Team of the Week: Hemsworth heading in the right direction

Team of the Week: Hemsworth Ladies
Team of the Week: Hemsworth Ladies
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Their aim is simply to give women the chance to play football week in, week out regardless of their footballing experience. Although, after finishing second in the Premier Division last season, they don’t seem to be doing too badly.

Hemsworth Ladies was set up 12 years ago by present manager Kevin Conway, who had originally set up the junior boys section a few years previously.

He then realised that there were huge demands from girls wanting to start playing football as well so, shortly after, Conway helped set this up.

Conway said: “We quickly had a few age groups going that it wasn’t long after that we set up a ladies’ team.

“We do a lot of fundraising events to raise money for the football club and during one of these tournaments a lot of the parents and players came together and started playing in an effort to raise money for the club.

“Unfortunately for me they loved playing that much that they wanted to set up a ladies’ section,” joked Conway.

“I managed to acquire a player/coach who was going to manage the ladies team but in the first training session she dropped out so I ended up doing it myself.”

It has been down to hard work and dedication that Conway has created a strong team aiming for the top. But it has been a long slog.

“Originally when we first set the team up, they were all girls who had never kicked a football before, but they were willing to listen and learn.

“Our ethos was that despite not being the most technically gifted team we will be one of the fittest. We went on to become one of the fittest teams in the league and we went on to win the majority of our games in the last 20 minutes because of this.

“We have risen through the leagues, including three consecutive promotions into the West Riding Premier League and since then some of the youngsters have now reached the adult stage, so they are playing for us as well.”

At the start of the 2014/15 season Hemsworth had two ladies sides for the first time in their history. Hemsworth West, who Conway concentrates on, and Hemsworth South, who compete in Division Two of the Sheffield League – something that Conway is particularly proud of.

“A few years back I had a big squad of 18/19 so some of them didn’t always get a game every week which is harsh, so we decided to do some recruiting and split the two teams.

“We’re attracting quite a few players now from all over the local area from the age of 16 to our eldest player who is 44-years-old.

“Since we started the South team in the Sheffield League we’re having quite a few girls come from that side as well.

“I concentrate on the West team, but they all train together and then they split into their respective teams for match days.”

However, Conway believes that their success in developing two teams may have cost them the chance of winning the league last season. Hemsworth finished second in the table, four points adrift of eventual champions Harrogate Railway Athletic.

“It was unfortunate but it was mainly down to our own success because some weeks we weren’t able to have any subs on the bench due to the players being involved in the new team. If we didn’t have the two teams we probably would have won the league,” admitted Conway.

The new season brings a new challenge for Conway and Hemsworth as he believes the new campaign is going to be their toughest one yet.

“I believe that there are five major contenders for the title this season, ourselves included.

“We have already played two of the teams in Tingley and Ossett Town. Tingley were a lot fitter and stronger than us on the day and came out 2-1 victors but we managed to beat Ossett 3-2 so it is going to be very close. Whoever comes out on top come the end of the season will be the side that have the strongest squad every week.”

Following the tremendous success of the England Women’s side at the World Cup in Canada this summer, Conway expected an influx of young players to join his ranks but this hasn’t been the case.

“I thought there would’ve been an influx of players but it’s mainly just been 15/16-year-olds who have been playing for a while in the junior sections and have now reached the women’s game. Since girls football kicked off maybe 10 years ago now, you’ll find that there are a lot of 16-year-olds playing but a lot of teams aren’t willing to take a gamble on a 16-year-old who has never played football before, but we will.

“In fact we have just taken on a 33-year-old called Kate Tinkler who before this summer had never kicked a ball before. She saw the advertisements and was inspired by the World Cup and just wanted to be involved and stay fit.

“She came to training, did the work and has just made her debut for us. She loves it that much she has signed on now.”

It just goes to show that someone of any age can go out there and play football for the first time. Football has certainly come a long way since Conway first set up this side but his ethos has always stayed the same.

“We’re just here to give girls the chance of playing football. We want women out there playing week in, week out regardless of their success.”

Fact file

Formed: 2003

Division: West Riding County Womens Premier Division

Ground: Fitzwilliam Sports Complex

Manager: Kevin Conway

Captain: Vicky Goldsby

Longest Serving Player: Dawn Whitehead