Superstitions, rituals and quirky habits of Leeds United Women revealed

I get excited for every season of the year. I couldn’t pick a favourite. I love the frostiness, and being sat inside by the fire – though when it comes round, I don’t really spend that much time inside, as I’m always out and about!

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 4:37 am

When you get up and it’s freezing and you’re expecting to go out and run… that can be challenging. But I think I prefer playing in winter to the summer, as it might be tempting to be outside in warm temperatures, but in the darker months, football really helps your mood – and if you win, it’s even better!

If you don’t play a sport, when you come indoors you never want to go back out again at this time of year. Football makes you go outside. You can’t say to the manager, ‘I’m not coming out to train, it’s a bit cold!’ Once you’re warmed up, you’re fine anyway.

One thing I can’t understand is footballers wearing hats and snoods – it’s a no from me. Plus hoods up when it’s raining, how can you see properly? I’ll accept gloves, but they do look strange with short sleeves.

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Rebecca Hunt had these absolutely massive ski gloves that she sometimes wore to training and would joke, “I’m getting the gloves out tonight girls!”

Her hands looked huge in them, and we’ll be doing a secret Santa as a team this year so if I draw her name, maybe I should get her some tighter ones! I’m still waiting to see the ski gloves make an appearance this year though, it’s not been cold enough yet.

I like to keep things simple with football gear. I wear thermal shorts whatever the weather, but never a thermal top. I don’t like them – I feel too restricted, like I can’t move properly. I just need to get over coming back out at half-time from the warm changing rooms!

I’m quite set in my ways with how I prepare to play football – superstitious, even. I have a few rituals, people think it’s really weird.

GAME RITUALS - Leeds United Women in action

Some players aren’t bothered, and play absolutely fine without routine – it’s just the way different people work. For me, I have to do the same thing every time to help me feel more confident on match day. I do the same gym schedule every week, working on the same muscle groups or cardio for that particular day.

I try to have my dinner at the same time every day we train – 5.30pm for an 8pm start although it’s proving difficult to stick to that at the moment with everything I have going on. I don’t like to do anything on the Saturday before we play that involves much movement. After coaching in the morning, my aim is to do as little as I can, as I don’t want to tire my legs out.

It’ll be salmon every Saturday evening then every home game I’ll wake up at half ten and have beans on toast, scrambled egg and then a banana an hour before kick-off. Then it’ll be two Jaffa cakes at half-time every week. It’s an odd one. You play well one day and you’ll think, ‘it’s because I did that the day before,’ so you keep it that way.

Kanisha Mae-Underdown, for example, she told me she used to have a hole in one of her shinpad socks, so she would always put the sock with the hole in it on her left leg, and the other one on her right. If she had a bad game, she’d swap them, put the sock with the hole on her right. She’d switch it round with every bad performance.

Then Kathryn Smyth piped up to say that her own matchday ritual is always bringing lunchables to away games, so it turns out I’m not the only one who has a particular way of doing things!