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Yeovil Town Ladies Club History

Formerly Yetminster Ladies & Sherborne Ladies FC
(affiliated to Somerset F.A. & FA Women's Premier League)

BACK in the early 1990's Tony Baverstock formed Yetminster Ladies, and they competed in South West League Division Two. The first game was against Weymouth Vickings on the 16th September 1990, Yetminster captained by the then club secretary, Su Flatters, finishing the game with a 2-2 draw.

A tremendous achievement in 1997 saw the team reach the 4th Round of the Women's FA Cup, finally going out to Everton Ladies in front of a crowd of over 500 on the main pitch at Huish Park.

The Club eventually became Sherborne Ladies, and then later Yeovil Town Ladies, progressing well under the management of John Flatters.

After Mr Flatters departed the club, first team coach Steve Phelps took over, and continued in his post for nearly seven years.

The Club now enjoyed some strong development, with young players such as Emma Brazell (nee Manley) and Kia Bowles coming through the ranks, both combining playing in the first team with coaching and managing the youth teams.

With the growing success and reputation of the club, Yeovil Town Ladies now drew players from Bristol, Dorchester, Poole, Bournemouth, Exeter, Bridgewater, Axminster, and Yeovil’s surrounding villages.

IN the 2004/05 season Yeovil Town ladies hit another high by winning the Somerset County Cup Final against Keynsham Town Ladies. At the end of this season they also saw the sad departure of young talent Helen Bleazard, who had been playing for Yeovil since the age of nine.

Bleazard left to play for Bristol City Ladies, who at the time were playing in the Women’s Premier League. She has also been part of the England U17’s squad, and has the potential to progress to full international honours.

IN the 2005/06 season captain Emma Brazell took time out to have a baby, and Sarah Lawler stepped in as club captain. This season saw heartbreak, with the team missing out on league promotion to Frome Town by one point, leaving them in the League runner’s up position, and losing League Cup finalists.

THE Glovers at last sealed promotion to the South West Combination League in 2006/07, in what was a very memorable season of fast moving and attacking football. They so nearly won an historic treble too, but unfortunately lost the Somerset County Cup final to National League team Keysham Town.

However, they made no mistake in the Pat Sowdon Trophy. On a very hot day in Cornwall they took on Cullompton Rangers. Yeovil took the lead through a Kia Bowles penalty, but Cully came back with an equaliser in the second half. The Glovers were in determined mood though, and into extra time Jemma Tewkesbury received the ball and burst into the box to score a fantastic goal that sent everyone into raptures of celebration.

WITH Emma Brazell returning to the squad after giving birth to a baby girl, the club embarked upon its first season back up in the South West Combination in 2007/08. It was another good campaign too, with the team acclimatising well to their new status and gaining a very respectable fourth place finish.

THE 2008/09 season again saw fine progress. During pre-season Steve Phelps recruited a number of quality players, with Claire Heydon and Lindsay Roe joining from Bournemouth, Amy Wild from Southampton and the talented Anusia Rourke from the county Centre of Excellence all joining the ranks.

With Jodie Rice leaving the club, Dani Pearson started the season in goal, but after she suffered injury, her sister Stacey took over and made the position her own, putting in some great performances.

With Nathan Jones now coaching the squad, assisting Steve Phelps and Nigel Wolfe, the team started to play some excellent football, soon finding themselves fighting it out with Queens Park Rangers at the top of the league.

Disaster struck on a wet October evening up at Forest Green Rovers when midfielder Kim Turner broke her leg. That was the last ball she kicked in the league that season, and a real blow to the side.

However, the girls picked themselves up, and continued to play some good football, and following the recruitment of two more midfielders, Els Wood from Northampton and Janie Morgan from Bournemouth, the team stayed up with the leaders all season.

In the end the Glovers came third, behind league champions Queens Park Rangers and second place Plymouth Argyle.

The Reserves had a great campaign, with the youngsters in the side making some excellent progress. They finished the season as deserved League champions, gaining promotion to the South West League, Division One.

In a great season all round for the club, the Under-12 (Chaka) team came second in their league, with the Under-12 (Impeesa) team coming ninth. The Under 14’s won the League and cup double, while the Under-16’s managed a third place finish.

