It’s been a busy couple of months for Gills Ladies, with an exciting move under the umbrella of the men’s team and a new manager ready to be announced, the Gills offered fans a free afternoon of football on Sunday to celebrate as preparations for the new season continue.
Gills Ladies goalkeeper Courtney Shanly spoke of her delight at the move the club have made following the teams 2-1 defeat to Millwall Lionesses.
A valuable 90 minutes for Gills Ladies, Shanly gave us her thoughts following the game: “I think it was really good considering that was the first game we’ve had all together as team to play alongside each other and jel.”
“You could see Millwall were quite fit as they’re half way through their season but we had our chances and perhaps could have taken more of them. I think as fitness improves that will come and we’ll be good for the season.”
Making the step up from the Reserves to play for the first team, Shanly was pleased to make the step up. “It’s different, as I have to play in a slightly different way. Last year was a mix with the Reserves and the tempo was a little bit slower. But now with that tempo has gone up and it’s nice to know you’ve got support all over the pitch. Especially communication wise, if you make a mistake you’ve got someone who has your back.”
“I was prepared last year, even though I was in the Reserves, when I was called up to be involved with the first team, I was there ready and raring to go. Even sitting on the bench I was prepared if needed and it’s nice to prove myself with any opportunity.”
Shanly added: “I was pleased with my performance today. Obviously there was a couple of errors, some things I could have done better but as whole with the team, I felt I done well. With the experience of Potts and Longy, I could see we needed to push and I developed the confidence from them to help with that.”
Shanly is one of several players now introduced to exemplary facilities and support as Gillingham Ladies move under the banner of Gillingham FC. Shanly shone some light on the benefits she and her team-mates have enjoyed.
“We trained at the gym at Priestfield on Thursday and that was brilliant. The facilities are top class and the coaching has been really good and the tempo with that has increased. Its’ been, at this stage, about getting to know eachother and the way we want to play. At the minute it’s been good to know where where we’re going to play and Thursday’s session at Priestfield got us accustomed to where we will play. We’re going to walk out in that stadium and that’s so exciting!”
Shanly also spoke of her delight at learning off of Gillingham FC’s Assistant Manager, Andy Hessenthaler: “Learning off his experience is brilliant. He has this aura about him; he’s got so much experience, he’s been there and done that in the professional game and knows what he’s talking about. You pick up little tips from him about how to play it quick, play it simple and it’s really good to learn from his experience.”
With weeks left of pre-season to go, there’s lots of work for Shanly and her team-mates to undertake, but for the meantime, the Gills keeper was brimming with excitement for the first game of the season.
“Personally, I can’t wait for the start of the season. I remember being ball girl at the England ladies game at Priestfield Stadium; knowing now that I get to play there myself gets me a little bit chocked up!”