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Gloucester City are looking forward to playing Premier League football for the first time next season after carrying off the South West League Premier Division title.
The title success marks the end of what had a dark period in the club's history in which they were forced to look for a new home after their ground was a victim of severe flooding back in 2007 and the club was forced to pull out of the South West Combination and rebuild again at a lower level.
That rebuilding was completed this season when they won the league for the second time, after having only been promoted a year ago, under the managership of Jon Burnell and assisted by Steve Watson.
"One of our best performances was when we travelled to Torquay with a weakened side at the beginning of the season," says captain Helen Wood, who is a stalwart of the club. "We went a goal behind after having a goal disallowed and having a lot of the possession and better chances. We then ended up conceding again. We changed our formation and got it back to 2-2 then what we should of done it was settled for the draw but we tried to push on as we did we conceded again, with five minutes to go we continued to push and finally got the equaliser. At the end of the game it felt like a win, everyone worked their socks off on a really hot day.
"Emma Hart ended up playing in goal down at Torquay to help us out, she did such a good job she ended up staying in goal and helping the team so she played there for the rest of the season, but she is normally a defender! Had it not been for her going in goal, we would have struggled as we didn't have a keeper."
A strong run either side of Christmas took Gloucester City clear at the top of the table, a lead that they never relinquished. "Losing 2-1 to Swindon Spitfires was disappointing as we played well and took the lead from a free kick, after half time we didn't get started and ended up losing," recalls Helen. "We made it to the semi finals of the Pat Sowden Cup against Torquay and unfortunately lost 3-2 after going down 3-0, we put up a good fight but just couldn't find that equaliser.
"Obviously an important game was our last home game of the season against Bristol Ladies Union and we knew it wasn't going to be an easy game, as we had to win or draw to win promotion. We started brightly having the early chances, hitting the post and then there was a blow as BLU scored! For the rest of the game, up until the last ten minutes, both teams were getting chances but I didn't think it was going to be our day. Ten minutes from the end we had a free kick which was put into the box and headed in, back on level terms, only to concede three minutes later to a free kick that we didn't clear and BLU scored from. Luckily for us we went straight back up the other end to score and all we had to do was hold on.
"I'm not sure how but we managed to break, a ball got played over the top and Jodi Hennessey finished it, now we were winning 3-2. We knew there wasn't long left so kept killing the game, the final whistle went and everyone was over the moon as we were promoted. It was nice to win promotion on our results and not having to wait for others to see if we won it.
"Every one of the girls played there part this season but it's not what just happens on the pitch its off it to. Danni Whitmore and Sam Morris have worked extremely hard off the pitch by bringing in a lot of sponsorship to buy new bags, training kit and home strip. This has made us look the part.
"Also Laura Stephens who makes the games possible by arranging officials and pitch along with doing all the paperwork and lastly Jon our manager who always comes to training and match days, he used to have a daughter that played although she doesn't anymore, but he continued to help us.
"Jodi Hennessy has been our top scorer with 14 goals while Laura Meheran chipped in with 11 goals along with Laura Stephens with 10.
"We are looking forward to playing in the Premier League next season. If you are interested in playing, we are always looking for new players, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Lastly we are hosting our six-a-side tournament on 28th June. £25 entry will be a good day, closing date is 30th April. Please e-mail Laura Stephens on email@example.com."
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