Another week brings more departures and one arrival. Arsenal Ladies have had to say goodbye to Ellen White and Gemma Davison who leave for Notts County (formerly Lincoln Ladies) and Liverpool Ladies respectively. 24 year old striker White had progressed through the Arsenal Academy before playing for Chelsea Ladies and Leeds Carnegie. She rejoined Arsenal back in 2010 and over 3 seasons had a hand to play in 3 League titles, 3 Continental Cups and 2 FA Cups. Winger Davison, now 26, began her football training and career at the Gunners’ Centre of Excellence. She also had a spell in America and returned to the club for a 4th time, helping the Ladies win the FA and Continental Cups double in the season gone by.
In the meantime, Jade Bailey and Freda Ayisi, both England youth internationals have signed professional senior contracts with the Arsenal Ladies. Bailey, 18 and Ayisi, 17 both made their transitions to the first team in 2013 from our Centre of Excellence and have also impressed enough for their country, something that Arsenal Ladies General Manager, Vic Akers echoes,
“Both Jade and Freda are real talents and deserved their first senior contracts. Jade’s been with us since she was a youngster, and come right through the Centre of Excellence system. Freda’s been with the academy for a number of years too. They’ve both got bright futures ahead of them.”
Another exciting addition to the squad come next season will be England international Siobhan Chamberlain. The former Bristol Academy keeper has 26 caps for the Three Lions, was selected for the Super League Team of the Year last season as well as voted Bristol’s Players’ Player of the Year. She also holds the distinction of being the only Women’s Super League player to have played every minute of every game since the league’s inception in 2011.
“I’m really excited to be signing for such a massive club, in Arsenal. The club have got a fantastic history and so many talented players, including Emma of course. I’m looking forward to working with her, and think the competition between us will help push us both on, as we prepare for the 2014 season.”
The news of this signing is bolstered by our current number 1 Emma Byrne also penning a new contract with the Club. This significantly strengthens our last line of defence and introduces experience and healthy competition behind the sticks. 34 year old Emma who has been Arsenal’s first choice keeper for 13 years (and also completed 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland back in September) will hope to build on yet another quality performance this past season that saw her concede just 3 goals in the final 10 goals of Arsenal’s WSL campaign. She has already been part of 11 League Titles, 9 FA Cups and the UEFA Women’s Cup (2007) and fans would hope that this extension would yield many more.
For those of you interested, there is one upcoming event which will be launched on Friday, January 10, 2014 by the Arsenal Ladies, in conjunction with the FA and the Premier League. These sessions are aimed at 16-15 year old women and girls who want to get fit in the coming year in a relaxed and friendly environment. The Come & Play sessions will take place at the Hertfordshire Sports Village (de Havilland Campus, Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield, AL10 9EU) and gives participants the chance to play small games under the supervision of Arsenal’s qualified coaches. Participants don’t need any prior experience and the first session is free for all so that one can judge whether it’s something they would be interested in. The normal price per session is £2, or £1 with a student card and there will be sessions (5-6pm or 6-7pm) every Friday from January 10, 2014. You can find out more about this here.
Finally, here’s the link for the 2014 Arsenal Ladies season tickets which have gone on sale. On a pay as you go basis, the average cost for adults would be over £60 and £30 for concessions. With a season ticket, it is only £35 for adults or £17.50 for concessions for the whole season. It’s a great offer, especially for those of you lucky enough to live in London or nearby, and not halfway across the world like I am! The season ticket will entitle a member for all 7 WSL matches as well as Continental Cup, FA Cup and Champions League home matches throughout the duration of the season.
That’s all for 2013, a big thank you for all the reads, supports and comments since the start of this column back in May. Much more to come for all of us and for Arsenal football (men’s and women’s) so here’s to a good year ahead! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year wherever you are in the world, Gooners.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.