It took some time for the world's oldest football club to have it's own women's team but they're fast making up for time lost.
How did the club and particularly your team get started?
As people may or may not know, Sheffield FC is the world's first football club and was established in 1857, the ladies team was then formed in 2003 thanks to current manager Helen Mitchell. Back then we were at Step 5 of the pyramid - no County Leagues at that time, so we were at the bottom basically. We had a tough first season with Helen concentrating mostly on cultivating a good relationship with the club and finding her feet, building a plan of what we needed to do and how we were going to do it.
That work really started the following season and its been moving forward ever since. There have been a lot of people who have needed convincing at the club in the early days that women could play football and there was quite a bit of opposition initially, mainly from men's team supporters and some committee members. So it was a really hard struggle sometimes but eventually I think its fair to say we've won them over. Nine years on and four promotions later, here we are in the FA Women's Premier League, still with some of the original players from day one and a fantastic fan base that follow us near and far!
Tell us some of your nicknames and why players have them and why some maybe don't?
Haha, well there should be plenty with some of the dingbats in our team but not many with a nickname, just a story behind pretty much everyone...a lot of which i dont think you could publish!;0
We do have LDS - Leanne De Spider... never met someone so scared of spiders, so the likes of Carla Ward and Ellie Gilliat like to play on that and stitch her with spiders! Nasty but funny!
Then theres Gullable (Nicole Jepson) who thinks Everton is in london and didn't believe Tuna was a fish, this is one girl you could tell anything and she would believe you.... she keeps us entertained with her witty comments!
Also there's our Ellie Gilliat...you could have so many nicknames for this girl but she does get laughed at a lot for not only the fact she doesnt shut up but the way she gets battered on the pitch, I've never seen someone get hacked as much as she does, so before we go out on a Sunday, she will cover herself in vaseline (ahem) she seems to think peole can't pull her back if she's covered in that, as she will be too 'slippery'. Haha, oh Ellie!!
Do you have a fairly settled team?
I'd say so, yes, Each year the manager has a policy where she will only bring 3 or 4 maximum into the team, as she fully believes in what she has, It's worked so well over the years and she's a very loyal manager. This year is tough as we have a squad of around 20 but only 16 make it, so its real competition at the moment, which is always healthy.
How did the 2010/11 season go for you, what do you expect from 2011/12 and who are your biggest rivals?
We got promoted into the Combination League last season and went onto win it, losing only 2 games, so it was a pretty good year for the club, Now in the Premier League Northern Division, we knew it was going to be competitve and a higher standard and I think we have stepped up to that and done OK so far. It's a very competitve league and I think everyone will beat everyone, a lot would say we'd be happy to just stay in the league as its our first time here but we have a bunch of girls wanting more and wanting a top end finish.
It's tough to say who our main rivals would be, as already everyone is dropping points but if I had to say, I'd go for Blackburn and Man City, two huge clubs that know what it takes to be at the top! We played Man City on sunday and they gave us a wake up call and reminded us what this league was about, so you really do have to go into every game like its a cup final if we are to pick up points.
Tell us a top fact about your team;
Our manager is a dedicated statto, so I'm sure she will have a few but surely none better than the fact we share the FIFA Order of Merit with Real Madrid, only two clubs in the world that have it!
Who is your captain and tell us a bit about her (nickname, background, what she's good at and not good at)?
Wardy (Carla Ward) is a big character at the club and a natural choice for captain this season. She lives, eats and breathes football and has loads of experience at some of the top clubs in the country (Bristol Academy, Leeds United, and Lincoln). She even had two seasons playing in Spain, which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise as she flies back there every spare minute she gets, for what looks like just to party!
Anything important she has to say is always preceded by the word 'Gerwurls' (that's girls to you and me), said in a sort of crazy mixed up London/South-west accent which everyone take the piss out of her for, which ruins the importance of what she's about to say. She doesn't take herself too seriously (which is a good thing at our club to be honest), although on the pitch it’s a different matter. She doesn't like losing much…who does?...so probably best to avoid her on a Monday if we've not had a good result the day before!!
What about your coach/manager - are they serious, funny, good/bad and why?
Our gaffa 'Mitch' and coach Nigel have a good fun side to them, they always like people to train and play with a smile on their faces and have banter with us!...I think everyone knows when its time to be serious and therefore the relaionship between players and management is brilliant... Mitch is like a club legend, she actually does everything not quite sure how we think she's super human! Oh and they love the good old end of season party...you get to see the real them, haha...busting their moves on the dance floor!
Tell us a funny moment the team shared:
Haha well... on away days we buy packs of starburst for the team coach and on them each one has something you have to act out. Last week a couple of the girls had to act out a catsnake and an elephant mouse... the whole coach was in fits of laughter, it was pure brilliance!
Who is the team's jock (the fittest) and who is the joker?
Our token Italian...Lisa Giampalma, shes a fitness freak. I'm sure she has a bed in the gym somewhere, when we do fitness she's like the odd one out. no one wants to go with her because no one can keep up with her!
The joker is a tough one, we have to many! Everyone likes to play pranks on each other you're always having to look over your shoulder!
Does the team/club have an unsung hero?
Yes, the manager! Are you even ready for this......... she doesnt just manage the first team, she also is the secretary for both senior teams, budget setter, accountant and publicity co-ordinator for all six female teams, programme writer and match report writer for first team, SFC website, administrator for all ladies and youth teams, sorts travel arrangements for both senior teams, organises reserve team playing facilities, takes training, attends club committee meetings, chairs junior management meetings....the list goes on...you could actually write a story on her its that crazy! AMAZING!!
Who is always first to the bar/on the dancefloor on a team/club night out?
To the bar there's many...but Id say Wardy will usually be the first to get everyone on the shots! As for the dancefloor ... I'd probably have to say the two kids in the team...Leanne De Silva and Caz Whiteman... they're like giddy little children when you put them together!
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?