words by Julian Hart
Gills Ladies followed up three points away at Denham United on Sunday afternoon by dashing back from the away game to join up with the rest of the Club to join in with the annual end of season awards ceremony at Priestfield.
The first two awards of the evening schedule saw the Ladies announce Rachel Ahern as Player of the Season and Courtney Shanly scoop the Young Player of the Season accolade.
Gills defender Rachel Ahern has been an almost ever present in the defence that has conceded the second fewest goal in the league only two goals more than league winners Crystal Palace. Rachel’s consistent performances in the back four have seem Gills keep an impressive ten clean sheets in all competitions.
We caught up with Rachel after she accepted the award to ask her what it’s like to be voted Player of the Season;
“It’s a really nice feeling, especially as there have been so many impressive and consistent performances all over the pitch this season. It’s always good to be voted for by your teammates.”
It was those team mates that Rachel was full of admiration for after they had voted her the award;
“It gives you confidence when you know that the players around you can do a top job and you know if you do make a mistake they are there to back you up. There has been so much competition for places this year we have all had to step our game up. Whichever combination of players in the defence we have still worked well as unit, which shows by conceding the second least amount of goals this season.”
As Gills title challenge slipped away in the last month; Rachel is as keen to see out the final games of the season as she has been the rest;
“Our attitude has never changed and we will go out there and try to win the last 3 games as we have tried to win each game all season.”
Courtney progressed from the Reserves set up two seasons ago and has cemented her places to become the first choice Ladies Goalkeeper. Several impressive displays this season, including a brilliant performance in the FA Cup penalty shoot out win over Forest Green Rovers.
After picking up the trophy, Courtney was delighted and welcomed the praise given by her team mates in the voting;
“I’m honoured to be recognised and genuinely want to thank all of the girls for their support every week. And it’s even more special since it was voted for by the team, so to be picked out by your teammates always means that little bit more. But I can honestly say I didn’t expect to win anything as I think everyone has played their part this season and deserves praise for their efforts both in training and on the pitch on a Sunday.”
With Rachel Ahern collecting the Player of the Year award, it was the Gills defence that sweeped up the awards, Courtney was full of plaudits for the defenders in front of her;
“I’d like to think that I’ve made an impact in games when needed, but the defence in front of me have made me look good this year. We’ve got such a competitive squad and the girls’ work rate and commitment every week has been second to none especially during the physical battles.
I’m thrilled that Rachel was deservingly chosen as player of the year; her alongside the rest of the back four have helped me out massively this season and all deserve credit! “
Gills go again as they compete the last three fixtures, with two midweek fixtures at home;
“We had a recent rough patch where results haven’t gone in our favour, but we want to see the season out in style.
Our goal as a team is to finish in second place in the league so we’ll be looking for no less than three wins to end the season where we deserve to be.”
Gills host Enfield Town LFC at home on Wednesday 4th May 8pm Kick Off #RoarUsOn