Going top is great but we can’t lose focus says Leeds United Women’s Catherine Hamill

YOU can’t ask for much more than five goals and a clean sheet.

By Catherine Hamill
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:07 am
Get in! Leeds United Women celebrate Abbi Brown's 87-minute winner against Liverpool Feds. Picture: LUFC
Get in! Leeds United Women celebrate Abbi Brown's 87-minute winner against Liverpool Feds. Picture: LUFC

When we lined up to play Barnsley on Thursday night, we weren’t expecting to win 5-0. But we played as a team and put so much into the performance. It’s been coming, that kind of result.

We’d had two one-nils and, after a little blip losing to Chorley, we knew that we could play a lot better, so to get a five-nil win was a huge confidence boost for us.

It’s quite hard for the back-four when your team has so much of the ball at the other end of the pitch. It’s something I try to remember when we play cup games against lower-league teams – you have to stay focused.

Barnsley chop: Leeds United Women celebrate Catherine Hamill's goal in the 5-0 win over Barnsley. Picture: LUFC

You can maybe get away with making a mistake up front but, at the back, if the ball comes at you and you’re not expecting it, then it’s crucial. You have to be on top of your game.

Usually we’ll play our midweek games on Wednesday, so our break was shorter than normal and we weren’t sure what the fatigue would be like when we showed up to play Liverpool Feds on Sunday, especially given that our opponents are at the top end of the table.

We knew it was going to be a tough game. Feds have had a really good start to the season – they’d not lost a game or even conceded a goal, so we were expecting to come up against a strong defence.

We agreed that we would need to keep working, grinding it out and hoping that our fitness showed. I like to think that it did, in the end.

On the ball: Leeds United Women's Catherine Hamill in action against Liverpool Feds. Picture: LUFC

Feds played really direct. In previous seasons they’ve kept it on the floor and played it round us, so that’s what we’re used to.

On Sunday, one long ball catching you out and they’d have been in on goal. There were a couple of moments when they were through, but our back-four understand each other so well.

I feel very comfortable alongside Bridie Hannon at the back (and she was absolutely superb on Sunday, by the way). When I joined open age at Leeds aged 17, it was Bridie’s first season at the club.

We’ve known each other for seven years now and we’re a good match. We’re quite different in the way that we play – she’s stronger, I’m faster. We cover each other very well and can read each other, too.

Once Abbie Brown scored in the 87th minute on Sunday, it was just a case of keeping it tight. There wasn’t long to go. If Feds had scored late, I think we would have felt quite hard done by.

We deserved the result in the end. We went top of the league with the Feds win, which feels great. Of course, you can’t get too ahead of yourself at this stage of the season.

There have been a lot more girls waiting for signatures and photos with you at the end of the game recently.

You could see them cheering and waving their yellow flags while we were playing on Sunday, which was nice – that extra support.

I met a young fan named April last week. She’s been at a few games. Her mum brought her over while I was at coaching and asked if I was the Leeds United captain. She was so excited!

I signed her boots for her, so she’ll have to get another pair to play in!

It’s crazy to think that some of these girls are looking up to us in the way that we looked up to players like Sue Smith when we were growing up.

You can see how it’s grown. We’ve got lots more teams interested in coming along and being mascots. It’s so great that people are getting on board and interested in women’s football.