MOST people at the club were confident that the 2009/10 season would see further progress, but few could have dreamed of the massive success crammed into it’s exciting ten months.

There were so many fond memories of this season to look back on, all with great pride. The girls first hit the headlines following the incredible 21-0 victory over Reading Town in the August. This inspired them to race to the top of the league with a 9-1 win over Cullompton, a hard fought victory at Forest green and a 2-2 draw at Havant & Waterlooville.

The campaign was full of goals, with Jemma Tewkesbury and Lindsey Roe scoring for fun as the Glovers kept up the impetus, with wins over Newquay, Winscombe, Swindon Town and Oxford City.

The season was disrupted by poor weather for almost four months midseason, but this allowed the team to concentrate on the FA Cup, with victories over Saltash United, Forest Green Rovers and Newquay taking them to an exciting fourth round tie with Norwich City, a game that saw them come out brilliant 3-0 winners, setting up a mouth watering tie with Nottingham Forest. They lost this narrowly 1-0, but clearly showed their higher league promise.

Back to league, the Glovers showed few cobwebs, with impressive wins over Swindon Town, Forest Green Rovers and Havant & Waterlooville taking them to within points of the league summit.

At the end of April the girls played a strong Keynsham Town in the County Cup Final, reached after victories over Cleeve West Town and Frome Town. And they did well, taking the Premier League side to extra time, in the end narrowly losing 4-2.

The girls now engaged the league run in. They were still several points adrift of top place, but with games in hand the signs were looking good. The pressure was still on, but they excelled with some great football and goals galore. A 2-0 victory at Plymouth Argyle set them on their way, and this was followed by a 2-0 win at Cullompton.

Jemma Tewkesbury banged in five goals at home to Reading in early May, as the Glovers shot back to the top of the league with a 9-0 win. Promotion was still not secured, but the girls held their nerve to confirm their glory a week later with a 7-0 win at Oxford City.

Yeovil Town ladies were confirmed South West Combination Women’s League champions, having won seventeen, drawn one and lost just two of their twenty matches, scoring an impressive hundred and three goals, conceding just fifteen – impressive by anyone’s standards. These statistics capped with a run that got them to within a goal of the FA Cup quarter final, plus an appearance in the County Cup final all added up the club’s most famous season.

THE 2010-11 season was eventful for the club, with many highs and some lows, and much development both on and off the field of play.

The First team competed well in their first season at Premier League level, and with victories over the likes of Portsmouth and Keynsham they proved that they could compete with the best. However, they unfortunately found themselves relegated back to the South West Combination at the end of the season after a brave battle.

The campaign started with the disappointment of losing captain Lindsey Roe to Portsmouth, but with the recruitment of players such as Forest Green Rovers’ Laura Bray the Glovers were still confident of being able establish themselves in their new league.

The girls lost their first game of the new season 3-1 at Keynsham Town, but recovered well with a 1-1 draw with Brighton and a 1-0 win over Gillingham to move up into mid table, which is where they stayed until after the Christmas period.

The team had a tough time after the festive period and gradually slipped towards the relegation places. They also went out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, losing 1-0 at home to Cardiff City. They however faired better in the county cup, getting through to the final thanks to a great 3-1 victory over Keynsham Town, Laura Bray, Jemma Tewkesbury and Jodi Cornwall all getting on the score sheet following an epic battle with their old rivals.

March saw the sad departure of the long serving first team manager Steve Phelps and his assistant manager Nigel Wolfe from their positions at the club. Steve sited work and personal commitments for his resignation, and both left the club with the good wishes off everyone, following nearly seven years of good success, which had including two promotions, league cup and county cup trophies, and many happy memories.

The Glovers also waved a fond farewell to two long serving players, with Kayleigh Nardiello announcing her retirement from the game, and one of the club’s founder members Kia Bowles departing for a new life in the United States

Nigel Williams and Sarah Lawler took over as joint managers of the first team, with Chris White installed as assistant manager. They initially steadied the ship with draws against Cardiff and Colchester, but with other teams in the lower region picking up surprise victories, relegation seemed to draw ever closer. The girls were playing some good football and had an excellent team spirit, and they gave themselves hope with a hard fought 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers in April, but defeats against West Ham and Portsmouth in their final two matches confirmed the return to the South West Combination.

