Amy & Pam – A (new) League of their Own!



The 9th September was a very proud day for the Crawley Old Girls (COGS) as it was the day that 2 of our fellow COGS, Amy Fazackerley and Pamela McDonnell, made their debuts for Oakwood Ladies FC, who play in the South East Counties Women’s Football League – Div. West.  Amy was involved with COGS from the beginning, helping to set up the sessions (as the Community Development Manager at Crawley Town Community Foundation) and had previously played for a team, before becoming a bit disillusioned with football.  Pam joined our sessions over a year ago to just come back and enjoy playing football again after not playing for many years.

At Oakwood FC (l to r) Pamela McDonnell, Kelsey Hutchinson, Amy Fazackerley.

It was clear to see that Amy & Pam were former players, but they joined and played in the spirit of COGS (along with Kelsey Hutchinson occasionally) by playing for enjoyment and at a lower level to try and encourage the rest of us!  After a while, it was obvious that there was a need for some sessions for advanced/experienced players to come back into the game, so a new session was set up, as well as the Beginners & Intermediate sessions.   This was implemented as a COGS’ session, by the Crawley Town Community Foundation (Amy), with funding from the Premier League Girls’ Fund, for 30 weeks.  It also enabled new women to join, who had also played the game many years ago.

Some photos from the game:  Oakwood Ladies FC vs. Mole Valley – 09.09.18 – Courtesy of Karen Turner.

Carol Bates spoke to Amy and Pam to find out more about how COGS has helped them get back into playing League football.

CB:   Today was a proud day for the COGS, so tell us how you came to the decision to sign up for Oakwood Ladies FC?

AF:  After some previous negative experiences, I actually hadn’t planned on playing League football again. However, over the Summer, I went to watch an Oakwood friendly and ended up playing the second half. I really enjoyed it and realised I had missed playing regular fixtures. From there, I decided I wanted to sign in, and it all went from there!

PMcD:  After a year with COGS and enjoying every minute , I wanted to play in 90 minute 11 a side matches. Some fellow COGS encouraged me to trial for Oakwood so I did and from the night I trained I knew, with hard work, it was the right decision and way forward for myself.

CB:   How did playing for fun and enjoyment give you that hunger to get back into the game?

AF:  Playing for fun was great, and I really enjoyed playing without the regular commitment. Having said that, I did miss the more competitive aspect, and the opportunity to develop as a player myself, so that spurred me on to get back into League football again.

PMcD:  Playing for fun and enjoyment gave me the hunger to get back into the game as I’ve always been competitive at everything I do and felt that with COGS I had reached the limit and needed League football to test me more.

CB:   What are the main differences in playing for fun and enjoyment and getting back into the routine of playing for a League side?

AF:  I’d say the biggest difference is that competitive aspect. COGS has definitely added a competitive spirit recently, but playing weekly fixtures adds a different dynamic. It’s a good opportunity to build my fitness and continue to develop my game.

PMcD:  The main differences for me with playing for fun and enjoyment and League football is fitness and positional movement. Me being the eldest player in the team means I’ve got to work even harder to keep up with the fitness and mental strength of playing 90 minutes.

CB:  How do think you have grown from attending COGS’ sessions, to where you are now?

AF:  COGs encouraged me to get back into playing football. I spent a number of years away from the game, as I hadn’t played for some time and didn’t feel confident enough to join a team. Being part of COGs helped me to feel part of something again, and gave me the belief to continue playing. 

PMcD: I feel like I’ve really grown as a person and have become more confident of my footballing ability. COGs was a great starting point and I’m hoping to go from strength to strength starting with the extra work on my fitness.

CB:  How do you think you have fitted in with your new team and are you still playing the same positions as you previously played?

AF:  The Oakwood girls are really nice and it’s been a fairly seamless transition. I’ve played in a couple of new positions but I’ve really enjoyed it, as I’m learning all the time and adding to my game. 

PMcD:  I feel I’ve fitted in pretty well with Oakwood and scored in every game in pre-season. I also came out on top with the extra fitness sessions that we were doing. I’m still playing as an attacking player, trying out what position best suits me and the team.

CB:  What do your team mates think to having a few new “older” players join their team?

AF:  To be honest, I’m not sure! We don’t necessarily consider ourselves to be older, as once we are on that pitch, we are all part of the same team.

PMcD: The feedback from the younger members of the team has been very good with some older members joining, especially as we have a bigger squad now and everyone knows they need to work extra hard to fight for the right to be in the team. The maturity levels have definitely been boosted with less messing around from the younger players in the squad.

CB:  What experience do you think you can bring to the team?

AF:  More than anything, it’s a few years of ladies’ experience. The girls are a really talented group, but sometimes we need to be a bit more aggressive, as ladies teams tend to be more physical.

PMcD: Being a football fan and season ticket holder at Celtic since I was little gives me a good understanding of football and this experience along with maturity will help my team achieve their goals.

CB:  What would be your advice to any former players who don’t play football anymore?  (Apart from telling them to come and join the COGS’ Advanced sessions!)

AF:  If they are anything like me, they need to find an environment that helps them to rebuild their confidence and enjoyment for the game. I wouldn’t say that League football is for everyone, but sessions like COGs help support people to get back into playing. Once you’ve re-established that, who knows where it will lead!

PMcD:  I would say to former players who don’t play anymore . Never give up on your dream of playing again and it doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as you are fit you have a chance.

CB:  Finally, what are your hopes for this season?

AF:  My hopes this season are for us to start working together and realising the potential of the squad. We have some great players and once we get used to playing alongside each other, we could be a really strong presence.

PMcD: My hopes for the season consist of growing as a player myself and hoping to continue to grow as a new team and get promoted. It will be hard, we all have the ability we just need to work hard and cut out silly mistakes. The extra fitness sessions we have been having will hopefully start to kick in and help us throughout the season.

Thanks Amy & Pam and good luck for the rest of the season!

Women’s Recreational Football is rapidly growing, nationally, and if it can help bring women back into the game, this can only be a good thing for the FA’s ambition of doubling participation, in the Women & Girls’ game, by 2020.

If you want to learn more about the COGS’ Advanced session for ex-players, please contact