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Becky back after four years
 Women's Football FA Women's Cup News - 31 Aug 2018
 
FA Women's Cup News - Becky back after four years - 31 Aug 2018 - Women's Football NewsIn the SSE Women's FA Cup this week, Staffordshire County Women's League side Shenstone travel to play Rugby Town in the First Round Qualifying and for one member of the Shenstone squad, this match will be a special occasion and mark the end of a period that she would rather forget.
 
Becky Hall is relaunching her football career following a long period out of the game through injury and Sunday will make her first appearance in the competition since the 2013-14 season, when she played for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
 
Since the end of that season, she has not been able to play for four years but the bubbliness of old has returned and she admits to feeling rejuvenated by her return.
 
"It's like being a kid all over again," she said. "You don't realise how much you miss it until you can't play.
 
"It takes me a lot longer to recover between training and games and I'm still trying to work out the balance but so far I'm loving every second."
Did she ever think that you would set foot on a pitch and play again? "Honestly, no I didn't," she replied. "I was told my knee injury was career ending and the recovery has taken over four years. The decision to not play was taken completely out of my hands.
 
"People choose to stop playing for whatever reason but I didn't have that option - my knee just gave up on me. I was told after my first operation I had the knee of a 70-year-old.
 
"My second operation was an osteochondral graft and that took what felt like forever to recover from. I then had an issue after that, where the implanted graft had overgrown, so I had to go back in for a third op to shave it down. I was then at a point where I hadn't run, let alone played football in so long, that getting fit was going to be hard and obviously I'm not getting any younger.
 
"I had promised myself that if my knee was fixed before I turned 30 I would try and play again, so when I saw a post of Facebook where Shenstone were looking for players, I thought I'd give it a try."
 
For someone who has played for England at all youth levels up until Under-23 and in the top flight for Birmingham City and Doncaster Rovers Belles, playing at County League level represents a different challenge for Becky, but she is looking forward just as much to life at Shenstone.
 
"I've tried to be sensible about the level I went back in at, as having not played for so long, I needed to find my feet again," she said. "The girls in the squad have played at decent levels and there are some younger players that have a lot of potential.
 
"I was very surprised at how good the standard is and I think it just goes to show how much women's football has improved, even in the four years I haven't played."
 
At the end of last season, it looked as though the Hall twins would be lost to the women's game after Becky's sister, Natalie, announced that she would be retiring after having played in goal for Stoke City for the past four seasons.
 
However during the summer, a change of heart has meant that the sisters have been reunited on the football field and are playing together at Shenstone - just in different positions.
 
Whilst Becky has returned to action as a midfield player after playing most of her career up front, Tilly (as she is known throughout the women's game) is playing in the unaccustomed position as a striker and appears to have taken to it straight away, even scoring twice on her debut for Shenstone as they beat Black Country Ladies 5-1 in their opening league match.
 
"To be honest, it wasn't that hard to convince her," laughs Becky. "I just reminded her that you're a long time retired and to play for as long as her body allows her.
 
"She's moaned since we were kids about having to go in goal and as Shenstone already had a keeper, I suggested she try her luck as a striker and in two friendlies and one league game, she's scored 8 goals.
 
"She has had years of strikers shooting at her, so she's got all the inside knowledge. She'll get better with every game. She's surprisingly quick, so I reckon she'll be up there amongst the top scorers in the league come the end of the season."
 
Back to this week, Shenstone face a far from easy task in the Cup as they will be up against a team from the league above in the shape of Rugby Town, who will be something of an unknown quantity to Becky.
 
"Honestly, I know nothing about them," she admits. "All I know it they are in one of the leagues above us, so we'll be going in as the underdogs.
 
"It's actually been a conscious decision to not read up on them because I'm trying to focus on myself and how best to prepare me and my body to be able to do a decent job for Shenstone."
 
During her career, the FA Cup has given some special memories to Becky although she was not quite able to get near an appearance in the Final.
 
"I played in the Birmingham City team that lost to Bristol Academy in the quarter finals on penalties in 2009," she recalls. "That is the furthest I have gone in the competition.
 
"My favourite FA Cup memory was actually for Lichfield Diamonds when I was 14 years old when we played Cambridge University in the Second Round and I scored a five minute hat-trick to turn the tie around and we won the game. That was sixteen years ago, which makes me feel old!"
 
Now, with her career hopefully starting over again, Becky would be forgiven for hankering to get back to where she was before her injury, Instead, she now has just one main ambition - to play.
 
"At this stage it has to be one step at a time," she says. "I've only played one game since coming back, so it's still really early days. I'm ambitious for this season and I honestly believe we have a strong enough squad to challenge for the league.
 
"I can't look beyond each game. I'm just enjoying being back on the pitch and whilst my knee feels okay and I'm enjoying it, I'll try and play as long as I can."
 

 
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