Derby County Ladies Football Club

A Year of Unprecedented Success; Will 2018 Bring Greater Rewards for the Ewe Rams

With the programme of games now complete for the year, Ewe Rams Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb feels that the club go into 2018 with a mixture of both confidence and a sense of intrigue, on the back of what he feels has been arguably the strongest year in the clubs 27 year history.

“Taking 2017 as a collective, the club from the Under 10’s to the First Team, from the board room to the tea room, can feel hugely proud of its achievements both on and off the pitch.”

“In terms of silverware, our sides added just shy of ten trophies to the cabinet last season, whilst the increased positive profile of the club saw record numbers attend academy trials last summer. This in turn now sees us operating ten academy sides on top of three senior teams, which means that we now have more teams, players and coaches within our set up than ever before.”

At senior level, the clubs first team delivered its highest ever league position, when finishing 5th in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) at the end of the 2016/17 season and according to Gibb, in terms of the targets set at the start of the season, the club are pleased with how things have gone at the half way point of the current campaign.

“As a club we have always been very open with our supporters in terms of our ambitions and the targets that we set ourselves along the way. In terms of the on-field side of things for this season, we sighted greater synergy amongst the coaching staff at senior level and improved coaching standards, a top four league finish, a run in one of the cup competitions and increasing the overall game time associated with players under the age of 20.”

“in terms of the coaching side of things, our Director of Football, Sam Griffiths has built a team of highly competent, highly qualified staff, who work closely across our three senior sides. The lot of the Foundation and Development team manager is never an easy one, given the changing demands of the first team and its associated ripple effect beneath that; however in terms of the cross pollination of players, the coaches and managers have worked ‘as one, from day one’. In terms of that quality, it won’t be long before we have three UEFA A  and two UEFA B licence coaches within our senior coaching structure, which for a club at our level is commendable.

“Looking at results, league wise it’s fair to say that our points tally this campaign was probably not reflective of the level of possession and chances that we were creating six weeks ago; however we’ve won our last two league games and with a strong second half of the campaign have every chance of equalling or surpassing last season’s standing in the table. In terms of our cup competitions, we are still in both the FA Cup and League Cup on the back of some good results, with every chance of progressing in both; However in terms of a highlight of this season, the progress of our younger players has been probably the most pleasing aspect of the campaign to date.”

“Last season first team opportunities were provided to both Ellie May and Charlotte Clarke; however this year we’ve gone a step further in terms of young Karagh Tait and Amy Sims, in that these players are regular starters. Added to that Kira Rai hasn’t looked out of place when afforded a chance at the top table, whilst 16 year old Anita Gaspar dispatched the winning penalty against Hull City in the FA Cup the other week. This has been a source of great pride for all at the club and it also shows that the work within the Academy and improved links with the Regional Talent Centre are bearing fruit.” 

Off the field the club made the pages of the regional and national press this year, on the back of securing a training centre at Merril Academy and launching a scholarship programme with Derby University, that in time will see players afforded the opportunity to forge full time careers in the game as football journalists and players. In addition to that the club was also named as ‘Club Of The Year’ at both the Derby City and Derby Telegraph annual sports awards. Whilst Gibb is pleased that the club is being recognised for the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, he believes that 2018 will be even more exciting. 

“ The awards are nice, as they are decided upon by neutrals. It’s all well and good us saying that we think we are doing a good job; however when that is ratified by those outside of the club with no ties to it, it’s adds that little bit more credence.  In terms of the partnerships with Merrill and Derby University we worked incredibly hard to get these over the line and we are of the firm believe that they will stand the club in good stead for many years to come.”

“Looking forwards the next six months are going to be defining ones for the club. With the FA making changes to the structure of the game at Women’s Super League level, clubs like us currently operating just beneath that, have been afforded an opportunity to put forward their respective cases for consideration as part of a bidding process. We’ll almost certainly be looking to be considered within that and there are lots of plates spinning behind the scenes at the moment, in order for us to hopefully put forward a strong case for consideration.”

“Our intelligence suggests that there are going to be a lot of clubs doing likewise, for what are a handful of places; however we can’t go worrying about what a, b c and d are, or aren’t doing. If we are ultimately successful in securing one of those places, then fantastic; however if we aren’t, yet our club has things in place that means that it is stronger than it is now, then that will represent success in itself. As things sit, we are delighted with what we have achieved this year and are quietly confident that regardless of what league we are competing in next year, that we will be able to reflect on further growth this time next year.”