It was not all doom and gloom at the end of the season for the girls, with them picking up some well deserved silverware in April, following a good 3-0 win over Larkhall Athletic at Shepton Mallet in the final of the Somerset Women’s Senior Cup. Jemma Tewkesbury scored two of the goals, with Laura Bray grabbing the other. Supporters at the game also saw a piece of the future nurture itself, with youngster Jodi Cornwall putting in a great performance, superbly laying on two of the goals.

The reserves finished their season under the stewardship of new manager Andy Dickinson, and they competed well throughout the season with a team packed full of young talent, eventually finishing in 6th place.

It was also another highly successful season for the youth section of the club, with Mark Howard’s Under-Elevens, Clive Watts Under-Thirteen’s and Stacey Pearson’s Under-Fourteens all champions of their respective leagues, and Nigel Williams Under-Sixteens finishing second in theirs. Mike Board’s Under-Ten team did really well in the development season, and finished the campaign with thirteen players, ready for their first season of competitive football at Under-Eleven level.

THE 2011/12 season was hugely successful for Yeovil Town Ladies. It was the first full season under the tenure of joint first team managers Nigel Williams and Sarah Lawler an saw two trophies won by the senior squad, with the lifting of both the South West Women’s Combination Football League Trophy and the Somerset FA Women’s Senior Cup.

The club also had the honour of being awarded the FA National Respect Gold award for the English ladies football pyramid, demonstrating that it had not only progressed well on the pitch, but off it too.

The start of the season saw the sad departure from the club of the long serving and record goal scorer Jemma Tewkesbury, who moved on to pastures new at Portsmouth Ladies. However, other key players like Rachel 'Dodge' Simkin stayed with the club and a number of signings were made over the summer, with significantly Kirsty Whitton coming in from Frome Town and former England and Arsenal forward Justine Lorton joining from Portsmouth. Stand out Defensive duo Emma Brazell and Rachael Edwards were also appointed as Club & First team Captains respectively. With the playing squad assembled, Lawler and Williams, aided by Assistant Chris White, completely overhauled the team's style of play ready for what they knew would be a challenging season after relegation

The effect was instant, with the league campaign starting with a superb 7-1 victory over Keynsham Development. This set the precedent for the season, with the girls staying unbeaten in the league throughout. Laura Bray instantly hit a rich vein of form, scoring four goals in the opening game, and going on to grab an impressive twenty six for the season, also become the first South West Combination player to pass a hundred career league goals.

The Glovers drew their second league match, but then went on an eleven game winning streak that sent them catapulting to the top of the league, where they stayed until the end of the season despite being pushed hard at times by their rivals, particularly Forest Green Rovers with whom the Glovers played out two epic league matches. Most neutral observers would probably say that those two games, where the Glovers had to come back from two goals deficits in both matches, probably went a long way to deciding the title.

The county cup campaign started well with a 1-0 win over Keynsham Town. The girls received a bye to the final, where on a glorious May evening they beat Larkhall Athletic 3-0 at Wells City FC to lift the trophy for the second consecutive season. The girls were knocked out of the League Cup by Forest Green Rovers at the end of October and were eliminated from the FA Cup a week later by Shanklin Town, but continued to go great guns in the league, moving to top place in December, going on to be crowned champions in April, with two games to spare, so booking themselves a place in the next season’s FA Women’s Premier League.

The reserves had a good season of development, with the youth teams all enjoying much success, with the Under-16’s, Under-12’s and the Under-11’s all winning their respective leagues, and the Under-14’s coming runners up in theirs.

The club were informed of their FA Respect award in April, and this was the result of a lot of hard work from everyone at the club, but in particular from Welfare Officer Rachael Edwards and Chairman David Mills, with his ‘Fans Bill of Rights’ getting a special mention from the FA in announcing the club’s success.

Assistant manager Chris White and Secretary Ali King resented the club on FA Cup final day as they travelled up to Wembley Stadium to be presented the award, and were lucky enough to get back to Yeovil to end their day at the club’s presentation evening, with everyone celebrating a highly memorable season.

Sarah Lawler and Ali King.

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