were chosen by supporters and players did ease it slightly for us but it was still hard. For the 2 managers’ players of the year awards, we had many conversations about 9 or 10 players and eventually we narrowed it down to 5 or 6 and I think we probably changed our minds a number of times. We then decided to write notes about each player and then compare them and see if any 2 stood out. We got there eventually. The players that did win the awards thoroughly deserved them but it was hard on the others that were close, there are so many that could have won something, this shows the strength of this squad.
This year included the introduction of 12 new players, how did the squad and you manage to integrate all these new players?
We are fortunate that we have very good leaders in the team and they made sure early on that the new players were welcome and involved. Also have a specific style where we like to make sure everyone enjoys their football whilst also listening and learning at the same time. It also helped that the new players were the “right fit” for the team. There were no ego’s coming in, they were similar types of people to those already in the team. Everyone was involved and nobody was left out. The team have a good social side too and this helps to ensure they are there for one another on the pitch during the games.
Is there anything that you would of changed this year?If so, what?
I would have liked to not have to sign 12 new players, but having said that it worked out well for us, they say there are reasons why things happen. I can’t think of anything else that I would change.
Season 2018/2019 is in full swing for preparations, how’s it all looking?
Its looking good so far, we know we are losing a couple of players who are going to University but then we have 2 coming back that were unable to play regularly last season, we have also been having discussions with a couple of new players to see if they are interested, one of which is very positive. Towards the end of the season we were contacted by a number of players looking to come along and join in so we will follow those up to see if they are still interested. We have an open session on the 8th July, this is not a trial, it is just an open session to try to attract new players. It’s an opportunity for them to come along and join in, see how they get on, get to meet the team and the management. The more the merrier, the aim has to be to try to attract enough players where we could eventually be in a situation where we could look at the possibility of starting up a reserve side. We have also been discussing organising plenty of friendlies so very soon we will start to contact teams to try to pencil in some dates.
A few tournaments coming up, what’s the aim for these?
Tournaments should be fun, it’s another opportunity for the team to spend more time together in a relaxed environment. The aim will be to try to win at last one of the tournaments but the important thing is that the team enjoy them and have some fun.
When can we expect to see the Ladies back into training for the 2018/2019 season? As mentioned, we have an open session on Sunday 8th July, pre-season training will start the following week, possibly Thursday 12th and then we will be training twice a week up to the start of the season
Updated 14:40 - 29 May 2018 by Nuno Antunes