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Womens Football News Archive -27th May 2003
Garswood defender aiming for quick
return to Premier League
"We have the quality to come back up" - Jayne
The battle for survival in the Northern Division of the Premier League has been an intense one all season. So close, in fact, that Garswood Saints were one of the unlucky teams to be relegated, along with Ilkeston Town, despite picking up one more point then last season.
Jayne Hammill joined Garswood midway through the season from Wigan Ladies and played a part of their ultimately unsuccessful battle to beat the drop. The 21-year-old full back, who is in her final year at Liverpool John Moores University, has no regrets about her move. "I have only been at Garswood since January after leaving Wigan from the North West Premier Division where I had played since I was 14. I knew some of the Garswood players who had played for Wigan and decided it was time to move," she told Women's Soccer Scene.
Garswood's fate was sealed after they were beaten 8-1 in their final game with Aston Villa while Middlesbrough were winning at Bangor City. "The mood was obviously very down, especially because everyone knew that we hadn't played as well as we could have and didn't do ourselves justice at all," says Jayne. "Personally I was very frustrated because I was a sub and only played the last twenty minutes when it was too late to do anything. It was pretty hard to watch - we made some bad mistakes and got punished, heads went down and people seemed to give up. News had filtered through about Middlesbrough during the match too, which I don't think helped the nerves.
"I think that (the relegation) shocked everyone because no-one really expected it but the league never lies, so in the end we did deserve to get relegated. We thought we had saved ourselves with the win over Ilkeston but then it went to the last day and Middlesbrough managed a win. I think we drew too many matches that we really should have won. We did have some bad injuries and some really bad luck at times but we can't make any excuses, we seemed to play much better against the teams we were expected to lose to and then play worse against teams that we could and should have beat."
It may be true to say that Garswood never fully recovered from losing key player Paula Oldham with a broken leg earlier in the season. "I've personally never seen Paula play because she was injured before I joined but from what I have heard, everyone says she was the best player at the club so obviously she would have been a big loss and maybe could have made a difference to the team. I think that when a main player gets a bad injury it affects the rest of the team and it takes time to adjust."
The main success of the Garswood season was striker Andi Bell who scored 12 goals and is sure to attract attention from Premier League clubs. Jayne is resigned to losing their leading scorer but feels this can be overcome. "Andi is a quality player and goalscorer and makes chances out of nothing all the time. I think she has left the team though so it will be difficult for us to replace her. She wants to play at the highest level which is understandable. We do have other quality strikers like Aly Hastie, Vicky Johnson and Nicola Chatterley who have played in different positions, hopefully they will get their chance up front and score lots of goals for us."
So, the big question. Can Garswood come back up from the Northern Combination at the first attempt? "I think that we have the quality to come back up but will have to work a lot harder. I am sure the relegation will make us stronger as a team if we all pull together. It's a good league with some very good teams and it will be difficult. If we can keep the team together and play like we can, we could come straight back up. We will have to make adjustments because some players have retired and a couple have left but if we can bring some of the younger players through and maybe sign a couple more we should be okay."
Which players within the squad will have an important part to play? "Players with experience such as Lisa Bostock and Shereen Kempster who have been at the club for a long time, played at high levels and have the quality to help us get promoted straight away. Shereen's the captain and motivator of the team. Also Dawn Connor, a very strong defender which will be important to us next year. All of the strikers because we need to start scoring more goals."
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