Gas Girls Won’t Burn Out
Currently lying in fourth position, Bristol Rovers Women have been the surprise package of the 2004 / 2005 FA Nationwide Women’s Premier League season and although the club has progressed a long way in recent times, the side from the South West aren’t finished yet. Rovers will be competing in the forthcoming semi-finals of the FA Cup and after speaking to first team boss Gary Green and assistant player manager Claire Scanlan, it became quite clear to femaleSOCCER.net that the future is looking pretty bright at Bristol Rovers.
The Continental Spirit
Gary Green has enjoyed a successful first season as Rovers manager, having previously been involved as a coach for the last few years helping to train the squad and the Gas Girls boss firmly believes there are plenty of factors in his sides impressive form, not least the quality provided by some of his international imports.
“Midfielder Claire Scanlan came from Leeds in the summer to become my assistant and it opened a lot of doors, as she has so many contacts in the game. We added three girls from the USA and two Dutch stars to our squad, including the Holland captain Annemieke Griffioen helping to bring in a lot of talented players. We also managed to bring in England under 19’s captain Katie Holtham and so the quality of our squad has improved in depth. However, there are other areas which account for our good form this season. We’ve worked especially hard on fitness levels this campaign and it must be said we have the best of team spirits at this club, which I feel in the closer games, does give us that extra advantage”.
“Last season the side were fighting relegation, so it’s great to be in a position where we are easily safe from those kinds of problems, being able to move on and challenge at the other end of the league.”
The FA Cup
Since their Southern Division Women’s Premier League Championship winning promotion in 2002 / 2003, Rovers have yet to win anymore silverware despite their impressive progress, but manager Gary Green is confident his team have the capabilities to compete with the best and is adamant that his team are more than making up the numbers in the semi-finals of the 2004 / 2005 FA Cup.
“All the top teams of Arsenal, Everton and Charlton remain in the competition, but it’s not like the days when Fulham were the only fully professional team and I think everyone is beatable. We’ve moved on from last year and have a far better chance of success. I don’t think anyone will relish playing us and after beating Tranmere 7-1 in the last round, in what were soaking wet conditions, the team should be full of confidence”.
“The girls we have brought to the club, particularly Dutch captain Annemieke Griffioen, who is different class and American winger Carrie Kveton are players who have helped us retain possession of the ball a lot better. With the prolific Trudy Williams up front, who has 27 goals already this season, 5 of which have been in the FA Cup, we certainly won’t fear anyone”.
Rovers History And Future
Bristol Rovers Women were formed as a senior club in 1998, starting out in the South West League and just missing out on promotion to the FA Premier League Southern Division in their first two seasons. There followed two successful promotion campaigns in just three years, clinching the clubs place in the FA Nationwide Women’s Premier League. The Club has now reached the FA Cup semi-finals stage four times out of the last five years and manager Gary Green feels the club has the right set up to make higher steps in the Ladies game.
“We have a good structure at the club that in addition to the first team includes sides at under 12, 14, 16, reserve and third team levels. There are qualified coaches who help the girls to develop and the youngsters get chance to play competitive football in local leagues or against other clubs in our region. We have some promising players right throughout the ranks, although the under 14’s are arguably the strongest of the bunch and we’d expect them to start pushing through over the next few years”.
“Bristol Rovers FC is also firmly involved in the women’s section of the club, which isn’t the case, so it’s a big benefit for us. The Chairman of the club watches some of our home games and it’s nice to have that interest at boardroom level”.
Joining The Euro
Irish international and assistant player manager Claire Scanlan might not be playing in the 2005 UEFA European Championships, but the former Leeds United Ladies midfield star is looking forward to the big event.
“Sadly Ireland aren’t involved and we also have a lot of Welsh girls at the club who would obviously be more interested if they’d have qualified, but it’s still an event that we’re all excited about. Obviously we all know our team mate Katie Holtham has been called-up for the England senior squad lately so we’re all aware that it’s approaching and from a personal perspective, I’ll be hoping to get up North for some of the big games”.