Merstham FC Ladies



The Merstham FC Ladies were started up by Abigail Ellis in April 2017, after Abi took her FA Level 1 in October 2017 and, as with the Canterbury Old Bags, the Merstham Ladies have gone from strength to strength.  Carol Bates spoke to Abi to find out more about how it all started and what’s happened since.

At the Canterbury Old Bags’ Tournament – Oct. 17.

CB:   Tell us why and how you started up your Merstham Ladies’ team.

AE:  I have always enjoyed watching football and with 3 boys who play, it is a big part of my life! Even bigger now!  Like some of the other teams, I was inspired by yourselves.  While hoovering one night, I noticed the Crawley Old Girls on TV.  I stopped to watch it and desperately wanted to have a go, as it ticked every box for not playing in the past and every box for why I wanted to join in now.  As it was at the time I was unable to attend on a Thursday night, I spent the rest of the night trying to find something similar, but couldn’t and after a few glasses of wine thought I would set one up myself!  At the time, I thought it was a bit of a mad idea, and the hoovering was never finished!

It was a couple of months later and after a couple more glasses of wine, I told Rachel Young (another Mother at the Football Club) about my mad idea.  She thought it was brilliant and said she would help me. The same night I spoke to John Devlin at Merstham Football Club, who again, thought it was a brilliant idea and agreed to help with the coaching etc. and Merstham FC Ladies was started!  Rachel deals with all things money and supports me, and John regularly helps with coaching and advice.

CB:  How many ladies do you now have attending and how have Merstham FC helped you along the way?   Apart from opening up the Bar! 😊

AE:  Always handy to have a bar on hand after training!

Everyone in Merstham FC has been very supportive. John who as well as coaching us has helped arrange training facilities, kits, equipment and we probably couldn’t have done it without him.  Mandy and Lee from the Youth Section have helped immensely with promoting us, Ian and Nathan have taken training sessions when John or myself were not available and all the other managers have supported me, especially when I was doing my FA Level 1.

Currently, there are nearly 20 ladies registered but due to the change of training night in the Winter and commitments with children, we currently have about 12 who can train every week.

Second Place in the Beginners Group –
Woking Tournament – Nov. 17.

A big thank you also to all the ladies in the team who have supported me from the start and continue to support me.

CB:  Do you have lots of Mums from the Youth football teams who join you, or how have you recruited your ladies?

AE: Most of us have children who play for the Club and we also have a few who through word of mouth have joined.

CB:  How have you grown from your first session to where you are now?

AE:  I think our main thing has been confidence in our ability to be able to play football!

CB:   Where do you hold your sessions and are they open to anyone to come along?

AE:  Currently they are being held at Battlebridge Boxing Club, Merstham, which has an all weather pitch at the back.  It’s on a Tuesday night 6-7.  Yes it is open to anyone 35+ who wants to learn and enjoy playing football.

CB:  We met your team at the Mums’/Recreational Whyteleafe Tournament, run by Surrey FA, last June and in the space of a few months you have grown so much as a group.  What have you done to get ladies involved and keep them involved?

AE:  I think by making sure we always have a weekly training session, I think this shows that we are serious about it.  The main reason for me doing my Level 1 was that if John couldn’t train us then the sessions are still being run by a ‘qualified coach’, which is especially important for those who join from outside the Club.

With each tournament we go to we enjoy them so much we all desperately want to get to the next one! It gives us a constant reason to keep improving!

CB:  Going back to that tournament when we first met you, it was quite clear we were going to get along after you invited us back to your Clubhouse, at Merstham FC, to join you for a few drinks!  How has your group of ladies impacted on the Club itself (apart from increased bar sales!)?

AE: I think we all had such a good time that day and I think I can say on behalf of all the ladies that we are so glad we did invite you back, not only because of the friendship but the fantastic support we get from you all as well.

First Tournament at Whyteleafe, run by Surrey FA, for the Merstham Ladies.

I wouldn’t say we have had a massive impact on the club as yet, as we do have a big youth section as well as our First Team to compete with, so we are still way down the ladder but I’m working on it!!!

CB:  Are you doing any promoting to get more ladies involved or is it just word of mouth and what are your plans for the future?

AE: We currently have a Facebook page and have had leaflets printed and handed out.  We have also had a few articles go in the match day programme for the first team and hopefully an article will be going in the local press. The next thing will be a Twitter account.

At the moment I am just slowly promoting it but once we get the Winter out of the way and we are back at the football club training again, I would like to try and get another group started for complete beginners again.

CB:  What would be your advice to any ladies thinking about getting involved in Women’s Recreational Football?

AE:  Just do it!!! Since we started I have made so many new friends within my team and outside. The support from the County FAs and from other teams is amazing and it’s great to be part of a growing sport!  As well as the health advantages, we just have so much fun, do a lot of laughing and at the same time we’re learning something new!

CB:  Finally, what do your families now make of your new footballing talents, as we remember a few of your supporters giving you some “great encouragement” at the first tournament!

AE:  I think most of us can say our families are very supportive and proud of us.  The kids are now calling themselves “The Merstham Ultras” and continue to come along with their encouragement and advice!  My eldest has also just done his Level 1 and my plan is to get him more involved in the future with training but I’m still working on that one!!!

The COGS & Merstham Ladies joined forces to play in the First Women’s Recreational Festival at Sussex FA in July 2017.  Needless to say a few drinks were had afterwards!

Look forward to that drink soon!

Thanks, Abi!  Hopefully, we’ll get to join you all again soon at the Club for some more post-match refreshments!

If you want to learn more about the Merstham FC Ladies, you can find them on Facebook or contact Abi by email: