Joy. Sheer joy.

The look on Jasmine Auguste’s face as she kept opening and closing the box that contained her winner’s medal as if in disbelief or maybe to make sure it was still there. The Cheshire grins of Mackie and Wheeler’s long suffering fathers. Children hustling and bustling, vying for position to be snapped with their heroines

Those are the lasting images I have of Wednesday night’s battle against Charlton Women. And it was a battle, with West Ham Ladies fighting right up to the final whistle as if their lives depended on it. Like a machine. Unrelenting. Merciless. No quarter was given to the vanquished.

This was West Ham Ladies night…


There was a buzz about Aveley’s ground. West Ham Ladies supporters were out in force. Lewes’ own Rookmeister was there with ex-West Ham Ladies legend Danni Ritson, Claire Rafferty was in attendance fuelling my own speculation about a possible recruitment, WPL star Jay Blackie was watching with the Basildon Ladies Mafia as was West Ham Fan TV’s Ryan Archer. Charlton super fan Alan Watts was also there hoping to ring his bell a few times.

There were no surprises in the team selection for West Ham Ladies, the team picks itself these days. There was a surprise inclusion on the bench though. Ex-Arsenal defender who has been out of contract since mid February and yet to be unveiled as a West Ham player… Vyan Sampson. She might now qualify for the Guiness book of records as the only player who has a winner’s medal having never played for the cl

ub or played in any of the games of the competition. In contrast Molly Peters and Chloe Burr were conspicuous by their absence as was Jack Sullivan MD.

Undoubtedly this was the most steely performance I’ve ever witnessed from the Hammers, and even the disastrous start didn’t waver them, Kit Graham providing Cara Connatser with the first shot in anger she’s had to face, but there was little the Hammer’s keeper could do to keep it out. Charlton seemed happy to play keep ball in their  own half trying to slow down the game, but the West Ham Ladies were having none of it, with Ellie Zoepfl gliding past players as if they were training cones and Duracell bunny Rosie Kmita terrorising defenders with her blistering pace. Kelly Wealthall ran herself into the ground playing the thankless lone striker role keeping busy three defenders, allowing the midfield to surge forward. Stobbs, Georgiou and Clark were the midfield enforcers allowing Charlton little or no space to work in, forcing them to resort to the long ball which was efficiently dealt with by the now upwardly mobile West Ham back four. The hammers work rate was off the scale and reaped it’s rewards  when Andrea Georgiou found herself in hectares of space and fired a shot over the debutante Charlton keeper into the top corner from 30 yards. It was the last kick of the half.

Charlotte Gurr one of Charlton’s star players after being pole-axed twice in the first half didn’t make the second half. Not quite serendipity, but every little helps. Swords were drawn once again, West Ham Ladies continuing to have  the upper hand and after being bullied for last few sea

sons they have become the bullies. No more Mr Nice Gal. Wince inducing tackles were the order of the day. Football is a contact sport, and the final was turning almost into a full contact sport. Captain Amber Stobbs seems to have gotten nasty. A kind of female Joey Barton. Complimenting her ball skills with sailing close to the wind snapping tackles, in your face aggression and time wasting petulance. I calculated that a less lenient referee would have awarded her seven yellow cards (slight exaggeration).

West Ham Ladies controlled the second half with an arrogance. A beautiful arrogance. As the Charlton team seemed to be getting more leggier than a Tiller Girls performance at the London Palladium, the Hammers  were growing in strength. However it was Charlton who came closest to scoring next when Pepper peppered West Ham’s goal from a free kick only to see it magnificently saved by Connatser.

West Ham Ladies were rewarded for their efforts though in the 70th minute when Molly Clark successfully converted a free kick from just outside the area. Her curling shot flying over the wall and over the head of keeper Gardner.  With victory within their sights West Ham Ladies chased down every ball with supreme gusto, frustrating Charlton, who were unable to play their usual dominant game which has made t

hem title contenders this season. Charlton had one last half chance to take the final into extra time but Graham fluffed her lines.

The final whistle blew. The cup was raised. Champagne flowed (mainly down the Isthmian League dignitary’s back).

It was not just the end of the game… was the start of a new era for West Ham Ladies.

And if West Ham Ladies are still searching for a permanent manager they need to look no further than within the club.

Myles Smith has worked wonders since being appointed assistant coach. A dedicated young man with no ego, he fits the bill completely.




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