Aims and expections are high at Gillingham Ladies, says captain Lauren Williams
GILLINGHAM LADIES captain Lauren Williams hopes England Lionesses’ success as bronze winners in the Women’s World Cup will enhance the game at local level.
Mark Sampson’s Lionesses lifted the nation and got more people interested in Women’s Football as they reached the third-fourth placed play-off in Canada after cruelly losing to Japan in the semi-finals due to Laura Bassett’s late own goal.
Ex Charlton Athletic midfielder Fara Williams scored a penalty as England defeated foes Germany for the first time to clinch bronze medals.
She told the club's website: “I think it is extremely important for people who have followed England Ladies and the World Cup to come and support their local team because not only will they be supporting the team in their local area but they will also get a great insight into women’s football and will be able to see it first hand.”
Williams added: “For people who have never watched the women’s game in person, when they are spoken to after the game they always seemed to be surprised and impressed at the standard of football being played. The game is progressing in all aspects both on and off the pitch and for this to continue we need lots of support at matches in all levels of the game.”
Locally, Gillingham were relegated from the highest tier of women’s winter football last season in Simon Ratcliffe’s only season in charge of the club.
Darren Hare and Simon Wheeler – Wheeler who worked alongside James Marrs the previous season to guide the club to runners-up to Coventry City – have taken joint charge this season and Williams is looking forward to the new season.
The Gills face Ipswich Town in The FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One on Sunday 16 August (2pm) at Chatham Town’s Maidstone Road ground.
Williams said: “When the fixtures are released it all becomes a bit more realistic and we can now look forward to Ipswich at home for our first game which hopefully will be a good game to start the season off with.
“We are really looking forward to testing ourselves against the likes of Crystal Palace, MK Dons and Ipswich but to be honest every game we will look forward to and look to put in good performances each week.”
Williams is excited to lead the club during the new season.
“I think everybody involved at the club is excited for the start of the season and although it’s a new league with different challenges we are really looking to improve as a club in all aspects next season.
“On the pitch we are looking to put in good performances which will hopefully get us some better results. Off the pitch we are still trying to have a strong link with the Centre of Excellence to help aid the transition for players making the steps up to senior football.”
Williams explained how high standards have already been put in place with Hare and Wheeler in charge of the team.
She said: “Pre-season has been really good so far. It has by no means been easy and both Jack and Darren are putting us through our paces on the training ground.
“We are all working hard and the effort from the girls has been second to none. We are collectively very tight as a group and a real team feel around the club is starting to take place which is fantastic.”
Williams had the honour of leading Gillingham Ladies out at Priestfield Stadium as they made history as one of the first women’s team to grace their stadium.
CAPTAIN: Lauren Williams says expectations are high at Gillingham following the Women's World Cup.
Photo: Gillingham Ladies FC
The opening day of the season clash against Keynsham Town attracted a record breaking crowd, asked whether the club could match or beat that for the opening game against Ipswich on Sunday 16th August, Williams replied: “I think right now especially with the success of the World Cup, anything is possible. We had a fantastic amount of support last year and if we can get the same level of that this season it would be brilliant.
“We know how difficult Sundays can be for some people to come out and support however we appreciate it all so much and really do feel it gives us that extra lift on the pitch.”
For anyone considering popping down to watch the ladies play their opening game of the season, Williams said the welcome from the squad and staff would be a very warm one.
“Come down and have fun day watching some great football. It is shaping up to be a good start to the season with Ipswich sure to be a tough opposition. You may even be surprised at the standard of football we play at Gillingham and in Kent because the things we are doing in pre-season look very promising!”
Williams added: “I would personally like to thank all the support we had last season from everyone. From all the mascots we had, to the parents and coaches bringing them and all the other Gillingham fans that made it down to watch us.
“We hope your support can continue into this season and with both Jack and Darren taking over we are really looking to have a good season with the aims and expectations being set very high!”
Visit Gillingham Ladies’ website: https://glfc2013.wordpress.com