So with a big change to the club during the off season I think the first thing to say is a huge thank you to Gillingham Football Club for being so welcoming of the Ladies teams. They have given us fantastic opportunities both on and off the pitch, also a huge thank you to all those involved in this transition.
Since the start of the new season, we have been able to use the facilities that the men do at Gillingham which includes using the training ground as well as Priestfield to train and play all of our home games. In a time of big changes we have had players leave the club and also new faces join. However one thing that is really important about being here is that we all pull together no matter what and although at times it has been very difficult, it has also been really positive looking ahead at the future. Our new manager Simon has been very good in settling us all into the team, he works tirelessly behind the scenes to do a brilliant job and has great drive to help us reach our full potential.
Being given the role of captain at the club was a big surprise as I have never had the opportunity to lead a team out before however I am very privileged and proud of the team and enjoy playing every week with them. I feel as though we will only get stronger and in a time of transition we are forever improving and developing. We have been very honest with ourselves and said this process isn’t going to happen overnight and may take a few seasons but we are prepared and ready to put in the hard work to get our rewards.
With a tough start to the season with two losses in the league away to Spurs and Brighton, a home game was very much needed to lift spirits and get some good support. Walking out at Priestfield was a surreal experience and one to remember, the girls were very excited but also nervous however we loved the whole day and now look forward to every home game. We played Keynsham and won 2-1. The number of fans we had at the game was amazing and they really helped throughout the 90 minutes to motivate us on the pitch so we were extremely proud to get our first win on the board, get the 3 points and please the fans.
Our next home game was against Copeswood, a new team into our league. As we didn’t know much about them we were a little apprehensive going into the game therefore started slowly. Once we got into our stride our attacking part of our play was very exciting scoring 6 goals and creating many more chances. The girls played really well and again after the big changes this summer it was so nice to get some more well deserved points, please the fans that again turned out in big numbers and be unbeaten at Priestfield.
Our furthest away trip was fast approaching and when we received information that the bus was leaving at 6.45am I’m sure you can imagine the remarks we had from those that are lazy sleepers! I think almost everyone came on the bus with a blanket and pillow and soon got their heads down for some rest. Jade on the other hand was sat very grumpy as she had left her phone in the car back at the ground. Ellie was bragging about her new upgrade so of course that didn’t go down too well either!
Breakfast was served by our fantastic catering staff working diligently in the kitchen at the back of the bus. We finally arrived at the ground after the long journey and started to get prepared for the game.
With a shaky start we settled well and begun to show signs of being on top when the unthinkable happened. A shocking and devastating injury to our winger Jade Keogh stopped play for over an hour. To say I was speechless was an understatement but the bravery Jade showed was unbelievable and the way she dealt with the situation was very inspiring. She was cracking jokes and the banter was flying around mostly coming all from her. She wasn’t impressed with the first ambulance that came as it was only a car; I think she was expecting a helicopter or fighter jet and quite happily told the paramedic this too!
It was clear a lot of the girls, including myself, were physically upset about what they had seen and found it very hard to see our team mate in that situation. I’ve got to say a massive well done to Tuney, Potter and Ash for responding so quickly and getting to Jade as soon as they could. Then also Chloe, Simon, Longy and Charlotte for staying so calm and helping her through the situation. Eventually she was taken into a bigger ambulance and went to hospital, not before being clapped off by both teams which again was really overwhelming for everyone involved. A big thank you also goes to Plymouth Argyle Ladies FC for assisting and being so understanding of a difficult time for us all.
Of course, after a situation like this it was very difficult to get ourselves collected again for the game, but Jade said she wanted us to play on so we had to try our hardest to make her proud and get a result. Despite going 2-0 down we fought until the end but came away losing 3-2. Although disappointed not to get something more out of the game, our main focus was Jade and getting to the hospital to see her and Longy to find out more about her injury. A long night and journey home (arriving back at Priestfield at 2am) wouldn’t have been changed as we obviously just wanted Jade to be ok.
Looking forwards she is having an operation in the next few days and will start her recovery to get back fit. It is going to be a long process however she knows she has all of us around her every step of the way. Seeing the way the girls responded by getting behind her on Sunday and since then has been different class and made us so much stronger collectively. We love you Jade and cannot wait to have you back around the group.
With two huge games this week, one on Thursday 2nd October and one on Sunday 5th October both at Priestfield, we encourage all fans to come along to support us and help roar us on (Emma Tune loves a roar by the way). It would be greatly appreciated and hopefully can help us in gaining some valuable points.
Once again thank you for your continued support and we all look forward to seeing as many of you at our home games this coming week.