Leeds United Women desperate to impress in first cup final for six years - Catherine Hamill

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I was up until half two on Sunday going over our 2-0 Division One North defeat to Norton and Stockton Ancients.

I try not to play bits over in my head, but I’ll just be staring into space and then I’ll get occasional flashbacks from the match.

I kept wondering, ‘should I go back and watch it?’, going onto Twitter, getting the stream up then clicking off it at the last minute. It was back and forth like this a few times.

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But I wasn’t ready. If we’ve won a game, I can get home and jump straight into watching the replay on Sunday evening. If it was a poor result, I usually wait until at least Tuesday.

Cause for celebration for Leeds United WomenCause for celebration for Leeds United Women
Cause for celebration for Leeds United Women

It’s easier to face after a couple of days. Obviously the game has gone as soon as the final whistle goes, but it feels quite raw to start with and takes a while to sink in. After some time to process, it’s less emotional to watch.

People say that if it’s not going to affect you in five years time then you shouldn’t spend five minutes thinking about it. I’m not sure that works in this case – I’ll be thinking about it for hours!

It was a bit different this week as we’ve had a lot of fixtures in a short space of time so we had to rotate players to make sure we were feeling fresh. It was a different game for me again too marking Bianca Owens wherever she went so I didn’t spend as much time in my usual position. I don’t think I mind sticking with one player, it makes things a bit more straightforward as you don’t think about positioning so much, instead making sure your team-mates are filling the gap you might leave – that is, I don’t mind it when it works well, it didn’t feel good in our defeat on Sunday!

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So we lost our last home game at Tadcaster and to top things off, there was no post-match food left for me again! I made sure to ask the changing room to put a plate for me aside while I had my shower, but the serving window was all shut up when I made it through to eat. It felt like it had to be a joke! I was livid and just went straight home, I’m not great to be around when I’m hungry!

We are unitedWe are united
We are united

Hopefully the positivity will return by Thursday (and feeling much less hungry of course) for our huge County Cup final against Brighouse Town on Thursday evening. It’ll be our first final in six years. When I first started playing open age football with Leeds, we lost back-to-back County Cup finals against Bradford City with the first one being 4-0. Strangely enough, I quite enjoyed that game which you wouldn’t expect from the result but I was only just 17 so there was less pressure on me. I definitely had something to prove, but I was quiet, I’d just come up into the senior team, so there weren’t the same expectations on me.

Nowadays, I’m captain, I’m more experienced and I’ve been playing in my position for a number of years now. There’ll be a few more eyes on me too as plenty of my family and friends have texted me to say that they’re coming along on Thursday, and many of them have never seen me play before so I hope I can do myself justice with the performance!

It feels a bit bigger this year than it has done in previous seasons. There’s been more publicity for the event so we’re expecting a fair few supporters along, and it’s going to be streamed with a commentator and everything. It just shows how the game is growing – it’s great that more people are interested.

Everyone knows it’s a big match. On the night, I’m sure my Leeds United Women team-mates and I will all play to the occasion. All of the girls are up for it.

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