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Women's Football News
Simon Ratcliffe has been announced as the new manager of Gillingham ahead of the new Premier League season.
In addition to managing the Gills Ladies, he will run the newly formed Girls Academy and be the link between Gillingham FC and North West Kent College.
Speaking exclusively to the club's official website, Simon said: "It's great to be doing it; I spoke to Darren previously and I'm really pleased he got back to me and decided I would be the right person for the job.
"The fact that it's a multi-faceted role intrigues me because I will be ever so busy. The ladies most definitely interests me because it's a part of Football that is really taking off and its blossoming across the country.
"I've been coaching in Norfolk for the past year and the girls there are ever so keen and polite - I really am looking forward to it. Not just the ladies but the Girls Academy which is starting in September."
Simon returns to the club having made 124 appearances for Gills between 1995 and 1998, and he looks back on his time at Priestfield with good memories.
"It's nice to come back," he added. "I've made no secret that the period that I was at Gillingham, certainly before I had the injury at the end, was the most enjoyable period of my career with Tony [Pulis] and the success we had when Paul [Scally] had just taken over as Chairman.
"It was very nice in that first season to win promotion and that was quite sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time and look back on it fondly."
Gillingham came agonisingly close to winning the Southern Division title last season, losing out to Coventry City on the last day of the season. Manager James Marrs left the club to take over at Brighton & Hove Albion during the summer, taking a large number of the squad with him, so the Gills are currently in the process of bringing in new faces but also looking to their very talented Centre of Excellence graduates.
It has not been all bad news for the club though, the most exciting and main development being the official partnership with Gillingham FC which means that first team home games will be at the Priestfield Stadium. Also, the girls will no longer have to pay to play and they will have access to all the training facilities and kit the men use.
Before appointing Simon as manager, the players enjoyed training with ex-Gills pros including Steve Lovell, Mark Patterson and Darren Hare. They even enjoyed a session with current assistant manager Andy Hessenthaler.
Gillingham's season starts on Sunday 24th August with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur and the first home match at the Priestfield Stadium will be seven days later, a local derby Premier League Cup tie against Ebbsfleet Utd.
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